Tag Archives: Die Hard

Failed Critics Podcast: Winterval Special 2015

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Ding dong, merrily on high – Steve’s pants are wet and minging.

Don’t worry. He just got a bit over-excited on last week’s Star Wars podcast. But before Steve worked himself up into that state, you can listen to his usual mildly-subdued-self as he hosted our Christmas special podcast, recorded the week before he exploded in a fit of fan-geekery over The Force Awakens.

Joining him in our festive celebrations during this most unholy Winterval and non-religion-specific season are Owen Hughes, Andrew Brooker and Brian Plank. As is tradition, we start off with a Christmassy quiz – quite possibly the worst quiz we’ve had on the podcast all year. Possibly ever. But moods are soon lifted as the team run through which Christmas movies they’ve been watching over the holiday period.

In lieu of any main releases to talk about, we have a special triple bill where each member of the crew pick their films of Christmas past (favourite first watch of a non-2015 film during this year), Christmas present (favourite 2015 release) and Christmas future (which movie they’re most looking forward to in 2016). It really isn’t as confusing as I’ve made it sound.

There’s still one more podcast to go this year – our Failed Critics Awards end of year wrap up (deadline for votes is 27th Dec) – so you can join us again later this month. Until then, Merry Christmas from all of us here at Failed Critics!

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Failed Critics Podcast: The Crimson Halloween Beasts

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All of you that have never listened before and have seen your family die [from laughing], huh, you now have something that stands for you! That would be the Failed Critics Podcast: Halloween special.

OK, so it is a couple of weeks early, but think of all that extra time we’ve given you to source the incredible horror movies from a whole host of different decades that we discuss during our spooktacular (urrgghhhh sorry) triple bill. With picks by hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes, and guests Carole Petts and Phil Sharman, there’s plenty for you sink your fangs into (aahhhhhh sorry sorry sorry).

Before all that, we begin as we always do – with a quiz! Steve is in control of the questions and still 2-1 up after last week’s disaster (get it?) leaving Owen teetering on the edge of being handed a potentially diabolical booby prize should he be unable to prevent a joint Carole and Phil triumph. Perhaps regardless of whatever film might await either Owen or Steve, nothing could truly be more distressing than the news that a Die Hard prequel has gone into production. Still, at least there’s the London Film Festival round-up and Godzilla vs King Kong news to discuss, eh?

We even found time to sneak in a couple of new releases alongside our main triple bill feature. With reviews of Guilermo Del Toro’s latest visual gothic tale in Crimson Peak, and the very first Netflix original movie, Beasts of No Nation, starring Idris Elba, there was plenty to talk about in this week’s episode.

Join us again next week for DE NE- NEEERRRR, DE NE- NERRRR, DE, DE NER NER NERRRR… 007 is back for his longest outing yet with the release of SPECTRE.

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Failed Critics Podcast: Your Unconventional Desire

focusAs always, your illustrious host Steve Norman and ever present Owen Hughes lead the way through a tightly packed episode. Coming into your earholes to review the 18-rated, arse-ticklingly rude 50 Shades of Grey is Failed Critics debutant, Paul Field. Also joining them this week is Matt Lambourne, mainly so he can recount the story of why he didn’t see the (not so) erotic flick.

The team also craftily knocked out reviews for two other new releases before climaxing with 50 Shades of Grey, as Will Smith’s latest con-film Focus, as well as mind-bending time-travel thriller Predestination also get the once over.

They also somehow found room to squeeze in an extra couple of reviews. Paul filled us in on Korean revenge film I Saw The Devil (as reviewed in the Half Decade In Film article this week); Owen got slightly topical with space-hopping sci-fi Virtuality; and our pal Matt welcomed Die Hard and Enter The Dragon to the party.

Tune in again next week to hear less innuendos, in addition to the results of our Academy Award prediction quiz.

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For your chance to win a few crumby randomly selected second hand DVD’s that we no longer want, simply comment on this article with your picks for each of the 11 categories below! The winner will be the entrant with the most correct guesses. In the event of a tie, the winner will be chosen at random. The term ‘winner’ is used lightly.

