The 007 Project: Thunderball

Previously On The 007 Project: I forgot to edit this piece and so it’s up a day late. It’s not like this is a stressful or odd week for Americans or anything. But I watched Goldfinger, I noticed that the formula was in place. Hooray!

Who’s Our Bond:

Sir Sean Connery, RIP. He’s out for a movie after this one, and he passed away this past week. He was a singular talent and by all accounts, great to work with but a real bastard in his personal life who was OK with hitting women

People are complicated

Anyway, he’s looking old in this movie again, but the toupee is still good, he’s still selling it, he’s definitely skating along in the role.

What’s The Plot?

We’re back in the Carribean! SPECTRE is still recruiting, they stole some bombs, and Number 2, Emilio Largo, is the one Bond is pursuing. His lair is under water so there is a whole bunch of SCUBA fighting which is cool. Anyway, two french sibling, Francois and Dominique “Domino” Derval are involved with Largo, though Francois is actually dead. Anyway, they find the bombs and again UNDER WATER FIGHTING, and Domino who was involved with Largo in a vague way, now gets involved with Bond, and also Leiter is around. (Again, I’m distracted this week, I apologize for vagueness)

I’m Adressing The Problematic

I mean, it takes place in the Caribbean, and the only people of color are servants. So that sucks. Also, Largo is definitely raping Domino but we’ll get into that.

Tell Me About The Girl

Domino is played by Claudine Auger, and befitting her name she’s always in black or white or some combination. She wears some rocking gowns, and she gets to murder her rapist which is super fun and cool.

There is also the evil Fiona Volpe, played by Luciana Palozzi who does have sex with James Bond, but doesn’t turn good. She’s a SPECTRE agent, she enjoyed herself and getting him to get his guard down, but his magic dick does not work on her.

TAKE THAT JAMES BOND! They’re both really hot and again, excellent gowns in this movie.

Joe’s Bond Car Corner

LOOK I PROMISE I WILL GET THESE DONE AT SOME POINT BUT IT’S BEEN KIND OF A WEEK, IT WAS JOE’S BIRTHDAY AND HALLOWEEN AND MY BIRTHDAY AND A SUPER IMPORTANT ELECTION AND MY DAD’S BIRTHDAY AND I’M SO TIRED AND STRESSED AND AHHHHHHHH.

The Song Is The Thing

I really, really like “Thunderball” as performed by Tom Jones, rules! Like almost all of them, it seems to be about a bad break up, if you don’t know anything about James Bond. Good stuff, very fun, listened to it a bunch.

Other People’s Opinions Matter Too, I guess

This week we hear from my baby cousin Bobby, who is actually 19 years old, but he’s the baby. Thunderball is his favorite Bond movie!

Here are some things he had to say:

Me: Is this your favorite Bond movie because James Bond is dressed like all our male relatives? (PASTEL SHORTS GALORE IN THIS MOVIE!)
Bobby: Doesn’t hurt.

Here are Bobby’s actual reasons for Thunderball being his favorite:

  • Awesome song (As discussed above, I love this song)
  • Coolest villain! Wears an eyepatch!
  • Best Bond Girls. (Domino kills her rapist, Fiona does not succumb to Bond’s magic penis)
  • Underwater fights! One of which feature Domino HARPOONING HER MOTHER FUCKING RAPIST.

Thank you for your contribution Bobby!

If you would like to be featured in a “Other People’s Opinions Matter Too” segment, message me on Twitter (@fangirlsdilemma) or Facebook (The Fangirl’s Dilemma) I’d love too chat!

Overall Thoughts

I enjoyed this movie, I like SCUBA fighting, RIP Sean Connery. I have not completely lost my mind but I’m not totally sane right now.

Hope you’re all doing OK, I love you, turn off the news, watch a fun movie. Next week we dive into You Only Live Twice. What’s the deal with George Lazenby? Will I be more sane while watching and writing it up? (This depends largely on 8,000 peole in the state of Nevada, actually…) Is the existential dread of the Year of Our Lord 2020 finally destroying my brain? WHO CAN SAY?

*Update: It’s still Connery in You Only Live Twice. Seriously, my brain is complete mush. I’m sorry.

