Tag Archives: James Bond

My iPod Has Issues – One Bond is Better Than Another

13 Oct

I was watching James Bond. Actually, I was watching Sean Connery, the real James Bond. My wife thinks Daniel Craig is the real James Bond, but everyone knows that is not true. Anyway, she did not want to watch the real James Bond and changed the channel to Taken, the movie where Liam Neeson is tough but not as tough as James Bond.from-russia

Since there is nothing on television, I decided to get on the blog and type something. The only problem is that I do not know what to type. Maybe I will go to an old faithful and explore what is going on in my iPod.

To stay with the theme, I will start out with a classic James Bond song.

“Goldfinger” by Shirley Bassey

“Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” by James Taylor

“Cheap Sunglasses” by ZZ Top

“Sumertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran

“Good Rockin’ Tonight” by Wynonie Harris

“Workin’ Man Blues” by Merle Haggard

“Crazy” by Patsy Cline

“The Twist” by Chubby Checker

“Fool To Cry” by The Rolling Stones

“Stand Back” by Stevie Nicks

“Walk This Way” by Run-DMC

“Hotel California” by The Eagles

“Behind Closed Doors” by Charlie Rich

“Pre 63” by Groove Armada

“Drops Of Jupiter” by Train

“Play Me” by Neil Diamond

“Tangled Up In Blue” by Bob Dylan

“Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore” by Chris Stapleton

“Atlantis” by Donovan

“Old Man Willis” by Tony Joe White

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Movie Wisdom – Richard Kiel Edition

22 Jun

I was flipping through the channels and happened upon Pale Rider, one of those mystical Westerns that Clint Eastwood liked to make. It is not one of my favorites and, therefore, is something that I have not seen in a while.

I caught one aspect that I did not realize. The bad guy is played by John Russell, who also played the bad guy in Rio Bravo. I caught another aspect that I had forgotten. Richard Kiel is in the movie.

Kiel was one of those actors that stood out because of his physical persona. At over 7 feet tall, he played tough guys. However, he was also good at comedies. It had always been my opinion that Kiel’s stature overshadowed his acting ability.

To honor Richard Kiel, here are some words of wisdom that we can glean from his movies.Richard Kiel

From The Nutty Professor

You might as well like yourself. Just think about all the time you’re going to have to spend with you.

People just don’t like teachers blowing up their kids.

From The Longest Yard

Shaving points off of a football game, man that’s un-American.

From Silver Streak

Keep your foot on the pedal.

From The Spy Who Loved Me

When someone’s behind you on skis at 40 miles per hour trying to put a bullet in your back, you don’t always have time to remember a face.

It’s very important to have a positive mental attitude.

From Pale Rider

A man without spirit is whipped.

There’s plain few problems can’t be solved with a little sweat and hard work.

Starting fresh always sounds good when you’re in trouble.

From Happy Gilmore

You gotta harness in the good energy, block out the bad.

 

The Lafayette Expedition

17 Jun

Over the weekend, my wife and I visited her uncle in Lafayette, Tennessee. Before we go too far, you need to know that it is not pronounced in the French way. Around here, the emphasis is on the long A in the middle syllable.

I was looking forward to this visit because I had a few questions for her uncle. First, where is the Butler Cemetery? You may remember a few posts back when I wrote about John Washington Butler, the man who sponsored Tennessee’s anti-evolution bill in 1925. He is buried in Butler Cemetery, and I wanted to find it.

Her uncle had an idea where it was, and, after our visit, we went looking for it. Luckily, we found it not far from the main road. The small cemetery sits it a grove of trees between a small house and a cattle field.image-39

We found Representative Butler’s headstone and looked at some of the others. One was a Civil War veteran who fought for a Kentucky regiment. I would bet anything that he fought for the Union.

As we walked around the markers, I wondered how many people realized who was buried there. Butler’s bill sparked a debate in this country that continues 90 years later. Now, he lies in a shady cemetery on a country road.

That was interesting, but I also had some other questions for my wife’s uncle. Next, did he go to school with Rita Coolidge? She grew up in Lafayette before going on to marry Kris Kristofferson. She also broke up Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and sang the theme song for a James Bond movie.

While talking about her, my wife’s uncle said that Russell Smith grew up next door. He wrote “Third Rate Romance” and recorded it with The Amazing Rhythm Aces.

