Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Die Hard: Second thoughts

Even though I'm not going home this Christmas, turns out life is still really busy when you're shopping, preparing for a week alone and still suffering from serious mobility issues. The new place is a lot closer to campus and really close to a grocery store (I can get there very easily if I use the chair, with some difficulty on the crutches) but for actual shopping I need a drive or a bus. And the bus is not in a great place. So this is me coming back from Christmas shopping after waiting for way longer than you'd ever want to outside in the cold. I like the cold, normally. On crutches, not quite so much.

Lucky for me, it's been raining (it's been raining STUPID HARD around here) instead of snowing, so I dodged a real bullet. Can't imagine having to fend for myself with snow and ice around. I like a white Christmas as much as the next guy but all I'm picturing is me splayed out on a patch of black ice like a swatted bug. Winter on crutches is going to sssssuck. Transitioning to the cane will suck too. What's your point, Jeremy? My point is... it's good to be back on my ass watching movies with friends again. I've got to find time in my life to do more of this. You have no idea how much I missed it. And this was a pretty fun movie to come back on.

But it is NOT A CHRISTMAS MOVIE holy balls guys come on

Let's take score, shall let's? Let's shall.

• Santa Clauses: 0
• Gifts of the non-bullet variety: Some
• ...of the non-explosion variety: Fewer
• ...of the non-felonious or tortious violence variety: Nnnnnnno.
• Christmas carols: 2 or 3
• ...other than as a sub-motif buried in a score that spent more time with Beethoven: 0
• Snow: Sno.
• Reindeer: Rein'd FBI jackasses, helicopters and German criminal masterminds
• Sleigh: Many people got sleigh'd. Were sleigh'n. I don't grammar
• Peace on Earth: Dickless is still allowed to do the news, there will never be peace
• Goodwill towards not even a little
• Holly: Mrs. McLean to you
• Ivy: Many of the survivors will need one while recuperating
• Christmas lights: Well, things were lit up, at Christmas... but no.
• Children: No.
• Chestnuts: No
• Roasting: Oh yes
• Open fire: ALL OF THIS ONE

Maybe I'm narrow, what do I know. I know this isn't a Christmas movie is what do I know. Rolling it back for a moment: It's a movie that takes place on Christmas, but I feel like that's not fundamental to the identity of the movie; Christmas isn't a component of the plot, just the most convenient excuse for why there would be that many available hostages (and one cop) on hand in an otherwise-empty and poorly secured building. Sure a few of the criminals get a couple of lines about miracles and Christmas but come on, we say that about treasure hauls after knocking off the nearest scaly airborne asshole with halitosis.

I like the movie. Why would I not like the movie? It's AWESOME. It's just that I was looking for a Christmas movie as opposed to a movie that sort of just happened at Christmas. So that was a bit of a disappointment. Roomie is of course feeling vvvvvvvvvvverified is the word? Vindacated? Validated? I know I know this word... someone tell me. I'm sure I know the word. Anyway, not the point, rolling it back here.

I was hoping I'd get to talk about the themes and story of a Christmas movie, but instead I'm going to briefly talk about the tale of John McLean, a guy who had a pretty rough day. Right off the bat, it's AWESOME that he's not like Badass McDangerface from Escape From New York or Indiana Jones from Raiders of the Other Lost Ark (seriously, THE BOAT). John does NOT want to be here, he did NOT sign up for this, the light at the end of the tunnel for him is that someone takes over so he can stop putting himself in stupid amounts of danger. And it just keeps not happening for him. John's tough but he's also extrreeeeeeeeeemely lucky, which is good because it makes his peril (and the resultant STRESS) more realistic. All of his choices are made with a view to trying to protect lives, but not without a healthy regard for his own. If it weren't for the fact that apparently the law enforcement hiring guide in Los Angeles reads: "Are you obnoxious? Are you uncreative? Are you needlessly obstructive and incapable of working with stressed and tense people? ALL KINDS of hired, you are" then John could have sat back and just hidden from the criminals until the cavalry arrived.

So there's this great character study of what it looks like when an action hero pops into a more realistic setting; vent escapes are cramped, inflexible and suck horribly; glass is incredibly dangerous and capable of doing sufficient injury to seriously weaken; life is brutish, uncomfortable and dirty and you WILL be forced into making mistakes, whether by your own misread of the situation, the criminals' upper hand or the interference of third parties. I'm fairly sure John sent down... Karl 2? Brother of Karl, anyway. That guy. I'm fairly sure John sent down Karl 2 with his obnoxious ballsy note as a way of intimidating the rest of the gang into leaving him be. He couldn't have known that he just killed the only guy on the team with a brother, and that said brother would be the berserker vengefulness type.

I like John because he makes mistakes; he rebukes himself for them; he's got no time for the shit he's already in and by extension is really really justified in not having time for anyone else's. His interactions with any other character always speak volumes, showing a guy who's worn, tired, strung out by estrangement and wrongfooted by where he's ended up in life with his wife and kids gone off to live better without him. Here's a guy who will share a hysterical laugh with a badguy, pop off a clever line after killing someone because he got it from the movies, and is familiar enough with how things go that he hides his own name knowing the badguys can hear him and anticipates Hans's treachery. This is just one crappy night for John on top of what hasn't been a fantastic day. He's on the back foot and uncomfortable with everything well before guns are involved, which is why he has his shoes off. Even though he succeeds at basically every task, therefore, John always feels like an underdog.