The 007 Project: Goldfinger

Previously On The 007 Project: I really like From Russia With Love and everything else is going to have to live up to it. Remember how I got with Fantasia? Or Clone Wars? Or Winter Soldier? I think this is going to be like that.

It is with this context that I dive into what my friend John, (who is a huge Bond fan) calls “The Quientessential Bond Movie.” I’ll summarize more of his thoughts and our conversation below.

Who’s Our Bond

Still Connery. Still sexy, though he’s starting to show his age a bit. He’s also even more winky, this time around. He’s very aware of himself and the character, and he is having an absolute blast and it shows. He also wears a romper in one scene and turns a lesbian. We’ll get there.

What’s The Plot?

James Bond is on vacation in Miami and Felix Leiter approaches him to explain that an German? horse breeder who also smuggles gold, Auric Goldfinger is around and they need to get eyes on him. Bond gets eyes on him and also breaks up his gambling cheating and steals his girl. It’s all very cool. The girl, Jill Masterson is then killed to send a message to Bond. He gets the message. Also it turns out Goldfinger has a huge plot of some kind, so Bond is sent with many gadgets (WE MEET Q!) to Switzerland to infiltrate Goldfinger’s operation, he fails spectacularly at it and is instead kidnapped and flown to Maryland on Goldfinger’s private jet, by his stylish private pilot Pussy Galore. (We will talk about Pussy later but she’s great, and I love her) During his imprisonment Bond learns Goldfinger plans to drop a nuke on Fort Knox, thus rendering it’s gold worthless and making Goldfinger even richer. He gets the message to Felix, they stop the plot, he and Pussy have sex in a barn, eventually Goldfinger tries to kill Bond by shooting him in an airplane which DOES NOT WORK and gets him sucked out into the sky.

There are care chases and missiles and it rules. This movie is great.

I’m Addressing The Problematic

There’s less racism in this one, besides just like, everyone being white, except Odd Job, (who rules) and is Korean. But let’s talk about sexism, homophobia and the dubious consent of sex with James Bond.

So, Jill Masterson gets Fridged. We meet her, she’s pretty, she has fun sexy times with James Bond, she gets murdered so that he’ll understand Goldfinger is serious. This sucks. Kind of a lot.

Also, in the novel, Goldfinger Pussy Galore is a lesbian who then turns when James Bond pins her down and bones her in a barn. This is toned down because obviously the movie wasn’t going to be able to have be a lesbian, that would be ridiculous. Instead she just tells Bond to stop flirting with her and wears fabulous pant suits, so yeah, I totally clocked that she was queer. Then, James Bond chases her into a barn, she tells him she’s not interested, he kissed her a bunch, and she kind of is into it, but not? Dunno, but it’s not, um, super great.

The pants suits however, are excellent.

Tell Me About The Girl

Jill Masterson first, is played by Shirley Eaton. She’s very pretty and fun, and she gets to sleep with James Bond, but then she gets painted entirely gold and suffocates to death and it’s a cool set piece but a bummer, as discussed above.

Honor Blackman plays Pussy Galore and it rules and she’s great, and she’s queer coded, and I love that in my head she’s a bisexual, which I understand is like completely unthinkable to the people who made this movie but rules, if you’re me, a bisexual woman who loves James Bond movies. She’s a pilot, she runs an air circus it’s the best.

Joe’s Bond Car Corner

This is our first really cool Bond Car! It’s Astin Martin DB5, and it has an ejector seat and rocket launchers which is cool. Here’s Joe’s facts about the car:

(I will edit and put this in when he gets back to me. I procrastinated asking about it!)

The Song Is The Thing

The song “Goldfinger” is performed by Shirley Bassey and won an Oscar and is SO GOOD. It’s a warning about a bad man who will always choose gold over love. Bassey belts the HELL out of this song and it’s a favorite and I have listened to it a lot over the past few weeks.

