Die Hard 2

Are You a Hero?

10 Signs You’re an Action Movie Hero

Spend July 4th weekend with Die Hard, The Punisher and more action flicks on IFC.

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Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/Everett Collection

Being an action hero isn’t the easiest job in the world. You need to be comfortable putting your family in danger, killing indiscriminately and always keeping your hair picture perfect. It’s not for everyone.

With Die Hard, The Punisher and more high octane flicks airing as part of IFC’s July 4th action movie weekend, we got to thinking…who would really want the gig? Well, many of you out there might already be action heroes, and not even realize it. If you find yourself answering “yes” to any of the questions below, we’ve got some bad news for you: You’re an action movie star. So get the killer quips ready, because yippee ki yay, there’s no turning back from here.

10. Do you still have sparks with your ex-wife?

Die Hard
20th Century Fox

(Taken, Die Hard, 2012, True Lies)

Look, in real life there’s a reason your ex-wife is your ex. For some reason, though, if you’re an action star, not only do you want your ex back, but you want to make sweet, sensual love to her in the middle of a shootout. Nobody has sparks like bitter exes in an action movie. Sure, being in the middle of a death defying incident — like, say, your office Christmas party being overrun by terrorists — helps get the juices flowing. But if you find yourself seriously sweating your ex while swinging off of a skyscraper that’s about to blow up, there’s a decent chance you are an action movie hero.


9. Did you best friend/mentor die in your arms?

Star Wars
Lucasfilm Ltd.

(The Phantom Menace, Blade II, both Star Trek IIs

It’s hard enough when someone close to you passes away. But when they die in your arms, imparting one last bit of wisdom before they shuffle off this planet or one far, far away, it can be especially traumatizing. That said, if the tragic death of your mentor/best friend/partner just days away from retirement motivates you to seek revenge against the psycho who killed them, there’s a good chance that you’re either really unlucky, or a gun-toting action hero.


8. Have you ever gone native?

Avatar
20th Century Fox

(Avatar, District 9, John Carter of Mars, Dances With Wolves)

Most of us spend our days trying to decide between burritos or subs for lunch, but some people strike out into the world (or the universe) seeking adventure. If you’ve spent your life trying to tackle the next frontier, only to realize that the people who live there have a purer way of life, you might be that kid who spends a semester abroad and thinks they’re now experts on all things foreign, or you might be an action movie star about to turn against his own people. Just a heads up.


7. Are you a reckless scientist who has taken things too far?

Avengers Age of Ultron
Marvel Studios

(Prometheus, The Fly, Avengers: Age of Ultron)

In real life, scientists spend their days in underfunded labs, repeating monotonous tests over and over again in the hopes of pushing a theory into scientific fact with a slow and steady accumulation of data. But if you’re the type of scientist who creates sentient robots or teleportation devices in your eternal quest to feel like a god only to have said creation wreak havoc, well, I hate to break it to you, but you’re smack dab in the middle of a sci-fi action movie. Fingers crossed you’re the good guy this time.


6. Did you meet your significant other by saving their life?

Michael Biehn
Orion Pictures

(Terminator, the Bourne franchise, every Katherine Heigl “meet cute” action rom com)

We all know how annoying Tinder can be. But isn’t it better than meeting your soulmate as he or she’s being chased down by a killer robot? How healthy a relationship can you really have when all you do is run, screw or talk about time paradoxes? So, while dating online might suck, just keep in mind that if you met your boyfriend or the future mother of your child by saving their life, you’re probably an action star and in a toxic relationship.


5. Has your closest confidant turned against you?

Jon Voight
Paramount Pictures

(Iron Man, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Unbreakable, Mission: Impossible)

It’s hard enough to find someone who gets you and sticks by you no matter what. Maybe they’re a boss who’s always seen a little of themselves in you. Or maybe they’re the one person who has the exact answers you’re looking for about why you suddenly have super powers. Whatever the case may be, they’re often the only person you can trust, which makes it hurt all the more when they turn against you. More often than not, these supposed friends end up being the one behind all your problems. They’re out to get you, ruin your life, kill you. If you can’t get close to someone without them turning into a super villain, well, at least take solace in the fact that you’re the action star in the movie of your life.


4. Do you often speak in puns and catchphrases?

Arnold
TriStar Pictures

(Passenger 57, Live and Let Die, They Live, every Arnold Schwarzenegger movie)

It’s hard to always have the perfect thing to say in a tense situation. Most movie stars need a team of writers to come up with bon mots like “Hey, you wanna be a farmer? Here’s a couple of achers!” or “I’m gonna take you to the bank, Senator Trent — to the blood bank!” It takes a certain level of bravado to punch out an alien and quip, “Welcome to Earth!” So if you find yourself constantly spouting the perfect quote for every situation, you might want to wonder why that is. Especially if it’s after killing someone. Why the hell are you killing someone and spouting a one-liner, unless you’re an action star?


