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Thursday, November 22, 2012

cut-throats




The relevant section of the video is at...2 minutes 10 seconds


Though I would like to think the whole trailer is relevant. You see I haven’t enjoyed seeing a movie this year as much as I enjoyed watching Skyfall. It was really a combination of things as every favourite usually is, first I have loved James Bond all my life, who doesn’t want to be him? He’s suave, charming, dangerous, witty and all those Bond girls… and then I like Daniel Craig. As soon as he was announced as James Bond I knew I would, anyone with a name that sounds like mine gets a fair shake. Add to this  the whole tone of the movie. As has become fashionable now there is a lot of destruction of heroes, a lot of pushing them past the point where they are deitifically heroic, instead a human face is put on all of them. A trend that promises to continue stretching from Batman Begins all the way to the Man of Steel making a stop here with James who is at his most manly in this movie. Not macho but human, full of flaws and foibles, all those vodka martinis he drinks? Not a sign of sophistication but a symptom of dependency. Fourth I watched this movie at an I-max theatre. How did we watch movies before? Those screens are huge. 20 feet tall (well am horrible with size estimations so maybe more, maybe less) but still giant. You sit in the centre and you take in the whole tableau the sound knocks your hat off if it wasn’t already knocked off by the guy sitting behind you who was pissed that you were blocking his view. Fifth and last, hash brownies. I had taken some of these wonderful movie aides, needless to say by the time the opening  song played I was hanging fast onto reality. This wasn’t aided by the gothic cemetery like credits that showed nothing but the death of Bond in various surreal nightmare-like symbols. I remember a skull’s head and the camera zooming in on the skull’s head, zooming in until we saw the teeth and the teeth were gravestones, on the gravestones the name James Bond was printed over and over. For 5 minutes this played on and on, me reminding myself this was a movie and not a nightmare. Anyway for all these reasons this was the best movie going experience I have had this year. The best.

Anyway on to the relevant section of the video. In those 2 seconds what we see is, to me at least, a section of the sexiest scene in the whole movie, maybe in the whole of movie history. Eve, the girl in the scene is giving 007 a shave. She scrapes the hair and lather off his face, slowly, seductively, the camera angles and shows her eyes closed as she pulls back and then she open them and looks at him, still shaving. This is all they show in the trailer but as usual this is just a tease for the scene itself. This will of course be a minority opinion but let me lay out my case.

First some background on the scene. Bond has been fucking up; he can’t do anything straight until the time comes when he has to(and this is definitely not meant as entendre he really is messing up). Movies been the fans that they are of visual symbolism decide to show his re-emergence by cutting off his beard. This happens with every spy who goes soft, as soon as he gets a proper shave he’s back on top which has me thinking that what all the spy agencies need is a good barber so that when they pull someone in from the cold there is no pesky training in between. Anyway Bond stands there shaving his beard and he’s not using any old razor either, he’s using the oldest, a cutthroat razor.


Take a look at that thing if you will. Look at the sharp edge it holds, the way it would glint in any kind of light. Look how keen the edge. I doubt any of us has a knife they keep that sharp in their houses. This razor is danger. It’s the reason we have barbers or at least the first reason. You see back in the day who would be expected to have the time to keep sharpening their blade, who but someone who does it for a living. And make no mistake you need this sharp. So sharp that just the wrong amount of pressure draws blood. Barbers had to be pros back in the day too. With an instrument like that a nick will leave you dead. You have to trace the contours of the person exactly because there is a fine line between baby smooth and corpse pallid and that line is held onto the edge of that razor.

The reason they went out of fashion?, well according to Wikipedia, “shaving became less intimidating and men began to shave themselves more,” and for this they used safety razors. Consider the men who were intimidated by shaving. This is nowhere near the time of the effeminization of man. These were hard men who did hard jobs. They logged and they built. They hunted and they killed. They mined and they farmed. They didn’t talk about their feelings and were not allowed to show sorrow or fear. Yet shaving intimidated them. It’s not that they were intimidated that’s surprising, fear stalks each of us after all; it’s that they were willing to admit it.

Who wouldn’t though? Look at that thing. You know why it’s called a cutthroat razor? As you shave you have to shave both the neck and the area just above the throat. To do this a tricky manoeuvre must be pulled off. As you glide the razor over the skin, close enough that not a hair remains standing you have to negotiate an almost 90 degree angle, an angle that’s different for everyone at a place in the body where the up and down of breath produces significant results. If he breathes out at the wrong time, and you’re pressing too close ohe razor slices right through his throat. Letting him gurgle and choke on his own warm blood. A painful death. A cut throat.

Having painted that background let’s get back to the movie scene. In it Bond is rebirthing himself. He stands in front of a mirror and lathers himself up with what must be soap. It would after all be too large a contradiction to find a man who both uses a cutthroat razor and likes the willowy pillow softness of shaving cream. He begins to shave himself. Steady hands.

Eve then walks in, she considers him shaving and says, “Sometimes the old ways are the best ways.” Something that is a running theme in this movie. She takes the razor off his hands asking him, “are you willing to put your life in my hands again.” We must remember at this point that it was this same woman who shoots him in the chest both in the beginning of the movie and at the beginning of the trailer which I posted up there. He agrees and she continues shaving.

It’s a moment of unspeakable intimacy, the quiet that comes over all movies just before the two kiss, the feeling that there is nothing else in the world at a particular moment than you, another person and the thing you are doing. That feeling that can make the most mundane act soar with significance. But this isn’t a mundane act. This is a deadly act. This razor kills. Forget all the sexy smoking scenes we have seen in the past. Forget all the times got a light and the subsequent lighting acquired sex. This doesn’t kill you slow the way cigarettes do; it slits you and lives you dead. Danger is seductive. It makes your heart beat faster all on its own. Being close to death makes you more alive. Quite simply more alive. More willing to risk.

Bond overcome by this moves to put his hand on her just as she gets to the adam's apple. “Uh uh” she says pushing him away, “this is the tricky part.”

Even if you forget the aspect of danger, and consider instead the intimacy and the tenderness. The willingness to put your life in the hands of someone else. The trust you would have to have in that person. Consider her. How gentle yet firm she would have to be. She has to be completely, in fact supremely confident in what her hands can do.

So in that one scene we have a combination of danger, intimacy, tenderness, trust, confidence and banter. What other movie scene has ever been so sexy?