Other People’s Opinions Matter Too I Guess

My friend John Trumbull, who is a very funny comedian who also makes a great podcast about SNL that you should listen to and I chatted about Goldfinger, and I thought he said some interesting things. I have also previously been cranky about John’s Star Wars opinions and apologized a lot for that. (He’s wrong about The Force Awakens but I was being mean.) ANYWAY John likes James Bond a lot, in particular these early Connery movies, which he describes as “near flawless.” I disagree on Dr. No, which I think is kind of boring, but I get it. Here are some other thoughts from John and my conversation, summarized:

  • Bond’s crack about listening to The Beatles with ear muffs on makes sense for a grown man to say in 1964, but is a lapse in Jame’s otherwise flawless taste
  • John also likes that Goldfinger has to explain what a laser is to the audience because it’s 1964
  • In general, Goldfinger is much more time stamped than Dr. No and From Russia With Love which feel a little more free floating in the post war era. Goldfinger was made in 1964 and takes place in 1964 and that is abundantly clear.
  • Here’s a direct quote: “Goldfinger is basically the quintessential Bond film, it crystallized the formula the rest of the films followed.” I agree!

This portion of the project will recur but perhaps not every week, just occasionally.

Overall Thoughts

This movie is fun! I really enjoyed myself. I did not like it as much as From Russia With Love but I did like it a whole lot. This feels the most like the Bond movies that I know well. (Largely the Brosnan and Craig ones) And it is definitely the one most parodied.

Next week, we go to Thunderball, and we move to Wednesday! Because on Friday The Mandolorian comes back and I have recapping to write.

In The Shadow of Adaptation: Rebecca

“We can never go back again, that much is certain. The past is still too close to us. The things we have tries to forget and put behind us would stir again, and that sense of fear, of furtive unrest, struggling at length to blind unreasoning panic – now mercifully stilled, thank God – might in some manner unforseen become a living companion as it had been before.

Du Maurier, 5

I almost started this review with Rebecca’s famous opening lines, but I prefer the above quote, which I think sums up the story better. Rebecca is a story about people trying to both live with the past and outrun it at the same time, and it makes for a fantastic psycological thriller.

The new version on Netflix is not really that. It does star two actors who I have big crushes on, and does dreamy period romance and murder mystery well. It doesn’t however, do particularly well with the Gothic Romance elements of the story, which is probably my favorite part of the novel, as you can see in my review of it from a few years ago.

I’ll start with the actors. Our leads, Maxim DeWinter and his unnamed second wife are played by Armie Hammer and Lily James. Hammer has done hard work over the past few years winning me over. (The Man From UNCLE! Call Me By Your Name! Leaking kinky photos of himself post divorce! ALLEGEDLY!) and I have had a massive crush on James since she flounced into Downton Abbey with her modern ideas about fringed dresses and interracial romance. They both do well here. The movie really leans into the fact that these two very hot people want to be having sex with each other.

And they do have plenty of hot sex. And they wear gorgeous outfits and flit around Monte Carlo and that part of the movie is excellent.

Then we come to Manderley. Maxim’s ancestral home. Things are still being run by the creepy Mrs. Danvers, played with chilly precision and Sapphic repression by Kristin Scott Thomas (Mrs. Danvers and Rebecca were DEFINITELY having sex and you will never convince me otherwise.). She is appalled by her new mistress. The only scenes that nearly touch the Gothic perfection of the novel and the Hitchcock movie are the scene where Mrs. Danvers describes Rebecca in her boudoir and when she tries to convince Mrs. De Winter to kill herself. The rest feels silly and perfunctory and it’s such a bummer.

The movie does handle the section of the story where Maxim is accused of murdering Rebecca perfectly. (He is, in fact, guilty, but Rebecca was a bitch who was cheating on him, so I guess it’s OK?) It handles the conspiracy and uncovering of Rebecca’s cancer wonderfully.

It’s just a bummer because that is the portion of the story that I’m just not particularly interested in. I like the early whirlwind romance and I like the Gothic horror aspects, and this particular adaptation is not as interested in that portion. Which is fine, there are several angles to take with this story, I just don’t think this take is for me, despite it’s appealing leads and lovely costuming.

The 007 Project: From Russia With Love

Previously on The 007 Project: I was getting nervous because I didn’t super enjoy watching Dr. No and I was afraid I’d made a huge mistake choosing this as my new watch project.

