Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bond Films Part 4

We've arrived at the top 10. The following films are essentially, very good Bond films.

10. Octopussy: Roger Moore's best performance as Bond. He actually shows anger and frustration when there is a nuclear bomb about to go off and nobody believes him. (Apparently it takes something that extreme to take the smirk off his face.) Louis Jourdan plays a sly villain and Steven Berkoff is also good as the mad Soviet general. (He always seems to play the bad guy. i.e. Victor Maitland in Beverly Hills Cop.) There is a good action scene involving a train. Unfortunately, there's a dumb action scene involving a "tiger hunt" where Bond is the tiger.

9. The Man with the Golden Gun: This is my favorite of the Moore Bond films. It's almost Star Wars-like as Christopher Lee plays a man very much like Bond, but uses his talents as a gun for hire instead of for Queen and Country. In other words, he went to the "dark side". I like the wordplay between the two men and how Bond outwits him cleverly in the end. This film also features a second showing of Clifton James as JW Pepper in a pretty good chase scene. Unfortunately, this film contains Britt Ekland as Miss Goodnight, the dumbest "Bond girl" of them all.

8. The World Is Not Enough: This is, by far, the best Bond film featuring Pierce Brosnan. This one actually has a strong, coherent plot. It deals with the modern day issue of terrorism. Everybody is good in this one. The betrayal aspect of this film is especially well done.

7. License to Kill: This is perhaps, the most realistic Bond film. Until the end, it is very believable. It's about a drug cartel from a pseudo-fictional country (It's pretty obvious that Isthmus City is really Panama.) Dalton is exceptionally strong as a man determined to avenge the mutilation of his CIA friend Felix Leiter. Equally strong is Robert Davi as the drug lord and Carey Lowell's role as Pam Bouvier. She is the best "Bond girl" ever and as I mentioned in my earlier post My Name is Bond, James Bond, Bond appears to truly love her.

6. Never Say Never Again: In 1983, Sean Connery reminded theater audiences everywhere of how good a James Bond he is. While not a Broccoli/Saltzman project, Never Say Never Again marks a glorious reprise of Connery as Bond. Basically, it's a remake of Thunderball but it is far superior. One great thing about it is Connery does not try to hide his age. His character fully realizes he's not so young anymore. Blofeld and S.P.E.C.T.R.E. are back and steal nuclear missiles and hold them for ransom. A typical early Bond plot, I know, but the actors make this one great. It includes Barbara Carrera as a delightfully wicked Fatima Blush. Her final scene is truly memorable.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Bond Films Part 3

Now that I've gotten past the Thanksgiving holiday, I'll continue.

15. Live and Let Die: The debut of Roger Moore (and a downturn for the series overall, in my opinion) is a story about the drug trade from Jamaica to the U.S. Like the previous film Diamonds are Forever, much of Live and Let Die takes place in the United States. The highlight of the film is the bayou boat chase. Unfortunately, it goes on too long but it features some good comic relief from Sheriff "JW Pepper" (Clifton James). The downside of this film is Jane Seymour's stiff performance as "Solitaire". Also, they re-made the train-fight sequence that was so good in From Russia with Love. This time, Bond's nemesis is the man with a steel-claw for a hand - a pretty weak predecessor to an even worse henchman - Jaws.

14. For Your Eyes Only: This Cold War - themed film has a pretty good ski chase and a distinctive mountain climbing scene. Carole Bouquet has to be one of the most beautiful "Bond women" ever. She does a nice job in an understated performance, contrary to the horribly annoying Lynn-Holly Johnson character. Julian Glover is a great villain and Topol is equally good as Bond's cohort.

13. Thunderball: The weakest of the Connery films. The best character is Luciana Paluzzi as the femme-fatale Fiona Volpe. Otherwise, this is rather boring with a lot of underwater shots and a weak cast. This film was remade as Never Say Never Again, which was much better.

12. Dr. No: The debut film is also the most dated. It starts off slow and gets more interesting as it progresses. Probably the most memorable scene in the film is the entrance of Ursula Andress. This film does not have a lot of gadgets or gimmicks. Connery has a physical presence. He fights with his fists. He shoots his Walther PPK (which is presented to Bond as "standard issue" by M).

