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Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Feature: 007 Edition

James BondGrowing up, James Bond was an absolute institution. The movies were everywhere. Even though my family didn't particularly enjoy the series, we would always tune in when the films were on television. I developed a lifelong habit: I watch the first half hour for exposition, take an hour long nap through the cat-and-mouse middle, then wake up for the thrilling conclusion. As an adult, I now love Bond films -- after all, my generation will always hold a certain affinity toward GoldenEye (1995) -- but I do admit to taking the occasional nap for old time's sake. Since today is the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond film, Dr. No, I can think of no better way to celebrate than with a classic film! Enjoy with a healthy dose of humor (and maybe a hearty nap, just for good measure).

Moonraker (1979) is an unusual choice for a variety of reasons: it stars Roger Moore, Bond goes into outer space, and it's absurdly comical. Its brilliance lies in spoofing the Bond franchise. It takes just 3 minutes for 007 to feel up a woman and instantly be held up at gunpoint. This leads to the spy getting into a mid-air parachuting fight with fan-favorite villain Jaws; it is only fitting that the foe loses and lands on a circus tent, an obvious symbol of the campy fun the film invokes. Moonraker also has the pleasure of starring one of the most absurdly named Bond girls: the not-so-subtle Holly Goodhead. I can't help but chuckle whenever I hear the name. These jokes acknowledge how insanely unrealistic the whole franchise can be; instead of being more realistic, the movie gives us a wink and a nod.

But for all of its humor, Moonraker includes enough classic chases to keep action fans satisfied. This fight to save humanity spans California, Venice, Rio de Janeiro, and yes, outer space. The flamboyant sets and gadgetry are as spectacular as any other Bond film. Without a doubt, my favorite scene occurs at the Carnival celebration. The setting heightens the senses: the music is pounding, the revelers are gyrating, and the costumes are thrilling metallics that resemble Jaws's namesake dentistry. Initially disguised as a clown, Jaws attacks Bond's companion in an alley. It is not until this moment that our hero dons his classic tuxedo; he needs his common enemy to take him from James Bond to full fledged 007. This encounter sets the tone for the rest of the film. In short, come for the Goodhead, but stay for the Jaws.

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