The 007th Minute, Chapter by Chapter – SPECTRE
No, I don’t want to know about Jesus… oh it’s you. Hello. You’re a nodge early, but come in. Wipe your feet. And, flattered though I am by your reaction to being in my presence, wipe yourself. If that gets in the parquet, it’ll be a sod to shift. Don’t worry about the dog, she growls and drools gloppy blood like that when she smells such mediocre cologne. Don’t show fear. If you’re intimidated by the hound, you just won’t cope with Mrs Jim. Do hang up your “coat” to dry; it’ll burn easier, later. Don’t worry; I always lock the front door. I didn’t unlock it when you arrived? How… observant of you. Hm. That? That’s the door to the
dungeon wine cellar; you can look at that… later.
I’m pleased you had an evening free from your busy schedule of typing your thinking onto the internet and accepted our invitation to watch with us, blu-ray chapter by blu-ray chapter, 2015’s cross-concept marketing ruse SPECTRE (there’s a film in there somewhere but no-one bothered to make it). Did you bring a bottle? Thanks, let’s have a look…hmm… no. Not to worry, and you mustn’t let anyone tell you that you didn’t try. Join us (not in that way, you chikky monkey; we’d need a superinjunction) and we’ll crack open the Mossack Fonseca ’88 and settle down to “enjoy” the “film”. You sit there, on the newspapers, that’s it. Only speak to Mrs Jim when spoken to; trust my years of practice on that one.
N.B. the below might not be verbatim, but most of it ectually did occur when Mrs Jim and I witnessed SPECTRE in the comfort of our own misery. It’s like one of those “scripted reality” shows none of us have ever watched, honest. This was the first time my wife had had seen SPECTRE, although since it’s at (cold) heart a momentum-free, cynical reheated casserole of a Bond, it’s arguable she’d seen it many, many times already.
The 007th Minute: SPECTRE
Chapter 1: Gunbarrels, Arses and Bitterness
In which a lot of contrived dialogue occurs. But not in the film.
Mrs Jim (hereafter “She” – as in “who must be obeyed”): So what’s kickin’, daddi-o? (I might have transcribed that incorrectly).
Me: We’re having a nice night in, watching the latest Bond film.
She: Mutually exclusive. Another one? You get weird round these, oddly proprietorial; you always seem on edge, wanting me to like it as much as you did, anxious that I approve in some way.
Me: I suspect you’ll like this one as much as I did… but we should share things, interests.
She: Sweet. Bless. OK, I suppose so. I’m on call but I’ll turn the bleeper off; they’re going to die at some point anyway, aren’t they? You’re right, we should share more. It’s not as if you wear my shoes and lipstick, is it?
Me: (Pause). Erm… no.
She: Why are you recording this?
Me: People who subject themselves to my rubbish have asked to see more of you.
She: Are they after pictures? These are internet-shaped people, you need to be careful.
Me: It’s not that. I think slash hope. You’re a massive cult.
She: This conversation could go very wrong, very soon.
Me: An audience with Mrs Jim. Like an audience with the Pope, but with less insane fictional rubbish.
She: Yeah, yeah. C’mon, let’s get this over with.
The film starts. No, the film doesn’t start. There’s half a minute of corporate advertising to sit through. The Bond theme is played over flashboasty logos, as if there’s something they’re actually proud about. The theme is drawn out to snail’s pace. It won’t be the only thing. The warnings are there from the off. Our cash was still warm from our pockets and they were already taking the piss.
Me: Now the interesting thing is that the deal between MGM and Sony has come to an end and now the Bond series might have to find a new distributor.
She: You said there was an interesting thing?
Me: Hmm.It seemed interesting when typed into the internet, and argued about by people who have no stake in it whatsoever, but now I realise it’s incredibly boring. I suppose it’s important because it will mean more Bond films are made.
She: Today I cut an aggressive tumour from a boy’s gut. What were you saying about “important”?
Me: It’d be… nice that more Bond films are made?
She: Would it? Don’t care much either way. When’s it going to begin? We made the twins in less time than this.
A gunbarrel happens. Daniel Craig is in it. This is a terribly complicated message.
She: I thought they’d stopped doing this. Grown up.
Me: They did, and the films improved because they weren’t “James Bond films”, which were creatively spent. This signals that they are sticking to a Daniel Craig timeline but also to placate those who wanted the old style of films, the whining little...
She: Dismount from thy high horse, darling. It’s an artistic decision.
Me: It’s a financial decision. They had success last time out with Heavy Themes, and the old style of lightweight factory-floor product was generally popular, so they’ve converged the twain. And all that happens is that for those who wanted this to cohere with the old films in a way this gunbarrel directly suggests, will get frustrated by how some of the plot tramples all over that previous “legacy”…
She: Don’t do that with your fingers; it’s very annoying. Amongst other things you do with your fingers.
