California

We all know the States unburdened itself of class systems when it shrugged off the British yoke but our man McClane is nonetheless a working-class stiff. He doesn’t have fancy words or a tailored suit, instead he’s got something better and more essential: integrity. Along with that goes a 12-month backlog of New York scumbags and he can’t just up and leave when the love of his life gets a great job in the most liberal snowflake part of God’s green Earth.

Fuckin’ California.

California ruins everything. Comedian Andy Zaltzman called Los Angeles “the logical conclusion to western civilisation” and Die Hard agrees. Holly Gennaro got a great job at a Japanese corporation and took the kids with her when she moved. Back in New York, a working man could bring home the bacon to his stable nuclear family. His wife might work — hey, it’s the 80’s, not the 50’s — but she doesn’t earn more than her husband.

Not in L.A., though. In L.A. it’s like someone else won WW2 and the wrong side won the culture war. Holly is a hotshot making six figures at a Japanese company. Bonuses, Rolexes, a corner office. Coked-up wannabe alpha-male executive Ellis defers to her. Powerhouse businessman Takagi respects her. When machine-gun-wielding terrorists come calling she stands up to the worst of them: even Gruber respects her.

John McClane resents her. She didn’t just take the kids and herself when she left, she took his idea of what men are supposed to do and be. She loves him, sure, but she doesn’t need him.

Fuckin’ California.

I guess? I dunno. I got into a discussion on twitter a few years back with someone who thought of Die Hard as a feminist parable. I don’t think it is. To me the film is about a crisis of masculine identity, an idea specifically of straight white masculine identity that deserves to fade and vanish. The climax has Gruber grabbing Holly’s Rolex so he doesn’t fall off the side of Nakatomi Plaza. McClane loosens the band from her wrist and Gruber falls thirty odd storeys to his death… she embraces John and in my mind embraces New York over L.A., status quo over change, the traditional nuclear family over being an independent woman, patriarchy over equality.

Just to be clear, I do not approve of this message!

But it is the message. And it’s also part of what makes Die Hard so great. The craft of the film — the perfectly devised action sequences, the idea of one resourceful person taking on an army, the commonsense of the working class over the pretense of the ruling class, the scene where Gruber orders his goons to shoot the glass because he knows that McClane has no shoes — amazing. And most of all, McClane’s vulnerability. He’s not Rambo or Conan or Luke Skywalker born to greatness. He’s just some guy whose bare feet are as delicate as the next person’s.

It’s got the best and smartest action sequences, it’s beautifully shot, the script is elegant and efficient and clever, and while its message is not something laudable its message is perfectly expressed.

As an aside I also really like Burton’s Batman, the Alex Garland/Pete Travis Dredd, and all of the Star Treks. Good gravy do they have their problems. It took until 2018 to get a gay man in space with Star Trek: Discovery? Please.

Fuckin’ California.

Not Every Dog

This week we talk the 2015 Oscars and then examine a film the Academy cruelly snubbed: Jupiter Ascending.

For homework there’s Flash Gordon. We had some other films too but we didn’t really mean them…

So put on your fanciest frock or sharpest suit and come gawk at them beautiful people on the red carpet with Pete and Justin on the Shoot The Glass podcast!

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Cats of New York

This has taken forever to edit so I’ll keep this short and… well, short. Sorry for the delay, dear listeners! And sorry to my dear co-host Mister Peter Wells!

In this episode we talk about the Academy Awards, TV shows True Detective and Community, documentary The Armstrong Lie, and recent films 300: Rise of an Empire, Winter’s Tale, and Vampire Academy.

We wrap up with the Coens’ latest Inside Llewyn Davis and then talk about it more in our spoilery segment after the show along with a very brief discussion of the 300 sequel because you probably won’t see it and you probably don’t care about being spoiled. Surprise! Dudes with muscles have swords. Yeah.

For homework we have Nick Cave and John Hillcoat’s classic Ghosts… of the Civil Dead and, in honour of the late Harold Ramis, the Brendan Fraser-Elizabeth Hurley vehicle Bedazzled.

So come strum a steel-string and sing a three-part with Pete and Justin on the Shoot the Glass Podcast!

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Glass? Who Gives A Sh*t About Glass?

We do! And in this episode of Shoot The Glass we talk in depth about the action flick to end all action flicks, the film that catapulted Bruce Willis to the A-list and launched a thousand terrible Alan Rickman impressions, John McTiernan’s 1988 masterpiece Die Hard. We go through the film in more or less chronological order and attempt to tease out, moment-by-moment, what makes Die Hard so good.

As it turns out there are a lot of things that make it so good, and we decide that maybe we should just go back and watch it again, so much do we love it… along with our Bill Collins picks of the week: McTiernan’s other good films Predator and The Hunt for Red October, and two films that share some of Die Hard’s action aesthetic, The Bourne Identity and Mission Impossible III.

There’s an awful lot of genius in Die Hard, and two geeks talking about it for an hour or so isn’t going to do full justice to all of the clever and inspired decisions that the film makes, so don’t feel aggrieved if we’ve left out your favourite bit. The music, for example. It’s got great music but we don’t really get to discuss it. And Jan De Bont‘s cinematography could probably occupy a whole podcast itself… we can’t cover everything, or we’d be recording for a week! But we do give the film a lot of love, and hopefully we find a bit of insight along the way.

We also say a fond farewell to the great James Gandolfini, who unexpectedly passed this week.

So jump in the limo with Pete and Justin and we’ll hit the minibar on the way to Nakatomi Plaza in the latest episode of Shoot the Glass!

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