Thursday, April 24, 2014

Why A View To A Kill is the worst Bond film ever (apart from Never Say Never Again)



You might have noticed that I have a quiet obsession with James Bond films. While Fleming's books about the fictional spy were never works of subtlety, the films have ranged from sublime (You Only Live Twice) to the downright awful (too many to name).

I love the awful Bond films just as much as the good ones - if not, more so - and the invitation to watch Roger Moore mugging for the camera is never one to refuse. And a Sunday afternoon watching what is arguably one of the worst of the official James Bond films brings so, so many questions.

The biggest of these is why did Cubby Broccoli insist on casting Roger Moore for the lead part, even though it was clear that both actor and his hair were never going to be up to the physical role that is a punch/shag first, ask questions later action hero.

Let us balance the pros and cons of A View To A Kill:


WHAT A VIEW TO A KILL HAS GOING FOR IT

- The Duran Duran theme tune

- Christopher Walken

- A blink-and-you-miss-it Tom Selleck cameo

WHAT A VIEW TO A KILL HAS GOING AGAINST IT

- You got Christopher Walken, but you could have had David Bowie, who did Labyrinth instead

- Roger Moore's stunt doubles, who they made virtually no effort to disguise. If I didn't know better, the guy in the cut-in-half Renault car chase is actually Vladimir Putin

Vladmir Putin makes his escape in half a Renault
 - You got a bad guy who escapes in an airship, surely the slowest, least efficient means of escape in the history of all evil geniuses

- The airship has - as part of its standard equipment - a fire axe and a bundle of dynamite. Because when you're in an airship, you're going to need to blow something up at some stage, and a bundle of dynamite is always handy

- A Bond Girl so bad that she appears to be a recent graduate from the Goldie Hawn School of Very Loud Screaming

- Lots of very loud Bird Girl screaming

- Roger Moore, aged 57 at the time of making the film, was twice his female lead's age. In fact, Moore noted at the time, he was older than her mother

- A bad guy obsessed with horse racing (at least for the first hour or so), who is so dedicated to winning that he has installed a number of cheat mechanisms on the practice course at his own stud farm. Yet all it does is knock his own henchmen from their horses

That leotard will haunt your nightmares
 - A French detective with an outrageous Clouseau accent called Monsieur Aubergine. He is killed by a poisoned paper butterfly, wielded by Grace Jones

- Grace Jones

- Roger Moore doing the sex with Grace Jones

- When Bond is caught by San Francisco's Comedy Police, instead of reasoning with them, he steals a fire truck. As you do

- ...Which he jumps over an opening bridge. As you do

- The not-even-trying double entendres. You start to wilt after the 20th "getting my end up" joke. Even Moneypenny looks like she's had enough

And as the end credits roll you realise the moral of the story is this: Don't cheat at horse racing, because it'll only draw attention to your plans to destroy San Francisco through a contrived plot involving earthquakes that Lex Luthor did much better in the original Superman film (and he would have got away with it too if it wasn't for meddling Kryptonite time travel). A message to us all.

Hang on - I just remembered Never Say Never Again. Never Say Never Again and Rowan Atkinson's bumbling sub-Johnny English cameo at the end where he ends up in a swimming pool in a prat-fall that the Chuckle Brothers would have refused. Don't get me started on Never Say Never Again.Which I declare canon, so there.

JAMES BOND WILL RETURN
Roger Moore, Grace Jones and the legs of infinity

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Who is Blondie Longneck?



When you return to a town where you've lived for several years, you notice all the little changes. And so to Weymouth, where I spent ten years of my life, but haven't called my home for the last three.

It's faded seaside glamour writ large, but in a nice way - the Georgian seafront defiant against the changing tides of British holiday habits. The bucket and spade holiday may be dying a slow, lingering death, but Weymouth does enough to keep the tourists coming back again and again.

The town still looks the same - with the addition of the modern new viewing tower at the end of the beach, and the Pavilion Theatre hangs on, now in private lands after the council did its level best to run it into the ground with a diet of tribute acts and very little else.

I notice the small changes. Tweaks to the bewildering traffic system, so there's now less than half a chance of killing yourself completely to death trying to turn right off the Esplanade; and the ASBOs on the town's cider enthusiasts appear to be working as there are very few to be seen in the beach shelters.

It being the school holidays, there's a small traveling funfair in the car park by the beach. Waltzer, dodgem, everything you'd expect - with pictures of all the latest celebrities painted on the side to bring on The Kids. If they were The Kids from about twenty years ago.

 There's Robbie Williams! There's Jim Carrey as The Riddler! There's Tina Turner with one breast clearly larger than the other! And ...err... Blondie Longneck!

Stumped, I uploaded Blondie Longneck onto various social media sites and asked the Hive Mind what they thought.

