Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Life in Bondage. James Bondage.

Covering a class yesterday at my school, I asked the students what they had planned for the weekend.  Most said they would be catching up on sleep, one talked about a trip to see family down in the Valley, and another mentioned hanging out at the mall.  When they asked me the same, I told them I'd been considering taking my wife out on a date to see the new James Bond movie.

"It's so funny," a boy said, "how they, like, keep bringing him back every couple of years."

I didn't quite know how to respond to his comment.  I suppose it is kind of "funny," in the sense that our taste for this character has not waned since Dr. No was released fifty years ago.  Because I turn 49 next month, I can say that James Bond has been a part of my life during the whole journey, and yes, I have seen new incarnations come and go.

I'm particularly fond of Sean Connery, because I remember how close it made me feel to my father, watching those films.  Connery was always my dad's favorite, though I think had Dad lived to see our present Bond, Daniel Craig, he'd have approved.  Sean Connery had such style and power, and he didn't take himself overly seriously, which helped.  I have strong memories of lying in my parents' big king-size bed watching Bond films with them.  My father loved telling me about all the exotic locations in which they were shot.

Most of my memories of seeing Bond flicks in the theatre were of Roger Moore, in the late 70's and early 80's.  Barbara Bach fascinated me and all my friends, of course.  But I wasn't a huge Roger Moore fan.  He went too far to the tongue-in-cheek side, so that I didn't find his "license to kill" at all believable.  Also, by the time 1977 rolled around, and they came up with Jaws, his rival in The Spy Who Loved Me, it was clear they'd run out of ideas, in my mind.  My brother and I went to see Octopussy when it came out during my sophomore year in college, but we were so addled with all manner of controlled substance, I remember virtually nothing about the movie to this day.

I vaguely recall going to see Timothy Dalton as Bond, and liking him okay, but deciding, perhaps, that my life in Bondage was coming to an end.  Pierce Brosnan was a 007 for the ladies.  He was handsome and charming -- maybe even sexy, according to a few of my female friends.  But I never bought Pierce as an ass-kicker.  Also, 2002, when Die Another Day was released, happened to be the year I married Jeanette Reyes, and we had more important things to worry about -- like buying our first home and having our first baby a year later.  Yes, I took note of Halle Berry's Ursula Andress-inspired bikini, but nothing else stayed with me.

When Daniel Craig took over in 2005, I became interested again.  He was billed as a "darker" Bond, probably because he was really the first 007 who was actually scary.  I had no trouble believing that this man was an assassin.  So I watch Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace every chance I get, whenever they're replayed on TNT or TBS or some other basic cable station.

And I'm now more than ready for Skyfall.  The action is more frenetic than it once was.  The explosions are CG and much, much louder than they were in 1962.  The punches feel real, and the campinesss is still there, but much more subtle.  They still shoot in exotic locations, which I love, and, lying on my king size bed with Jackson, explaining the intricacies of one of the poker scenes in Casino Royale, brought pleasant recollections of my father.  I wonder what Bond will look like when Jackson is my age, in another 50 years......