1 – Best Picture
American Sniper – Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Alejandro González Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole
Boyhood – Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson
The Imitation Game – Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman
Selma – Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner
The Theory of Everything – Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten
Whiplash – Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster

2 – Best Director
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game

3 – Best Actor
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher as John Eleuthère du Pont
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper as Chris Kyle
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game as Alan Turing
Michael Keaton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) as Riggan Thomson / Birdman
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything as Stephen Hawking

4 – Best Actress
Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night as Sandra Bya
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything as Jane Wilde Hawking
Julianne Moore – Still Alice as Dr. Alice Howland
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl as Amy Elliott-Dunne
Reese Witherspoon – Wild as Cheryl Strayed

5 – Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall – The Judge as Judge Joseph Palmer
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood as Mason Evans, Sr.
Edward Norton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) as Mike Shiner
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher as Dave Schultz
J. K. Simmons – Whiplash as Terence Fletcher

6 – Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood as Olivia Evans
Laura Dern – Wild as Barbara “Bobbi” Grey
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game as Joan Clarke
Emma Stone – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) as Sam Thomson
Meryl Streep – Into the Woods as The Witch

7 – Best Original Screenplay
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo
Boyhood – Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher – E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness
Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy

8 – Best Adapted Screenplay
American Sniper – Jason Hall from American Sniper by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice
The Imitation Game – Graham Moore from Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges
Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson from Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
The Theory of Everything – Anthony McCarten from Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking
Whiplash – Damien Chazelle from his short film of the same name

9 – Best Animated Feature Film
Big Hero 6 – Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli
The Boxtrolls – Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight
How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold
Song of the Sea – Tomm Moore and Paul Young
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya – Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura

10 – Best Foreign Language Film
Ida (Poland) in Polish – Paweł Pawlikowski
Leviathan (Russia) in Russian – Andrey Zvyagintsev
Tangerines (Estonia) in Estonian and Russian – Zaza Urushadze
Timbuktu (Mauritania) in French – Abderrahmane Sissako
Wild Tales (Argentina) in Spanish – Damián Szifrón

11 – Best Documentary – Feature
Citizenfour – Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutsky
Finding Vivian Maier – John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
Last Days in Vietnam – Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester
The Salt of the Earth – Wim Wenders, Lélia Wanick Salgado and David Rosier
Virunga – Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

Listen Up Hollywood – Die Hard 6

A new series where Steve takes a semi regular bash at planning some movies for the Hollywood bigwigs.

by Steve Norman (@stevepn86)

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I have a theory about the Die Hard films. Not only do they get worse with every film made but the quality also dips the larger area John McClane covers during the movie.

In the original, and the best, McClane is confined to a single skyscraper. The movie also has the best villain of the series in Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber but the relatively small area it takes place in helps make the film what it is.

The second instalment sees our hero tackle terrorists in an airport. A sizeable area but again still quite confined. In Die Hard with a Vengeance McClane teams up with Samuel L. Jackson’s Zeus in a movie that spans most of New York City.

Then the franchise went away for a bit and everyone thought we had ended up with an excellent action trilogy. However it was bought back and in Die Hard 4 (I’m not bothering with ridiculous taglines) where we yippee-kayayed around most of the East Coast of the USA. This was the first Die Hard that was not good. It was OK though and in my opinion receives more flack than it deserves. It did sacrifice the 18 rating to get a larger audience which made the film suffer. Number 5 did the same with the rating and seemed to span an area of Eastern Europe that Vladimir Putin would envy. It sucked.

I do not like to see film franchises I love go out on a low. This is why I am optimistic that the new Star Wars films will be immense and this is why I want more Die Hard.

And I have a plan for the film.

It needs to be set in a confined(ish) space and only have one main hero, John McClane. No Samuel L. or Jai Courtney offering support. Just the former cop ass kicking and wise cracking throughout the movie.

You also need a reasonable ‘in’. In the first two movies he was picking up his wife. In the rest it was a bit more elaborate to get him involved.

Die-Hard-Square

So with this in mind my film starts in the White House. Ok, I know we have had White House Down and that other one with Gerard Butler but they were pretty mediocre.

Why is McClane at the White House? Maybe he is taking his grandchild (his kids in the film are old enough to have kids about seven or eight, right?) and their class on a tour along with a teacher. Maybe he is collecting a medal or award for his heroics during his life.

