Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cinema: Casino Royale--the new James Bond?

I have strong feelings about James Bond; like Roman Catholicism, that worldview has deeply influenced my own. That’s why I have mixed feelings at best about the latest Bond effort—this fall’s release, “Casino Royale.”

It’s probably the most faithful of the movies to the original book so far, and I agree with the verdict of most of the people who’ve seen it—that Daniel Craig is the best James Bond since Sean Connery.

What bugs me is the new “take” on Bond that the producers of the film decided to go with this time around. With each screen incarnation, the film series’ producers seemed compelled to do more than simply find a substitute for Sean Connery. They tried to find an angle on the character with each new actor—for example, with Roger Moore, Bond was more the “English gentleman” type; Pierce Brosnan, on the other hand, was the “pretty face” type, but more “politically correct”—less sleeping around, more serious with women, no more than two ladies per movie. (Yawn.)

But with the latest Bond picture, I think they’ve carried the political correctness thing too far. I take issue with their decision to make the new James Bond gay.

No, they don’t come out and say he’s gay in the movie, and the actor playing him is not doing some limp-wristed, lisping stereotype, but it’s all over the picture; you’d have to be a fool to miss it. This James Bond is a flaming closet queen.

Take the first real action sequence in the picture. We are treated to the spectacle of Bond—James Bond, remember—chasing a guy on foot for about ten minutes of film time. He chases him around a town, through an (all-male) construction site (what a giveaway), up the side of a building—he’s decided he wants this man, and he just will not let him go--he’s gotta have it! It’s embarrassing; the guy he’s chasing is a not very attractive African. The plot would have you believe that Bond is after the guy because he’s a terrorist bomber (oh, sure) but when Bond yells “I need him alive!”—well, I think we all know why, don’t we? And so does the African—that’s why he’s running like hell, up the sides of buildings, and so would you, with a horny gay Bond after your ass.

He finally chases the poor man into an embassy compound where they are held at gunpoint by so many armed desperadoes that it’s clear that Bond can never have his way with him. So what does this Bond do? He kills him and blows up the compound. "If I can't have sex with this man, no one will!" he seems to be saying. What kind of message does that send the audience about the gay lifestyle?

So this Bond isn’t just licensed to kill; he’s licensed to kill any man who rejects him romantically. Indeed, he’s licensed to kill any guy who’s just not his type. At the beginning of the film, he shoots a guy who is too old for him. Then he kills a guy he meets in a men’s bathroom (another giveaway, what is James Bond doing hanging out in public restrooms?)

Not once, but twice the filmmakers show us Bond emerging from the sea in tight swim trunks so we can all see how “buff” he is. (Okay, okay, we get it! He works out to attract men, enough already.) And when he does go through the motions of hooking up with a woman for sex (for a change), great pains are taken to show us that he’s only doing it because he has to—to get secrets out of her (“pumping her for information,” as the spies say.) It’s clear he doesn’t enjoy it; he’d much rather be chasing another African around a construction site.

And Bond’s main love interest in this movie is clearly some kind of a “femme,” a lipstick lesbian. Whose idea was that, to match up a gay James Bond with a gay Bond girl? Their mutual lack of attraction for each other is plain the moment she appears on the screen, snapping peevishly at him. Between the two of them they have as much sexual chemistry as a pair of matching ceramic floor tiles. Even if she was straight it would be hopeless; this particular James Bond would rather do a bowling ball than any woman, and everybody knows that by this point in the picture.

What ever happened to Ursula Andress in a bikini? Whatever happened to Shirley Eaton (the gorgeous blonde who got covered in gold paint in “Goldfinger”?) Where are all the nubile Japanese girls who climbed into a hot bath with Bond in “You Only Live Twice”? Instead of that, we are treated to the sight of ‘my name is Bond, the new James “Gay” Bond,’ bound (naked, of course) to a wicker chair with the bottom cut out of it so some French weirdo can beat him on the balls with a thick rope. Perhaps that’s this gay Bond’s fantasy; perhaps that’s your fantasy, buddy, if you run a quiche-a-teria in San Francisco.

But it does not happen to be mine!


At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent review. Maybe a few movie reviews wouldn't be a bad idea for this blog... (though it's already got some great entries.)

At 11:46 PM, Blogger Prendergast said...

I don't go to the movies that often any more. I went cause it's James Bond, man! Can't miss those.

I watch the movies at home on my DVD player, these days. That way, if it's boring garbage--as so many Hollywood pictures are--you can turn it off and pop in a tape of entertaining garbage. America's Next Top Model. ROWF! ROWF! ROWF! Go, Top Model wannabes, go!


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