About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Name is Bilmes

I guess I could sign up for their e-mail list and learn about things well in advance, but I enjoy the serendipity in finding out wassup at the Loews Jersey only when I pick up the Village Voice and see an ad on Wednesday for something that's happening that weekend.  Of course, this may not work for very long because The Village Voice is going downhill fast like so much one finds on newsprint so who knows how long they'll think it pays to advertise.

But it works for now, so I suddenly had plans for Saturday several weeks ago when I'm leafing thru the film section of the Voice and discover that the Jersey is doing a weekend of Roger Moore James Bond movies, with For Your Eyes Only on Saturday afternoon and Octopussy that night.

My first time with James Bond was with Roger in The Spy Who Loved Me.  I know I saw it in Monticello,  NY, which was a 45-ish minute drive we would sometimes do in the old days when you had to travel further to find a movie to see.  My father drove.  I think my younger brother was with us, though sometimes my younger brother says I remember his presence incorrectly.  This was the theatre downtown; somebody at Cinema Treasures thinks here but I don't honestly remember.  I think this was the same theatre where I saw the Oliver movie musical.  I remember somewhat more the twin theatres on the outskirts of town, one or the other of which where I saw Star Wars and Interiors.  I liked The Spy Who Loved Me!

In 1979 we were going to see Moonraker at a mall multiplex in Greensboro, NC on my cross country bus tour, but then there was concern that this was rated PG and the counselors took us to see Muppet Movie instead (which was OK by me in the end; The Muppet Movie became a favorite of mine which I saw a 2nd time that summer definitely with my father and brother at the Plaza Twin in Middletown, and I believe we ended up seeing Moonraker at the Carrolls Cinema on the far side of Middletown, and I liked Moonraker!

To a lot of people older than I, I wasn't supposed to like these movies.  Campy.  Roger Moore when Sean Connery was the only good Bond.  Overblown.  But hey, I was a teenage kid, and I have no shame in saying I liked both then and still like them now.  They're what I grew up with.

For Your Eyes Only opened in 1981 when I was spending an Important Summer on my own in Cambridge.  I was doing the Harvard summer program for high school kids, staying in Weld Hall in a suite with a roommate from Minot, ND.  Our RA was a big Bloom County fan.  I took an astronomy class and a creative writing class.  I saw lots of movies at the Harvard Square, which back then was a single-screen theatre doing repertory and is now an AMC 5-plex.  I devoured books, many of which came from a wonderful sf bookstore on the second floor of an old house a few blocks down from Harvard Square.  I purchased comics in abundance from the Million Year Picnic.  In many ways, in terms of my movie-going and my sf book-buying and other things, this was a summer that helped me on my way to the person I am today.  Though not fully formed; I mostly took the T from Cambridge to Boston to see movies at the Cheri or Pi Alley. While today I wouldn't think twice if I had the time about walking from Back Bay to Harvard Square, the me of summer 1981 didn't do that sort of thing.

So For Your Eyes Only was the only movie I ever saw at the Sack Charles Cinema, on a very big screen.  I didn't like it.  As we were told during pre-show comments at the Loews Jersey, this was intentionally intended as a more down to Earth Bond movie after the extravaganzas I'd started with, and the 1981 me wanted another extravaganza.  I've hardly seen For Your Eyes Only since.  The 2009 me looks at things very differently.  For Your Eyes Only is actually a very well-paced suspense movie that takes the viewer on a nice roller coaster ride.  I don't know if I'd have gone to the Loews Jersey just to see it, but since it was playing the same day as Octopussy...

Octopussy is and remains one of my All Time Highs in the James Bond canon.  I fell in love with it the very first time I saw it at the Fox Village Theatre in Ann Arbor in the summer of 1983.  This was another summer when I was on my own, working in the Grad library at the University of Michigan and staying in a cheap summer sublet.  It was another kind of formative summer when I had my first sit-down pay-my-own-way meal at a Pizzeria Uno, and starting by then to do a little more walking, occasionally hoofing out to that theatre instead of waiting on the AATA bus.  Octopussy has a great song.  It has a typically lush John Barry score.  Louis Jourdan is wonderful as the villain giving a crowning performance that's up there with Ricardo Montalban's in Star Trek II without ever getting the same acclaim.  It's kind of neat to have James Bond saving the world but then having the movie end with the personal vengeance being taken against the villain.  Q has an enlarged role in the finale.  It's witty and campy but not so overblown and somewhat grounded in the then-current realities of the Cold War.    I don't know if I'd like it as much as I do if I hadn't been reared on the Roger Moore James Bonds.  Or if I had seen it at some other moment in my life than that particular one.  But those are what ifs. I've seen this movie as often as I can which isn't often enough because it's rare for the Roger Moore movies to get the fancy revival treatment.  I can recite parts of it by heart.  Even as some part of me was saying that really For Your Eyes Only from the afternoon and two years before was really and truly the better movie, the kid in me was relishing every moment of seeing Octopussy on the very very big screen of the Loews Jersey, and it was an all time high all over again.

The Loews Jersey, FYI, is an 80ish year old movie palace that was triplexed and then eventually closed.  A community group came together to save it, and a surprising amount of its splendor had survived the triplexing and the neglect and everything else, and volunteers have slowly restored more of it, including most recently the organ which was adding to the atmosphere for the Bond movies.  I wish they'd be able to reopen at least one of the balcony levels.  Right now the theatre is a mix of movie palace splendor and aged decay.  But bottom line is it's really something special to stand in front of the screen and look way way way up toward a projection booth that's perhaps 8 stories up and way way back there.  

1 comment:

Lisa Iriarte said...

My favorite Bond film will always be Moonraker. Jaws was such a wonderful overblown baddie, and it had the space element that appealed to my blossoming love of science fiction.