I had a third question for her uncle. Does he ever see Nera White? She farms and lives a reclusive life, but she is considered by many to be the best female basketball player of all time. One of the first women to be inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, she led the Nashville Business College to 10 AAU national championships. In the late 1950s, the US National team won the world championship, and she was chosen the Best Woman Player in the World.

My wife’s uncle is younger than Rita Coolidge and did not know her. He never sees Nera White. However, he lives in an interesting town that has produced some interesting people. I still have the same thought that I had while walking through the Butler Cemetery. I wonder how many people know about those who came before.

 

About Time

11 Nov

A few posts ago, I mentioned that this semester has flown by. My timing has been completely off, and it will be difficult to cover everything that I need to go over. One of my colleagues said that he is facing the same thing. It is as if the semester has been shorten. He also thought that previous semesters may have been longer, and this semester is the way it is supposed to be.

On top of all that, I saw Interstellar and its time warping plot. I will not spoil it for anyone, but it made me wish that I could slow down time. At least, I could get caught up on my lectures.

Between the feeling that time is flying and the viewing of the movie, time has been on my mind. Obviously that led me to all of the things that are related to time. You know, things like TIME magazine. Heck, it has time written all over it. Then, there is the Allman Brothers song, “Ain’t Wastin’ No More Time”. Better than that, who could forget the Isaac Hayes rendition of “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”? It is only 18 minutes long.

In the movie world, there is Fast Times at Ridgemont High with Phoebe Cates sending every young male into a testosterone-fueled frenzy.Phoebe

Fast times. Man, that is the truth. I always heard that time goes by faster as you get older. I did not believe it, but I should have.

Maybe I could become a time bandit. You remember that movie, right? Time Bandits hit the screens the year before Phoebe Cates hit the hearts of all those young males. It starred Sean Connery, who was still trying to get away from his James Bond persona. Time finally allowed him to escape the clutches of 007.

It is a good thing that Charles Bronson was not after him because no one could escape the Man With the Harmonica in Once Upon a Time in the West. I wrote a post about Henry Fonda playing one of the baddest dudes in movie history, but he could not escape Bronson any better than the other people in that movie.Fonda

Of course, if you want to get serious about time, then you should read A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. Doctors once told him that his time was running out due to ALS. He fooled them.

Before I fool myself by thinking that something can be done to slow down time, I am going to stop writing and figure out how I am going to get all of this history covered before time runs out on the semester. Yep, “I Ain’t Wastin’ No More Time.”

 

The Torturous Career of Daniel Craig

3 Jul

My wife loves Daniel Craig. She talks about how good-looking he is and about how he is her favorite actor. I respond with my admiration for the acting abilities and other aspects of Olivia Wilde. However, I also respond by talking about Daniel’s acting abilities.Daniel Craig

All actors have a specialty within their craft. Some can disappear into a character. Others are better in action sequences. Some work better in the brooding role of an art house film. Others are better at comedy than at drama. A few can do both. Obviously, actors are versatile, but they still have some things that they are better at doing.

Daniel Craig has been in historical dramas, spy thrillers, westerns and many other types of films. However, his specialty is playing a tortured person. I am not talking about having a tortured soul of someone who has had a life of misfortune. I am talking about someone who is getting flayed, beaten, whipped and any other torturous act that comes to mind.

He must be good at playing a tortured person because there is a recurring theme to his movies. Daniel Craig is always finding himself in these situations.

I first remember seeing Daniel in Elizabeth, the 1998 movie about the early reign of Elizabeth I. Many powerful people did not want her on the throne, and Daniel Craig was sent to stir up rebellion and assassinate her. He was not very good at his job because he got caught. In one of the films most dramatic scenes, Geoffrey Rush has Daniel hung from the rafters with blood dripping to the floor. He is being tortured until he spills the beans on the other conspirators.

He ended up talking, and Elizabeth’s reign is saved.

Daniel continued acting in some forgettable movies until he hit the big time in 2006. That is when he debuted as James Bond in Casino Royale. Honestly, I never thought any Bond movie could be as good as Goldfinger, but this may be the best of the bunch. It definitely pumped new life into an old franchise.

