Sunday, 19 October 2014

Those pants are a bit high aren't they Roger?

For some reason one of the commercial stations is showing all the Bond films again.
I find this a little surprising as I felt the excellent Mike Myers, Austin Powers films had put Bond to death as a serious piece of cinematography, but no, for some reason Channel Nine had decided to put all of us with nothing to do on a Saturday night, through it all again.
If you haven't seen either, I fully recommend the Austin Powers films, as they are funny beyond measure, and point out a lot tof things that I had been wondering for many years about the ludicrous plot holes in the Bond outings.
This was brought home to me the most when I was living in Sydney as a younger man, and had first got out of soccer and cricket, and into surfing in a big way.I lived in Harbord, on Sydney's northern beaches, with a couple - Lloyd "Lloydo" Millard and Karen "Kaz" McSkimming.
It was one of the happiest periods of my life, and if only I hadn't destroyed everything with my drinking, things could have been happier still.
Karen and Lloyd, whom I referred to privately as "Couch potato Kaz", and "Red-zone Lloyd", were terrific to live with, and one of the few instances in human history when living with a couple was Okay.
Invariably when you are looking for a flat to share, the first thing your friends say is "Never share with a couple!". However it worked for us.
Lloyd was video editor, and worked in North Sydney, while Kaz was a hairdresser, who worked in Chatswood, then Wynyard in the city.
I was working as a journalist for a computer magazine in North Sydney, and as usual, doing my best to not do it very well.
It was part-time, and I only went to work two days a week. One day to do sub-editing and layout of the various pages, and the other, Sunday morning, to do "the download".
The view from our flat down to the ocean at Freshie.
This was the early nineties, and the internet was just getting going. For this reason our parent magazine in New York would put up the stories for the week, and then I would download these stories to our server in Sydney, then print them out and give them to our editor Bill, and he would hand these stories out to the journalists to rewrite them from an Australian angle.
The rest of the time I went surfing at Freshwater beach, 100 metres from our flat.
Lloydo was an extreme sportsman of the highest order, and this all started for him with surfing. He was an excellent teacher, and so he would teach me to surf and I slowly got my country-living self up to speed (sort of) with this most coastal of activities.
Lloyd was only happy when throwing himself off something high, or riding down the face of something powerful.
He was an expert rock climber, skate boarder, trail bike rider, and, as mentioned, surfing.
Anyway, one Sunday there was no surf, and it was raining. My ex-girlfriend, Shivaun, came over (we were still friends), and we were sort of planning to do something, but with the weather not the best we instead sat around the living room smoking cones (and drinking in my case).
As ever with this activity conversation began to slow down, as people began to say inside their head, 'did I say that, or did I just think that?'
So we turned on the television set and a Bond film was on.
So we began watching it, and it was one of the best afternoons I ever spent.
The Movie was 'You Only Live Twice' with Sean Connery as James Bond.
Somehow the nexus of pot and the age of this film allowed us to see how damned ridiculous it really was, and we spent the rest of the afternoon taking the piss out of it unmercifully.
The first thing that caught our eye was when Bond needs a bit of aerial transport, and so 'Q', the weapons and gadgets guy shows up with a do-it-yourself helicopter, called Little Nellie. Q is accoutred with various bags and things, and he plonks them down and builds a helicopter there and then.
An Ikea helicopter?! Well why the hell not?
Connery then gets aboard and flies off to make battle with the evil supervillain, played by Donald Pleasance.
Pleasance sends out four helicopters to take Connery out, but Bond blows them out of the sky with a mixture of high-tech whizz-bangery.
Then he radios back to base and says, "Four big shots made advances to Little Nellie, she repelled their advances."
Whereupon we all began wondering why he didn't just say "I blew four helicopters out of the F$^-ing sky!" We then began wondering if the guys back at base were wondering if Bondy himself had not been partaking of the same green matter that we currently enjoying.
So Bondy goes on and defeats the villain and blows his within-volcano base to smithereens.
We were more sorry than I could say when that movie finished.
However, we then began checking the TV listings, and from then on whenever there was a Bond film on a Sunday afternoon, we would invite Shivaun over and get coned out of our gourds and watch with every measure of enjoyment there could be.
Shivaun I might add was joyously taken with the 'micro-comparator'. What's that? Well in The Spy Who Loved Me, Roger Moore, as Bond, breaks into the baddie's Egyptian headquarters and steals some plans in electronic form.
He then, in conjunction with a beautiful Russian spy (and is there any other kind in the Bond films?) gets the plans back to the headquarters that MI5 have set up, which for reasons that escape me now, were in the basement of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Obviously they got the moving men in to hurl out all that five thousand year detritus of the pharaohs to make room.
Anyway, there is some doubt as to the plans completeness, so 'M', Bond's boss, says, "Stick them on the micro-comparator."
This is a well-handy electronic gizmo that compares two sets of plans to note any differences, this they do and indeed discover that part of the plans are missing. Shivaun's points were that a) if you have a full set of plans to compare to, then why did Bondy have to go steal them in the first place, and b) how handy was that to find an electronic plan comparing device among the flotsam and jetsam that MI5 had brought out to Egypt for the caper?