11. On Her Majesty's Secret Service: This one is more or less known as the "James Bond weds Emma Peel" movie. Bond finally falls in love in this one and even gets married to the sassy Tracey Di Vicenzo played by Diana Rigg. It has a ridiculous comic book plot and Telly Savalas plays a mild-tempered Blofeld trying to destroy everybody on Earth with a virus. It's still fun though and George Lazenby's single performance as Bond is surprisingly good.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bond Films Part 2

Here are some more James Bond films that aren't the best.

18. Die Another Day: Except for a pretty good fencing sequence, this one is pretty forgettable. I personally don't like the idea that Bond was captured and held prisoner for a long time. It doesn't fit the whole "invincible Bond" concept that is the very essence of a Bond film. Halle Berry tries unsuccessfully to be Ursula Andress. The plot is confusing and I have the sense that the writers were stumped in coming up with a good story.

17. Tomorrow Never Dies: I really don't mean to pick on the Pierce Brosnan films but this is another turkey. It has the usual problems that I mention in #18 and 19. That is the plot is unclear. This one just throws action at you. It has an overly long chase sequence that gets ridiculous (even for a Bond film). This film really hyped Teri Hatcher as a Bond girl. She has a short role and is killed off so what was the point of that?

Bad to Awful
Fair to Good

16. A View to a Kill: Roger Moore's swan song as Bond. This film actually isn't bad. I consider it the weakest of the good Bond movies. Christopher Walken was a very good villain in this one. Grace Jones is an interesting henchwoman. Essentially, this is a remake of Goldfinger with silicon instead of gold. If you look carefully, you will see a lot of similarities between the two. The weak point of the film of course, is Moore. He is old and bored in this film. Equally bad is Tanya Roberts as a geologist.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bond Films Part 1

Now that I've rated the actors, I'm going to start rating the films. I'll start with the worst and move up to the best.

21. Moonraker: This is a remake of an already bad film - The Spy Who Loved Me except that its about a madman intent on destroying the world and living in outer space instead of under the sea. (See #20) These two films represent the worst of Bond films. Producer Broccoli decided to go with Moonraker in 1979 due to the sudden popularity of space films - namely Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. 1979 was also the year of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Alien, and The Black Hole. Unfortunately, Moonraker's special effects were not up to the standards of these other pictures. Indeed, some of the space shots looked almost as bad as the B movies of the 1950's and '60's. More than that though, Bond never drives a car, Bond never even fires his Walther PPK. Instead, you get Star Wars-like laser blasts. Apparently, in 1979, we had laser gun technology which disappeared soon thereafter. Returning Jaws as the henchman was a bad idea. He was a stupid character in the previous film (Again, see #20). The "Bond girl" in this one is Dr. Goodhead (please!) played by Lois Chiles. She is so wooden as a superintelligent female astronaut that she rivals the ineptitude of Roger Moore.

20. The Spy Who Loved Me: This is another very cartoonish Bond film. Barbara Bach as Russian agent XXX (Yeah, I get it. The extra 'X' means she's superwoman.) is an absolute joke. The dialogue exchanges between her and Moore are absolutely laughable. I'm talking about having no chemistry and just going through the motions. This film introduces the most ridiculous of all Bond's nemesis', that being Jaws as he hulks around "chasing" Bond like Frankenstein's monster. Jaws can't even seem to be able to run so how he keeps catching up to and cornering Bond is beyond me. The plot is an evil scientist tries to create a nuclear war to kill everyone on Earth, while he and his "super race" can live safely under the sea.

19. GoldenEye: This debut of Pierce Brosnan is just plain boring. It has a convoluted plot. This is the first Bond film to come out after the Cold War. It appears the writer's weren't sure how to handle this. It relies on a gimmicky henchwoman, Xenia Onatopp to make it interesting. Unfortunately, she doesn't.

Monday, November 20, 2006

My Name is Bond, James Bond

I'm a big James Bond fan and since there is a new film out, I'm going to dedicates some time to these films.