Me: … and those of us who were enjoying something new will yawn at all the lazy past references to a series that didn’t actually happen in this timeframe so are logically baffling.
She: And real people won’t give a damn.
Me: Greed blossoms via complacency.
She: I bet you didn’t really say that whilst we were watching this.
She: So it’s a mish of any old style of Bond film, whilst passing itself off as something new and also a sequel to The Much Loved Skyfall, which I think I’ve seen but have since got on with my life.
Me: S’about it. A bit like that new Star Wars.
She: Oh, I didn’t like that. It was noisy.
Me: Daniel Craig was in it.
She: I thought it was great. Was he? Which one was he?
Me: He was a Stormtrooper.
She: Isn’t he a little short for a Stormtrooper?
Me: Anyway, this… mess. Something old, something new, something borrowed, largely from itself, and something mystifyingly shite.
She: That seems both an insurmountable challenge, and a backward step, to me
Me: I agree with you, darling.
She: You’re not just saying that?
Me: No, this time I mean it.
She: What mean you, “this time”?
Me: Help. Still, $300 million and all they made was a Bond film. With this gunbarrel, they seem perversely proud to have done so, to associate what was going along nicely, with the tired dross of old.
She: Like those ones with Brosnan?
She: They were as useless as a bumless rent boy.
Me: Where do you pick up such things?
She: I actually listen to what our children say.
Me: Why? Anyway, Three Hundred Meeelion Dollars. Imagine all “the hospital” they could build for that.
She: Stupid comparison, dar-Ling. If it were $300 million of taxpayer money then yes, it’s scandalous and unforgiveable and, I suppose, in terms of longstanding human benefit they could have donated the money to ensuring clean water or cancer research instead of making yet another film when there are loads of films already. But if stupid people want to invest their money this way, let them. If you’re right, which you’re usually not, but if you’re right, then this gunbarrel thing is the whole confused mess of an enterprise in a nutshell, then. I’m not sure I need to see any more. Can I stop watching now?
Me: No, there’s two-and-a-half hours yet.
She: Could be domestic abuse. Why do they have to make these things so long?
Me: A misguided view that longer means better.
She: In certain circumstances. Don’t whimper, it’s unbecoming in a man. There; I called you a man. But surely only better if there’s enough material to justify the girth? Is there?
Me: Wait and see.
She: Hm. I suspect you’ve introduced suspense to compensate for a lack of it. Required to compensate a lot, aren’t you?
Me: This could be a long evening. (Pours himself a vat of wine).
She: Sweetum, you’re ignoring our guest.
Me: Wouldn’t you?
She: Good point. Who – or perhaps more anatomically accurately, what – is that? I've seen some things on the operating table in my time, but that takes the Huntley & Palmers. What have I told you about bringing roadkill into the house?
The screen goes black. The message emerges – The dead… are alive
Me: Sums up the Bond series pretty well, that. Always trying to reanimate the mildewed corpse.
She: I thought you liked these films.
A skull-faced puppet appears on screen. It’s not Daniel Craig, although such description isn’t a million miles off.
Me: So this is arguably referencing Live and Let Die. Which hasn’t happened to Daniel Craig’s Bond.
She: Is that that more-than-usually racist one?
Me: Conveniently but inaccurately considered so, yes.
She: You say that, but that Italian woman was a crass stereotype and all the Americans are idiots.
Me: Admittedly, that’s not the angle most go for.
We are still within the one shot, allegedly. A tall man in a white suit makes his way through the festival crowds.
She: Is this is The Godfather II then? It’s very show-offy, isn’t it? Clever, though.
Me: Look at us, we’re artistes making Important and Cle-Ver Cinema. With a James Bond series gunbarrel slapped on the start of it.
She: Calm down.
Me: I’m sure it’s brilliant, but it is just people walking about whilst jigging goes on, isn’t it?
She: Is that Bond, then, in the top hat?
Me: Yes. How did you guess?
She: He’s standing with a pretty woman. These aren’t mysteries, y’know. Even with that hat, he’s still not as tall as her, is he? I bet she’s got good shoes. I thought they were meant to follow that man, so why are they going in there? I think I’ve spotted it.
Me: How this is done?
She: No, the highlight of the film. That’s a belting arse. Wiggly-wiggly. Yum. How old is he now?
Me: 47, 48, roundabout.
She: There’s hope for you yet. He could give me both barrels.
Me: This lift is a homage to Licence to Kill.
She: So they’ve referenced two of the dodgy ones so soon?
Me: It gets them out of the way whilst people are distracted working out how they filmed this bit.
She: Or why. Key in her tits; convent education. Masked people, in a cage, having sexy time… did you lock the front door? All the dead faces remind me of when we went to Sheffield.
