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44. Die Hard (1988), dir. John McTiernan

Rewinding a few days here to the pre-Christmas period, I went to see this at Leeds Town Hall with ms_siobhan, planet_andy, nalsa and Mrs. nalsa in honour of planet_andy's birthday. I've never been to a film screening at Leeds Town Hall before, so that was fun in itself, and nor had I seen Die Hard in spite of its classic status. It is an action film after all, which is hardly my genre, but going to see it in its reinvented pomo guise as a 'Christmas film' - now that, I could handle.

It is, of course, masses of fun. Indeed, I might well have gone to see it earlier if I'd cottoned on to the fact that it has Alan Rickman in it being deliciously villainous. His character even got in a Classical reference, too:
"And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer." Benefits of a classical education. [Source: IMDb]
Obviously, that actually boils down to your standard use of Classics to denote morally-bankrupt posh people, and is thus exactly the sort of thing which puts people off the subject, but never mind! It's still good to hear Alex getting a name-check, and it's not like it was a mainstay of the plot. Other things I particularly liked included McClane's message on the first terrorist victim's shirt: "Now I have a machine gun - ho ho ho!", Johnson & Johnson the ineffective FBI agents and Argyle happily living it up in his limousine while blithely unaware of the major terrorist incident going on in the building above him. I assumed for ages that he would spend literally the entire film like this, and just drive out the next morning wondering what was going on, but it was also cool that he got to play his part in overcoming the bad guys too.

I do realise that this bit is going to make me sound like Noam Chomsky on his day off, but gosh - you really couldn't present a more fully-developed fantasy of hyper-masculinity as a response to male anxieties about successful career-women than this film, could you? That is literally how McClane wins his wife back after their marriage has been broken apart by her promotion to Director of Corporate Affairs at the Nakatomi Corporation. But anyway! Helicopters and explosions and cool one-liners and stuff! Yay.

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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 28th, 2014 10:22 pm (UTC)
I thought I'd seen it before but I hadn't - at least not from the very beginning and now it makes sense as to why he has no shoes on, plus the link you gave me to the little known facts about it was very interesting.

It is a top load of machismo filled bollocks :-)
Dec. 28th, 2014 10:29 pm (UTC)
It is top, and you've reminded me of Hans Gruber's line about shooting the glass now with your reference to his lack of shoes. Clever man, that Gruber.
Dec. 28th, 2014 10:37 pm (UTC)
But to me the name Gruber will always be the name of a kindly antiques dealer...

If you can stomach it - Die Hard 4.0 is worth a watch, equally improbable and even more outrageous stunts.
Dec. 29th, 2014 12:18 am (UTC)
I've seen the film countless times and never thought about the 'male panic' element before... but next time I'm going to watch it with that in mind! :-)
Dec. 29th, 2014 11:31 am (UTC)
Heh - a great excuse for a re-watch! :-)
Dec. 29th, 2014 01:01 pm (UTC)
Last Christmas Eve we found ourselves watching Die Hard 2 (the one set in an airport) as I wrapped presents. Two things really struck me about it:

1. all the smoking in public places, wtf?

2. the entire plot, all its death and destruction, hypermasculinity and explosions, only occurs because of the futile War On Drugs
Dec. 29th, 2014 06:06 pm (UTC)
Heh, interesting! So, here's to a future where point 2 seems as weird as point 1 because we aren't doing that any more.
Dec. 29th, 2014 09:46 pm (UTC)
Here's hoping :-)
Dec. 30th, 2014 01:26 am (UTC)
Actually there's been a fair bit of discussion of Die Hard and hypermasculinity in the academic work-- unsurprisingly-- though what strikes me is that, for all its masculine crises, Holly comes off pretty well herself, especially for a 1989 action film. She's good at her job, calm under pressure, defined by her job more than by being a mother and, ultimately, she and her husband reach an agreement where, in 2, he's moved to be with her, IIRC. (They break up in later films, though after 2 it becomes incredibly stupid, even for an action film).
Dec. 30th, 2014 01:22 pm (UTC)
Yes, I noticed that, particularly when she stepped up to the role of Director of the Nakatomi Corporation after her boss got killed, and started negotiating with Gruber. I guess in part she has to be characterised like that, as she too has to be worthy of her heroic husband at the end of the film.
Dec. 30th, 2014 01:50 pm (UTC)
And he has to be worthy of her at the end as well, I think. Obviously I'm giving a more sympathetic reading than some viewers and academics but I think it's an important point and also one of the biggest problems in Die Hard 3 and on is how they fail in that aspect (Holly has less to do in 2, as she's stuck on a plane, but she has some great moments nonetheless). It stops being about a strong married couple in hostage situations and turns into run of the mill actioners. Even Samuel L Jackson can't save 3 and the less said about 4 and 5 the better. :(
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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