CIGARS ARE FOR CLOSERS & 9 OTHER THINGS I'VE LEARNED FROM 3 CLASSIC ACTION FILMS THIS WEEKEND
This weekend I faced some inner demons: I had never seen INDEPENDENCE DAY, DIE HARD, or ALIENS. I consider myself a solid movie lover, so yes I am owning my negligence with these oversights. This weekend I remedied that with an all night movie marathon at my friend's DIY'd in-home movie theatre.
- •BRING BACK FILM!I know there are a lot of film-wise people on this so maybe there is another word for this, but I loved the opening shot of ID4 when we push in on the plaque on the moon from the moon landing. Yes: we push in. You can feel it. It involves lenses. It's not a CGI'd/digital image that is brought closer to us; WE are PULLED forward. And it feels so good!
- •Save Sigourney, Save OurselvesLadies!! We were doin' GOOD in 1986! A 6' tall mother with no bra was mindfully saving lives and preserving humanity in a desolate world of crippling technology and harsh military action through the occasionally necessary use of force. What happened?! Much like the recent Rachel McAdams article in Forbes we should ask ourselves why we were told we stopped needing her on set when she is oh-so great! ***Oh + Bonnie Bedelia was a maiden named working girl who negotiated with a terrorist. Fabulous!
- •Following Aristotilian Unities Is HOTAristotle's POETICS calls for a Unity of Time, Place, and Action for successful storytelling and he is not wrong. Watching McClane run around the same building without shoes in a short amount of time armed with only what he came with/found/stole from dead villains allowed me to follow the story better and think him a brave, intelligent, able hero. Same with ALIENS. We do not need an endless series of new locations for brawls. It's cheap (though expensive to produce). Do you hear that AVENGERS?
- •Post 9/11 America Needs A Teddy Bear in a Red Bow for ChristmasLike John McClane's thoughtful gift, we need something for our softer, more innocent side. In these movies, we were an America that sent an unarmed helicopter to greet a massive space ship, an America that was simply investigating space not scouring for resources, and an America who couldn't fathom a hostage situation when a dead body landed on a cop car (ok that was a severe oversight). Is that retrievable? Can we start dealing with our trauma instead of masking it?
- •Screw CGIGoddamn there is something so pleasurable about watching a woman duct tape together a flame thrower, grenade launcher, and a machine gun. Not to mention watching a man dangle from a fire hose off a roof.
- •Racially, we are now doing "better" but...These movies were white male dominated with a lot of racial stereotyping: Latinos were illegals, the two Asians seen in these movies were either terrorists or working with computers, Paul Riser could be deemed The Villainous Jew, and the two black roles in DIE HARD were somewhat comical/lazy/dependent on white instruction. While ID4 improved in this area with Will and Vivica, Randy Quaid's mysteriously Mexican offspring were confusing - and farmers. BUT WE STILL GOTTA WORK ON THIS!!!!
- •Villains with Specific Evil is GoodThe Villains/Evils in these movies had specific MOs that were then stopped by the heroes. They didn't change or go off in a new direction halfway through. Yes, there are double crosses, but those are only good because we believed so hard in one idea to begin with. AND they are enjoyable twists not sucker punches. Movies have moved away from this. Sadly, I think this shift is a reflection of our present reality where we are in combat situations in many places without definite understanding.
- •Great One-Liners are Possible!This weekend was a masterclass in good action film one-liners. My research shows that a good one-liner is clever (pointing out an irony or using iconography/classic pop culture references in a new way) and specific to the situation in front of the speaker, said in an extemporaneous manner, AND, most importantly, reveals/solidifies character/power dynamics.
- •Bring Back The Bills!Bill Pullman, Bill Paxton, B(W)ill Smith! Where are you?! Hopefully they'll come back with Bill Clinton :) ***Though I prefer the well-intentioned Bill Paxton of TITANIC, APOLLO 13, and TWISTER to the tweaking, whiny Paxton in ALIENS.
- •BTW: Themoviespoiler.comIf you ever want to know what happens in a movie without seeing it - or if you're one of those unique people who hate surprises.