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Jameson Cult Film Club: Die Hard

I had the pleasure of attending Wednesday evening’s Jameson Cult Film Club screening of Die Hard. As we’ve come to expect from the guys, it was a wonderful evening hosted in the Tivoli Theatre, from the black-and-white cop car waiting to greet us outside right down to the cut out copy the Nakatomi lobby sculpture, the team clearly put the usual amount of love and affection into crafting an immersive experience for the audience.

(My personal favourite moment was the decision to announce that the film would be starting shortly by having an Alan-Rickman look-alike and his goons storm the dance floor. It was a lovely touch, particularly given the decision to have the directions shouted by the gun-weilding goons rather than the Rickman impersonator.)

Photos and more after the jump.

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Click to enlarge.

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Watch! New Fast & Furious 6 Trailer!

The folks from Universal Pictures Ireland just sent over these two clips from The Fast & the Furious 6. I actually quite liked Fast Five, so I’m a little curious if the franchise can maintain the relatively light touch and no-nonsense action movie vibe for another instalment. I remember watching one of the trailers at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival before the surprise film. The audience reacted much more strongly to two minutes of the tank and highway mayhem of The Fast & the Furious 6 than to a full two hours of the somewhat sterile Hollywood-violence-in-London of Welcome to the Punch.

Anyway, check them out below and let me know what you think.

 

Non-Review Review: G.I. Joe – Retaliation

I’m actually just a little bit divided on G.I. Joe: Retaliation. It is not, by any measure, a good film. It’s messy, it’s muddled, it’s over-complicated and under-developed at the same time, it’s nonsense, it’s dumb, it’s loud and it’s all over the map. However, some small part of me sort of admired that G.I. Joe: Retaliation had managed to so perfectly evoke the sensation of playing with toys. Had you given my eight-year-old self a box of G.I. Joe toys and told me to play for two hours, my playtime might have been plotted somewhat similarly to this film. I will concede that I admire the way that G.I. Joe: Retaliation feels more like a bunch of kids playing with toys than a carefully constructed action movie.

At the same time, however, I’m not afraid to admit that my eight-year-old self would have directed a pretty terrible action film.

Rock on...

Rock on…

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Non-Review Review: Hansel & Gretel – Witch Hunters

There is a gem of an idea buried in Hansel & Gretel. Indeed, there isn’t too much excavation required to recover it. It lurks near the surface, visible to the naked eye. What would happen if you took a fairy tale and reworked it as a bombastic action adventure, complete with the clichés, archetypes and gimmicks you associate with such films? Hansel & Gretel veers on wry self-parody at points, as if an acerbic take on Hollywood’s fondness for “gritty” reimaginings of familiar concepts. With producers including Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, it’s not too hard to believe that this subversive exploration of genre tropes was explicitly intended as a sly joke at the expense of these sorts of nonsensical and gratuitously violent and aggressive takes on old classics. There are moments where Hansel & Gretel flirts with genuinely post-modern greatness.

Unfortunately, there’s also a sense that the film lacks the will to follow through on that somewhat sarcastic premise, and the result is that the shrewder gags are undermined by a surreal earnestness that seems to ask the audience to accept Hansel & Gretel for nothing more than what it is. The result is a discordant and scattered piece of film, one that seems almost at war with itself.

The hottest adaptation of Hansel & Gretel you have ever seen...

The hottest adaptation of Hansel & Gretel you have ever seen…

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Non-Review Review: Die Hard

I know it’s a bit cliché at this point, but Die Hard really is my family’s ultimate Christmas movie. The season hasn’t truly started (or, if we’re delayed, truly ended) until all of us have sat down on the couch and indulged in the seasonal spectacular. Even if you don’t quite buy into the “Die Hard as Christmas movie” argument, it’s still impressive how tall John McTiernan’s action movie stands when compared to the bulk of eighties action films. Like Nakatomi Plaza itself, it towers over the competition – and it’s not because it does anything especially or novel or innovative in a genre that has always been fairly conservative. Instead, I’d argue, Die Hard succeeds because it executes all the conventional action movie beats exceedingly well, and because it doesn’t treat any of its plot points as necessary items on a check list.

Jump-starting Bruce Willis' action career...

Jump-starting Bruce Willis’ action career…

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My 12 for ’12: The Raid (Redemption) & An Action Aesthetic…

I’m counting down my top twelve films of the year between now and January, starting at #12 and heading to #1. I expect the list to be a little bit predictable, a little bit surprising, a little bit of everything. All films released in the UK and Ireland in 2012 qualify. Sound off below, and let me know if I’m on the money, or if I’m completely off the radar. And let me know your own picks or recommendations.

This is #12

It’s a bit of a stereotype that critics don’t like action movies. It’s one of those handy clichés that gets trotted around whenever some mega-blockbuster brings in a ridiculously large number at the box office after a thrashing from the pundits. I can’t speak for the critics, of course, but I can tell you that the reason I disliked The Bourne Legacy or Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon had nothing to do with an innate dislike of action movies as a genre. I’m a big fan of action movies. However, like any other genre, an action movie needs to be done right.

The Raid does an action movie right.

theraid1

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Non-Review Review: Taken 2

Taken 2 doesn’t pack quite the wallop of its predecessor. The original was a fairly standard action movie, elevated by a relatively lean and focused story, driven by a surprisingly effective Liam Neeson. Neeson is back for Taken 2, and he remains the best thing about the sequel. However, the film lacks the focused intensity of its predecessor. Much like its protagonist, the first film was almost single-minded in pursuit of its goal. This time around, there’s a lot more grizzle on the bone. Most of that comes from the decision to expand the world around Bryan Mills. While the movie works efficiently when Mills is driving the plot, it suffers from its decision to saddle him with more of his family this time around, with both the movie and the character almost weighed down.

Okay, which bright spark thought this was a good idea?

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