Up until the recent film Casino Royale, there had been 5 actors to play James Bond. Just for the record, I am aware that David Niven played Bond in the 1967 spoof Casino Royale, but I don't really consider that a true James Bond movie. I am going to start off by rating the actors from worst to first:

5. Roger Moore: He was just horrid. Some of the films he was in were pretty good, but that was never due to Moore. While Bond is supposed to be fearless, Moore came off as being completely oblivious to any danger he was in. He always just seemed to have this empty, smirking, expression on his face. He was always stiff, but in latter films, especially A View to a Kill, he was downright robotic as he was just too old in 1985. He was never convincing as James Bond and he played the part too long.

4. Pierce Brosnan: While, certainly a more well-rounded actor than Moore, Brosnan just seemed too obvious a man to play Bond. He had the accent, he looked good in a tuxedo, but he lacked the physical presence that the better Bond actors had. He appeared smaller and nimbler and had a more martial arts style when he had to get physical against the bad guys. He just never came across as tough.

3. George Lazenby: He was in only one film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, but it was a good performance. Lazenby played a very human Bond who didn't get much of a chance to prove himself. Unfortunately, Bond audiences weren't very responsive as OHMSS didn't do so well at the box office. This prompted producers Broccoli and Saltzman to dismiss Lazenby and pay Sean Connery a huge salary to do another Bond film, Diamonds are Forever.

2. Sean Connery: Yes, I know. Many Bond fans would consider it blasphemy to not hail Connery as the James Bond. Don't get me wrong, Connery was great. He found a way to be suave and tough at the same time. His very dry humor worked perfectly. He treated women in the same manner he treated the bad guys, that is with utter dispassion. Connery's Bond was with many, many women, but he could never love them. He used them for pleasure or as a means to get at the bad guy. Such chauvinism would never work today but Connery made it an art form.

1. Timothy Dalton: Always professional, grim, and tough, Dalton is the best actor to ever play Bond. Dalton's Bond was completely believable. It is easy to imagine that if there ever really was a James Bond, he would have been like Timothy Dalton. He could be as physically brutal as Connery was, yet he had more depth. He came across as both physically and mentally tough. There was a precision in every movement and every phrase he uttered. In fact, he was almost too good an actor to play Bond. Both films he was in (The Living Daylights and License to Kill) had him falling in love with the lead female character. The problem is that Dalton made the love seem so genuine that it felt wrong to see him in another film with a different woman. Of course, never having the same woman twice is an essential Bond quality. Still, Dalton is number 1 in my book.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Democrat's Plan

"That's easy Bill, it can be summed up in three words, we can do better."

Howard Dean when asked by Bill Schaeffer on what the Democrats can offer?

Is this what Bush meant by fuzzy math? This is pretty much all I can expect from Democrats. They criticize and criticize. They attack, and yes, they lie and constantly attempt to mislead the public into believing that Republicans are so evil. You'd think that since Republicans are so wrong in everything, and I mean everything, that they would have some great ideas on how to do things. Do they? If they do, it must be a closely guarded secret because they sure aren't letting us in on their great plans.

Think of it this way. If Democrats have such good ideas and care so much for the country, shouldn't they offer constructive criticism to the Republicans? Shouldn't they say something like, "Hey Republicans! Instead of doing A, you should do B and here is why." Wouldn't they look good doing this? Wouldn't this garner a lot more support than their current plan of bitch, bitch, bitch, and whine, whine, whine?

It's pretty obvious that Democrats don't have a clue. Saying things will be "done better" is not a plan or a strategy. It is a result. Results are easy to say. "Today is going to be a great day" is also a stated result. But how does one make it a "great day"?

On Political Parties

I've made it no secret that I'm a political conservative. I'm what many would call a "Reagan Republican". In 1999, I decided my beliefs were not really in line with the Republican party anymore. I believe the party changed its platform significantly and I had probably changed as well. Members of the Republican party seemed too quick to quote the Bible, too thick-headed about "Creationism", and too willing to submit to the idea of the government's social responsibilities.

I'm not alone. As Larry Elder says in his book The Ten Things You Can't Say in America, that there is maybe a dime's worth of difference between the Democrat and Republican parties. Some Republicans who are true conservatives have gone to the Libertarian party. The Libertarian party is intriguing to me. They are very tough on limiting the power of government, like true conservatives. However, I have difficulties in subscribing to the Libertarian solution to the drug problem, which is, essentially, to legalize them.

