Archives for posts with tag: Die Hard

Lock Up

One of my favorite Sylvester Stallone movies from my childhood is 1989’s Lock Up, a satisfying prison flick that stars Sly as Frank Leone, a model convict with six months to go and what appears to be a bright future ahead of him – until he is unexpectedly transferred in the middle of the night to a hellish correctional institution run by the sadistic Warden Drumgoole (Donald Sutherland), who harbors a long-festering vendetta against Leone. “This is hell, and I’m going to give you the guided tour,” he promises. Full of memorable bits like a cockroach race, a barbell assassination, and a brutal slow-motion football montage, not to mention a sentimental piano theme that I’ve never forgotten, Lock Up also delivers the adrenaline in its inevitable escape and comeuppance sequence.

following orders

Following orders.

Sutherland is perfect as the mannered antagonist, and Drumgoole is easily one of the greatest bad guy monikers ever, putting me in mind of the canistered zombie who kicks off Return of the Living Dead (1985) – and Drumgoole is a zombie of sorts, at least in a figurative sense, as he reanimates for the viewer the corpse of the evil Nazi villain stock character. Viewers only hoping for a fun Sylvester Stallone vehicle and harmless action fix instead find themselves the captive audience for a dose of Hollywood Holocaust propaganda when Drumgoole has Leone sealed into a glass chamber for delousing with Zyklon gas! Naturally, Drumgoole leaves Leone struggling to hold his breath way longer than is necessary, and Stallone’s partial Jewish family background makes the moment that much more piquant. Reinforcing the notion that there is something Nazi-like about the prison staff is Tom Sizemore’s character Dallas’s nickname for one of the guards – “Col. Klink” – a reference to the WW2 POW camp sitcom Hogan’s Heroes. Then, too, there is the racial makeup of the guards, with whites like Manly (Jordan Lund) being among the meanest and most stereotypically fascistic and blacks like Braden (William Allen Young) revealed to have compassion in their still-beating hearts. There is an undeniable thematic overlap between the prison and Shoah film and fictional genres, with prison movies as far back as Brute Force (1947) serving as social commentaries on the dangers of authoritarianism and with entries like the Holocaust (1978) miniseries, various salacious Nazisploitation movies of the seventies, and Escape from Sobibor (1987) combining elements of both genres – and Lock Up implicitly acknowledges this connection, so that it could be classified with Soylent Green (1973), for example, as a crypto-Holocaust movie.

Three writers, including Die Hard (1988) bard Jeb Stuart and some nobody named Richard Smith, are credited with Lock Up’s screenplay – but somehow I have to suspect that it is the third name, Henry Rosenbaum, that accounts for the Zyklon delousing scene. The film was directed by John Flynn, whose other credits include the obscure made-in-Israel thriller The Jerusalem File (1972), vigilante movies Rolling Thunder (1977) and Defiance (1980), and the top-notch Steven Seagal revenger Out for Justice (1991). Rocky (1976) composer Bill Conti, meanwhile, contributes the score to what adds up to an audience-pleasingly macho but sensitive send-off for the eighties, Stallone’s most successful decade – even if the gassing scene does give it just a whiff of a fishy-smelling air of high camp for those racially conscious viewers in the audience.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

Nomads

John McTiernan, director of Hollywood blockbusters Predator (1987), Die Hard (1988), and The Hunt for Red October (1990), began his movie career rather more humbly with the flawed and eccentric but nonetheless entertaining debut Nomads (1986). Notable as McTiernan’s only credit as a screenwriter, Nomads was eviscerated by the critics when first released, and still has only a 13% green splat at Rotten Tomatoes. “Was there any sense in it?” asks leading lady Lesley-Anne Down in an interview included on the Nomads Blu-ray. “I don’t think there was very much sense in it at all for anybody.” Is Down correct in dismissing the film as a shallowly offbeat curio – and were the critics who panned the movie motivated only by an objective assessment of its merits?

Nomads stars Pierce Brosnan as a French anthropologist, Jean Charles Pommier, who in the opening sequence dies in the care of Down’s character, Dr. Eileen Flax, in a Los

Down

Lesley-Anne Down freaks out in John McTiernan’s Nomads.

