We either love James Bond films or dislike them for the same reasons. The gadgets and bad lines are forgivable and sometimes charming, less so the colonialism and misogyny.
But as violent and sexy as the films sometimes get, there is innocence there. Bond has fun. When today’s big blockbusters seem weighted down beneath heavy statements on freedom and society (take the recent Batman and Superman movies, or Russell Crowe’s grim Robin Hood) their magic loses a bit of its light. The fixation on moral identity and justice is like rain on a wedding cake. You won’t catch James Bond in a crisis of conscience. Like a good Regimental, he thinks only for queen and country.
An Englishman he remains, but something about the Bond franchise entices American tastes. We savor the visual trappings of the world Bond travels; yachts, casinos and men in tuxedos film especially well, to say nothing of the girls.
There is something also in Bond’s fealty to his country to arouse American materialist sensibilities. With trust in our government at low ebb, and troubling revelations about the U.S. intelligence community’s license to spy on Americans, we can only dream these days of such unambivalent faith, Bond’s patriotic belief that one’s duty is to queen first, and damn the torpedoes.
When: Through July 18; see schedule for films and times
Where: Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan St., Durham
Info: townofchapelhill.org/parking; 919-560-3030
Correspondent Tom Hartwell