If you're in the Los Angeles area around Christmastime, that fine organization, the American Cinematheque, has programmed some interesting holiday fare. On Saturday, December 22nd, the Cinematheque's Aero Theater will present Die Hard at 7:30pm. And I'm very pleased to announce that I will be introducing the film.
(Die Hard will be followed by Bad Santa, which will make the evening's entertainment one of the oddest and most righteous Christmas double features in memory.)
If you can't wait that long to see Die Hard on the big screen, I understand that the Fairfax Cinema will be running it as a midnight movie on Friday, December 14th (or technically, Saturday, December 15th; you get the idea).
Whether you've never seen the movie before, or you've seen it more times than I have (and you haven't), do consider coming out for one or both of these screenings. It's one of the most crowd-pleasing of crowd pleasers. As well known as the movie is, the laughs and yes, applause, still come at all the right places.
And there are few cinematic joys greater than being with a crowd that knows a movie so well and still claps. This braids together the two tenets of my moviegoing: delight and ritual. Among my minor obsessions are the rituals--particularly among men--that are born of our moviegoing: viewing, running dialogue, my old friend Ren's tradition of watching Die Hard at home every Christmas Eve. (One year, he changed it up and watched Die Hard 2. You know what? Wasn't the same.)
My grandmother used to be perplexed by the fact that anyone would want to see a movie more than once. (She gave a special dispensation to musicals, acknowledging that a person might want to see "a big number" again.) And I was perplexed that she did not understand how vital an aspect of movies revisiting them is. Perplexed and sorry. Especially since she was the one who first took me to Back to the Future, a movie I would see more times than she would have thought reasonable. Or advisable. Or possible.
What I could never help her understand is that when we see a movie once (or twice), the experience is mostly limited to that movie; but when we see it so many times it is imprinted on our imaginations, when we know not only the dialogue, but also the pauses, the rhythms, the inflections, when we know what shot comes next and when, then the experience is not about the movie--it is about us. And at a midnight movie, or a revival house screening, the energy of fifty or a hundred of us--each feeling, in a way, a custodian or part owner of that movie--makes me giddy like nothing else in this world.
This is why I'm sorry I don't have the energy for midnight movies like I did in my 20s. Because what the right crowd can bring to the movie's familiarity can be more energizing than the spontaneity of seeing a new release. Not to knock the latter, but the former... Only the movies could give us the gift of this experience: a shared history with a bunch of strangers.
Happy holidays to all. If you come out for the more sanely scheduled 7:30 screening on the 22nd, be sure to introduce yourself to me after. Or before. I'll be easy to spot: look for the biggest grin in the place.
As for my grandmother, this difference between us aside, she was still one of your cooler grandmas. While most grandmas were content with Murder, She Wrote, mine loved Miami Vice and every other violent cop and vigilante show from the '80s.
And yes, Die Hard.