Either way he is there and some terrorists turn up. Part of me wants to introduce a third Gruber brother but it seems a bit stretched. Basically pick a bad guy/group. Their motive and origin is of little consequence to the story. The main bad guy needs a bit of psychological menace and their needs to be a henchman in a vest. Preferably Nordic looking.

Of course the President is kidnapped and held hostage in the Oval Office. McClane’s only help, other than ineffectual and ‘by the books’ jobsworth police and CIA officers is White House security guard Al Powell who was annoyingly absent from the last three movies.

There you have it Hollywood. Die Hard 6.

Failed Critics Podcast: 300 Rise of a Critic

Grand Budapest HotelThis week’s podcast introduces a young, fresh-faced critic to the mix in Callum Petch. Much like the plot of Wes Anderson’s new film The Grand Budapest Hotel, this episode sees a classy yet older gentleman (James) taking a young and enthusiastic outsider under his tutelage. At least that’s how James sees it.

We also have reviews of 300: Rise of an Empire and Escape from Planet Earth, as well as our plans for how to save the Die Hard franchise, and some bitter accusations of cheating in the quiz.

Join us next week for reviews of Need For Speed and The Zero Theorem.

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Best Films on TV: 16 – 22 December

This week sees a return of our best film on TV articles. If you’re ‘bah humbugging’ your way through December, Owen is here to tell you what to watch out for this week.

Deep Blue SeaMonday 16 December – Deep Blue Sea (Five, 22.00)

Bah! It’s that time of year again where nothing is on TV but half-baked Christmas specials and those awful family Christmas movies starring kids you’ve never seen in anything else, getting all teary eyed at the magic the Yule tide brings. Thankfully, Five have seen sense and decided it put on a film about super-intelligent sharks, chomping their way through an underwater facility made up of scientists and Samuel L Jackson. Merry Christmas, every one.

Tuesday 17 December – Ping Pong (Film4, 23.05)

Although I would dearly love to choose Zoolander for the umpteenth time, what with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty due out soon and because it’s a very funny comedy, I am most intrigued by this documentary Film4 are showing. Released last year, it tells of an elderly man given a week to live and his trip to China to compete in a world senior ping pong competition (instead of setting up a meth lab to provide for his kids, a la Walter White.) With lots of good write ups and purely because it sounds so unusual, I reckon this will be the best film on TV on Tuesday. Yes. Even better than the generically sounding ‘A Star for Christmas’ on Five.

Wednesday 18 December – A Field In England (Channel 4, 00.20 (Thu morning))

Didn’t get a chance to see Ben Wheatley‘s trippy film about a group of deserters in the English Civil War? Well here’s an early Christmas present for you from Channel 4 who are repeating one of the most bizarre releases of 2013. Divisive amongst those who saw it, not just our podcast team, you’ll either think it brilliant or “pretentious shit”. (It’s brilliant, by the way.)

Thursday 19 December – The Social Network (Film4, 21.00)

Christmas can often be the time of year for taking stock of what you have in life and laughing hard at those losers who don’t got what you got lolz. Ahem. The Social Network is one such opportunity to do that, as you can point and sneer at Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of crushingly obnoxious super-rich loser and founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. It’s also a pretty good film, which is something of a bonus.

Friday 20 December – Die Hard (E4, 21.00)

Oh, alright, I suppose I better pick at least one Christmas film this week. But if I have to, then it’s going to be John McTiernan‘s Godfather of all action movies, Die Hard. Starring Bruce Willis as the shoeless cop trapped in a building overrun with terrorists, trying to rescue his wife, what could be more Christmassy than that? Yipee kayay mother fuc–I mean, father Christmas.

Saturday 21 December – The Young Victoria (BBC2, 17.25)

For something a bit more mellow after the previous bout of fists, guns and blood, look no further than Emily Blunt giving one of her best performances to date as Queen Victoria in this period drama. Romantic, tragic and amusing, it is far better than it had any right to be. I’m trying to remember if she gives any speeches about reforms, pensions, and places her and Albert visited that year, but none spring to mind.