But I took a deep breath, and stuck with it and watched From Russia With Love.

And you guys? I really liked this one. It is a much more fun watch than it’s predecessor. It’s cheekier, Connery gets to do more of the stuff I liked from him in Dr. No, and it’s a little bit less racist and sexist. (I mean, it’s still really racist and sexist you guys. This is not a woke franchise.)

Who’s Our Bond

We’re still in Connery land and I still love him. He’s so much fun in this part. He’s just along for this delightful ride, smirking and quipping and practically winking at the camera. He gets that this is a ridiculous game and he’s having a ball playing it. He has a few more intense and emotional scenes which he also nails.

What’s The Plot This Time

A mysterious man who’s face we never see but has a distinctive white cat (Me as we see this, *SQUEEEEEEEEE* BLOFELD!) holds a meeting with two of his operatives and declares that SPECTRE is ready for their next step, further destabilizing the East/West Cold War tensions to rise to power in the chaos that will come. The plan is to sow some seeds of distrust in Istanbul, via a Russian agent defecting, and as a bonus, killing that pesky James Bond, who got the valuable Dr. No killed. The Russian agent chosen is Tatiana Romanova, who reaches out to M, saying she has a decoding machine that MI6 wants, and that she’ll only communicate with 007. Baffled, but very into this mission, once he sees a picture of Tatiana, Bond hops a plane to Istanbul, rendevous with Ali Kerim Bey, and then Tatiana. They get the machine and head towards England (with some fun set pieces along the way) and Bond learns that Tatiana is actually taking orders from Rosa Klebb, and Klebb has defected to SPECTRE. Tatiana still thinks she’s working for Russia and is pretty pissed she was used by the rogue organization so then she defects for real. Klebb is threatened by Blofeld (who we don’t know is Blofeld yet) that he will not tolerate another failure from her.

I’m Addressing The Problematic

Ooookkkaaayyy, let’s get started. So, there is a very racist section of this movie that could be cut entirely without losing much of anything. (Isn’t that always a bummer? I mean, a whole movie being super racist sucks, but when there’s just BOOM 20 MINUTES OF TERRIBLE RACISM it’s so jarring) While in Instanbul, Kerim takes Bond to a Romani camp, (though they use a commonly used slur for folks of Romani cultural background) where they watch a sexy girl dance, and then there’s a fight between two women to win the right to marry the son of the chief. When the Russians (actually SPECTRE) attack the gathering, and Bond protects them the chief says, “SURPRISE, you James Bond are my son now and also those girls, all yours.” It is, unsettling. And then, completely unaddressed.

But again, this is a 20 minute section that you could completely skip over and lose pretty much nothing except some weird racist shit.

Tell Me About The Girl

Tatiana Romanova is played by Daniela Bianchi, and I like her a lot. She’s a loyal Russian intelligence clerk, who is chosen pretty much because of her unfailing loyalty to the state and also she’s super hot, and they want to lure James Bond and having a super hot lady around is a great way to do that. While there’s still a lot of pouting and looking pretty involved, she’s a pretty active (if reactive) character, who’s in control of her own mind and dislikes being used. She does however, enjoy sex with James Bond. (And who wouldn’t, really?) So when she defects for real, they head off to Venice and make out in a Gondola. Is great. I like it a whole lot.

Joe’s Bond Car Corner

I had to do a little more digging to even ask Joe about a car this time, because there’s only one scene with the car. This movie is much more about boats and a train. Anyway, it’s a 1935 Bentley Mark IV, it was what Bond drove in the books and honestly? I kind of forgot to ask Joe about it. Because it isn’t really featured much in the movie at all.

The Song Is The Thing

This is the first time we get a Bond Theme Song, besides the iconic orchestral theme, which does indeed rule super hard. The song “From Russia With Love” is a cool loungey ballad performed by Matt Monro. The song plays diagetically as Bond picnics with sometimes girlfriend Eunice Grayson (who he met in the casino in Dr. No) and then over the end critics. The song seems to be about a world traveler who’s decided to hang up his hat and settled down with his sweetheart. It is pretty good.

