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2006/12/31

So

It's a well known fact that celebrities die in groups of three, and there's some connection between them.

So ... James Brown, Gerald Ford, and Saddam Hussein. Five hundred quatloos to anyone who can come up with an answer.

2006/12/15

IRONY DEFINED

I was just watching the Luceille Ball/Desi Arnaz comedy Forever, Darling and came across an hilarious line of dialogue. But a line that was intended as straight exposition by the writers.

Desi's boss, referring to a new pesticide his company's developing, says, "This makes DDT look like talcum powder."

2006/12/06

JAMES BOND: LISCENCE TO RAPE

One of the most fascinating things about cinema is the way an audience can be manipulated into interpreting events in a way that's totally at odds with how an objective observer would describe them. Take the typical romantic comedy, in which a strange man becomes obsessed with a woman he's only met in passing. He begins following her around, calling her at odd hours, skipping work to see her, finding out about her from her friends, and trying to break up her relationship with her boyfriend. The guy's a stalker. But directors use their cinematic arsenal -- music, subjective viewpoints, lighting -- to make the audience think the creep is a nice guy who really deserves the girl. In real life, a man standing outside a woman's window with a stereo that's blaring Peter Gabriel is frightening, but in the world of film it's sweet and mushy.

Another great example is the James Bond series. Bond is a complete psychopath who will murder for the slightest pretext, and uses women and booze to tamp down what little humanity he has left. That's how Flemming wrote him, and that's how he acts in the movies despite the filmmakers' attempts to gloss him up. Ignore the tuxedo, flashy gadgets, and suave demeanor, and what you have is a hired thug.

And not even a sympathetic one. Look at Thunderball. The film begins with Bond recuperating from his latest mission at a health spa. There's a blonde nurse present who rebuffs 007 every time he tries to paw at her, but he won't take "no" for an answer. The nurse straps him into a machine that's supposed to stretch his muscles and leaves him alone for fifteen minutes. A SPECTRE agent then shows up and switches the machine into high gear, nearly killing Bond before the nurse returns. The nurse blames herself, thinking she didn't strap Bond in tightly enough and he somehow hit the control lever. She begs him not to tell the hospital administrator what happened. Bond, knowing full well that she's not at fault, agrees, but only if she has sex with him. She protests, but Bond ignores her and pulls her into a steam room where we see her uniform slide off.

By even Neanderthal standards, this is rape. But the movie presents it with a wink and a nod, as though blackmailing a woman into sex is something a man should be proud of. (Nor is this the only time Connery plays a rapist. In Marnie he forces the title character to sleep with him even though she clearly has strong sexual hang-ups. But at least Hitchcock presents the scene ambiguously.)

Ah, those were days, when rape and alcoholism were family entertainment.