by Phyllis Chesler
Our romance is over, the dream has died. I just saw the new Bond movie. To me, it was an unending series of special effects and video game dramas, full of “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” No one was believable and thus, nothing made much sense. I could not empathize with anyone’s troubles or even their demise—How could I? I did not “know” them. I was even unmoved by the unexpected martial arts moves undertaken by half-naked female operatives. WHY do they have to show such cleavage, and half their breasts when their male counterparts are wearing tuxedos? And why do the women look about 20-25 years younger than our super-fit, craggy-faced hero, Daniel Craig? And where is Judi Dench whom I loved as “M?” I know, I know, she was killed off but why?
Bond and I go back a long way. I remember loving “From Russia With Love” in the mid-sixties. Despite the considerable sexism, I still enjoyed this very inexpensive way of traveling to Istanbul, a gypsy camp, a fake Russian training camp for spies, and to all those glamorized European capitals. That was then.
Now, I left before the movie ended. Don’t much care. Ain’t my world anymore.
There was something else. The movie theater, newly re-opened, was packed to the rafters. There was no social distancing. I’d bought an aisle seat, a seat for my companion, and a third seat for our Stuff—but really as a way of social distancing. HA! There were too many large, really big men. One, kept shouting out his rage whenever someone had not completely closed the door, letting in too much light for two seconds. I clutched my cane as my weapon in case of any mental meltdown. The young woman who sat directly in front of me got up at least ten times every hour, (I’m not exaggerating). People walked up and down the aisle constantly. Even though everyone had to show proof of vaccinations, and even though I was masked, it did not feel like a safe environment.
My son, a judge, who loves rap, hip hop, and video games, (don’t blame the mother), plans to see the Bond film. After we talked about it, he sent me the following. I am not sure if he thinks it’s meant for him—he IS middle-aged—or for me, the senior citizen in the family. It’s kinda funny.
Well, I'm a middle aged man who grew up with the films so it was easy for me to consider the sexism as all period appropriate or in mere good fun, especially as the female leads became more capable and/or plot decisive over the years, especially compared to the one in From Russia with Love. Same with Dench as M- she was excellent and survived a huge and otherwise reboot-like shift between Brosnan and Craig, but couldn't last in the role forever not least because she became far more prominent than Bernard Lee had ever been in the stories. But I have given up on a lot of movies for their shift to plotless action, jump cut narrative, shakycam cinematography, and some sort of weird non-terrestrial colour palette, all of which visible in recent Bond. I liked Casino Royale, tolerated Quantum of Solace though I think together they were one movie edited at the wrong spot. Skyfall was superb in some ways, disappointing in a few. Spectre was a conceptual dog's breakfast. It almost put me off the franchise the way JJ Abrams killed Star Wars and Star Trek for me. I'd have tried the new one, except I don't feel the need and I'm laying down some groundwork with friends to justify my decision not to see the next one without having to explain too much. Life's very tactical now.