Overall Thoughts

I genuinely and really enjoyed this movie and it totally energized me going into the project, which, Dr. No had gotten me a little bit freaked out about. I had an absolute ball watching this movie and can’t wait to move forward, because, if I’m remembering correctly, things just get more campy and fun from here.

Next week, we get into Goldfinger. I don’t remember much about the movie, but the song is good.

The Weird Bits That Made Me: The Rocketeer

Welcome To: The Weird Bits That Made Me, an expoloration of the idiosyncratic or obscure pop culture that I was into as a kid. I lived a strange suburban existence, with relatively young and somewhat hip parents and there were some real gems in the offbeat cultural stuff they exposed us to as kids. It hought it would be fun to once a week explore some of that

I’m not the only nerd of a certain age to talk about how the notorious Disney produced flop The Rocketeer, made in 1991 by director Joe Johnston, was a big influence on their taste. There are tons of blog posts and think pieces out there about this one. Mostly, because Johnston went back to the well in some major ways when he made Captain America: The First Avenger which I also love.

The Rocketeer tells the story of Cliff Secor (Billy Campbell, adorable) a struggling stunt pilot in 1930’s Los Angeles, who comes across an experimental jet pack, along with his trusty mentor and mechanic Peevy (Alan Arkin! The cast only gets more exciting from here folks). The pack was stolen from Howard Hughes (Terry O’Quinn!) by gangster Joey Valentine (PAUL SORVINO!) who has been employed by matinee idol Neville Sinclair (TIMOTHY DALTON! Who we will be talking about more eventually!) who is actually a Nazi spy. Sinclair becomes interested in Cliff’s girlfriend Jenny, an up and coming actress (Jennifer Connolly at her absolute hottest) and shenanigans ensue.

It’s a great movie. Fun, and funny and grown up without feeling tawdry, with clean exciting practical action and a “Gee Whiz!” energy that never feels corny. Johnston really excels at this, and I’m 1000% convinced that fond memories of this movie got him the Cap job. There are quite a few beats reused. (It ends with a couple of kids running around the airfield pretending to be The Rocketeer, which made me laugh out loud.)

We also watched this movie maybe every weekend growing up. It was my brothers favorite movie ever, and I can honestly say, my absolute love of this movie, is I think a testament to how oddly isolated to my family my childhood was. I spent most of my time with my siblings and cousins, and so we liked all the same things. When I was a teenager and referenced something like The Rocketeer, and no one knew what I was talking about, was the first time I learned that my references were just a little out of step. And when someone did know what I was talking about, I knew they were a friend.

Yesterday afternoon, I attended one of my nerd friends Central Park hang outs, (these have been sanity saving) and I mentioned watching it for this feature and got an explosion of, “I love The Rocketeer” from a few, and then describing the flick, a “that sounds awesome.”

The Rocketeer is a great movie and I hope more people discover and fall in love with it because of Disney +. It was also nice to do a movie after having done music based ones for the past few times. (Most of these are going to be music though, probably)

The 007 Project: Dr. No

Hello everyone! I’ve learned over the past few years that what really helps me keep things going around here is having a watch project. Whether it’s recapping a show as it comes out, or doing a series of movies.

I really enjoyed watching all of those Disney movies, but rather than continue in that vein, I decided to go for something completely different. And that something completely different is watching all of the James Bond movies. In a row. In order. Open minded about who is best. (Though, you know, Connery.)

So, we’re watching The Bonds. We’re starting right here, at the beginning with Dr. No.

I don’t think I’ve watched these early Sean Connery movies since I was much younger and a very different sort of movie watcher. Here was my first thought, in writing this up:

It is amazing how Dr. No manages to set up everything we now expect a Bond movie to do, and still be incredibly grounded as a spy thriller. The large campy set pieces aren’t really there, with the exception of Dr. No’s lair, everything seems pretty real world. And yet, there’s still, well, everything we need to know about James Bond. He has sex with two different ladies, before meeting Honey Ryder, he drinks his martinis, he has his car shipped to Jamaica from England, he meets with M, flirts with Moneypenny, wears the tux, it’s all there.

Who’s Our Bond?