Sunday 22 December – My Neighbour Totoro (Film4, 11.00)

Are you sick of us recommending this yet? Is it because you still haven’t gotten around to watching it? Is that because there’s something wrong with you? Well, consider this a final warning.. or… recommendation (sounds less threatening that way.)  Studio Ghibli’s animation is sweet, funny and delightful. But, if you are feeling a bit depressed, you could check out ITV4. They’re showing men killing each other for petty reasons starting with All Quiet on the Western Front at 11.45, followed by Paths of Glory. Never Let Me Go on Channel 4 at 10.25 should be enough to leave you heartbroken and lost for breath should you not be able to get a copy of Up on DVD. Although, if you really must watch a proper Christmas film this week, then Scrooged starring Bill Murray is also on Channel 4 at 4.30. With all these good films arriving on one day, it’s like Christmas has come early. Sorry.

Best Films on TV: 14-20 October

DieHardWillisCasting his eye over this weeks tele again is Owen Hughes, letting us know what films to look out for:

Monday 14 October – Stalag 17 (Film4, 12.45pm)

Billy Wilder earned an Oscar nomination for best director for this World War II drama. William Holden went one better and actually won an Oscar for his performance as Sgt Sefton, accused of leaking information on two prisoners who are killed in an attempted escape from their POW camp. One to tick off your IMDB Top 250 checklist as it currently sits at a lofty #210.

Tuesday 15 October – Me, Myself & Irene (Film4, 23:05)

Not a lot of choice for films to pick for Tuesday as England’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Poland will no doubt dominate viewing figures for the evening. However, after what will no doubt be a huge disappointment to Roy Hodgson’s team, Jim Carrey is here to make things all OK again in his film about a cop with a split personality disorder. The tagline is actually “from gentle to mental.” I’m not making it up. That’s what it says on the poster.

Wednesday 16 October – The Third Man (Film4 ,13.05)

If you didn’t take James’ advice on the latest podcast and sign up to Mubi, but still hoped to watch The Third Man, then you’re in luck. Film4 are showing this all time classic murder mystery thriller from 1949, directed by Carol Reed, starring most notably Orson Welles, and Joseph Cotton as a writer who travels to Vienna to investigate the mysterious circumstances around the death of his shady friend Harry Lime.

Thursday 17 October – The Crazies (2010) (Film4, 23.40)

14 days to Halloween (Silver Shamrock!–ahem, sorry, force of habit) means that we can’t go a week in October without recommending a horror film. This modern remake of George A Romero’s original story of a small American town slowly going violently insane fits the bill. One of those rare occasions where the remake is quite possibly better than the original. Both gory and tense, it’s worth watching late at night in the dark!

Friday 18 October – True Grit (1969) (Film4, 16.20)

I recently forked out for the blu-ray copy of this; it’s that good. Starring the Duke (aka John Wayne) as drunk US Marshall ‘Rooster Cogburn’ escorting Texas Ranger ‘La Boeuf’ and the young but independent Mattie Ross into Indian country in pursuit of the man who murdered Mattie’s father. Wayne is on top form, the story is full of adventure and the pay off is worth the wait. You can here me gush over it here and compare it to the Coen Brothers remake here.

Saturday 19 October – Die Hard (Channel 4, 21.00)

Do you remember a time when cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) was actually a really cool character? Back before he turned into the plastic, fake copy that was served up in Die Hard 5 earlier this year? No? Well, here’s your excuse to remind yourself exactly why he is one of the teams favourite film cops in McTiernan’s original action movie.

Sunday 20 October – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Channel 5, 16.20)

With the sequel due out later this month, Channel 5 are kindly showing the first film in the series that was such an unexpected hit. Released in 2009, this animated comedy, based on a much loved children’s book, features a great voice cast including the likes of James Caan, Bruce Campbell and even Mr T, as well as Bill Hader as a down on his luck inventor who accidentally creates a device that rains food from the sky. Made for a budget of $100k, it has so far grossed $124,870,275! Incredibly impressive. No wonder a sequel was ordered.

Best Films on TV: 17-23 June 2013

We would like to apologise for being so quiet over the last few weeks, and we are hoping to be back to something approaching normality very soon. In the meantime, here are site editor James Diamond’s picks for the best films on free-to-air television this week. 