Me: I’m done apologising for that.
She: Look, there’s a man not in costume: do you think that’s a mistake? I suppose if it was all one shot it’s too much to re-do it just for that prat.
Me: Nah, they’d just throw another twenty million dollars at it, what the hell. Wave another watch in our faces or hold up a bottle label a little too long for credibility.
She: OK… Do you watch these out of fun any more? Is room 327 significant? By significant, in mean “in Bond”, so not really.
Me: I don’t know.
She: Aren’t you meant to? Does she get a name, this woman? Bet she doesn’t. Oh, there he is. Hello, lovely. Face like a smacked arse. But what an arse. Teasy kiss-kiss. They seem to be the same height now.
Me: He might have grown a little bit.
She: Yeah, yeah.
Me: She’s probably taken off her shoes. That top hat on the bed is Live and Let Die.
She: Is any of it original?
Me: Not really. All this trickery is to distract us from that.
She: Where was he hiding that gun, then? There must be a join there. Right, well that’s your line done, darling. It’s not progressive, is it? She’s just going to wait for him, is she? She’ll be disappointed. Give up, love. Go jump some other set of bones. Still, fun, this continuous thing. Is all of it like this?
She: Shame. He gives good strut, doesn’t he? Moves well. Right, it is Godfather II, isn’t it? Without the “good”. Not a bad suit, seems tight on him.
Me: It’s how they want him to look. If they were referencing the old films properly, he’d be in a safari suit and clown shoes.
She: So he’s been wearing two tight suits whilst walking in Mexico City on a hot, dusty day. Must be very well deodorised. You could do with some of that. Look at him, no sweat at all. Odd: Daniel Craig never looks clean. Grr.
Me: Did you just growl?
She: …It was the dog.
Me: She’s in the scullery.
She: …It was the “guest”.
Me: That I buy.
She: That’s clever how it’s all swoopy… but you’re right, it is just “walking”. I wonder what they would have done if he’d twisted his ankle and fallen off? Might have been a laugh.
Me: So he approaches the end in full height…
She: Not very tall. They can’t decide whether he fits in Boy’s Large size or Men’s Small.
Me: …and only at the last minute dips down behind a tiny parapet.
Bond finds himself amazingly fortuitously directly opposite where the man in the white suit ends up. There is a briefcase. There is chat.
She: Forward planning, that. Right, so villainous Italians. Original. I didn’t know Bond spoke Italian.
Me: It comes in useful later when he talks with Monica Bellucci. Entirely in English.
She: Why’s Bond frowning?
Me: He’s seen the baddie stick his hand up and show the others his ring.
She and Me: (Laugh childishly. Our guest looks worried. Reasonable cause).
She: OK, but I missed that. Is that important?
Me: Tremendously. Relatively tremendously.
She: So all this fannying about with a continuous wiggly-wiggly wasting time and something that’s actually got a point we’re all likely to miss?
Me: You’d spot it again on the second or third viewing, or at home. Having paid again.
She: Is that moral?
Me: I think it’s called foreshadowing.
She: Worth a try.
The baddies talk about blowing up a stadium.
She: And he arrived just at the point they were being fiendish. He’s good, is Bond. Who’s this Pale King, then?
Me: That’ll come up later.
She: Seems we’re rushing through things to take note of, whilst wasting time making it look good.
Me: Of which to take note. Dear. Come now. Remember your prepositions.
She: Don't get all Oxford on me.
Me: Um. Ow. Don't poke that. Not there. Ok, meanwhile, back at the plot...you sure you haven’t seen it before? Anyway, Bond translates Pale King from colloquial Italian and nobody doubts that he might have made a mistake.
She: That’s clever, how they see his laser in the cigarette smoke.
Me: I didn’t notice that.
She: I’m a surgeon, I’m paid to notice. Smoking kills.
No, it’s “Bottoms Up”.
She: “Smoking kills” is better.
Bond shoots a lot of men. He then shoots the briefcase. It blows up.
She: Why did he do that? He didn’t have to do that.
Me: We needed an action scene. It’s been “some walking” so far.
She: He just didn’t have to do that. Why shoot a briefcase? If it’s not a bomb, you’ve shot a briefcase. If it is a bomb, trouble happens. Nonsense, either way.
Rubble. End of Chapter One.
She: The gimp in the corner is very quiet, isn’t it? I like that in a… whatever.
Me: Thoughts so far?
She: It’s not really got started, has it? Very stylish but I’m missing lots of things, but I don’t think that’s my fault. It’s weirdly put together as if we're meant to look but not engage.
Me: Hm. Hold onto that thought. Another splash, darling?
She: Oh, we’re doing that now, are we?
Mrs Jim will return.