There’s also just, Sean Connery. My God, when he first appeared, I melted into the sofa. That is a sexy man, my friends, and I don’t mind saying it. When the camera focuses in on him at the card table at Le Club de Cercle, I actually took a deep breath and then exhaled. He is attractive. He’s also funny, and charismatic, and delightfully self aware in the role. He made the mold, and no one has really matched him.

What’s The Plot This Time?

A British spy in Jamaica has gone missing, and 007, James Bond, has been sent to find out what happened to the poor fellow. As it turns out, he was onto a mysterious Chinese scientist by the name of Dr. No, who is experimenting with atomic power, while under the banner of the mysterious SPECTRE. Bond thwarts him, HOORAY!

I’m Adressing The Problematic

Look, we’re doing Bond. There is sexism, there is racism, there is glorification of the waning British Empire throughout this series. Dr. No has got all of that. The women, all four of them, are completely disposable. The characters of color are stereotypical and silly. Dr. No is supposed to be half Chinese, but is played by the white, Julian Wiseman (who’s great, but you know, YIKES).

Tell Me About The Girl

Honey Ryder is played by Ursula Andress and she is very beautiful. She doesn’t appear until the last half hour of the movie but she has an iconic entrance in her gorgeous white bikini with a belt and it is completely and utterly fabulous. This bikini rules so much that last week it sold at auction for $500,000. I’m talking about the bikini and not the character because Honey is not really a character, she just kind of shows up and is around for about five scenes and then Bond kisses her on a boat and the movie ends.

It sucks.

Joe’s Bond Car Corner

Part of the fun of this series is that my brother-in-law loves the Bond movies, and love cars, so he agreed to do a quick write up of James Bond’s car in each movie. Hooray! Here’s what Joe has to say about The Sunbeam II, which I noted to him, I observed was blue!

  • You’re right – it was a 1962 Sunbeam Alpine Series II in Lake Blue 
  • Being the first Bond film, they did not have the money nor the endorsements from large car manufacturers (Aston Martin), this car was actually borrowed from a local Jamaican resident since it was one of the only viable sports cars they could find on the island.
  • The Sunbeam name dates back to 1888 when it was registered by John Marsten, a bicycle manufacturer.  They began manufacturing cars in 1901. 
  • Sunbeam was a prestigious name due to their engine manufacturing.  They produced aero engines for planes in WWI, then focused on Grand Prix Racing and land speed records post war
  • Engine for the 1962 Alpine Series II: 80 horsepower, 97 MPH top speed.  Not so sporty for Bond compared to a 1962 Corvette, 150 horsepower, 108MPH top speed. 
  • Bond’s Alpine included optional upgrades such as wire spoke wheels and white wall tires (SO necessary for the early 60’s look)
  • The Alpine is named after the Alpine Rally (Coupe des Alpes) which was one of the most prestigious races in the world during the 50s.
  • Base price was about $2,500.  Mint condition these days they go for $10,000 tops.
  • About 19,000 Sunbeam Alpine Series II were made.  Not many around these days, if they are they are in bad shape and you can get them for around $3,000 as a project car.  
  • The Apline I was not very successful, so Sunbeam put a bigger engine in it, and made the car a bit bigger to attract the American Market.  It was considered moderately successful.
  • If Bond had waited 2 more years for the Alpine to be upgraded to the Sunbeam Tiger, he could’ve been riding around with a Ford V8 (twice as powerful) that was designed by the legend Carol Shelby. (A Note From Reenie: I know who Carol Shelby is because Matt Damon plays him in the very good movie Ford VS Ferrari)

Overall Thoughts

Not going to lie you guys, I got worried watching this movie. “Is this going to be harder than I thought? Watching all these movies?” It’s not a super fun watch. While Dr. No shines in moments, as a film it’s slow and meandering and a little more self serious than I expected, I didn’t actually like it much.

Next week we press on to From Russia With Love. And SPOILER! I like it a whole lot more.

Magical Movies Tour: Frozen 2

I have so much to say about Frozen 2, that I started, stopped and restarted, reworked and rethought what I wanted to say with this essay.