DieHardWillisMonday 17th June – Die Hard (Film4, 9pm)

It’s been our film of the day before, but there are horrendously slim pickings tonight. Watching it will help any poor unfortunate father whose family fell for the terrible ‘get your dad Die Hard 5 for Father’s Day’ marketing ploys. Talking of terrible films, one of the very worst I’ve ever seen is on True Movies 1 at 9pm: Runaway Car. It’s like Speed but with a family saloon car, and starring Judge Reinhold.

Tuesday 18th June – Lord of War (5USA, 9pm)

Another less than thrilling line-up of films today, but Andrew Niccol (writer of The Truman Show and writer/director of Gattaca) has crafted an interesting tale plotting the rise and fall of an international arms dealer. The film features an uncharacteristically subtle performance from Nic Cage, and one of the best opening title sequences of recent times. You’ll want to punch Jared Leto in the face more than normally though.

Wednesday 19th June – Hot Shots! (E4, 8pm)

Charlie Sheen stars in the last great Jim Abrahams (co-creator of Airplane and The Naked Gun) film, which has the rare distinction of being better than the film it is lampooning (the horribly overrated and criminally boring Top Gun). Averages about 33 and a third laughs per minute, and features a scene-stealing performance from Lloyd Bridges.

Thursday 20th June – Inglourious Basterds (Film4, 10.45pm)

This film is everything that is good and frustrating about Quentin Tarantino. It’s essentially four great scenes surrounded by over-the-top violence and immaturity, but what incredible scenes! Christoph Waltz commands your attention for every microsecond he is onscreen, and Michael Fassbender excels in one of my choices for Best Movie Bar Scenes

Friday 21st June – Fight Club (Film4, 11.10pm)

Arguably the most feted of David Fincher’s films (although Se7en still pips it for me), the first rule of writing about Fight Club is to reference the famous first rule of Fight Club. Check. You can also watch Fincher’s Panic Room beforehand at 9pm.

In the oddest piece of scheduling I’ve seen for some time, the family-friendly POW/football crossover hit Escape to Victory is on at 3am on ITV1.

Saturday 22nd June – Escape from New York (ITV4, 10.55pm)

The perfect Saturday night film, and the first of John Carpenter’s outstanding 80s collaborations with Kurt Russell. In the not-too-distant future (1997, to be precise) New York has become a no-go area teeming with criminals and led by a scary Isacc Hayes. When Air Force One crashes in this no-mans-land, the military send career criminal Snake Plisken in to rescue the President. Timeless action.

For the three of you who still haven’t seen it, Oldboy is also on Film4 at 1.40am.

Sunday 23rd June – Before Sunrise (BBC1, 23.25)

Quite simply one of my favourite films about love, featuring a brilliantly cocky-yet-vulnerable performance from Ethan Hawke and a please-God-marry-me turn from Julie Delpy. Basically a 90 minute dialogue between two strangers who find themselves sharing a day and night in Vienna, where nothing much happens, but the protagonists are changed forever. Watch this, hunt down the sequel Before Sunset, then count the days until Before Midnight is released next month.

Best Films on TV. Week commencing 11th February 2013.

Our #bestfilmsontv list for this week is chosen by our esteemed leader James Diamond. Again. He’s a bit of a control freak. Follow @failedcritics for daily reminders. 

300 This is SpartaMonday 10th February – Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Film 4 at 11.10pm)

I know it’s a little risky (slash unprofessional) picking a film that I haven’t seen, but this methodical Turkish crime thriller comes very highly recommended, and was included in the Sight & Sound Top Ten of 2012. So it must be pretty decent.

Tuesday 11th February – Die Hard (Film 4 at 9pm)

Luckily I’ve no such problems of reaching around in the dark for today’s choice. I’m currently writing this blog while stewing over the news that Die Hard 5 (can we all stop with the ridiculous A Good Day to Die Hard nonsense please?) has been cut by the studio to get a 12a certificate in the UK; despite the fact that our American cousins get the full R-rated shebang. They also get Obama as their president, and breakfast buffet bars in strip-clubs. It’s so unfair! Anyway, watch this and remember when people used to make adult films and didn’t try to market them to 12-year-olds

Wednesday 13th February – The Book of Eli (5* at 9pm)

I have trawled every free-to-air channel for a film to recommend on Wednesday, and for the second time this week I’ve had to resort to a film I’ve still not seen (it’s in a pile of blu-rays I heartlessly snatched for a pittance in a closing down Blockbusters). In a post-apocalyptic future, Denzel Washington travels across a scorched earth protecting a book from falling into the hands of a psychotic Gary Oldman (presumably in Leon-esque overdrive).

