Table of contents

My favorite year

The sentimental, ridiculous defense of the romantic adventurer

Alan Swann plays the part of the old, decrepit gentleman in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. A young man of no distinction, who has the excitable imagination of Madame Bovary & the American realism about needing to work wherever one can find employment, plays the starstruck TV factotum […]


A view of a man who has war in his soul

This is a talented actor-director team. It is difficult to say what their future is or whether they will have any influence. The movies has been a success, but that may be as much because of the fantasy as for the movie’s harsher, […]


Let’s close with the final showdown. Not to ignore how the movie works up to this–the innovation of Mr. McTiernan was to think of the bad guy as an admirable organizer of a kind. Hence the use of Beethoven’s Ode to joy to celebrate his success. So that the policeman has to learn […]


how being unpredictable works

Look at this scene: McClane shoots a submachine gun to scare the hostages into doing what they should be doing–they’ve lost their minds & are about to lose their lives. What else is there to do? It is nevertheless a job of work to move the story along to the […]


Another note on secrecy

McClane & his enemy both rely on secrecy to defend themselves. They have to not become too public or predictable. This again is related to the relation between order & chaos: Hans Gruber asks McClane whether he thinks he has a chance–he suggests, this is a cowboy or action-hero opinion […]


A note on secrecy

McClane is in far worse trouble trying to trouble the authorities. Authorities are, as they must be, satisfied with the appearance of peace. Crime does not necessarily show up as disorder. It may not even be disorder of necessity. The civil peace itself is not quite peace. Law & order […]

Notes on Die Hard #1

An introduction to chaos

This is comic timing: The man gives his speech about being in control & soon learns one of his men has been killed & desecrated. Ugly humor, Christmas jokes & death wrapped into a package. At this point, it’s not clear what the difference between a monster & a hero […]

The Martian

The present & future of heroism

An astronaut on a mission gets stranded after a completely ludicrous accident meant to scare an audience so badly educated that they do not know what all astronauts would know, & any schoolkid could know before he turns ten. Science stories have a strange notion of poetic rhetoric: […]


How Bond learned the democratic world order is really shaky Some notes on retrieving the blindness of heroism

So the problem with the plot of SPECTRE, everyone says, is, the bad guys make no sense. Why is the institutional enemy of the 007 spy program the new surveillance state where everything, every detail of […]