Did I want to talk about this movie is really, super gay? Did I want to talk about Kristoff as a model of positive masculinity? (“My love is not fragile” is incredible) Did I want to talk about Queen Anna? Or Olaf modeling working through an existential crisis for the children? Colonialism? There’s so much! It’s a movie that’s packed full of stuff.

I couldn’t pick so instead here’s what I have to say. Frozen 2 is very good. The animation is cool and great. The story is fantastic. The songs are very good. Idina Menzel, good singer. Jonathan Groff, also good singer. Kristen Bell and Josh Gad, do less singing this time around, but they also good. Sterling K. Brown is around too. He’s great. There’s not really a villain which is good because Hans might be the weakest part of Frozen.

I love the idea of Anna and Elsa as a bridge between the people of Arrendell and the indigneous Northaldra. It’s a nice piece of symmetry. I really love the set piece in the glacier that goes along with my favorite song in the movie, “Show Yourself.” I sob each and everytime I watch it.

It’s really a surprise that I’m having trouble wrapping up, as I am TERRIBLE at endings. And this brings us to the end of the road here. I have watched ALL of the Walt Disney Animation Studios films.

It was a very fun project that I’m glad I did. I learned a lot and found some new favorites. (Bambi, Lady And The Tramp, Treasure Planet!) But now it’s time for something completely different! I considered plowing forward with animation and going into Pixar, and I still might, but I need a break from that kind of world and maybe to feel a little more grown up. And So! Starting next Monday, I will be watching all of the James Bond movies! I think it’s going to be really fun. I’ll also be checking in with more of The Weird Bits That Made Me, and of course on October 30, it’s the exciting return of Fangirl Loves Star Wars with The Mandolorian Season 2. (Ahsoka Lives! #WheresEzra? BABY YODA RETURNS!) After that, The 007 Project will move to Wednesdays. We cool? Great!

Thanks for coming along on the magical movie tour, this was an exciting thing for me. It made me miss Disney less. (I HAVE MY TRIP IN MARCH BOOKED AND I AM SO AFRAID)

Magical Movies Tour: Moana

I love Moana. I love Moana so much. Trying to decide what to focus on for this essay is almost impossible, but I’ve decided very specifically to focus on how Moana, the character in the movie Moana, goes perfectly on every step of “The Hero’s Journey”

Shall we?

The Call To Adventure

From the time she’s a literal baby, The Ocean is calling on Moana to venture out and save her people, she drops the Heart of Tafiti into her tiny baby lap. Of course we must first establish her normal life, as the chief’s daughter she’s learning to lead the tribe. It’s going very well.

Refusal Of The Call

Moana spends her whole life resisting this urge to go out onto the ocean and leave her home behind. She has responsibilities and also her father really hates the ocean. BUT, her island is in trouble and she goes into a cave and has a vision of her people’s history as voyagers and realizes what she needs to do.

Supernatural Aid

The Ocean itself finally sends Moana on her way, as does the spirit of her Grandmother, who passes away right as Moana realizes her true calling.

Passing The Threshold Of Adventure

I mean, she LITERALLY HAS TO GET PAST A REEF SURROUNDING HER ISLAND TO BEGIN HER QUEST. (To find Maui and replace the heart of Tafiti) Also, when she meets Maui and convinces him to join her

Belly Of The Whale

Moana fight the Kakamora, realizing that this journey will be perilous and not as easy as she thought.

The Road Of Trials

This is largely the battle with Tomatoa, but also the journey across the ocean, where Maui teaches her to sail, and regains his powers of shapeshifting with his hook. This is also when Maui and Moana fail at their first attempt to get the heart to Tafiti, blocked by the demon TaKa.

The Meeting With The Goddess/Atonement With The Father/Abyss/Apotheosis

After Maui flees in their failure, Moana communes with her ancestors, especially her grandmother and realizes that she is a hero and she needs to finish her quest. (I weep, and weep like a tiny baby.)

Here the hero is supposed to have a greater realization about themselves and their quest, here, Moana know at last, who she is and what she wants.

The Final Boon

Moana restores the heart! She wins! Also, she realizes that trauma is not the defining portion of a person’s life and soul, when she returns the heart and it is revealed that Taka is the heartless Tafiti.