Thursday 14th February – Brief Encounter (Film 4 at 3.25pm)

There’s no other choice for Valentine’s Day than David Lean’s wonderful film (from a Noel Coward screenplay) about love, duty, and old-fashioned values. In the same way that It’s a Wonderful Life is the definitive Christmas film despite it’s very dark moments; Brief Encounter is a classic romantic story, without much in the way of sex, kissing, or even holding hands. It’s the story of a doomed and rather mundane not-quite-affair, and it’s really rather heart-breaking.

Friday 15th February – The Last Boy Scout (ITV1 at 10.35pm)

Speaking of It’s a Wonderful Life, you can catch it today at 2.50pm on Film 4 if you’re the type of weirdo who watches Christmas films in February. Otherwise, why not save your pocket money this week and forego the latest sham of a Die Hard film, and watch Bruce Willis as God truly intended. The Last Boy Scout is Tony Scott at his best, and features possibly the only Willis movie cop better than John McClane. Add a script penned by Shane Black and you have genuine (say it like an American, GEN-YOU-WINE) popcorn-eating, eyes-glued-to-the-screen classic.

Saturday 16th February – 300 (TCM at 9pm)

As long as Zak Snyder lives, he will never make a film as unashamedly spectacular, homoerotic, and brilliant as 300. Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel about the Spartans’ heroic stand against Xerxes fortress, it is the film that launched countless memes and resulted in me shouting “Tonight we dine in hell!” at my daughter on more than one occasion. Gerard Butler should just play King Leonidis in every paint-by-numbers rom-com he does in future.

Sunday 17th February – True Lies (Channel 4 at 10.55pm)

The last decent film that James Cameron made was nearly 20 years ago, but what a film. Arnie plays the mild-mannered computer salesman (in as close a performance as Arnold gets to acting), who has to juggle tracking down terrorists who’ve stolen nuclear weapons, while trying to frighten his wife into not having an affair. Explosions and hilarity ensue. True Lies is, and I say this without a hint of sarcasm, as close as James Cameron gets to Alfred Hitchcock.

Failed Critics Podcast: Christmas Triple Bill

Home Alone Christmas TreeHo ho ho! Merry Christmas to every single one of our beautiful listeners (we hope the less good-looking ones have a decent time as well), and as an early Christmas present to you we present our favourite Christmas films. Well, three of us do anyway. One of the team decided that they wanted to be different and chose some films that might have a bit of snow in them, possibly a tree in one of the scenes. I wonder who…

We’ll be back on New Years Eve with a review of the year destined to be bigger, more bloated, and even less self-aware than late-period Marlon Brando. There’s still one more day to vote for you favourite films of 2012 by visiting the site here – rock the vote!

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No, Die Hard isn’t my favourite Christmas film.

die hardYou don’t often hear Bridget Jones’s Diary referred to as a Christmas film, despite the presence of a certain reindeer jumper, and London being dusted in an inch of fake snow throughout. Similarly, the Belgian Tourist Office’s hitman documentary In Bruges isn’t the first feature you expect to see when opening your festive Radio Times. And yet Die Hard, the tale of a heist masquerading as a terrorist attack, seems to be a default response for many people when asked to name their favourite Christmas film. (Though, for me, this same response recently uttered in the aforementioned TV tome, by a certain bumbling film columnist has now rendered this proclamation anything but cool.)

We conducted an entirely unscientific analysis of Die Hard as a stand alone Christmas movie. Stripped of all rockets, ineffectual SWAT teams, and carpet based jetlag cures, it went a little something like this.

INT. A PLANE – EVENING
The plane, containing a nervous looking John McClane, lands.

AIR STEWARDESS
Welcome to LA. Merry Christmas.

