Thursday, December 14, 2006

KBT Presents: DIE HARD

"Now I have a Machine Gun. Ho. Ho. Ho."

KBT plans to bring on the yuletide spirit with balding Bruce beating up the baddies as John "Yippee-ki-yay" McClane. Die Hard is without a doubt one of the key action pictures of the most testosterone-action fueled decade of cinema. It started the entire "Die Hard on a ..." sub-genre of action pictures. And it not only made Bruce Willis a star, but somehow catapulted him into the holy trinity of eighties action heroes along with Arnie and Sly (guys so tough they had to go into the restaurant business which proved more formidable than eastern European or Middle-Eastern terrorists). The film is set during a huge Christmas party at a Japanese owned corporate tower in Los Angeles and features some vintage Run DMC Christmas music. Where it lacks in string lights, it more than makes up with C4 explosions.

But really, the linchpin of Die Hard is the villain, Alan Rickman, who for those born in the 1970s may still be known for playing Hans Gruber over any of his more 'actor-ly' roles in film or on stage. It is Rickman that gets to deliver the calm confident speeches about Alexander the Great which eventually turn into incredulous disbelief as McClane goes army-of-one and develops the original 'Die Hard Situation.'

Wry humour, working-man-cop-bonding, making up with the ex, and defeating highly organized terrorists are all in a days work. 'Tis the Season.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

KBT Presents: NABOER (Next Door)

If there is one director who can turn the intersection between sex and violence into visual poetry it is David Lynch. Even if his films do not always make sense on a conscious or literal level, they have a way of burrowing under your skin, like ants making fleshy tunnels from the heart to the brain. An equally visual, but coming from a more subjective POV is director Darren Aronofsky. His first two films (Pi, Requiem for a Dream) are function like vices around the skull squeezing you into the characters' central nervous systems and making the overall experience more than a little queasy.

Norwegian director Pål Sletaune straddles the middle ground of these two distinct styles of filmmaking and melds some pretty edgy cinema (Folks, *this is your warning* - I mean it, while also desiring to remain vague as to why) with cinematography beautiful enough to be worthy of superstar cinematographer Christopher Doyle (2046, Hero, Dumplings) or Steven Soderbergh. The moving camera is a character unto itself as it stalks the halls of Jon's apartment building and peaks around corners and into the neighbors labyrinth of darkly painted walls. Voyeuristic in the extreme, the camera is determined not to look away from more than a few dark places.

You will see that I'm aiming to describe mood here rather than story, which is best left unspoiled. Basically, while Jon is dealing with his girlfriend cheating on him, then dumping him for another man, he is seduced by his two attractive next door neighbors. Jon is working out issues of frustration and obsession and trying to keep a lid on his emotions by creating pocket of isolation in his apartment.

Obsession is a fascinating subject to explore (Just ask Edgar Allen Poe) and Naboer covers ground from Roman Polanski's Death and the Maiden to David Lynch's Blue Velvet to Nicolas Winding Refn's Fear X. Those films and this one are worthy pieces of cinema, even if they occassionally make you wish to cover your eyes, or psychologically duck and cover.