Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Living Daylights - A Movie Club Column

Well its that time of the year again... March Madness is in full swing... and if you can take a break from all the craziness in the news involving Spitzer, Bear Stearns, Darlene Rodriguez's husband, Obamas crazy minister, and the crumbling economy to keep track of your brackets... you are more organized than I am. And how about the Long Island supporters of John White who feel he should be free, but want the father of the boy he shot dead, arrested because in a fit of anger he hypothesized about the double standard if White's son had been killed! Ok... lets get it straight... the White supporters say he doesn't deserve to be jailed for the death of Daniel Cicciaro.. but the dad should be jailed for "threatening" White's son. Are these people nuts or what?? Talk about March Madness!

On top of that, Its also almost baseball season which means my rotisserie draft is just around the corner which means I get a little sporadic with my blogging schedule. Incidentally, I must have done something right last March because my hoops and baseball prep helped me finish 2nd in my baseball league and my 2007 brackets netted me an almost perfect 2nd NCAA weekend.... I nailed the Elite 8 and I was one UNC choke job away from picking the Final 4 until they lost to Georgetown. By the way, it was interesting listening to the Friday afternoon WFAN update when the reporter talking about Georgetown player Patrick Ewing, Jr., identified him as Patrick Ewing's son! Talk about overstating the obvious.

One other thing - all these people who jumped on Georgia's short lived bandwagon after their improbable SEC tournament win which featured a doubleheader victory last Saturday after a tornado ripped through Atlanta right before their scheduled quarterfinal game.... forcing them into the Saturday twinbill. Did you catch the coverage on CNN after the tornado hit?? Every night before midnight, CNN sends domestic viewers to a Larry King repeat and overseas viewers to a CNN International newscast anchored by a foreign correspondent right out of CNN Headquarters in Atlanta. It used to feature a very entertaining British guy who I watched when I went on a cruise a few years ago. That night, CNN switched everyone to CNN International for Tornado Coverage. Well this woman who was anchoring the news that fateful night is from some other country and all of a sudden found herself anchoring live coverage of a tornado hitting a city you could tell she did not want to live in and knew very little about! Some reporter was called in... and his live reports outside CNN Headquarters mentioned landmarks this woman had no clue about! It was almost as if she was holding up a sign begging her boss to transfer her out of the USA back to whatever country she is from!! And her attempts to explain the SEC Tourney game which was postponed due to tornado damage to the arena? Hysterical! First it was the basketball championships... then it was the college championships... then it was something else... she had absolutely no clue!

Anyway, I figured I need some time away from the news, ESPN, and Clark Kellogg so we could catch up with the Movie Club. Today we are going to review The Living Daylights - the James Bond movie starring Timothy Dalton.... the 4th of the 6 Bonds. Pumpstradamus and my buddy Steve who picked out the films for this series came over the other day and we popped in the DVD. By the way muchas gracias to Blockbuster in Somerset... I rented the movie during a rainstorm and their credit card machine was down and they very kindly allowed me to rent the video without paying in advance. I went back a day or two later and paid for it AND the Giants DVD.. but special thanks to Blockbuster for putting Nate on the honor system.

After seeing Connery and Moore as Bond, I knew we were in for a bit of a disappointment, but strangely enough Dalton's movie actually has a well presented storyline.. the problem is Dalton is not as Bond-a-licious as the previous Bonds. Whereas Sean and Roger played the part rather tongue in cheek with a dash of studliness, Dalton is all business here... with only the occasional wisecrack. In the last anthology we did here at NWOW, the 4th Robert Altman movie was Short Cuts (see the 9/6/07 column) which featured a key storyline involving a cellist. Coincidentally, the 4th Bond movie also features a storyline involving a cellist.

Heres the trailer...

After the opening segment introducing Bond, we hear the latest theme song, a recording by A-HA named for the movies title that basically sucks. Its definitely no Take on Me, nor anywhere as good as the other Bond movie theme songs. Once the opening credits are done, we get right to the meat of the storyline - Bonds is assigned to assist the defecting Russian general Koskov - a topical storyline for the 80s when the Russians Communists were the big meanies. Bond has to keep an eye out for snipers as the General chooses the intermission of a classical music concert to make his escape. Bond however realizes that a rooftop sniper is ready to pounce, and is amazed to discover that this KGB sniper is actually the hot cellist! Despite orders to shoot to kill, he instead opts to hit her in the arm.... which one would think would present him with the opportunity to get to know this babe a little better.

However, the Dalton Bond is more in touch with his instincts than his hormones in this movie. He insists that his refusal to kill the cellist was because he wasnt 100% sure of General Koskov's truthiness.... Koskov is a touchy feely huggy kind of guy....he gives Bond a big hug once he is safe... I could almost see Richard Simmons playing this role! Bond puts together an elaborate scheme to get Koskov outta town by driving him to a Pipeline guard station, and basically giving him a little ride in one of those tubes like they used to have in (Tr)action Park in the late 1980s... ... except this time was in a pipeline headed right to Vienna. Steve gets the geography gold star for pointing out Austria's proximity to Russia... while Pumpstradamus told us that while watching this film in the theater in 1987 , he informed his fellow viewers that a storyline sympathetic to Afghans was misguided since he predicted that these people would eventually turn out to be Al Qaeda terrorists. I wasn't there but I'll take his word for it.

