Monday, April 22, 2013

To My Nephew Charlie : James Bond

Recently, my nephew Charlie has been producing a series of reviews of the James Bond movies.  He has done an excellent job and I am very proud of him.  He has his own page on YouTube, which you can visit.  For those of you who are not part of our family, or who have not been paying attention for the past 21 years, Charlie's real name is David Charles Bear 2, so his Youtube page is titled David Bear.  

Charlie is not really a film critic as he is a film reviewer, which I think is more noble in that he doesn't spend most of his time complaining about movies but really enjoys them and talking about them..  Charlie's  has a very structured way about presenting his film reviews.  He states that what is presented is only his opinion, yet backs up his opinions with facts.

So, why am I writing this?  First, while I listen to Charlie's reviews and nod in agreement with his logic, I find myself disagreeing with a number of his conclusions.  I would never do a series of reviews on my own.  After all, my nephew has already done this and has done a far better job that I ever could.  What this is, is a collection of facts.  Yes, my opinions are facts.  I am his uncle and not a film reviewer who has to worry about such things as credibility  If I list any facts, that are not quite correct .... well, don't confuse me with the facts!

Let's start with some fluff.  When it comes to theme songs, there is only one clear winner; Live and Let Die.  Hello?  That is Paul "I am a Beatle" McCartney" and that song rocks!  Way further down the list there are other classics such as Goldfinger, but really.  Live and Let Die could and should be the theme song of every James Bond movie.

Bond girls?  The winner is clear, Dianna "Emma Peel" Riggs.  She was not only beautiful, but tough.  She could kick your butt before it became popular for good looking women like Sharon Stone and Angelina Jolie.  Sure there are others like Ursula Andress, but they really are not in the same league.  The only one that even got close, was Hallie Berry.  Again,  just like Live and Let Die should be the theme song of every Bond movie,  Dianna Riggs or Halle Berry should be in every Bond movie.

Favorite Felix Lighter, the original Jack Lord is hard to beat, but the current one is Jeffrey Wright is pretty good.

There have been so many great Bad Guys such as Gert Frobe as Goldfinger, Harold Sakata and Robert Shaw.  Lotte Lenya was so memorable, that she was spoofed in the Austin Powers movies as Frau Farbissina.  A lot of actors played Ernst Blofeld, but I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Donald Pleasance

How about those "Other Bond Movies"?  Such as Never Say Never, Casino Royale, On Her Majesty's Secret Service and the Life and Times of  Ian Fleming.

Never Say Never is a great Bond movie.  Why?  Sean Connery.  Hello?  Never Say Never came out way after Roger Moore was James Bond.  It seemed that every Roger Moore movie was sillier and sillier.  Never Say Never, is what brought me back to Bond, James Bond.  It was the only Sean Connery James Bond movie that I was old enough to buy my own ticket and see it in the theater.

Casino Royale, the first one is a classic James Bond is spoofed.  What a cast!  David Nivens, Peter Sellers, Orsen Wells, Woody Allen, Deborah Kerr, William Holden, John Houston, Jacqueline Bissette and Ursula Andress?  It was funny as heck and deserves a special mention and yes it is a Bond movie.

I put On her Majesty's Secret Service in this special category.  In many ways it was the best and the worst Bond film ever.  If only Sean Connery had played James Bond.  Emma Peel and Telly Savalas were outstanding. It was enough to make them bring Sean Connery back for Diams are Forever!

The Life and Times of Ian Fleming is the story of the author of the James Bond series, Ian Fleming.  Ian Fleming had a very interesting life, that is what inspired him to write the James Bond series.  Ian Fleming was played by Jason Connery; the son of Sean Connery.  I'd watch this movie anytime over more than half of the other James Bond movies.

