Die Hard

Under Siege

This week, Cargill and I are walking on, walking on broken glass. That is to say we are treading dangerously over the broken shards of Die Hard ripoffs. John McClane not only made trouble for Hans Gruber, he distinctly altered the course of action cinema for years to follow. Brian gives his Slop 10 of “Die Hardlies” while Cargill…well…grimaces mostly. You may or may not believe which films make the cut. You should follow Brian (@Briguysalisbury), Cargill (@Massawyrm), and the show (@Junkfoodcinema). Download Episode #17 Directly

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Discoveries of 2013

It’s late December, and that means two things: your sudden panicked realization that you haven’t completed your holiday shopping, and movie lists. And like every December, FSR is devoting numerous posts to the very best and worst (but mostly best) that 2013 had to offer at the movies. But as movie fans, we don’t only see movies that were released in the year we see them – we might dig into classics and curiosities via online streaming, repertory showings, or simple chance encounters. Year-end lists may summarize the breadth of movies released in theaters throughout the calendar year, but they don’t necessarily reflect the yearly consumption of a dedicated movie fan. To many movie lovers, going to a movie theater can be surprisingly rare, and watching movies follows less of a calendar schedule and works a bit more like time travel: one day you’re in 2013, and the next you’re in 1950s Hollywood, followed by a brief stint in 1980s central Florida, and then back to 2013 again. Furthermore, several distributors (Drafthouse, Milestone, Janus) are increasingly devoting their energy not to releasing new movies, but to reviving under-seen gems. For some of you, 2013 may have had little to do with your movie experience in 2013. So I’ve concocted an alternative year-end list: the 13 (er, 14) most memorable movies I saw in 2013 that weren’t actually released this year. Not necessarily the best, but the movies that most surprised me – the movies that reminded me that no matter […]

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goodfellastable

This week’s list of movies to watch is not inspired by a single new release, because there isn’t anything big enough out this weekend to warrant such a focus. Instead, I’ve got a year-end feature for you inspired by the entirety of 2013 in film. I can’t sum up every title released this year with only ten recommendations, but the movies I’ve selected are, I believe, the best representatives of the more notable titles and trends seen in the past dozen months. Most of the selections are familiar. Chances are you’ve seen more than a few. But obviously this edition has to involve more popular fare because they have to be influential movies to have informed so much of this year’s crop, even if unintentionally. Just take it as a call to watch them again, along with whatever you haven’t seen before, as a special sort of year in review of the most important movies of 2013 released before 2013.

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IntroGTA

There comes a time in every freelance writer’s career when he wonders if there’s some way he can write off the new Grand Theft Auto as a business expense. Today is my day, for I have not only justified the purchase of this ultra-violent, ultra-fun game but also spent an entire afternoon screwing around on it while being able to technically call it work. You see, GTA’s map is so akin to LA that I wondered if it would be possible to do the same kind of film nerd sightseeing one might to in the real life city. The answer is yes, and now I will take you through my experience.

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die hard scenes

Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of the release of Die Hard. Know how much it made in it’s opening weekend? $601,851. Of course, that was from only 21 screens in 20 cities. Can you imagine an action movie like this getting such a limited debut today? Well, nobody saw the movie coming, at least not on the level we see it at today, though Fox also hoped the slower roll-out would spark buzz. A modern day take on the western, with a lot of allusion to drive that idea home, the first Die Hard sort of originated a new subgenre of the right place, right time (and wrong place, wrong time) hero that has the action drop in his lap. It’s a real classic, one that truly needs to be added to the National Film Registry (nominate it here), thanks to its influence on the next three decades of cinema (and beyond, since even this year we had a few more Die Hard knockoffs in Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down) as well as its own distinct craftwork (especially the team of director John McTiernan, cinematographer Jan De Bont and screenwriters Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza, along with the Oscar nominated editing by Frank J. Urioste and John F. Link and the Oscar-nominated sound and visual effects, etc…) and its perfect representation of the time in which it was made (including the reflexive significance of the building it was shot at). It’s another movie that is so […]

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IntroToProps

There are two reasons a movie might re-use a prop: because they have to or because they want to. Sometimes you love a movie so much you want to use or recreate a piece of it to show that love, or – if your budget is in the dumps – you just need something from the prop warehouse to re-paint and use as your own. Whatever the case, iconic is iconic, so if you are watching close enough you just might catch these one-of-a-kind props in films you wouldn’t expect them to be in.