I have to admire this movie for the pretty sincere diversity casting. You could almost think they went in blind and adjusted a couple of things after the fact. There's nearly no female presence in the movie, aside from Holly (and she's not really in much and plays damsel in distress at the end) but black actors constitute four noteworthy named characters in roles that suggest someone just rolled the die and won. I like Al. Al is awesome. Argyle does nothing most of the movie. The hacker is one of the wittiest characters - Troy? Tony?. One of those. He's fun to watch. And Johnson, of Johnson and Johnson (no relation) (no, the other one). There's also Takagi and I thiiiink I saw an Asian fellow in the criminal team as well.

Enough of that, because we have to get to the guy who's having the most fun. Props to whoever that is playing Hans. Hans is fantastic. He's got this goatee that just screams "I am the badguy, how are you?" and you can practically SEE him savoring the slow burn before he reveals to some idiot that he's the more intelligent party. He's efficient but not rushed, a mastermind but without all the answers preprogrammed, and he adapts. Like really adapts. He's also not a Vader-style bad boss; even though Karl is a dangerous loose cannon whose insistence on killing John is what causes the plan to fail, Hans doesn't just terminate him because it would cost manpower and morale. He makes John into Karl's problem. I like the banter between hero and villain; that's a great device that lets us see what they think of each other well before they meet. Hans's flaw is hubris (still love that word) - he can't bring himself to consider that an "orphan of a bankrupt culture" could possibly think at his level, let alone above. He's a man of style and class, holding up his classical education as a virtue and backed with a leitmotif that invokes Beethoven's 9th. The one thing he doesn't adapt to is John's intelligence, because he flat-out refuses to believe in it even when he's on the receiving end.

If there's a flaw this movie has besides I asked for a Christmas movie and this is what you gave me, it's that absolutely IDIOTIC police captain character. Dwayne whatever. He contributes utterly nothing, He's not only consistently wrong, he's also consistently not funny. Why anyone thinks it's reasonable to have him in this film is beyond me. Even Dickless had a role at the end; his role was to be a gigantic cockweasel and the world's worst human being version 2.0 Deluxe. Dwayne seems like he's there to contrast Al's competence and correct read of the situation, except he reminds me of... he reminds me of fucking John Useless Commentary Madden. You listen to him and he's contributing useless babbling that at best distracts and at worst impedes. I don't need to be told that if the man doesn't stand up from a fall he's probably not able to get up and walk it off and HOLY SMOKES I do not need to be told that explosions are bad and glass is dangerous. Get your head out of your ass, Dwayne.

So that's us back! Sorry for not going more in-depth; long tired day and I'm feeling worn out. It was a fun movie, though :D

Now get me something with a little actual Christmas in it, eh?


  1. I don't have a position on the "Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?" debate, but here are a few websites that show the arguments people use to support the statement.




    A couple movies that would be more in tune with what you're looking for (aside from the multiple iterations of A Christmas Carol) would be "Love Actually" and "Home Alone".

    And of course there are the classics like the stop motion "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and the animated "Frosty the Snowman" or "A Charlie Brown Christmas" but they fall into the category of things you might actually have seen while living with your grandparents.

    1. YESSSSSSS he needs Love Actually.

    2. NO! Nobody deserves Love Actually!

    3. Love Actually? Why would you do that to Noise?

    4. Love Actually is Awesome! *Holds onto Man-Card with a vice-like grip*

      And he gets to see Hans again!

    5. Because it's amazing and he'll love it.

  2. The best Christmas movie is A Nightmare Before Christmas. Even if it's also a Halloween movie.

    1. It's a (American) Thanksgiving movie. 50% Halloween, 50% Christmas.

    2. Seconded. For the music if nothing else.

  3. "A Christmas Story" might also be more what you’re looking for.

  4. Huh, it was raining lightly here yesterday. Snow in mid-November, rain in mid-December?

  5. I'm going to second Love Actually as worth seeing. You may also consider Trading Places.

    Home alone is more single not but fun nevertheless.

  6. "See, now HERE'S a guy...that when he puts on his glasses, he can SEE better!" -some comedian whose name I forget doing his impression of John Madden

  7. I think "Die Hard is a Christmas movie " is caused by the fact that Die Hard 2 happens on Christmas too

  8. Some Christmas recommendations:
    -A Charlie Brown Christmas
    -Joyeux Noel
    -It's a Wonderful Life
    -Miracle on 34th Street (either the 1948 or 1994 versions - I enjoyed both)
    -How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
    -White Christmas
    -Home Alone

  9. Not even a little Christmasy, but for more of Alan "Hans Greuber" Rickman thoroughly enjoying being the most villainest man in the room I recommend Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. He totally steals that film.

    1. To be fair Rickman steals most films he is in.

  10. Well, it ain't a Xmas film, even though it does start on the very first Christmas day... How about Life of Brian?

  11. All of the Die Hard's have in some way or another featured Beethoven's 9th.

  12. Duh,
    "A Christmas Story"
    Might as well go for exactly what you asked for. It's the name of the movie!

    But other than that, I'll second "A Nightmare Before Christmas" as being top of the list of what else has been suggested.

  13. Fine, Die Hard isn't a Movie about Christmas. It's just the best movie set during Christmas. The problem lies in that both sentences can describe what is meant by "a Christmas Movie".

  14. The best Christmas movie is Bad Santa, although its script is a bit too colourful for some.

  15. Verified, vindicated, validated all work there and mean very similar things.

    Also recommending A Nightmare Before Christmas for the double Halloween-Christmas tag team.

  16. I suggest A Muppet Christmas Carol.

    1. As it should be.
      The Muppets, at least for a certain generation, *are* a major part of the culture we had growing up. Plus, the Muppet Christmas Carol is a great, great film in and of itself.
      Also, you should totally watch that.

  17. If you want a more traditional movie, you should watch It's a Wonderful Life. Great movie.

    I guess not till spring break, eh?

    1. I thought so too, but... well, I'll put up a full post :D