Ultimately, Bond decides to find out more about this young chickie...Kara played by Maryam D'abo. After he continues to run into trouble with her, you start to wonder if maybe Bond might have been better off just shooting her in the beginning of the film. Bond helps Kara escape from Russia... but she won't go anywhere without her cello - and when its time to escape the Russians on a ski mountain, Bond realizes that a cello case makes a great snow board!! As it turns out, the cellist has amor for another fella... but Bond being Bond still tries to make his move including a trip to the Prater Amusement Park where he takes her up on a Ferris Wheel while wearing a tux. Ultimately, that is also the scene where another agent meets his demise triggering a mad manhunt which features a Russian assassin played by Andreas Wisniewski who back then bore an uncanny resemblance to Jason McElwain in 2008. Jason is that terrific Autistic kid who scored a ton of points in a high school basketball game 2 years ago.

As usual we see the cool gadgets at the laboratory... including a key ring whose explosion is triggered when one whistles at a hot chickie. Hopefully that wasnt what caused that crane collapse last week... you know how horny those construction workers can get. During the traditional gadget demonstration scene, one of them was actually activated offstage by.... Prince Charles! He was visiting the set that day with Princess Diana and just for fun, he got the chance to participate in that days filming.

The plot moves smoothly along with a number of twists and turns. I especially got a kick out of the pipeline escape and the scene where the not too attractive Russian female guard used her breasts to distract the incredibly bored male guard. The actor who played him also played a Jewelry forger in Octopussy. Ultimately, the whole story revolves around Koskov being mixed up in a plot with a wacko American arms dealer/military obsessed nutjob named Whitaker whose foyer features a hallway of lifelike wax figures of famous dictators. Joe Don Baker does a great job in this role... The bad guys end up hatching a plot to let Bond believe that a Russian general is involved in a plot to kill off secret agents... many of them friends of Mr. Bond.

In a moment of weakness, Kara trips up Bond... who ends up as a prisoner on a plane to Russia en route to a jail cell at an Afghan airfield. Back then, Russia was the big bad wolf, and Afghan rebels where these poor people trying to fight off the Russian Army using horses. However keep in mind our training of the Afghans ultimately led to the creation of the Al Qaeda terrorists, so although they might have been sympathetic 20 years ago, its really hard to root for them in this movie when you watch it in 2008. The movie culminates with a preposterous mid air fight outside an airplane that looks even scarier when you watch the extras on the DVD and see how ridiculously insane the filming was for these poor stuntmen! In any other Bond movie... everything is preposterous.. but with this one being played out so seriously... a crazy finale like this looks somewhat out of place.

One major change from prior movies - there is a new MoneyPenny!! The other Moneypenny was in her late 40s and a tad too plain for Mr. Bond, but she always flirted with him. The new Moneypenny... is played by Caroline Bliss who at 26 is just too good looking to be flirting with Bond without him wanting to get some action.... especially when the laboratory features a collapsible couch that has a hidden compartment perfect for the ol' hocus mcpocus. . By the way, IMDB says Bliss appeared in a 2nd Bond movie, but hasnt acted since 1996. The computers in this movie are pretty interesting... they don't really look too "futuristic".. but the internet research abilities are quite impressive for the late 80s. I was almost waiting for them to watch the NCAA tournament on

Overall as Bond movies go, Dalton was rather bland. But if this were another movie involving a character not named James Bond... lets say one of those Matt Damon/Nicholas Cage flicks or even one featuring a character named Gaydolf Titler... this would be a pretty good movie. (And why was Titler funny... but Oprah-Uma wasn't??) The theme song by A-ha just didnt do it for me... but the musical score was ok. but when all was said and done, this particular Bond despite his serious side got involved in a pretty good story. and the scenery looks terrific.. even though the end is just a tad absurd. The movie might have been better if they didn't sidetrack into the whole Afghan rebel storyline, but that might just be my own Post 9/11 bias. On a scale of 1 to 4 bladders meaning how less likely you would be to leave in the middle to go to the bathroom.... The Living Daylights gets 2 and a half bladders.

Next Movie: Pierce Brosnan in Tomorrow Never Dies.

Clip of the week I

Here is the review that appeared on The Siskel and Ebert show 20 years ago. Watch as Roger tries to figure out exactly how to pronounce the name Maryam D'Abo!

Clip of the Week II

Dalton on CBS this morning with Kathleen Sullivan plugging the movie including an interesting theory why Bond doesnt get as much hoochy mcscoochy in this flick....

1 comment:

Sansego said...

Hey, interesting review of the Living Daylights, which is my all time favourite Bond movie. Kara Milovy is also my all time favourite Bond girl.

I first saw this film in theaters in 1987, so the context of the Afghan rebels was very current then. Even Rambo went to Afghanistan in a 1988 movie. The whole point of western support for the Afghan mujahaddin was to create a Vietnam-quagmire for the Soviets which would ultimately bring down that superpower. It worked! The Soviets withdrew in 1989 and finally collapsed in 1991.

"Charlie Wilson's War" shows that American withdrew support from Afghan rebels after the Soviets withdrew and that's what caused trouble for us later on when the Taliban came to power and allowed the mujahadin a base from which to engage in terrorist activities against the U.S. Osama Bin Laden has stated that it was the 1990/1991 war against Iraq and the large number of U.S. Troops in Saudi Arabia that turned him against America. He was once a CIA-paid operative who turned against us because of our war against Iraq.

Anyhow, you did get the movie location wrong on the Living Daylights. The defection took place in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, which is very near to Austria and Vienna. That's why it was a short pipeline from Bratislava to Vienna...both cities are on the Danube River.