Tag Archives: Bruce Willis

The Set of 400: #4 – My Favorite $5 Milkshake

Today! Because personality goes a long way –

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino (x6)

Starring John Travolta (x3), Samuel L. Jackson (x13), Uma Thurman (x2), Bruce Willis (x6), Christopher Walken (x4), Harvey Keitel (x5), Eric Stoltz, Tim Roth (x2), Amanda Plummer (x2), Ving Rhames (x4), Frank Whaley (x3), Steve Buscemi (x5), Roseanna Arquette, Maria de Medeiros, Phil LaMarr, Angela Jones, Quentin Tarantino (x3), Julia Sweeney (x2), Kathy Griffin (x2), Paul Calderon (x2), Bronagh Gallagher, Peter Greene, Duane Whitaker

As I’ve stated numerous times, I didn’t really discover good movies existed until roughly 1992. Up until that point, what Leonard Maltin said was about the only barometer I had – we didn’t have Twitter reactions or Rotten Tomatoes, Cinemascore or IMDB rankings, Metacritic or the late, great Epinions. It was The Scranton Times movie reviews – culled from other newspapers, largely, as I recall, and Siskel & Ebert at the Movies, when I could remember to catch it. But come 1992, it appears my parents gave up on restricting us from R rated films, and by early 1993 I had subscribed to the magazine love of my life – Entertainment Weekly. No joke! It wasn’t the glossy, People-esque nonsense that appears on newsstands today! Or maybe it was, and I just wasn’t discerning. But these events coupled together quickly advanced movie appreciation for young Joey Joe Joseph. And the pinnacle of this was the glorious 1994 movie calendar – one of the best years in film history, featuring the most transformative film of the generation, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.

Anyone who lived through the era and doesn’t agree with the above statement is not to be trusted. Disregard their opinions at your leisure.

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The Set of 400: #52 – My Favorite Chester A. Arthur Shoutout

Today! Because his own wife wants nothing to do with him, and he’s about two steps shy of becoming a full-blown alcoholic –

Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)

Directed by John McTiernan (x3)

Starring Bruce Willis (x5), Samuel L. Jackson (x10), Jeremy Irons (x2), Larry Bryggman, Graham Greene, Colleen Camp (x4), Kevin Chamberlin, Sam Phillips, Stephen Pearlman, Aldis Hodge, Anthony Peck, Aasif Mandvi, Charles Dumas, Michael Cristofer, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney (x2)

There has been many a day where I find myself lost in a general reverie and the water jug riddle from Die Hard with a Vengeance occurs to me. You have an empty five gallon jug and an empty three gallon jug and a water fountain. You need to come up with exactly four gallons of water. How is this done? In the movie, they have to solve this or bombs explode, whereas I need to solve it because the exact path they take to figure it out in the film hasn’t immediately come to mind, and I want to get on with my day. I’ll figure it out eventually – it’s not really that complicated – but for some reason, a month or two later, this will all happen again.

They solve this riddle in like 14 seconds

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The Set of 400: #124 – My Favorite Can of Nickels

Today! Because one of these days, somebody’s gonna get pushed too far. And who knows what they’re capable of?

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Directed by Wes Anderson (x3)

Starring Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis (x4), Edward Norton (x2), Frances McDormand (x3), Bill Murray (x7), Bob Balaban, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman (x4), Harvey Keitel (x3), Lucas Hedges, Charlie Kilgore

As how none of Wes Anderson’s movies feel like they’re coming at us from the modern day, so gloriously does Moonrise Kingdom transport me back to the ’80s, even though the movie is set in the ’60s and was released in 2012. And while all the standard Anderson touches are there – the excruciating attention to detail, the almost unbearable preciousness of every prop and costume, the left field dialogue that somehow fits together comically and neatly – Moonrise finally put it all in a setting that worked perfectly. He gave the leads to children.

The greatest film couple in history?

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The Set of 400: #223 – My Favorite Christmas Debate

Today! Because now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho –

Die Hard (1988)

Directed by John McTiernan

Starring Bruce Willis (x2), Alan Rickman (x3), Bonnie Bedelia (x2), Reginald VelJohnson, William Atherton, Hart Bochner, Paul Gleason, De’voreaux White, Alexander Godunov, James Shigeta, Robert Davi, Grand L. Bush, Rick Ducommun (x2), Mary Ellen Trainor (x4)

I’ve got a couple disparate ideas on the first Die Hard, none of which talk too much about how great the movie is, so let’s get that out of the way right off the bat. It’s an almost perfect action movie. It’s got a great villain, great little twists, great continually escalating stakes, some pretty funny moments, and the dad from Family Matters at his peak. As it became the template for so many action movies over the next few decades, I don’t think I need to recount the plot, or really anything else about this movie. Die Hard is a masterpiece.

But as the ways to adapt this concept into other action movies ran out long ago – Die Hard on a plane! Die Hard in space! – isn’t it about time we come all the way around to “Die Hard in a Die Hard!” Hear me out – taking footage from the original as the backbone, we have De’voreaux White’s limo driving Argyle (now played by, I don’t know, Brandon T. Jackson) dealing with an entirely different locked-in terror crisis in the parking garage, while John McClane sorts out the Nakatomi Plaza terrorists above. I know, this would require some retconning of story elements from Die Hard, but hey, it’s better than the “Let’s ignore all the sequels and make a new first sequel” idea that has become so popular. Maybe there’s a Russian drug running scheme from a van on level 3! Maybe there’s a secret under-underground human trafficking operation! And the limo driver is our only shoot-’em-up hope! Okay, this might be dumb. Or, is Argyle Hard so dumb it might be great??

And obviously the bear comes to life as his sidekick

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The Set of 400: #256 – My Favorite Multipass

Today! Because I don’t want one position, I want all positions!

The Fifth Element (1997)

Directed by Luc Besson

Starring Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Gary Oldman (x3), Chris Tucker, Ian Holm (x2), Luke Perry, Tiny Lister, Brion James, Lee Evans, John Neville, Charlie Creed-Miles, John Bluthal, Maiwenn

Luc Besson’s follow-up to The Professional, The Fifth Element is a crazy cartoon of a movie. A wildly twisted sci-fi film, but I think it’s safe to say this movie is more a comedy than anything else, right? Like, with all the effects (so many effects!) and weird aliens and shooting and explosions, what do you really take away from this film? Ruby Rhod’s crazy cylindrical hairdo! How Gary Oldman’s Zorg’s head would sort of…leak black stuff? Former wrestler Tiny Lister playing the president! “Multipass!” It’s all pretty bonkers.

One of the five best sci-fi hairdos ever?

And it’s just terrifically entertaining. The fact that for decades the only significant English language films Besson made were The Fifth Element and The Professional (which share very few similarities, besides some light moments and Oldman) is pretty astounding. Besson would more recently make Lucy (a decent if forgettable hit) and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (a colossal misfire, apparently aimed at the sect of the population who thought the Star Wars prequels were awesome [and shut up, I only like The Phantom Menace!]), but that’s about it, directing-wise. But what a great start! Continue reading

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