It also showed Daniel at his best. Not when he was chasing bad guys. Not when he was wooing a woman. It happened when he was being tortured by the villain. This was a great scene because of its simplicity. In most movies, a torture scene involves a bunch of elaborate ways to hurt someone and get them to talk. In this case, the bad guy says:

You know, I never understood all these elaborate tortures. It’s the simplest thing… to cause more pain than a man can possibly endure.Torture

Then, he hit Daniel in a place that made every guy in the theater cringe.

With his career in high gear, Daniel had his choice of roles. There were a few missteps. Then, he delved into a genre that I love but that Hollywood deems risky. In 2011, he made a western but not just any western. This one was called Cowboys & Aliens and also starred Olivia Wilde. In our house, this may have been the best movie ever made. That is mostly due to the scene where Olivia Wilde walks out of the fire.Olivia

It is also a movie where Daniel went back to his comfort zone. In a flashback scene, he gets abducted onto an alien spaceship and gets tortured. More accurately, they are going to experiment on him, but that seems like torture to me.

Once again, Daniel shows his acting chops by struggling and sweating as someone tries to cause him great pain.

That same year, Daniel starred in a greatly anticipated movie called The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Based on the book and the foreign film, which was better than this one, he plays a disgraced journalists who is hired to solve an old mystery. He gets help from a young computer hacker who has a ton of issues along with a tattoo of a dragon.

Many people criticize the book and the movie for its apparent hatred toward women. It is true that violence and disregard for women is all over the place. In the most famous scene, the title character is brutally raped while handcuffed to the bed.

However, not all of the violence is directed toward women. As Daniel closes in on the culprit, he finds himself bound in the serial killers basement of horrors. As Daniel hangs by chains, the bad guy suffocates him and runs knife blades across his chest. It is obvious that this guy is going to do things to Daniel that Geoffrey Rush, the Bond villain and the alien would never dream of doing. Luckily for Daniel, the bad guy ended up looking like this.Dead

Obviously, Daniel Craig is a successful actor who has obtained on of the iconic roles in movie history. He has also tried his hand at other genres. However, he has also tended to revert back to his comfort zone, and that seems to be in the torture chamber.

 

Mourning in the Movies

29 Jun

This past week, I watched The Godfather on the big screen with my dad and my nephew. Obviously, it is a great movie, and I have seen it many times. However, this time was different. In a dark theater with no distractions, I was able to focus on details  that I had missed and also fully enjoy some of my favorite scenes.

One of those scenes is the funeral of Don Corleone. Movie funerals have always fascinated me. Usually, they are essential to the plot, but that does not have to be the case. For me, a well filmed funeral scene stands out, and I do not know why. Perhaps, it is because a movie funeral makes the film more realistic. It could be because it provides the ceremony of a funeral without a person really being dead. It could simply be the drama of it all. Whatever the case, some of my favorite scenes are funerals.

The funeral of Don Corleone is especially good because of all the underlying consequences. The heads of the other families get out of their limousines for the burial of the Godfather while they are plotting to bury the entire Corleone empire. Michael knows a betrayal is coming but does not know who the culprit will be. As people mourn his father, Michael is set up to be assassinated by Sgt. Fish from Barney Miller.Godfather

Another great movie funeral actually involves an assassination. Before Paul McCartney sings the iconic theme song. Before Jane Seymour makes her appearance as a Bond Girl. Before Roger Moore makes his debut as James Bond. Before all of that, an American agent is killed in the French Quarter of New Orleans. He watches as a jazzy funeral procession passes by and does not realize until too late that it is his funeral.Jazz

With that, Paul McCartney is cued to sing, and Live and Let Die begins.

Before the death of the agent, the jazz band is playing “Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” a traditional gospel song. Other movies have also used well-known religious songs to great effect. This is where I have something to confess. In my mind, one of the most beautiful sounds in the world is “Amazing Grace” being played on a bagpipe, and no movie does this better than Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. As Spock is buried in space, Scotty plays the pipes.Spock

Then, Spock is shot into a dead planet that immediately springs to life.