No longer nervous looking John McClane departs the plane carrying a giant teddy bear. Bells are ringing.

INT. NAKATOMI CORPORATION OFFICES – EVENING
The offices are decorated with Christmas trees and a party is under way.

NAKATOMI BOSS GUY
Happy New Year!

INT. SOME SWANKY HOUSE IN LA – EVENING

LITTLE KID WHO SHOULD PROBABLY BE IN BED
Mom, when are you coming home? Is Daddy coming home soon?
I promise I haven’t searched the house for presents.

INT. A LIMO – EVENING
John McClane rides in the passenger seat. Run DMC’s Christmas in Hollis plays loudly.

JOHN MCCLANE
Don’t you have any Christmas music?

LIMO DRIVER
This is Christmas music!

INT. NAKATOMI CORPORATION OFFICES – EVENING
Jingle Bells plays as John McClare strolls down a corridor.

INT. MCCLANE’S WIFE’S OFFICE – EVENING
John McClane meets his wife, her boss, and her colleague.

JOHN MCCLANE
Some vaguely racist quip expressing surprise that they celebrate Christmas in Japan.

INT. AN EMPTY OFFICE – EVENING
There is a desk with a Christmas tree on it.

INT. ELEVATOR ON UNKNOWN FLOOR – NIGHT
John McClane holds a lifeless body, spots a large plastic snowman in a Christmas outfit, laughs to himself.

INT. ELEVATOR ON HOSTAGE FLOOR – NIGHT
A gang of mean looking men discover a dead body wearing a Santa hat, with a Christmas inscription written on its jumper. The note reads: “Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho.”

EXT. CENTURY CITY – NIGHT
A lone police car pootles towards the Nakatomi building, before doing a lap of the driveway which is lined with trees covered in fairy lights.

INT. NAKATOMI CORPORATION LOBBY – NIGHT
An unwitting cop bids the lobby security guard farewell, having carried out some kind of basic search.

UNWITTING COP
Merry Christmas to you!

Unwitting cop strolls out of the building singing ‘Let It Snow’ having concluded there is nothing wrong in the building. Moments later, a dead body is thrown onto the bonnet of his car from height.

INT. NAKATMOI VAULT DOORS – NIGHT

GEEKY LOOKING BADDIE
‘Twas the night before Christmas,
and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring, except…
the four assholes coming in the rear in standard two-by-two cover formation.

INT. NAKATOMI VAULT ROOM – NIGHT

BOSS BADDIE
It’s Christmas, Theo, it’s the time of miracles.
So be of good cheer and call me when you hit the last lock.

EXT. A MANHOLE NEAR THE NAKATOMI BUILDING – NIGHT
One tall FBI agent, one short FBI agent, an engineer and a deputy chief of police who has an air of being recently usurped are talking.

RECENTLY USURPED LOOKING DEPUTY CHIEF OF POLICE
Are you crazy? It’s Christmas Eve!
Thousands of people – the Mayor’ll scream bloody murder

EXT. THE REMAINS OF THE NAKATOMI BUILDING – NIGHT
The limo driver, now very dishevelled, walks through piles of dead bodies and general explosion rubble, gets into limo.

DISHEVELLED LIMO DRIVER
If this is their idea of Christmas
I gotta be here for New Year’s.

Let It Snow plays.

FADE OUT

Other than that it’s a few shots of a bearer bonds robbery with an artificial tree in the background, external shots of building explosions framed by street light decorations, and the occasional light up Santa perched on a desk, as an office chair gets loaded with C4 and lobbed down an elevator shaft.

I did an equally scientific ‘What’s your favourite Christmas film that isn’t Die Hard’ twitter poll. The result was overwhelmingly Elf. Compare Die Hard to Elf on a frame by frame Christmas basis, and Willis doesn’t stand a chance. No North Pole, no department store, Santa and his sleigh are nowhere to be seen, and there is a distinct lack of James Caan on piano.

But that’s ok. The month of December isn’t just about spreading Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear. It’s also about defending corporations from German faux terrorists. And Bruce Willis in a white vest, punctuating every other sentence with ‘fuck’. Die Hard is a truly magnificent film, and it just happens to be set at Christmas.

Watch Die Hard Sunday 16 December 9pm Film4