The Master Of Two Worlds/The Freedom To Live

Upon returning to her people, Moana teaches them to voyage once again, and takes her place as the next chief. Also, Maui returns to his place as a great hero.

I left a few categories and steps that didn’t apply, but otherwise, it’s a pretty straightforward telling and I love it so much. Frozen II also fits pretty well, but we’re mostly going to be talking about feminism and matrilineal lines of power when we get there.

Next time, I do my best to finish a movie that I feel asleep watching on planes like 4 times, Ralph Breaks The Internet

Magical Movies Tour: Zootopia

It’s kind of amazing that Disney manged to make a movie like Zootopia that is an entertaining mystery, features adorable and interesting animal characters, and is someone how a very effective fable about the dangers of both personal prejudice and institutional other-ing.

Also, Shakira plays a Gazelle.

I really quite enjoyed watching Zootopia again, especially in light of the…well, everything, lately, and I think it hold up pretty well, despit being a little on the naive and simple side. (But I mean, this is a movie where Jason Bateman voices a fox in a Hawaiian shirt, so we can only expect so much of it right?) I also appreciate that pop culture references, which aren’t totally glaring and feel relatively timeless.

What’s even more exceptional is the absolutely perfect voice casting, even using almost entirely celebrities. Ginnifer Goodwin and Bateman do excellent work as our leads, Judy Hopps and Nick Wylde, and I especially like Jenny Slate as the villainous Mayer Bellwether.

I also appreciate the way the animation and environments look, Zootopia doesn’t really look like any other movie and the animals are uniquely designed and adorable. I particularly like Judy, who really manages to stand out from the crowd with relative teeniness and grey and blue color pallet.

And did I mention that Shakira plays a Gazelle, because that happens and it’s pretty wonderful.

Next time there’s just no telling how far we’ll go with Moana.

Movie Review: The Personal History Of David Copperfield

Of all the things that I miss about life in the before times, I was missing my weekly trips to the multiplex the most. I miss brunch, and bars and going out dancing, and hugging my friends.

But I missed the movies so much, that I actually danced for joy when Governor Phil Murphy announced that the state of NJ was going to allow 40% capacity in movie theaters starting on September 4th.

I was at the shore when I found out and sitting out on a patio drinking Chardonnay with some family friends, one of them asked me what the first movie I would go see was.

I exhaled. I’d given it some thought. I miss superheros so I was psyched for New Mutants, and it’s always exciting to see what’s going on in Christopher Nolan’s weird brain, so Tenet was also in the mix. But honestly? Bookending my COVID based cinema gap with interesting and exciting adaptations of classic novels seemed correct.

So I went to go see David Copperfield, which, if you read everything I’ve ever written you might remember is a novel I did not care for, despite usually liking Charles Dickens quite a bit. (Part of that is finding David himself insufferably virtuous.) I did however really enjoy this movie. My issue with the narrator was solved by him being played by the impossible not to love Dev Patel. And my issues with the narrative, that it leans into the worst of Dickens’s quirks with coincidence and black and white elements of virtue, vice, reward and punishment, are solved by the sharp and cynical eyes of it’s co writer and director Armondo Ianucci.

There was no way that the man behind Veep was going to fall into the sinking pit of melancoly and sentimentality that is so easy to fall into with David Copperfield. And indeed he did not.

I am here for this new trend where we adapt classic novels and actually lean into their comedy. I was cackling at the performances in this movie, Darren Boyd and Gwedolyn Christie play the wicked Murdstone siblings that sweeping ghosts. The flight but loving Micawbers are magically and affectionally played by Peter Capaldi & Bronagh Gallagher (A Doctor and a Commitment? DELIGHTFUL) but the true triump are Hugh Laurie and Tilda Swinton as David’s loving a loving but eccentric relations. (Ben Winshaw is also great as sleazy and villainous Uriah Heap)

What’s most fascinating about the film, to me though, is how it feels like play. Most of the characters have only one costume, the performances and broad and straight faced, and with the exception of Jairaj Varsani as young David, no one is aged, despite the story taking place over a lifetime.

Overall, I was extremely impressed and I think I made the right choice for my triumphant return to seeing movies out in the world.