3. Are you a retired killer looking for the quiet life?

Mark Wahlberg
Paramount Pictures

(A History of Violence, Shooter, Taken, Red

We’ve all had jobs we hated. Slinging fries at that fast food joint. Taking tickets at the local movie theater. Cleaning bathrooms at the diviest bar in town. But if you’re job used to involve killing people, something you vowed to never do again, well, that trumps that one summer you cleaned up puke at the amusement park. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from action movies, it’s that the quiet life never lasts for secret agents and trained assassins who’ve moved to a small town or some cabin in the woods. Your past always catches up with you, which is why we took that job at the pretzel stand in the mall, and didn’t become a CIA hitman.


2. Are you a loose cannon cop who doesn’t play by the rules?

Martin Riggs
Warner Bros.

(Lethal Weapon, Beverly Hills Cop, Bullitt, Die Hard)

We’re sure that most of the police officers reading this right now are diligent, honest and hard working, but there are probably a few that play fast and loose with the law. If you’re one of them, a cop who’s constantly getting reamed by his commanding officer for crashing cars and shooting up South African embassies, then you’re most likely an action hero. Because in real life you would have been canned years ago.


1. Have you ever walked away from an explosion?

Explosion
Columbia Pictures

(DesperadoX-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Rundown, Drive Angry, pretty much every action movie) 

Let’s be honest: most of us have never been within spitting distance of a giant fireball, and yet in action movies, these things seem to blow every few minutes. A car gets dinged up? It explodes. A gasoline drum gets knocked over? It explodes. What’s impressive about action heroes is, these things never seem to phase them. No matter how close they are to the flames, and these guys are hair singe-ingly close, they don’t flinch. If you’ve ever walked away from a giant explosion without peeing your pants, you’re probably a Grade-A action star. So congratulations, and good luck!

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Rocky IV Paulie Robot

Mr. Roboto

5 Reasons Rocky IV Is Too Rotten to Miss

Catch Rocky IV Friday at 8P during IFC's Rotten Fridays.

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Photo Credit: MGM/UA/YouTube

When Rocky IV was released in 1985, the critics were not kind. (While it wasn’t around back then, the film’s 39% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes speaks for itself.) Less of a movie than a jingoistic music video starring a robot and a steroid-addled, monosyllabic Russian baddie, Rocky IV is a far cry from the Italian Stallion’s humble origins.

Still, more than any movie ever made, it exemplifies the whole “so bad its good” genre. This movie was made for us, the great-unwashed masses of the 1980s, who loved the band Survivor and hated those Commie bastards. Before you catch Rocky IV on IFC’s Rotten Fridays, let’s take a look at some moments that make this flick a “too rotten to miss” classic.

5. That Opening Shot

Rocky IV
United Artists

It takes all of 30 seconds for the audience to know they’re in for one ridiculous rollercoaster ride through a Cold War conniption fit of good vs. evil. Gone is the subtle tone and grounded reality of the first Rocky. In its place we see two gloves, one emblazoned with the American flag, the other with the Soviets’, hurtling toward each other. When they collide, sparks fly, and we witness an explosion decades in the making.

In case the symbolism is too subtle for you, director/writer/star Sylvester Stallone is trying to hint that this movie will be the clash of civilizations we’d all been waiting for, but instead of nuclear bombs, a humble palooka from the streets would be duking it out in the ring with the ultimate representation of coldhearted Communism. If it were up to us, this opening shot would’ve won Best Picture all by itself.


4. So Many Montages

Rocky IV has a running time of 91 minutes and 20 seconds. Its eight montages (yes, EIGHT) run a total of 29 minutes and 10 seconds. That is one third of the movie solely dedicated to montages. (Considering Stallone’s contempt for all things Soviet, we have to wonder if he knows it was a dirty Ruskie who invented the montage.)

During one of the many, many montages, director Stallone actually flashes back to a scene that had happened a minute and half prior, creating the impression that he might actually flashback to the montage we were just watching in the same montage. Stallone clearly loves a good montage set to an inspirational ’80s song, and so do we. Which brings us to…


3. A Soundtrack Full of Pumped Up ’80s Jams

Speaking of montages, they are set to the score of some of the cheesiest hits from the mid-’80s. For once, we’re spared tracks from Frank Stallone, with Stallone replacing his rocker brother with synth-y singles from Survivor, John Cafferty and Kenny Loggins. And of course, Robert Tepper, possessor of an ’80s mullet that could topple empires, crooning “No Easy Way Out.” The music in this movie is one step away from being a parody of the music in this movie. If you ever want to know what cocaine can do to the human mind, just listen to this soundtrack.


2. Rocky Ends the Cold War

Rocky IV speech
United Artists

In one of the most misguided, self-congratulatory, and immediately dated moments in cinema history, good ol’ galoot Rocky Balboa single-handedly ended the Cold War four years before the Berlin Wall came down.

