Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"I will never even think about going up in a tall building again..."

While inexplicably enduring the uninspired and tedious action movies that I often subject myself to, thanks to their connection to a franchise I once enjoyed (thank you, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra) or a video-game I loved (looking at you, Max Payne), I usually find my mind wandering back to the film that remains my holy grail of the genre: Die Hard. As far as action movies go, it has remained my absolute favourite film for nearly 20 years. I watch it twice a year at the very least and seem to be incapable of enjoying it less with each subsequent viewing.

There are many reasons why Die Hard is a great film - using 'great' in a completely unironic fashion - but the one I've been thinking about today is the film's use of environments. This was brought on by my discovery (via Warren Ellis) of writer/essayist Geoff Manaugh's awesomely aca-fan-ish post on the film on BLDGBLOG, his blog about architecture and urban spaces. In the post, entitled 'Nakatomi Space', Manaugh talks about how Die Hard is 'one of the best architectural films of the last 25 years', an opinion that I have shared on some gut level, way back from when I first saw it as a eight year old who didn't know what the word 'architecture' meant. I never really had the conceptual language to communicate that instinct but Manaugh does - articulating wonderfully just what makes the movie so spatially fascinating and how that makes it that much more exciting. Go read.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Sin Nombre

Cary Fukunaga's feature debut Sin Nombre is one of those films that dazzle you with its craft while you're watching it but then makes you wonder whether you've been cheated just a little bit, a few minutes after the Sundance-mandated high has dissipated somewhat.

Friday, January 01, 2010


Oh James Cameron, how far you have fallen. This simplistic Disney-esque cartoon (Pocahontas in the stars, essentially), roided up with technology and space marines is the latest low point in his downward spiral. It's hard to believe that this film was created by the man who gave us two of the most intelligent, hyper-efficient action films of all time in The Terminator and Aliens and even, initially, managed to temper his fetish for spectacle with solid story and character work in Terminator 2. Avatar represents a complete turn to the dark side where Cameron stands side by side with George Lucas in prioritizing technology over writing/plot/characters, creating a childish pretense at an epic sci-fi story.