So we laughed hard for another Sunday.
So for all these reasons when For Your Eyes Only came on the other Saturday night, and I had nothing to do, I decided to watch. It was bittersweet beyond measure, as my friends from those old Sunday afternoons have long gone now, scattered to the four winds of town and job and relationship change.
Also I don't smoke pot or drink anymore, and so things were never going to be the same.
However I did get a measure of enjoyment out of it.
The first thing that struck me was how high Bond's pants were (see pic at the top). I found my stomach wincing in sympathy with the cinsure being to applied to Roger Moore's hip areas. However it didn't stop him jumping from burning cars, diving out windows, skiing with the ability of an Olympic gold medal winner on a down hill run and all the rest.
The plot (such as it ever is) was that the British have put their missile launching computer, ATAC it's called, on a disguised trawler operating in the Mediterranean.
BTW: Ever noticed that all the baddies in Bond films only operate out of the tropics? or a high-class ski resort? Never did Bond have to go undercover in Omaha, Grimsby or West Wyalong.
The baddies get wind of this trawler, and sink it. Then Bond has to go out and recover the ATAC machine.
Now if you thought that the micro-comparator was well handy, get a load of this.
Turns out that the British government can't officially salvage the trawler with the ATAC on it, as that would mean they would have to acknowledge it, and cause a diplomatic incident.
So it all has to be done undercover.
Bondy and girlfriend just happened across millions of dollars of equipment. Handy or what?
So then M says to Bond, "luckily, an amateur salvage expert is in the area excavating an ancient temple of the seafloor of the Med, so you (Bond) can work with him'.
This archaeologist just happens to have a US$20 million dollar salvage submarine on his ship, which Bond and his beautiful assistant, the archeologist's daughter, are able to operate without training.
Now wasn't that handy?
So they go down there, salvage the thing and then bring it back to the surface, and the 'plot' then moves on.
But then the baddies ambush them back on the surface, take the ATAC machine, and the 'plot' them moves on. Which brings us to another part of the Bond 'plots' that always intrigues me.
In all Bond films the baddie invariably passes up the opportunity to just shoot Bond dead when he has the opportunity, and instead relies on a series of needlessly complex attempts of Bond's life.
This was best put in the Austin Powers films.
In those films, the baddie, Dr Evil, has a time machine, and he goes back in time and steal Austin Powers mojo, which he then uses to render Powers useless as a foe.
Dr Evil's son, Scott, the says, "look why don't you just go back in time, and shoot Powers dead while he's sitting on the crapper or something."
DR Evil then pours scorn on this hopelessly undramatic plan, and the plot moves on from there.
Then later, Dr Evil captures Powers and they are all sitting around the Evil board room table discussing how to kill him. Dr Evil then says, "Start the ludicrously slow killing machine." To which Scott Evil then says, 'Look, instead of doing that, I've got a gun in my room, I'll go and get it, come back, kill him, take five seconds. What's wrong with that?" And again Dr Evil then berates Scott for having "just no idea about how supervillains do things".
Likewise in For Your Eyes Only the baddies have at least thirty different opportunities to kill Bond stone dead where he stands with a gun, but continually pass up these opportunities to partake in much more cinematically spectacular methods, most of those on skis. Here you can see the baddies chasing Bond down the mountain on snow-capable motorbikes.
And harking back to the above mentioned ambush on the surface of the Mediterranean, the baddies shot at Bond and his girlfriend with every piece of weaponry the Eastern bloc had to spare, from AK-47s through pistols, but despite firing a thousand bullets, they miss with every shot.
Then for reasons that again escape me, they decide that a more effective way to do things would be to run the pair down with their cabin cruiser, this they do, but Bondy and his girlfriend get loose and make for the bottom of the sea, where Bondy has handily placed an aqualung in case of just such an eventuality as this.
The bullets that missed were of course fired from a 'baddie' gun. This expression refers to the way a baddie can fire a hundred bullets and miss with every one from point blank range, while the goodie can fire one bullet without even aiming and take out six people.
James Bond is played by Daniel Craig now, and though I've never seen a full film the snippets I have seen show them to be still as ridiculous as ever.
I particularly loved the bit in Skyfall when Bond is on a remote island in the back waters of the Caribbean and needs to speak with headquarters in London. He presses one button on his mobile phone and is through the HQ and M, now played by Judi Dench, picks it up before it's rung once. They then converse with full signal strength for a few minutes and the line never drops out or breaks up. While the conversation goes on the minions at HQ book Bond, first class of course, onto the next flight out of Port-of-Spain. He shows up at the airport and there are no check in problems, and I suspect he gets his gun on board without a query.
Looks like I've got to add 'goodie phone' to the list of expressions.

Anyway it's all too ridiculous for words, but it brought back some bittersweet memories of those Sunday afternoons with Red-zone Lloyd, Couch potato Kaz and Micro-comparator loving Shivaun. I miss the ambrosial feeling of being stoned and drunk, but definitely don't miss the hangovers or the come downs, and won't be going back to drugs and alcohol.

In the end the only thing to say is that at least Daniel's pants are lower on his hips, so that's something we've achieved in thirty years of Bond films.