I guess that you could say Spock went out in a Blaze of Glory. That can also be said Valeria, Conan’s girlfriend in Conan the Barbarian. After being killed by a poison snake arrow fired by James Earl Jones, Valeria is mourned by Conan and burned on a funeral pyre. The wizard thinks the pyre will not burn, but the fury of Arnold makes it burn.Funeral Pyre

Another dramatic exit took place in V for Vendetta, the graphic novel inspired story of a masked terrorist. When he dies, his muse, played by Natalie Portman, puts him on a train filled with explosives and flowers.Vendetta

She then sends it down the tracks toward Parliament. Once there, he finishes what Guy Fawkes started way back in 1605.

As far as funerals for graphic novel anti-heroes go, V has nothing on The Comedian from The Watchmen. His death drives the plot of the movie, but there is more greatness. It is a miserably rainy day.Comedian

The other anti-heroes show up.  Dr. Manhattan even wears a suit. However, those are not even the best parts. “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel plays over the scene to greater effect than it did that scene in The Graduate.

Then, there is the mourner who hides during the service. My favorite movie funeral scenes have someone watching from the distance who feels like they should stay away. Once everyone leaves, they go to the grave for their own private ceremony. In The Watchmen, Rorschach is the outsider who moves in after the fact.

In Cooley High, it is Preach who comes upon Chochise’s grave after everyone else has gone. This is another awesome scene. A drunken Preach reads a poem over the grave as a classic tune plays over the scene.Preach

Then, he wads up the paper and takes off into the gloom. This movie is also cool because it tells what happens to the characters as they grow older.

Alright, those are cool, but my favorite funeral scene with a distant viewer is in a western called The Sons of Katie Elder. The sons have come back home for the funeral of their mother. There preacher says some great words, and mourners tell the sons how great their mother was. However, one son is missing. He is a gunslinger who does not need to make a public appearance. He is John Wayne, and he is standing in the rocks looking down on the funeral.Katie Elder

John Wayne is also part of another great movie funeral. As his family is being buried in The Searchers, the Duke shuts down the ceremony because the time for praying is over.Searchers

The time for vengeance has arrived.

The time to end this post has also arrived.

The Award for Missed Opportunities Goes To…

2 Mar

It’s been almost a week, and the wave of online Oscar recaps has subsided. Now, it seems like a good time to throw in my opinion. But first, a disclaimer. This is the first time that I have ever watched an entire Academy Awards broadcast. Usually, I try to catch the “In Memorium” part, but that is about it.

I watched the entire thing for a couple of reasons. I saw most of the Best Picture nominees, and, most importantly, my girlfriend wanted to watch it. The show was pretty good, but I couldn’t help but think about the missed opportunities. Look, I know the shoe goes on too long as it is, and they can’t do everything. However, if I was running things the following would have definitely happened.

The first thing that would have happened? Andy Griffith and Sylvia Kristel would have been included in the “In Memorium” montage.

I have written several times about my obsession with all things about The Andy Griffith Show and realize that most people associate him with television. However, Griffith had one of the most powerful big screen debuts of all time. In 1957, Elia Kazan directed him in A Face in the Crowd, a prophetic tale about the power of television. Griffith plays Lonesome Rhodes, a hobo turned television star turned megalomaniac. It’s amazing to see a down home character with an evil streak.Lonesome Rhodes

Sylvia Kristel gained fame in erotic movies such as Emmanuelle and Lady Chatterley’s Lover but came to the attention of adolescent American males in Private Lessons. In short, she was every teenage boy’s dream. At least, she was the dream of the ones who came of age while watching Cinemax.Sylvia Kristel

The second thing that would have happened? The James Bond tribute would have been a lot better. Here is a franchise that has lasted through 50 years and transformed a character from a chauvinist Cold Warrior to a modern action hero. It deserved more than a few film clips.

They had one Bond Girl, Halle Berry. They should have had a bunch of Bond Girls.

They had the greatest Bond singer of all time, Shirley Bassey. However, they also had the current Bond singer, Adele. They could have had them perform together. Goldfinger meets Skyfall.

All of that would have been great. However, none of it could compare to what they really should have done for the James Bond 50th Anniversary tribute. The star-studded crowd would have gone wild if the actors who have officially played James Bond had walked out together. Think about it. Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. That would even impress Ernst Blofeld.Ernst Blofeld

Hey, here’s some trivia. George Lazenby appeared with Sylvia Kristel in a few Emmanuelle movies. Now, that’s going from one great franchise to another.