Angeles hospital. He appears in a beaten, bloodied, and seemingly insane state, and his enigmatic last words initiate what will be a strange paranormal ordeal for Flax, who over the course of the film will both investigate and experience what befell Pommier, with most of the story told in flashback. The anthropologist and his wife (Anna Maria Monticelli) had only recently moved to the U.S. and purchased a house that, as it turns out, has a horrible history attached to it. Soon after moving in, the Pommiers discover Mansonesque graffiti on the garage door and more graffiti inside: “Gutman’s a Hero”. The home, they learn, was the site of a horrific child murder, and a band of elusive antisocial misfits who live out of a van have adopted the house as a holy site.

Pommier, being an anthropologist, follows the titular “nomads” around Los Angeles with the intention of documenting and studying them in order to gain a better idea of the threat he faces and to understand “what kind of people could think of a murder as some sort of shrine.” He determines that none of them have employment and watches them from a distance as they laze at the beach, party, and generally terrorize people. The nomads become aware of Pommier’s surveillance after he witnesses them murder a man and put the body in a dumpster. After first being pursued by them and escaping, Pommier again works his way into proximity with the group – at which point they seem to accept his presence and stage an impromptu photo shoot, with one of them, Mary, played by Mary Woronov, doing an exotic dance. When Pommier develops the film, however, he finds that none of the nomads appear in the exposures, which invites a comparison with vampires – although the nomads, who have no problem frolicking in the daylight, are clearly not vampires at least as conventionally depicted.

These quasi-vampires – vampire lore comprising a traditional understanding of the eternal Jew – are nomads, or what Pommier, drawing on Eskimo legends, describes as an urban variety of Innuat. As related in the film, “It has to do with wandering the desert. […] It’s all the same. Nomads live in deserts, whether it’s a desert of ice or sand or whatever doesn’t make a difference. […] They were supposedly hostile spirits. According to the myth, they were capable of assuming a human form” and traveled from place to place, bringing ruin and madness with them wherever they went. As Pommier tells his wife:

None of this may mean anything. None of it at all. […] But I may have found people who are living outside – outside any structure. They do not participate. No exchange, no constraints. They resort to violence with no provocation and then get away with it. It is as if to the official world they did not exist.

All of this rootlessness, in combination with the confluence of ritual, child murder, the reverence for a killer with the Jewish name Gutman, as well as the general depravity and destructiveness, contributes to an accumulation of clues that the nomads may be the Jews. Curiously, composer Bill Conti mentions during his Blu-ray interview that the soundtrack includes what he describes as a “Middle Eastern sound” – though to this reviewer’s untrained ear such a flavoring is difficult to detect in the synth-and-guitars music cues.

Adam Ant Nomads

Adam Ant portrays the leader of the titular band of roving marauders.

“You must not try to fight them,” a sinister nun (Blue Velvet’s Frances Bay) tells Pommier. This encounter takes place in a dilapidated cathedral where, in a sequence of nightmarish phantasmagoria, a flock of satanic women in habits is seen running through the halls in masks, one of them flashing her bare breasts at Pommier – all of which points to a faith corrupted. Dancing Mary, the nomad portrayed by Mary Woronov, wears a cross that glints in the sun, and later, when she is seen at night, she wears an even larger crucifix so that the viewer can hardly help but notice it as she cavorts like a stripper. Are these Christian elements ironic and indicative of cultural subversion, or have these been added as fig leaves to hide the almost naked Jewishness of the menace? Woronov’s features, it must be noted, are rather evil and arguably Semitic-looking.

In a key moment toward the end of the film, Pommier says to his wife with an air of wistfulness as they survey the Los Angeles skyline from a rooftop, “We are so very far from home, you know. All of us.” He laments his “bourgeois” life in a “civilized” world – in short, bemoans his condition of rootless cosmopolitanism. Both he and his kindred spirit the doctor, another childless middle-aged professional in the process of moving into a new and foreign home, have agricultural surnames, Pommier (“apple tree”) and Flax, that betray their simple origins and relatedness to the earth – Flax also connoting blonde and distinctively northern European looks – that set them apart from the dark, mysterious wanderers who move in their midst. Pommier’s polyglot cosmopolitanism, peripatetic ways, and sophistication nevertheless present a thematic parallel with the lifestyle of the nomads, so that it comes as no surprise when Pommier finally succumbs to them. The horror of Nomads is loss of a sense of belonging to a place and one’s own native culture – the horror of an alienated world in which, for instance, Dr. Flax’s colleague Cassie Miller (Jeannie Elias) complains about the “meshuggenah lunatics” who people the city. Whatever the meaning of the film, it may be worth observing that it is set in the entertainment capital of the world and that the final nomad antagonist Dr. Flax encounters is unable to pursue her beyond the California state line.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

