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John McClane (Bruce Willis) in a tight spot
Part Two Of Your January 2008 UMC Results Is In!

Tagline: It will blow you through the back wall of the theater!

Preshow Entertainment: RED SHOES DIARIES



I've known about RED SHOES DIARIES, but I don't think I've ever seen one until today. I knew it was meant to be an "erotic" show, but what I didn't know, though did suspect, was just how low the level of mediocrity can go. But that's okay, because now I know.

The episode screened, a prime example of pretension called AUTO EROTICA, looked like it was written and directed by people who only heard about having sex. Even with flashes of nudity, they somehow extracted any sort of eroticism. It even managed to take alluring newcomer Caitlin Dulaney and desexualize her into a trashy-dialogue-posing-as-art spewing robot.

I can go on all day about how terrible this show was. And no wonder, it was created (and directed) by that king of faux-rotica Zalman King, who co-wrote and produced the pop culture guilty pleasure 9 1/2 WEEKS and co-wrote and directed the similar and sillier WILD ORCHID movies. While I can't begrudge him his success, I can say with confidence that I hate his work. I suppose the success of the genre of false and self-important erotica has its place. Just not in my life. Welp, I just blew my chances of working with Mr. King (he's actually Mr. Lefkowitz).


Alan Rickman as Hans
DIE HARD is the best action film. Ever. Maybe later I'll think of one I've missed, but right now I can't. It made Bruce Willis a superstar and spawned not only its own franchise, but a string of knock-offs that can be wrapped around Nakatomi Plaza a hundred times. It's a winning mix of suspense, comedy, action, and smarts. Now add to that recipe an array of sharp and colorful characters: Willis' flawed NYC cop John McClane, his strong and independent wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), the impertinent villain Hans (Alan Rickman, in his first and best movie role). There's also limo driver Argyle (De'voreaux White), desk jockey cop Al (Reginald Veljohnson), insanely opportunistic reporter Thornburg (William Atherton), and stupid cock-blocking police chief Robinson (Paul Gleason). This is our family for 131 of the most enjoyable minutes put on film. And like family, you either love them or love to hate them.

This was the movie that re-booted the action genre, then populated by larger than life Commandos, Rambos and Predators. It gave the action monster a heart, humanizing it. And of course its immediate success prompted billions of fastball pitches which Hollywood kept hitting. "DIE HARD on a plane" (PASSENGER 57), "DIE HARD on a boat" (UNDER SIEGE), "DIE HARD on a train" (UNDER SIEGE 2), "DIE HARD on a bus" (SPEED). The model became so well known that the joke became "Hey! I have a new idea! How about 'DIE HARD in a building!?'" But I can't get mad at that. For even TROUBLE IN TOYLAND, a film I sold to Sony, was referred to as "DIE HARD in a toy store." And I can't deny that it's true. In fact, while in the packed opening night audience of DIE HARD 2 in July of 1990, I thought of the idea. A DIE HARD for kids. I held on to that idea for 11 years before I wrote the script, which coincidentally is the age of the kids in the movie.

One of my mistakes as I go through life is assuming everyone's seen DIE HARD. But that's just wrong. In fact, 2/3s of the UMC attendees had not. So I'll tell you a bit about it, but not a lot.

John McClane, a cocky yet lovable NYC cop arrives in L.A. to see his wife and their two kids. Six months earlier, a business opportunity landed her a job at Nakatomi, but John didn't support her and stayed behind. In their hearts but not their mouths, they both regretted that decision. And though this is an action picture, therein lies the heart. You don't see that in a Steven Segal movie.

So John goes to Nakatomi Plaza (really Fox Plaza, adjacent to their studio lot) where he arrives late to the party, but not too late to be the life of it. Terrorists take over the Christmas party (Nakatomi employees are the only ones still in the building), but they don't know John is there. And he doesn't die easy (get it?). Even barefoot and shirtless he's on the job, even if he is the last man limping. No shirt? No shoes? No problem!

John McClane (Willis) closes in on the Bad Guys
Okay, so remember three paragraphs ago I said I'd tell you a bit, but not a lot? Well, as a man of my word that's all I'm going to say. Except - lots of glass, a giant teddy bear, "Hans, bubby", the pin-up on the wall, the elevator shaft, Hans as Bill Clay, Twinkies, "make fists with your toes," the fire hose wheel, the Rolex watch, and those subtle yet important European cigarettes. If these don't seem like elements in an action film, then you need to see DIE HARD. And if you have seen it and you don't remember these things, then it's time to see it again.

DIE HARD was skillfully directed by John McTiernan, and written by Jeb Stuart (co-writer of THE FUGITIVE, another smart, top-tier movie) and Hollywood staple (you've probably seen a dozen films he's written) Steven de Souza.

DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER was as good as the first action-wise, but lacked the heart and a lot of the character. The third, DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE was a silly outing that I recommend passing on. And the fourth, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, while fun and at times thrilling, is really just a popcorn movie.

So do yourself a favor and watch DIE HARD (again?). That's really all I can say. Except for yippee-ki-yay, my dear reader.

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