JAMES BOND: YOU CAN'T GO BACK
Growing up, I had always considered myself a huge James Bond fan. When I had kids, I looked forward to sharing Bond with them. But there's no going back: movie conventions and standards have just changed too much. The best Connery movie, "Goldfinger," is for me today, just hard to sit through... lots of dull talk, rather tame action, threadbare trappings (that Miami luxury hotel looks like a prison). Connery is too smirky; Roger Moore now looks like a cartoon; Pierce Brosnan, rarely mussed, looks as believable driving a tank in "Goldeneye" as Michael Dukakis did. Trying to show my kids these movies has gotten me puzzled looks and apathy. (Try watching the older films yourself to see if they hold up now.)
But Daniel Craig has wiped all the other Bonds away for me. These two Craig movies are revelations about the actor and the character of James Bond. They are not smirky, not cartoonish... Craig is physical, dangerous, believable. Some have complained that "Quantum" is missing some of the formula elements: gadgets, cars, cocktails, quips. Personally, I don't need to see Q ever again. This series NEEDED reinvention. I would never want to go back to the formula, when Craig's two films explode the Bond conventions to create movies superior to, for me, all of the other movies in the franchise. (Even despite the rather stupid "Quantum" plot. This secret organization has to meet by whispering at the opera? There's a desert hotel powered by explosives?)
This recent experience reevaluating James Bond has also caused me to reconsider the ‘70s Peter Sellers “Pink Panther” movies. These movies held a golden place in my mind as some of the funniest movies ever made, and, like James Bond, I wanted to show them to my kids. I put on “Return of The Pink Panther,” which I remember as being the best… and I wound up turning it off, embarrassed. The moments of hilarity stick out in your mind (as Cato and Clouseau bash each other in Clouseau’s apartment), but there are vast stretches where crickets chirp, interrupted by some excessive mugging and eye rolling by Herbert Lom.
It’s sad to me, and has kept me from other old classics from my youth, like “Planet of the Apes.” I guess I would just rather remember them how I remember them, because the awful reality is kinda sad to me.