The enforcer, music floats like a flying saucer Or a 747 jet, never forget

The enforcer, music floats like a flying saucer
Or a 747 jet, never forget

Mad niggas about to feel the full effect of intellect So I can collect respect - plus a check

Mad niggas about to feel the full effect of intellect
So I can collect respect – plus a check

When I flow, niggas know it's time to take a hike Cause I grab the mic and flip my tongue like a dyke

When I flow, niggas know it’s time to take a hike
Cause I grab the mic and flip my tongue like a dyke

white_house_down

Magic Mike himself, big badass Channing Tatum, stars as a Capitol policeman and would-be Secret Service agent who gets his chance to play at the real thing when he and his daughter (Joey King) tour the White House on precisely the day real-life Obama disser James Woods, the devious head of White House security, plans to stage a coup d’etat to unseat President Django, played by Jamie Foxx.

It is appropriate that the opening credits acknowledge a company called Mythology with this lightweight production, considering how White House Down is nothing if not an encapsulation of liberals’ mythologized view of an idealized President B.O., the scholarly man of peace who could solve all of America’s problems if only given enough cooperation and tax revenue. President Django, suitably enough, makes His first appearance in a three-helicopter formation symbolizing the Trinity of His Godhead.

The film follows the basic template of the Die Hard franchise, with a bloodied, battered Magic Mike, complete with soiled wifebeater and an imperiled loved one among the hostages, jumping, running, and dragging himself through historic bedrooms and the obligatory elevator shaft like a younger, sexier, generally less interesting John McClane.

The action is decent, if unoriginal, though there is an admitted joy to the scene of the mild-mannered, bespectacled President Django getting unchained on the White House lawn and hanging out of the window of His chauffeured car with a rocket launcher. James Woods brings a necessary seriousness to the film, while gorgeously quirky Maggie Gyllenhaal, wasted here in the role of a Secret Service bigwig, is at least enjoyable to ogle.

3.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that White House Down is:

9. Anti-tobacco. President Django is not a smoker.

8. Anti-Christian. Prominently featured terrorist Killick (Kevin Rankin) has a cross tattooed on his chest.

7. Pro-miscegenation. Magic Mike’s daughter has a crush on President Django.

6. Anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn). Right-wing white nationalists naturally play a part in the coup.

5. Feminist and anti-marriage. Magic Mike’s daughter not only protects the President, but saves the world from nuclear holocaust. Maggie Gyllenhaal is a strong, self-assured, and independent woman with no need of a man. Her ex-husband was an “asshole”.

4. Egalitarian. President Django deploys a folksy anecdote to explain how poverty causes crime.

3. Antiwar. Refreshingly, White House Down vilifies defense contractors and poo-poos the fearmongering about Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Undermining this show of pacifism, however, is the President’s favorable attitude toward drones.

2. Crypto-Zionist. Conspiratorial mastermind Woods is a fanatical neoconservative bent on destroying Iran. White House Down points the finger not at Israel, however – that country receiving mention only as a signatory to a Middle East peace treaty – but at vague “corporations” and a nebulous “military-industrial complex” with which President Django must grapple. In addition, the implosion of the Capitol dome from a fire inside the building corroborates the official story obscuring the implosion of the Twin Towers and WTC 7, thus diverting attention from any possible Israeli involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Magic Mike’s daughter wears a shirt depicting a squid or octopus to show her solidarity with the forces of the New World Order.

1. Statist. A few bad apples may exist, but government, as personified or deified by Lincoln aficionado President Django, generally has America’s best interests at heart. Racist mercenary Killick, in addition to his cross tattoo, sports an anarchist circle-A on one of his arms. Also demonized are anti-government hackers of the Wikileaks and Anonymous varieties.

