Why Simon Miraudo adores… DIE HARD

11 May

Welcome to our FIRST “Why I Adore…” post!!! I’m hugely excited to kick this off, and hope it starts an avalanche of people submitting their filmic/televisual declarations of love! Now pour yourself a drink, take a comfy couch and warm yourself by the fire, as we introduce our inaugural Adorer:

Simon Miraudo is a film critic, blogger and podcaster whose entertaining and insightful reviews are brought to you, thanks to Quickflix, right here: http://blog.quickflix.com.au/ (and archived here: http://www.quickflix.com.au/Reviews/Critics/SimonMiraudo). He can also be heard bantering with co-host Jon Tilton on their film podcast TRENDING CINEMA http://www.trendingcinema.com/ and, if you just can’t get enough Miraudo, catch his constantly awesome tweets at http://twitter.com/simonmiraudo. Today, he shares his love for a film which would never move across country and change its name to Gennaro…

The more films I see, the more I recognise that DIE HARD might in fact be the very best ever made. When asked to compile a list of my favourite movies, I submit every one of my fave flicks to a rigorous and gruelling system of elimination (and let’s face it – unnecessarily so). It’s a quest to discover which film means the most to me.

Some days, it’s ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, a film intrinsically (and romantically) linked to my relationship with my girlfriend. Some days, it’s GHOST WORLD or SUPERBAD, two films that essentially capture everything that ever needs to be said about high school, university and that painful gap in between. Some days, my favourite films are THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY and SEVEN SAMURAI, two unquestionable masterpieces that are so wonderfully fantastic, calling them “my favourite” would seem horribly clichéd. The list goes on and on. I haven’t even mentioned frequent also-rans ANNIE HALL or MULHOLLAND DRIVE or Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy (to which I devoted an entire thesis).

When Paul first proposed the WHAT I ADORE blog, essays on each of these films were briefly considered for submission. Although I love all of them, I felt I couldn’t communicate why without being either too personal or too academic. So I had to consider a film that I truly adored in a completely intangible way. One that I could barely discuss without sounding like an excited tweenage girl listing her favourite moments from a Justin Beiber concert. And no film sends me back to my tweenage self like John McTiernan’s DIE HARD – it regularly sits atop my Flickchart, is my go-to sick-at-home DVD and holds the record for most. viewings. ever.

It might seem strange to praise the film that essentially kicked off the now-lamentable “eurotrash villain vs. vulnerable wisecracking hero” genre (see: PAUL BLART: MALL COP). And frankly, DIE HARD has no right to be as good as it is. It is loosely based on Roderick Thorp’s generic crime novel ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’, comes from a director hot off the silly (but admittedly very fun) PREDATOR and stars Reginald VelJohnson.

But everything about DIE HARD – everything – is perfect. From the opening scene in which John McClane is taught by a friendly airplane passenger how to combat the jitters (it works too!), to the last, in which the villain from GHOSTBUSTERS 2 is shot down by the now-redeemed Sgt. Powell (VelJohnson – a badass deep down). If there were room, I would list every scene that takes place in between these two as among my very favourites.

I hardly need to tell you that the characters are the strongest element. Sure, we have Bruce Willis’ John McClane, the future template for every post-Schwarzenegger action hero ever. He’s so likable, and funny, and scared – and at times, kind of a stubborn jerk. And who can forget Alan Rickman’s precise performance as Hans Gruber, the greatest movie villain of all time (all he wants is money – no clumsy hidden motivations here). Bonnie Bedelia also proved as Holly McClane (nee Gennaro) that a “strong female character”TM need not kick actual asses to be tough (Holly is rich and well-drawn).

But what about all those amazing supporting performances? Who could possibly pick a favourite? You have perky limo driver Argyle, the noble (right to the bitter end) Mr. Takagi, as well as computer hacker – “the quarterback is toast” – Theo. Who is the biggest dick of the movie? William Atherton’s snivelling journalist Thornburg or Hart Bochner’s coke-addled, lunch-cutting Ellis? The debate rages on to this day. And don’t you dare make me pick a favourite Agent Johnson!

The film is tight (nominated for Best Film Editing at 1989 Oscars), surprising, funny and full of amazing set pieces. The action sequences are brutal, intimate and unsurpassed to this day. The verbal roundelay between McClane and Gruber is ridiculously juicy. Sigh. I can already feel myself devolving to the rapturous, adoration-heaping 10-year-old that saw DIE HARD for the very first time one Christmas, and watched it twice more before Boxing Day had ended. It may not sit atop my “all-time favourites” list, but there is no film I’ve adored longer and more consistently than DIE HARD. In fact, screw this. I’m going to watch it right now.

Happy trails!

Simon Miraudo

Quickflix film reviewer and blogger

Trending Cinema co-host

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6 Responses to “Why Simon Miraudo adores… DIE HARD”

  1. Lee May 13, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    Great piece! I totally agree that its individual elements *shouldn’t* work, yet it totally works at a whole. Spot-on.

    I liked that you called Willis the first post-Schwarzenegger action hero. He’s really the only action star who has properly endured from the 80s to now. He somehow embodies the muscly tough guy action hero of the 80s, the improbably superhero wiseguy action hero of the 90s, and the unexpected everyman action hero of the 00s. And he plays all of those at once in Die Hard, which is why it works so well.

  2. Glenn May 13, 2010 at 10:44 pm #

    Such a classic. Definitely ranks alongside “Terminator 2” as a defining moment of action cinema. People who think this – or this sort of movie – can’t be considered truly great are just fooling themselves. I’d go on the record and say that “Die Hard” is a better made film than anything that was nominated for Best Picture in 1989. It takes true skill to make a “popcorn movie” as good as “Die Hard” is. “Die Hard” is a masterpiece, pure and simple.

    Great write up, Simon!

  3. joel May 19, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

    -“is the building on fire?”
    -“nope, but it’s gonna need a paint job and a shitload of screen doors.”

    kudos for kicking us off with such an awesome film!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. >Quickflix’s Christmas picks: Simon Miraudo. | Quickflix® DVD & Movie Blog - March 25, 2011

    […] earth-shattering love I feel for John McTiernan’s Die Hard has been extolled elsewhere on the web, so let me just add some Christmassy context. I recall first watching Die Hard on Boxing Day back […]

  2. Die Hard crossover with 24? Not quite… | Quickflix® DVD & Movie Blog - March 26, 2011

    […] hopes that Die Hard goes “worldwide”, I have to voice my displeasure. I adore Die Hard (in fact, you can read all about it here) precisely because of its intimacy. John McClane is not Captain America; he does not need to do […]

  3. Why I Adore… | Quickflix® DVD & Movie Blog - March 26, 2011

    […] was honoured to be the first guest writer for the blog, sending my warm fuzzies to John McTiernan‘s classic action flick Die Hard. […]

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