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A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD

Plenty of franchises seem so bonded to their star that it might seem impossible for a remake, reboot or continuation of the series without that actor. Imagine Rocky or Rambo without Sylvester Stallone, for example. But there’s really no reason to think these are safe properties. The former could easily pass its torch to Rocky’s son, a common concept for rebooting without starting completely over, and the latter could be redone with an Iraq War veteran. We’ve seen The Terminator without Arnold Schwarzenegger, Indiana Jones without Harrison Ford, Alien without Sigourney Weaver, Home Alone without Macauley Culkin and Smokey and the Bandit without Burt Reynolds. One day we could see Beverly Hills Cop without Eddie Murphy, ‘Crocodile’ Dundee without Paul Hogan and even Madea without Tyler Perry under the wig. But there’s absolutely no way for Hollywood to redo Die Hard, especially after A Good Day to Die Hard. Parts of the new movie even seem to be making a case for why there’s no possibility of the series existing without Bruce Willis. Perhaps the actor is actually intentionally sabotaging the property, running it into the ground with a portrayal unrecognizable from the original and a plot that is so bland and outside of what the first film stood for that fans won’t even care about the brand name by the end — unfortunately for anyone truly scheming, as we see with Star Wars, fans can come back from anything, and also this sequel is on track to do at […]

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A Good Day to Die Hard Teaser

This is traditionally where the plot synopsis goes, but by simply listing the events that take place in this film, we would be showing more concern for the plot than did the screenwriter of A Good Day to Die Hard. As a (to sidestep the obvious pun, let’s just say “confirmed”) fan of this series, it breaks my heart to see it devolve over the last two films into generic action fluff. It is inevitable that the review of the fifth Die Hard movie would feature a reheated recital of the facets of the original that engendered such an enduring affection, and thereby chart the shortcomings of the latest installment. A Good Day to Die Hard has actually made it easier to avoid the fanboy trap, as each of its many offenses against the franchise are part and parcel of its failure at far more basic components of filmmaking and storytelling. In AGDtDH, John McClane (Bruce Willis) is no longer a put-upon wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time Hithcockian hero; Jimmy Stewart with a badge. A movie ago, he crossed into absurd superhero territory, but that not even who he is in the fifth installment. Well, he is that as well, but that’s not the unfortunate attribute that defines him. Instead, he is the supreme ugly American. He is the guy who punches innocent Moscow citizens because he can’t understand what they are saying. He drives a truck over the tops of civilian traffic throwing a flippant, “sorry, lady” to the woman he’s presumably crushed […]

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John McTiernan on Die Hard set

He’s made some amazing films, he stands as an icon of a lengthy era, but I submit that John McTiernan is still an unfairly maligned filmmaker. He’s relegated by many to a position as merely a mindless action director, and maybe, yeah, Rollerball was tough to stomach, but there’s a reason why Die Hard is still used as the template in thousands of pitch meetings every year. Plus, the guy went to Juilliard (so he’s probably also an incredible dancer). Those who dismiss him do so at their own peril and have clearly never heard the man speak about the craft of filmmaking. He knows a production truck’s worth of practical information and can condense it into lessons that make sense to all of us rubes. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a man who started his studio career by having an alien attack Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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ds die hard 25th

The fifth film in the Die Hard series hits theaters in less than two weeks so it makes sense that 20th Century Fox would want to cash in on the impending excitement with the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection. Sure the first four films have already been released as a set with the same transfers and features, and sure they could have waited until A Good Day to Die Hard makes its way to Blu-ray/DVD this summer to include it… but it’s not like film fans have ever shown an aversion to double or triple-dipping. And cynical commentary aside, I’m one of those fans. The new set includes all four current films as well as over a hundred minutes worth of new special features. The movie discs are essentially unchanged from their previous appearances, but Fox has vastly improved the case by making it a sturdy book-like model that slides into an outer sleeve with discs that slip into waxed sleeves instead of popping onto plastic buttons. It’s  a solid release on the outside, but how does it stack up inside? Keep reading for a look at Fox’s new Die Hard 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection.

