Die Limp

As you’ve probably heard, or, if your life took an unfortunate turn, seen for yourself, A Good Day To Die Hard is a complete piece of crap. I’m not one of those people who says “Die Hard was great, but then the series got too preposterous!” I love all four of the prior installments, including Live Free or Die Hard. I don’t care how ridiculous the action sequences get. I don’t care if John McClane has become an invincible superhero. I loved each and every one of these movies…….until now.

I really don’t get the point of filming action sequences in Incoherent Shaky Cam. There’s a stunt-laden early car chase that, as far as I could tell, involved practical stunts instead of CGI. That means that actual human beings put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of this motion picture, and the filmmakers rewarded their willingness to perish in a horrific car crash by filming/editing it so badly that you can barely tell what’s going on.

The movie is so bad that I hit a point where I didn’t even want it to get better, because it became fascinating in its incompetence. I especially liked how Bruce Willis kept saying “I’m supposed to be on vacation!” (his version of Dante’s “I’m not even supposed to be here today!” chant in Clerks) even though it was clearly established that he went to Russia to get his son out of trouble. 

The best part is after the end credits, where we are informed that the film created 14,000 jobs. “Yes, we know it’s terrible…but it kept people employed in a bad economy, so that counts for something, right? Right?” 

The one bright spot: Bruce Willis does not actually say “Yippie Ki Yay, Mother Russia” in the film. If that had happened, there would have been no choice but to tear down the screen.

HOWEVER…I was impressed by the marketing of a new Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy movie. There was a big warning on the screen saying that this sample scene was for theatre exhibitors only and NOT to be shown to the general public. The scene itself had timecodes at the top and looked like it was from a workprint. I’m pretty sure this was all bulls**t, but it still gave the scene (which was extremely funny) a level of “Ooooh, we’re not supposed to be seeing this! How naughty!” 

 

Zoom! Zoom!

So I recently watched the movie Unstoppable, where Denzel Washington has to stop an out-of-control train. It’s a very good movie, but I was distracted by all of these quick little zooms. Not dramatic zooms into Denzel’s face as he says “Unstoppable? I don’t think so!” [Not actual movie quote] but constant quick little zooms in and out, as if the cameraman didn’t quite have the shot he wanted. 

It happened so often, and for no conceivable artistic reason, that I thought maybe my TV was trying to auto-correct the aspect ratio or something. I kept messing with the settings, and, nope, constant tiny zooms. Weird. 

After that I watched Jeff, Who Lives At Home. Same frickin’ thing! Constant distracting mini-zooms. A charming little movie, but watching it reminded me of the annoyance level of a VHS tape where you could never quite get the tracking perfect. Clearly, I was going to have to figure out a way to fix this, or get a new TV.

Then I read reviews of both movies…which criticize the filmmakers for the constant mini-zooms. Roger Ebert’s review of Jeff, Who Lives at Home says:

“One stylistic note: In nearly every scene, the Duplass brothers use quick little zooms in and out….They’re good directors. They’ll outgrow this.” 

The moral of the story? If you watch Unstoppable and Jeff, Who Lives at Home back-to-back, you might think your TV is broken. 

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