So I decided to be Independent until I find a party that I feel I can get on board with. In past elections, I have tried to be agnostic and vote for the person or issue I believed in, regardless of party. This election, however, I just refuse to vote for anything the Democrats want. I'm going to link to another video. It is really excellent.

Vote Republican

Sunday, November 05, 2006

More on Democrats

Keeping the previous post in mind, let's see how the Democrats dealt with North Korea during the Clinton administration.

Democrats and North Korea

While intended to be humorous, there is a kernel of truth in this video. In fact, this is an ad that the Republican party was going to show, but decided it was too politically incorrect. This video points out why the Democratic party appears so generally weak when it comes to national security.

Let's Talk Politics

Today, I'm going to get a bit political. To get things started, I'm posting a link to a video clip from the 1940 film "The Ghost Breakers" starring Bob Hope. It features one of the best quotes in cinematic history.

What is a Zombie?

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Letter

Dear ----------,

You are receiving this letter because you have recently registered to vote. If you are a U.S. Citizen, I urge you to participate in the democratic process of voting.

Be advised that if your residence in the United States is illegal or if you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that can result in incarceration and possible deportation for voting without the right to do so.

In the same way, be advised that the U.S. government is installing a new computerized system to verify names of all the newly registered voters who participate in the elections in October and November. Organizations against immigration will be able to request information from this new computerized system.

Not like in Mexico, here there is no benefit to voting. In the United States there is no registration card to vote. Therefore, it is useless and dangerous to vote in any election if you are not a citizen of the United States.

Do not pay attention to a politician who may try to tell you otherwise. They only care about their own interests. They just want to win elections and it doesn't matter to them what happens to you.


Sergio Ramirez

The above is a letter written to approximately 14,000 Democrats in Orange County, California. It is an obvious attempt to discourage those whose legal status in the United States is questionable from voting in the upcoming midterm election. It was written by an aide to Tan Nguyen to support Mr. Nguyen's campaign for a seat in Congress. The incumbent, Loretta Sanchez was accused in the previous election for registering illegal immigrants to vote for her. Indeed, there was strong evidence that this was the case.

I've looked carefully at the above letter, which has caused Democrats to cry for Nguyen to withdraw from the election for illegally threatening voters. My finding is that most of it is perfectly legitimate. I don't condone this letter and think its a low tactic but in light of the Democrats going out on the streets of inner cities and deliberately targeting and registering illegal immigrants to vote, it seems to me, a fairly mild retaliation.

Be advised that if your residence in the United States is illegal or if you are an immigrant...

This is the only part of the letter that is wrong since it includes the word "immigrant" without a preceding "illegal". This makes the entire letter illegitimate.

Consider this, though. I wonder if this letter will actually discourage someone from voting. I can only imagine two types of people who would be affected by this letter.

  1. An illegal immigrant or non-citizen, who shouldn't be voting anyways.
  2. A legal immigrant and citizen, who apparently isn't aware of his/her rights as a citizen. Well, if you're not aware of your rights, you shouldn't be voting.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Kerry Belongs in Iraq

"You know, education. If you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

- John Kerry in speech at Pasadena City College in support of candidate Phil Angelides.

Former and perhaps future presidential candidate John Kerry said the above words. He also claims it was a "botched joke" intended at George W. Bush. Nevertheless, this statement has caused quite a stir. John McCain and others have demanded an apology from Kerry. Instead, Kerry went on a Republican-attacking tirade.

Okay, Kerry, I'm willing to accept that you didn't mean the words above. I'll give you the benefit of a doubt. However, whether you meant it or not, you did make this statement. Why won't you just simply apologize and move on?

When Cheney accidentally shot his hunting partner, did he say "I'm not going to apologize for shooting him when he, who got shot should be doing the apologizing."?

Kerry has lost what little respect I had for him. How he can not hold himself accountable for his own words is just unbelievable to me. He followed Bill Clinton's lead from last months infamous Fox News interview. Like Clinton, Kerry goes on an angry rant that was completely uncalled for. I guess Bill Clinton is still leading the Democratic party.