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Drinking Games

The upcoming Die Hard sequel causes a range of emotions. There are joyous ones, knowing that the film will be rated R and John McClane’s famous catchphrase will be spoken without being drowned out by a gunshot. There are also less happy emotions with the knowledge that A Good Day to Die Hard is being released in February rather than in the more traditional summer months. Whether you’re chomping at the bit for the new movie or if you’re bellyaching that it will be more sanitized like the fourth film, you can still always enjoy the original. Grab your Christmas-themed drink and hop on the horse to get drunk hard.

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Unbreakable Die Hard Sequel

Action heroes, or more accurately the stars who play them, are not often credited as being endowed of great intelligence. In fact, they are more likely relegated to the less distinguished, but no less scientific category of dummy dumb dumbheads. And yet, scratch the surface of the career of each of the biggest, beefheadiest action stars and you will find, in addition to giant foreheads and a shocking dearth of necks, at least one self-aware introspection masquerading as a movie. It would appear that not being able to spell “existential crisis” does not preclude one from suffering one. These aren’t necessarily brilliant deconstructions, in fact they are usually somewhat clever with plenty of destruction. Regardless, it is an interesting trend to note and often amounts to some very underrated fare from our meta muscleheads. In one specific instance however, an action hero’s meta movie can be so meta as to conceal its true identity as such. Could it be that the greatest twist Shyamalan ever pulled was convincing the world it didn’t exist? We’ll get to the inarguable meta connection between Unbreakable and Die Hard shortly, but first, to understand this connection, it’s important to identify the inner-directed titles of our most elusive hero’s contemporaries.

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thisweekindiscs

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Woodsman and the Rain (UK) A small mountain town in Japan is invaded by a film production crew making a zombie movie, but few of the locals seem all that interested. Katsu (Koji Yakusho), an older lumberjack, takes issue with their presence but soon comes to befriend the inexperienced director. The two men learn from each other This is a sweet and unassuming little film that manages laughs alongside a small amount of light drama. The townspeople’s reaction to the film crew ranges from indifference to awe, and it’s a joy seeing Yakusho in a fun, lightweight role. His enthusiasm once he joins the crew is infectious and clear on his face, and it’s an expression anyone who loves movies has shared more than once. Also available on Blu-ray. [Extras: Deleted scenes, interviews, trailers] *NOTE: This is a UK region 2 release meaning US residents will need a region free player to watch.*

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A Good Day to Die Hard Teaser

It wasn’t the only thing messing with its mojo, but the PG-13 rating did exactly zero favors for Live Free or Die Hard. It was tough to see a character whose catchphrase involves the term “motherfucker” reduced to melonfarming and shooting bullets at people filled with pillow stuffing instead of blood, but the right has been wronged for A Good Day to Die Hard. According to Collider, the newest incarnation of John McClane as superhero has received the coveted R-rating which means, at the very least, that Bruce Willis will actually get to say his slogan with full gusto this time. Of course, the rating itself doesn’t save the franchise from its own absurdity. If director John Moore and company can turn McClane back into the simple, headache-owning cop by ripping off the cape the series has slowly given him, it’ll be a step in the only right direction. Fortunately, they’re going with the “Passing the Torch” plot concept. One that has never, ever, ever come of as forced and terrible. The potential of Jai Courtney as McClane Jr. aside, we’ll get to see Willis throw a tank into the Kremlin or something come February 14th. Romantic!