And the Hive Mind said Cameron Diaz, who - mid-90s - was riding the crest of a wave with that film she was in. You know - There's Something About Blondie Longneck. Obviously, Mr Fairground Owner had stumbled out of his local fleapit, absolutely determined to immortalise Blond Longneck on the side of the waltzer, right next to One Big Boob Tina Turner. ('Thunderdome' joke goes here).

Another Hive Mind suggestion was Anneka Rice, and Weymouth and Anneka have history. In 1989, she came to the town to sort out the white horse for her Challenge Anneka programme. The white horse is a depiction of King George III on horseback carved into a hill overlooking Weymouth Bay. By 1989, it was looking a bit tatty, and Anneka's crew was charged with freshening it up.

Unfortunately, corners were cut, the wrong stone was used, and within a few years, the white horse was an embarrassing shade of grey. So, to get revenge, a local fairground operator painted her on the side of a waltzer, so her face would be the last thing you saw before puking candy floss and hot dog all down your front. Makes perfect sense to be.

So, to sort this out for once and for all, I reached out to Cameron Diaz on Twitter to see if she had posed for a fairground artist, or would she like us to send the boys round.

She does not reply.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Suede - Still Life

In which your author finds himself suddenly obsessed with the majestic Dog Man Star album. Just because.

And if you want something a little less overblown: The Wild Ones.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Curse of the Stinky Blanket


Wilson's outside, and we're washing all his stinky stuff.

Don't get me wrong, we adopted him a year ago this week, and he is an excellent little hound, but he picks up nasty smells like a dockside prostitute picks up sailors. Who knows where. He don't roll in poo, he doesn't go to the gym, and he's not obviously sweaty like a security guard.

If you don't put dog, stinky blanky and bed through the wash weekly, then the whole flat smells, the car smells, and you smell. Smelly dog, but we love him.

He may be a stinker, but my memory might be playing tricks on me, because I'm clearly blocking out what Snowy - our previous Jack Russell - was like. Memory's like that - only the sweet smell of flowers and the ugly beauty of freshly-laid tarmac makes it through the nasal censor in your head. Dog smells - as a rule - do not.

Snowy had what was known as 'Stinky Blanky', but that was a French mademoiselle's perfumed handkerchief in comparison to that owned by Wilson. Snowy's breath was like death, as was his bottom gas. And in his final months he often didn't make it to the toilet in time, and you would sometimes find him crouched in the hallway, nipping out a log, fixing you with that gimlet stare that said "Yeah? And what are you going to do about it?"

Nothing, that's what.

But we loved him, like we now love Wilson. For the first few weeks, I actually missed cleaning up the poop and disinfecting the wooden floor in the hallway.


Wilson's first act in this house when we brought him home last April was to scour the place and thoroughly destroy anything owned by previous dogs. Toys were shredded with the ruthlessness of a city banker caught with his hand in the till. Then he claimed the sofa as his own, and hobbled his servants by lying across out-stretched legs until the knees were bent backwards so firmly we couldn't run away. We have no resistance to him, at all.

Fortunately, he is possibly the easiest dog to bath I've ever owned, accepting his fate with reasonably good grace, standing head bowed in the bath like a man condemned.

Now, my first dog Snoopy was a real terror to bath. He was the only dog I ever owned that would resort to actual violence to avoid the tub, and we had to resort to the human traits of guile and trickery if we wanted him clean.

Which was often.

We had fields behind our house, and Snoopy liked nothing better than to vault the back fence and not return until he had experienced a thoroughly good roll in freshly-laid horse manure. Like many of the unpleasant jobs around that time, it fell to me to clean the cur, and battle between teenager and beagle was joined.

I was a pretty naive sort at that age and managed to talk myself into anything that involved effort. Mowing the lawn became my job, essentially because I once asked my dad if I could have a push one summer afternoon when he was struggling with the mower, and - as far as I know - the old man has never pushed another lawnmower to this day.

The same went for bathing the dog. Seemed like fun, how hard it could be?

As hard as wrestling with a large, wet, writhing mass with spiky teeth at one end, that's what. Snoopy soon learned that the bathroom meant bad news, and he wouldn't even be bribed in with food or treats after a while. So you would have to pounce on him, wrap him in a blanket, race to the bath and throw him in before he realised what was happening, and woe betide if you left him a fraction of an inch to escape, because he'd find that gap and would be away, like some sort of simile I can't think of at the moment.

In the end, the battle of wits between hapless teen and snarling crap-covered canine resolved itself, like all conflicts do, into a morale-sapping battle where nobody emerges with pride intact, and the victor feels a little ashamed at the lengths he has gone to secure the humiliation of his foe.

Yes, I cornered Snoopy in the greenhouse, in which I had already placed the lawn sprinkler attached to the hose.

The nuclear option. I'm not proud.

Wilson be warned - I note your docile yet resigned attitude toward the dog bath, but I still have my collection of Cold War era books on weapons and tactics. I'm not afraid to use them.