So, who was the best James Bond?  Simple, it is Sean Connery.  Next, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig and then Roger Moore. I have to stop here, because Roger Moore was actually Ian Fleming's choice of actors to play James Bond.  Fortunately, Ian passed away before he could see what Roger Moore did to James Bond.  To be fair, a lot of the problem for Roger Moore was the silly stories and poor writing.  Finally a special place in James Bond hell is reserved for Timothy Dalton.  If I were asked if I'd like to have my finger nails pulled out or watch a Timothy Dalton James Bond movie, I'd need some time to think about it.

When it comes to the movies, I tend to group them by who did them.  The worst are the Timothy Dalton movies, The Living Dayligths. and License to kill, although I find common ground with Charlie, by pushing those movies up by one and agreeing that the Quantum of Solace was the worst Bond movie of all time.

As for the best Bond movie ever, it is and will always be the first movie Dr. No. It set the tone and it broke all the rules.  My second choice is From Russia with Love.  I know a lot of people have Goldfinger as their number one choice.

All of Sean Connery's movies go right to the front of the list.  If I was ever annoyed by anything in any of his movies it was the surgery to make him look Japanese and think that they pulled it off in any way shape or form.  In general Pierce comes next.  Golden Eye, brought life back to this dieing series of films.  It went on too long, but that seems to be a trend in many action movies.  I really loved the last one he did "Die Another Day".  It was a shame that Pierce could not have enjoyed movies with better story lines.

Roger Moore brought such bad humor to the Bond series of movies.  His best were Live and Let Die, remember the "Cola or the Uncola nut".  In a View to a Kill.  Who could take their eye off of Grace Jones?

George  Lazenby did what any of wish we could of.  He was a model who heard that Sean Connery was out.  Went and got a hair cut so that he could look like him and got to be James Bond for one film!  I can't get angry at him at all.  It was like he won a contest on one of those reality shows.

Daniel Craig, the first half of Casino Royale is one of the best, but the end of that movie... Venice ... sigh.  The thing is that Sky Fall is a master piece.  It fixed all of the problems with the Daniel Craig series.  It brought back Q and Moneypenny. M dies in the line of action.

Timothy Dalton, ... oops just threw up.  Well, you know how I feel about him and his bond movies.  His two movies, were three too many!

Reflection:  When they next reboot the series, they should do, as my dad says, the books!  Set back in the times they were originally written.  It could be cool ... like cool jazz!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Venezuela - It's About the Middle

Those of us who live in the USA, like to call ourselves Americans.  Being an American does not just mean that you live in the United States of America.  Being an American means that we love freedom and we seek out justice and hate corruption.  We are not the only Americans.  Ask anyone from Mexico, Peru, Venezuela or Argentina.  They are Americans too.  They will point out that South America is part of the Americas and that is true, but it is not what is important.  What is important is that they share our same values.  They really are just like us.  They desire the level of freedom that we enjoy.  They want justice and hate corruption.

When Hugo Chavez first came to power, in Venezuela, he targeted the poor.  He started providing subsidised food, housing and transportation.  This sounds very noble until you realize that he was taking over and shutting down ranches and farms.  Venezuela purchases virtually all of its food from other countries.
If you said something or did not vote they want, you are off the list.  You see wasn't helping the
poor, he was controlling them through hunger and the need for housing ..etc.   If this was not bad enough, Chavez has been trying to add to be poor by attacking the middle class and this is where Chavez went wrong.  Despite their efforts to control information by taking over the media and rewriting the history books used in school, the Internet and specifically Social Media is the big leak in the damn.  With each election, the numbers continue to leave Chavez and his thugs.

It is all about the middle.  Whether it is the middle class or middle age.  It is one thing when young people, and especially students protest.  It is completely something else when their parents, uncles, aunts and even grand parents protest.  When the mid-aged take the streets to call you out, your government is in serious trouble.  You better know, that you have done wrong and in a big way.  When you have lied, cheated, stolen and wronged people so much that people in their 30's, 40's, 50's and beyond take to the street and stand up against your thugs in uniforms and and guns, you must know that your time is up.  You have crossed a line.  It is time for you to leave.