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IntroTwistedHoliday

If you’re anything like me, the same five holiday movies that run every year just aren’t enough to quench that festive thirst so deeply embossed on your very soul. You need more than that. If you are like me, you deserve more than that. You are also not wearing any pants. The general rule for holiday films is that they must at least take place around the season, right? And so, if we simply twist that logic to say that “takes place during the holidays = holiday movie”, then there’s a lot of fun to be had the next time mom and dad come caroling. Just go right ahead and pop in one of the following…

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A Good Day to Die Hard Poster

Look at those McClane men, sporting matching facial abrasions and pissed off grins! Just adorable. We’re mere months away from the fifth installment of the Die Hard franchise, still amusingly titled A Good Day to Die Hard, so it’s about time we get a new poster for the Bruce Willis- and Jai Courtney-starring film, though it’s somewhat surprising just how much this new poster reminds us of Backdraft. What exactly are those flames doing there? What precisely is on fire? Should we be concerned about John McClane (Willis) and his estranged son Jack (Courtney)? Probably. This new film moves the action to Moscow (sure) and pits the McClane dudes against underground baddies bent on controlling nuclear weapons. For added super-sized fun to that already out-sized adventure, Fox and IMAX  have also announced today that A Good Day to Die Hard will be getting an IMAX release, making it the first Die Hard film to be re-mastered for the format. It’s big. And that’s not even it for today’s Die Hard news, as Fox has also crafted a new featurette about Courtney, so if you’re still wondering just who the heck that guy is, check it out after the break.

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A Good Day to Die Hard Teaser

I don’t think anyone was chomping at the bit for a fifth Die Hard movie. As serviceable as Live Free or Die Hard was, were hordes of Die Hard diehards jacked up about another tame PG-13 sequel? Their average joe hero had just been turned into another superhero, completely forgetting the main appeal of the character. Unfortunately, the first teaser trailer for the fifth installment, A Good Day to Die Hard, doesn’t sell the sequel as a return to the series’ roots. Instead the movie once again features 007, but he just so happens to be from New Jersey. Take a glimpse at John McClane blowing up Russia:

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It’s one thing when a series is based around several generations who are actively seeking adventure – treasure hunting and Nazi-punching and all that. That’s not what we’re here to discuss. Don’t expect to see any Corleones on this list, either. This is about those hapless, generally well-functioning families in films who for one reason or another keep falling into bad times. These are the families that trouble follows. These are the truly unlucky ones.

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Looper

Rian Johnson‘s upcoming Looper is clearly filled with thought-provoking elements, but certainly one of its more interesting aspects has to be the way in which Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are playing the same character, but at different ages. Much ado has been made about the effects work used to make Gordon-Levitt more lantern-jawed and Willis-looking, but not a whole lot has yet been said about how Gordon-Levitt approached his performance. How exactly does one go about trying to play a younger version of a star whose screen presence is as well-defined as Bruce Willis’? i09 caught up with the actor and his director and got some answers on this subject, as well as a few others. When talking about his preparation for the role, Gordon-Levitt said, “I studied him [Willis], and watched his movies, and ripped the audio off of his movies, so I could listen to them on repeat. He even recorded some of my voice-over monologues [from Looper] and sent me that recording, so I could hear what it would sound like in his voice.” That sounds like a good way of studying Willis’ cadence and perfecting the way that he talks, but does that mean Gordon-Levitt’s performance is going to simply be a glorified impersonation?

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Welcome to the weekend. I am the new FSR editor specifically covering Saturday and Sunday, and I’m kicking off, as I will each Saturday morning, with a recap of the site’s coverage from the previous seven days. I’ll start by getting the formality over with in linking to my own “Better Know a Reject” introductory profile. I’m actually not full of myself, but that post didn’t really fit anywhere else in this roundup. Now, let’s play catch up.   TIFF Begins First of all, this week saw the start of the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, and our man Andrew Robinson is on the beat. Ahead of the opening, he offered a list of 12 Most Anticipated Movies playing the event, including new works from the Wachowskis, Terrence Malick and Joss Whedon. First up from Andrew’s onsite coverage is a review of the “interesting” but “a bit uneven” documentary Far Out Isn’t Far Enough. Also reviewed as part of the fest, Rian Johnson’s Looper got an ‘A’ from newly joined Reject Louis Plamondon. Dredd 3D is screening at TIFF as part of the Midnight Madness program, and we took a look at a motion comic prologue to the upcoming action film. We also checked out the trailer for TIFF selection A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman, an animated epic that should obviously appeal to fans of the British comedy legend(s). Fans of the troupe should also read Cole’s list of 6 Filmmaking Tips From Monty Python.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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