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Confessions of a Notorious Spy Like Nikita

June 29, 2010

Inspired by the ten alleged agents of  espionage incarcerated within U.S. borders today, one of them captured less than five miles from my home, I offer a SPY entry.

For my Father’s birthday two years ago, we went to the Legendary Ziegfeld Theater in New York City to see a remastered screening of Dr. No, and there was no one else there. The theater was empty. WTF?

The spy genre is one that I have always found fascinating.   James Bond, who was introduced in the 1953 novel Casino Royale by author Ian Flemming, is unarguably the world’s most famous fictional spy.  His first outing in the celluloid medium would come later in 1962, portrayed by Sean Connery, in an adaptation of the sixth James Bond novel, Dr. No.

Ever since Bond hit the scene, people have romanticized about the spy game.  The cars, money, women, and exotic locales are all things that we all can only dream of.  But is any of that realistic?  It might be more akin to the man-as-weapon spy seen in the Bourne novels and films, where  a person is so garbled and confused in his or her own head (by his or her own country) that he or she will do whatever they are told.  Or, maybe it’s all a bunch of perverse dirt-bags meeting in East Berlin bars in the 60’s and 70’s as seen in Confessions of a Dangerous mind?  All of these interpretations are possible, but judging by the news this morning, I’d say that the most accurate spy film we’ve seen so far was Little Nikita (1988) starring Sidney Poitier and River Phoenix.

Nikita has no idea how badly his day is going to suck.

I watched the opening sequence of Little Nikita this morning over breakfast and found myself suddenly depressed by what I was watching (Partially because I always get a little sad when watching a River Phoenix film).  I realized that this film is so disturbingly truthful.  It captures the essence of a lifetime of lies and displays it on-screen for us.  Of course there are the Hollywood devices and clichéd moments where Sidney Poitier gets the drop on a ‘bad guy,’ but that is not what this film is about.  This film is about a boy who discovers that his life is a lie.  His parents are not who he thought they were.  He did not even know his own name.  His identity is shattered, and there is no way of coming back from that.  The illusion stands revealed.

Every single person that knew these ten people facing a judge in New York today are facing the same shattered illusions.  Friends, co-workers, and in some cases just like Little Nikita, children are going to have to face these lies.

According to the FBI, a decrypted message sent to one of the alleged spies stated “You were sent to USA for long-term service trip. Your education, bank accounts, car, house etc.—all these serve as one goal: fulfill your main mission, i.e. to search and develop ties in policy-making circles in U.S. and send intelligence to Moscow..”

I have three suggestions that would have made this entire job much more efficient.

  1. Get Dish TV – You can have all the C-Span channels, which actually state our elected officials opinions on EVERYTHING— LIVE.  CNN, MSNBC,  FOX NEWS, and even TMZ can give you the down and dirty scandals.  American TV is so full of ‘reality’ that we’ll probably start giving away state secrets soon.  I can see it now.  Next Season on Fox, Who Wants to be in the CIA! Hosted by Howie Mandel.  (I want my cut when you make it you vultures)
  2. Google – You can find pretty much anything on Google.  Learn Google.  You can set up alerts for when a target is in the news, create a blog roll, and even set up GPS for you global spy ring.  The best part?  It is all F-R-E-E.
  3. Many news sources are saying that the spies ‘went native,’ meaning that they liked it here and decided to stay.  Hmmm?  How do you solve that?  It looks like you have some disgruntled employees.  You solve that by providing a country that they want to go back to!  Clean up you act, and maybe they wouldn’t get so comfortable in Montclair NJ (which is the same lovely little town in which I acquired my hangover in my last entry).

That’s all I need to say about that.

I’ll leave you with a list of some of my favorite spy films in no particular order:

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Notorious

The Manchurian Candidate

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

The 39 Steps (Criterion Collection Spine #56)

The Third Man

North By Northwest

The Conversation

The Bourne Identity

The Tailor of Panama

Spies Like Us

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Charade

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