A good day to die hard poster

The Die Hard franchise, like the James Bond films that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, comprise a record of Hollywood’s search for the new enemy that would confront the free world or at least provide fear fodder for the moviegoing public.  A product of the years that witnessed the Cold War’s ragged, anticlimactic end, Die Hard points to terrorism and asymmetric conflict as the coming trend, with ostensibly idealistic but actually greedy German terrorists taking hostages in an L.A. high-rise.  Inspired by the Iran-Contra controversy, Die Hard 2 finds a threat in the Cold War residue of the mercenary anticommunist armies created to aid dictators in America’s proxy wars in the Third World, and Die Hard with a Vengeance also features directionless mercenaries as a terrorist danger.  With the rise of the internet, 9/11, the War on Terror, and the domestic police state having intervened in the decade separating the third film from the next installment in the series, the superlative Live Free or Die Hard milks suspenseful chaos from the double-edged sword of the omnipresent cyber-surveillance state, but (like the more recent Skyfall) targets hackers rather than statists as the biggest threat to America.

Now, with its latest entry, A Good Day to Die Hard, the venerable action franchise finally appears to be out of compelling ideas and steam.  Set in Russia, where John McClane (Bruce Willis) hopes to reconcile with his CIA assassin son (Jai Courtney, an uninteresting actor with an unappealing face, inexplicably being pushed in high-profile films), A Good Day to Die Hard is an undisciplined, moody, murky, disorienting, and sometimes boring whirl of mostly meaningless action sequences that sweep McClane into an international espionage imbroglio that neither he nor the audience completely understands.  Apart from the familial drama, this story lacks the immediate stakes of the previous Die Hard films, which find McClane reluctantly playing the hero to protect his fellow citizens; now the character appears content to machine-gun foreigners in their own country and wreak massive havoc on their freeways for a lark and without any insight into what he is doing apart from his hope that it will somehow impress his rogue son and restore their damaged rapport.  Astronomical destruction of property, a genocidal body count, and forced sentimentality ensue, much of it filmed with a shaky, erratic pseudodocumentary headache-inducement approach, with the result that A Good Day to Die Hard is easily the most obnoxious and least worthy of the films to bear the prestigious Die Hard banner – and, if anything, perhaps an unfortunate indicator that it is at last a good day for this series of films to just die.

3 out of 5 stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that A Good Day to Die Hard is:

3. Xenophobic and specifically anti-Russian.  Slavs are secretive, dishonest, violent, eccentric, treacherous, and lust after their parents.

2. Family-ambivalent.  The film celebrates the father-son bond, with McClane regretful of not having played a greater role in his children’s lives.  His marriage to their mother, however, was apparently unsalvageable.

1. Statist and specifically neoconservative.  The Die Hard franchise becomes progressively more accepting of the federal government over the years.  In the first film, representative NYPD and LAPD officers are subject to human frailty and poor judgment, but are also admirable in their toughness and obvious concern for the public.  Their bureaucratic superiors are mostly worthless, however, and the FBI is depicted as incompetent and counterproductive, with one of their snipers a Vietnam veteran and death enthusiast who remembers Saigon fondly.  Bureaucrats and elements of the military are still antagonistic in Die Hard 2, and law enforcement at the local level is the most trustworthy.  This is also the case in Die Hard with a Vengeance, with federal agents depicted as conspiratorial and dopey.

Live Free or Die Hard accepts the posited benevolence of the FBI, but harbors reservations about the competence of newer federal rackets like the Department of Homeland Security.  The principal villain is a former government cyber-security expert run amuck, and the Pentagon is censured as clumsy for underestimating the vulnerability of America’s cyber-infrastructure, but the implication is that more and not less federal might is required.  At the end of that film, McClane is shown wearing an FBI jacket, signifying the oneness of his mission as a police officer with theirs at the national level.

Though the original Die Hard is distinctly Jewish in its perspective, the series has not until now embraced outright neoconservatism.  In A Good Day to Die Hard, McClane at first appears to be skeptical about the usefulness of the spy business, but is quickly persuaded to join the game when he sees what fun it offers with its license to ravage foreign lands with impunity.  The villains here are America’s old enemies, the Russians, still totalitarians at heart (as indicated by the Aeroflot airline’s hammer-and-sickle logo and the “CCCP” tattoo on one brutish thug’s back) and more dangerous than ever since criminal elements among them are peddling those dreaded and demonic “WMDs”, including the material for nuclear bombs.  (The prospective buyers, presumably, are Iran or the highest Islamic jihadist bidder.)  The home defense of previous films is no longer sufficient, and proactive overseas CIA adventurism is now the order of the day.  Early in A Good Day to Die Hard, a framed photograph of Barack Hussein Obama seems to smile on McClane from the wall behind him, bestowing on the loose cannon officer and the film itself a sort of enigmatic blessing (?).

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