Die Hard is a Serious Action Film

If you’ve never had a chance to listen to the director’s commentary for Die Hard, I can wholeheartedly recommend getting hold of a copy - John McTiernan’s comments are fascinating, and complement the talented acting of both Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman. It rapidly becomes obvious that McTiernan takes action film very seriously, as an artistic genre - not something to turn a fast buck. This is clearly one of the reasons why Die Hard is such a polished film and is a canonical example of the action film genre.

One interesting anecdote is that in the 80s, when the film was made, cutting in the middle of a camera move was forbidden by the studios, to the point where he was almost fired from Predator for doing this. A co-operative editor was the only reason Die Hard was able to use these kind of shots in the finished film. To me, this is an interesting example of how established conventions for the ‘best’ way of doing things don’t always turn out to be the best (after all, Die Hard was a huge commercial success, and no-one now watches it and comments on the strange camera moves).

Brokeback Mountain 2

OK, so I admit, I want to see this film made too.

Triumph of the Will

I’ve just watched Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will. I wasn’t as moved as I expected to be; perhaps precisely because the film shows only ‘positive’ messages, which I’m not greatly influenced by because of the benefit of hindsight. All the negative connotations of Hitler, WWII, and the Holocaust are absent. In fact, after some time, the film becomes rather repetitive and I skipped several sections. Nevertheless, Hitler’s closing speech to the Party Congress at the end of the film is well worth watching, as a striking example of just how good oratory can get (ironic from a man that’s so hard to admire in most other respects). It is well worth reading Our Masters’ Voices for some academic study of Hitler and other great orators.

euroGel 2006

I am very much looking forward to attending the euroGel 2006 conference; I’ve just been updating my entry in the attendees list. I’m still not 100% sure what it’s about, but it sure looks like fun and I know I’m going to enjoy it! (they describe it as: ‘a conference, and community, exploring good experience in all its forms – in business, art, society, technology, and life’)

Please look after your skin

After cycling round part of the Isle of Wight with Rachel last weekend, and foolishly using little-to-no sun cream, I ended up looking like a lobster in places. Accordingly, I went and refreshed my stock of years-old sun cream this week. However, even though I get a bit pompous about this issue, I didn’t realise just quite how acute the dangers were. Did you know that over a million cases of skin cancer occur every year in the US? In a country with 300 million people, that’s a pretty high hit rate. This article in the New York Times has more information.

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