Moon Country: New Empty-Nesters Abroad!

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Having recently returned from a satisfying visit to Rio and Iguazu Falls, and also having completed watching the final episode of Season 4 of True Detective (on Max), I am combining these two for the first part of title of the post:

Moonraker is a 1979 spy-fi film, the eleventh in the James Bond series, and the fourth to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. It grossed over $210 million (on a budget of $34 million). Two of the iconic scenes in the movie take place – both with Richard Kiel as Jaws – in Sugar Loaf (in Rio) and in Iguazu Falls.

True Detective: Night Country is the fourth season of True Detective, an American anthology crime drama television series created by Nic Pizzolatto, which premiered on January 14, 2024, on HBO. The season stars Jodie Foster and Kali Reis as Detectives Liz Danvers and Evangeline Navarro. Night Country was created by Issa López, who serves as showrunner, writer, and director.  Billie Eilish’s 2019 song “Bury a Friend”, which López described as “such a dark, moody, fun, sinister little song that I thought it could absolutely work” is used to score Night Country‘s title sequence.

Roger Moore, writing about Villains in Bond on Bond:

Of course, Jaws got his name from the ominous, glinting steel teeth he wore. Poor devil, they were so uncomfortable to wear. Richard could only keep them in for half a minute at a time. The comical expressions he had to convey were quite the opposite of what he was feeling…In the (original) script, he died at the end of The Spy Who Loved Me. However, the scene was rewritten. Jaws didn’t drown…that raised an applause at the premiere. He did of course return in Moonraker

Moonraker was filmed in Paris as an Anglo-French co-production under the 1965-79 film treaty. France had much more favorable taxation laws for creative industries, but part of the qualifying criteria was that the lead villain had to be French. Frenchman Michael Lonsdale was accordingly offered the part, and made a wonderfully underplayed yet menacing Drag. He became the first Bond villain to take a giant step for mankind, and perished in space.

 

Now to Night Country. You know I like Billie Eilish (The Sound of 007 and 2022 Academy Awards). My favorite Jodie Foster film (although I also like her very much in The Accused):

The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 American psychological horror thriller film adapted from Thomas Harris’s 1988 novel of the same name. It stars Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling, a young FBI trainee who is hunting a serial killer. It grossed over $272 million worldwide on a $19 million budget. It became the third (the earlier two being 1934’s It Happened One Night and 1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) to win Academy Awards in all the major five categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Back to travel.

One of the things I keep track of is the overlap between my travels and that of Bond locations, for example (see Casablanca, Corsendonk, Como) the marvelous scene in Lake Como that closes:

Casino Royale is a 2006 spy film, the twenty-first in the Eon Productions James Bond series, and stars Daniel Craig in his first appearance as Bond. It grossed over $616 million on a budget of about $150 million.

Coincidentally, Como was the last trip we took before we had kids, and Rio (and Iguazu Falls) is the first after we have newly become empty nesters, and so I could not also resist paying homage to Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad, or the New Pilgrims’ Progress for the second part of the title of this post. Of course, I have also kept track of the (significant) overlap between his travels (in 1867) and mine (in the 20th and 21st centuries), having him as my invisible travel companion,  having playful conversations, in these places. Indeed, one of the consideration in my trip planning is to see whether he has been there before! Within the US, I previously recognized the overlap in Slumming It? as a variation on his Roughing It.  So, let me recall some excerpts from how he concluded his 1867 travels:

We galloped through the Louvre, the Pitti, the Vatican; we bathed in the Dead Sea… Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness…We shall remember something of pleasant France; and also of Paris though it flashed upon us as a splendid meteor…In fancy we shall see Milan again, and her stately Cathedral with its marble wilderness of graceful spires. And Como, jeweled with stars; and patrician Venice, afloat on her stagnant flood. We cannot forget Florence – Naples – nor the foretaste of heaven that is in the delicious atmosphere of Greece- and surely not Athens and the broken temples of the Acropolis. Surely not venerable Rome…We shall remember Constantinople and the Bosporus…

Someday, I hope to be able to write my own such book, using these posts as memory joggers,  in line with his Preface:

This book is a record of a pleasure trip. If it were a record of a solemn scientific expedition, it would have about it that gravity, that profundity, and that impressive incomprehensibility which are so proper to the works of that kind…

In the meantime, let us enjoy Lake Como again through the eyes of Bond:

And this “The first thing you should know is that we have people everywhere. Am I right?” from Quantum of Solace, in Siena:

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