Monday, July 6, 2009

Yippee ki yay, etc

As someone who loves watching films - and I know many of you readers out there do too, obviously - I sometimes have no defense for having not watched certain titles. Such is the case with John McTiernan's 1988 action classic Die Hard. I honestly can't fathom why I had never seen it. What's even stranger though is that I have seen all three of its sequels and it had been sitting amongst my family's DVD collection for as long as I can remember. Some things just... slip by?

Never mind that though, because I watched it over this past weekend. In fact, I had a bit of an action weekend in general (no, not in that way!) I also watched Paul Verhoeven's 1990 sci-fi action film Total Recall for the first time since I was young, as well as Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. I have Ozu's Tokyo Story sitting here from Quickflix, but I felt like something a bit more gung ho to tell you the truth.

Watching Die Hard is wonderful though, don't you think? Clearly better than any of the sequels (although Die Hard with a Vengeance holds a special place in my heard), it's like a masterclass. It takes watching a movie like this to see the major flaws in movies like Transformers, a title I am an admitted fan of. It has action scenes that are clear and memorable and crafts like editing and cinematography are top notch. The pacing is just wonderful; It was already 30 minutes into the movie by the time the action starts and it felt like 10. And despite being 130 minutes long, it sure doesn't feel like it, which is something a lot of directors have trouble replicating these days. Even great action movies like The Dark Knight have felt bloated and excessive and yet everything in Die Hard is just precision perfect.

Total Recall was another great movie. So inventive and bonkers, which is something I tend to respond to far more than others. Yes, a lot of the action is just people shooting and blood flying around like a fountain, but it's all so incredibly fun. The look of the film is quite astounding, really. That constant blood red sky and the fantastic retro art direction. It wasn't retro at the time, but now it makes me pine that sci-fi movies actually built sets instead of just typing some stuff into a computer and generating them. I'm looking at you Star Trek!

Death Proof? Well, what can I say? I just love that movie. The final 30 minutes are, quite seriously, some of the best 30 minutes of cinema of the decade. Pure adrenaline rush, but I get a kick out of the entire film. I am aware it is not everybody's cuppa, but I get such a kick out of the grainy footage, the excellent soundtrack, the impeccable car chases and the dialogue that it almost a parody of Tarantino's style ala Tarantino himself that it becomes meta. Wonderful.

I've included trailers for all three movies below as well as one for Speed. I know that last one seems strange to include since I haven't mentioned it in this entry, but if I had my DVD of the movie lying around I would have watched it too. It's directed by Jan de Bont who, coincidentally, was the director of photography on Die Hard. Nice. I also think it fits into that same cycle of action movies that came about in the late '80s and early '90s before the onset of the disaster flicks that littered the later years of the decade (Twister, Independence Day, Deep Impact, etc). It's a personal favourite, too.

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