Hollywood On Gay

Gay Street is abuzz!  Trucks have rolled in, the street is crawling with production assistants, and the crucial porta potties have been delivered.  The word is that they will be filming scenes from a Bruce Willis movie here, and that maybe The Die Hard Star himself might show up.

Say, do you suppose they might need an extra to portray an old guy who walks to work every day?

The Perfect Hans

Alan Rickman died today, after a battle with cancer.  Only 69 — which is all too young in these days of countless medical advances and miracle drugs — he was an exceptionally talented and enormously accomplished actor who lit up stage and screen in a variety of roles, from serious to comedic, that attested to the amazingly wide range of his abilities.

For me, though, he will always be Hans Gruber, the brilliant, urbane villain in Die Hard who was one of the greatest movie villains ever.

hans-gruber-die-hardI know, I know:  it’s not fair to reduce an actor of Rickman’s achievements to one role — but I can’t help it.  Rickman was so perfect for the role, and his creation of Hans was so perfect for the film, that he almost single-handedly vaulted Die Hard from an impressive action movie into a classic of the genre.  Sure, Bruce Willis was great, but it was Hans that distinguished Die Hard from the run of the mill action thriller, because Hans was different from every other action movie villain.  Unlike the normal bad guys, he wasn’t slugging it out with the hero in an impossibly violent ending scene, nor was he some mindless psychopath.  No, Hans had depth, he had smarts, and he had a great plan and team — and it would have worked if only John McClane hadn’t stumbled onto the scene at the Nakatomi Plaza.

I may be alone in this, but I actually identified more with Hans than with McClane.  Hans wore a sophisticated, well-tailored suit, his dry wit was hilarious, his decision to pose as a terrorist to distract the cops and FBI cowboys from his plan to steal millions in bearer bonds was a stroke of genius, and he was ruthless and single-minded in his pursuit of his pay day.  When Hans objected to being described as a common thief — saying, indignantly, that “I am an exceptional thief” — I wholeheartedly agreed with him.  And, according to the news articles, many of the touches that made Hans unique and so intensely memorable were suggested by Rickman in the first place.

Rickman was great as Severus Snape, too, and I also thought he was hysterical as Alexander Dane, the would-be Shakespearean actor who bridled at playing an alien with a hackneyed catch phrase in a sci-fi TV show in Galaxy Quest, but those are only a few of the roles that made up a fine career.  It’s terrible when gifted actors like Rickman can die so young, but at least he left behind a record of his talents that his fans can enjoy again and again.  He will be missed.

What Was The Point Of The Ice Fishing Story?

In one of the early scenes of American Hustle, Bradley Cooper’s eager FBI agent tries to convince his stodgy boss, played by comedian Louis C.K., to authorize an audacious sting operation. The boss resists, and to explain his opposition he begins to tell a “life lesson” story about an ice fishing experience with his brother when they were kids.

The story gets interrupted . . . but the hook has been set firmly with Bradley Cooper’s character, who asks his boss about the unfinished ice fishing story every time he sees him thereafter. The story comes out in dribs and drabs as the movie progresses. We learn that the boys went out on the ice in October, earlier than they should have. We learn that their father finds out. But we never hear the end of the story, or the point it is supposed to convey. Bradley Cooper guesses that the younger brother falls through the ice and dies, and the point of the story is that you shouldn’t take unnecessary risks, but the boss says that’s not it.

American Hustle is one of those movies you want to watch again; after you see the ending you want to know when you could first figure what would ultimately happen. It’s like The Sixth Sense, where you want to determine when you could reasonably have concluded – from his clothing, from his lack of actual interaction with living people except for Haley Joel Osment, and other clues — that the Bruce Willis character was a ghost. I’d like to try to put together the elements of the unfinished ice fishing story, to figure out what it was really meant to convey.

Incidentally, Louis C.K. has revealed what he says was the actual ending of the ice fishing story. It’s a crappy ending and I don’t buy it, because it doesn’t fit with the character of the conservative FBI boss or the scenario when he first began to tell the tale. Maybe it’s best that the resolution of the ice fishing story should forever be left untold.