Monday, February 27, 2012

Please sir, can I have no Moore? A View To A Kill

In his 2008 biography, My Name Is My Bond, Roger Moore says of Grace Jones that
I've always said if you've nothing nice to say about someone, then you should say nothing. So I'll say nothing.
A couple of pages later, Roger relates the story of the enormous black dildo that Grace Jones surprised him with during their scene in bed together. Which raises the worrying thought that the only nice thing Roger can think to say about Dolph Lundgren's ex-girlfriend is that she has a gigantic sex toy (no, I don't mean Dolph Lundgren).

Now, you might think anything to do with Grace Jones and Roger Moore getting it on would be disturbing, but truthfully, if you've made it through the first ten minutes, what could faze you?

I don't mean the ridiculous, super-camp extravaganza of the opening scene, where the Beach Boys are used to ruin the belief that all Bond scenes filmed on snow will be good. I don't mean the rather-too-fluoro titles, because they had Duran Duran, goddamit, and how could you improve on that? (Hire a-Ha, as it happens, but we'll come to that next month.)

No, the first sign of terror I had was when Bond goes to see M, and as he pauses to harass Moneypenny for the fourteenth time, we see his face.
Simon Winder memorably described the Bond of A View To A Kill as having the face of a burst, out-of-date yoghurt, but that's being kind: those steely eyes stare out of a collapsed, ruined face, like the last thing alive trapped in some cursed cadaver. Trapped forever, doing the same old same old.

It's a cliche to be sick of the sight of Roger Moore's nonagenarian spy, and to be fair, I was sick of Connery about the point he 'impersonated' a Japanese fisherman, but really, this was hard to take.

I'd watched A View To A Kill innumerable times as a child, on a slowly disintegrating VHS tape, along with Overboard. Overboard has stood the test of time, and indeed Kurt Russell may be the greatest achievement of the 1980s. He was in The Thing, and in Overboard. Roger Moore was in Octopussy and A View To A Kill. Then again, Kurt was also in Big Trouble In Little China, which pays increasingly diminishing returns on repeated viewings. Unless you're 14, of course, in which case all bets are off. A View To A Kill, a film that as a child I worshipped, principally because I had few other gods available, is saggy and slow.

At the time, I didn't realise how wasted Christopher Walken was: Zorin is still a villain for the ages, but could have been so much more. Why he had to die, rather than run a maniacal empire for several more films, like a leveraged-buy-out Blofeld, is beyond me.

I also missed out on the rampant inflation of evil: wasn't it just a couple of million Dr No wanted in 1962? Zorin wants 100 million dollars per person for participation in Operation Mainstrike. Crikey.

But most of all, I didn't realise how old Bond was. At the age of 12, I thought international playboys must all be slightly doddery, leather-faced men who clamber into bed with women young enough to be their granddaughters.

Oh. No wonder Hugh Hefner likes Bond movies so much.

I can't have realised there was meant to be more action than a bit of dicking around the Eiffel Tower and too much horseplay. Seriously, why the obsession through the late-Moore era with horses? If they're not being injected with super-steroids, they're turning into tiny planes and bombing Cubans. Honestly!

Plus, there's the weird perviness of old-man Rog and the blonde bit whose name I can't remember, despite all those viewings. A sleazy geezer turns up in your house unannounced, but proves he's a good egg by cooking you a quiche? I don't think so, sunshine. Were all women in the 80s either dumb or Grace Jones?

On the positive side, A View To A Kill did resurrect the old Bond trope of Those Who Share A Vehicle With Bond Must Die. Shame that this time round it was Steed, although after his homage to Diamonds Are Forever-vintage "Let's Fail To Spot People Climbing In The Back Of Our Car" perhaps that was just his tough luck.

I'd say more about A View To A Kill but my DVD player had the last laugh. Halfway through the film, shortly before I remember Bond's plucky Chinese-American sidekick getting bumped off, the disc stopped spinning and refused to play any further. Was the DVD player aware of the proud history of VHS it had supplanted? Did it not want me to see a grandfather in a shower with a lady who was the daughter of somebody too young for him? Or was it just enraged that Christopher Walken wasn't chewing properly before swallowing the scenery.

To be fair, I couldn't complain. After this many Rogerings, I too was glad for an abrupt stop.

(I'd meant to watch The Goonies for the first time ever this month and contrast and compare, but I think that may have to wait until next month, when I've taught my home electronics the meaning of respect. Blogalongabond will return.)


Minnie Bus said...

I hate James Bond. But I like the title of this post. Next up, a review of a production of Oliver with a Bond joke in the title! The world will be in harmony again. DO IT.

Declan Tyson said...

Brilliant review. Looking forward to reading your views on Dalton!

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