To quote the Italian Stallion himself: “In here…there were two guys… killing each other. But I guess that’s better than millions. What I’m trying to say is… if I can change… and you can change…everybody can change!” And just like that the Soviet public, generals and even the Premier himself rose to their feet in applause, realizing what fools they’d been. This guy beat Mr. T for Heaven’s sake. He knows what he’s talking about!


1. Paulie’s Robot

Okay, let’s all take a deep breath and really consider this for a moment. Rocky IV has a robot butler in it. A movie franchise that began back in 1976 exploring the gritty reality of a bum fighter trying to prove himself somehow limped along long enough to turn into a weak Short Circuit rip-off in which an alcoholic mooch with a history of domestic abuse now gets his coffee served to him by a robot. A robot that he has programmed with a “sultry” lady voice!

Stallone was inspired to include the real life robot Sico in Rocky IV because of the work it did to help autistic children like his son Seargeoh. That’s all very moving, but doesn’t explain why he decided to write a scene where Paulie dubs poor Sico “the love of my life.” It’s a testament to Rocky IV‘s “too rotten to miss” status that Paulie’s robot girlfriend/personal servant isn’t even the craziest thing that happens to Rock and the gang.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” movie Rocky IV this Friday at 8P on IFC. 

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Swimming To Cambodia Spalding Gray

Gray's Anatomy

Everything You Need to Know About the Movie That Inspired “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”

Brand new Documentary Now! airs Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom Pictures

This week Documentary Now! spotlights a master monologist with “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything.” Before you tune in at 10P this Wednesday on IFC, check out our guide to Swimming to Cambodia, the 1987 film that captured writer/performer Spalding Gray’s acclaimed one-person show.

Spalding Gray 101

Swimming to Cambodia
Cinecom Pictures

Actor and renowned monologist Spalding Gray spent two years on stage perfecting his Obie Award-winning “Swimming to Cambodia” monologue. In it, Gray tells the story of his eight weeks in Southeast Asia while shooting the 1984 Academy Award-winning movie The Killing Fields. He had a small role, but the experience gave him several anecdotes about hanging out with the film crew and experiencing the local culture, all while searching for “the perfect moment.”

Directed by the Silence of the Lambs Guy

Hannibal Lecter
Orion Pictures/Everett Collection

Acclaimed filmmaker Jonathan Demme took Gray’s two-night, four hour performance and crafted it down to 85 minutes. His use of dramatic lighting, stylish camerawork and a score by performance artist Laurie Anderson was praised by critics and earned the film a cult following. No stranger to groundbreaking docs, Demme also directed the 1984 Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense, which Documentary Now! pays tribute to in this season’s episode “Final Transmission.”

All about the Voices

While it may have been a one-man show, Gray created a repertoire of characters all with distinctive accents. (He portrayed conversations between himself and others just by turning his head.) Our favorite impressions are of his demanding girlfriend Renee and Ivan Strasberg, the South African director of photography on The Killing Fields who, as depicted by Gray, sounds a bit like a Jamaican surfer.

The Original Cranky New Yorker

In one memorable scene, Gray rants about how his noisy upstairs artist neighbors are driving him and Renee crazy. Even in the mid-’80s, there were New Yorkers complaining that the city wasn’t what it used to be.

Show and Tell

Swimming to Cambodia
Cinecom Pictures/YouTube

A big fan of visual aids, Gray used pull-down maps to illustrate his travels. This helped to bring Swimming to Cambodia to life, since he’s basically sitting at a desk the entire time.

Inspired One-Person Shows

Gray’s groundbreaking performances in Swimming and other documentaries like Monster in a Box and the Steven Soderbergh-directed Gray’s Anatomy (about Gray’s struggle with a rare eye condition) paved the way for future one-person shows. (We wouldn’t have everything from Carrie Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking” to Mike Birbiglia’s “Sleepwalk With Me” without him.) Even Doc Now! star Fred Armisen got into the one-person show act for his recent SNL monologue.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Spalding Gray when “Parker Gail: Location Is Everything” premieres Wednesday, September 28th at 10P on IFC. 

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Rocky IV Stallone Lundgren

Burning Heart

10 Reasons Why Rocky IV Is the Ultimate Rocky Movie

Catch an all-day Rocky movie marathon this Friday, September 30th on IFC.

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Photo Credit: United Artists/Everett Collection

Sure, most people love the first Rocky for its heart, gripping boxing scenes and the classic training montage. Or, you might love Creed for being both a return-to-form and a new exploration of the Rocky mythology. Maybe the thrill of seeing Mr. T and Hulk Hogan in the same movie makes Rocky III your top pick. Well, sorry, you’re wrong: Rocky IV is the greatest of all the “Italian Stallion”‘s movies.

Before you watch the all-day Rocky movie marathon this Friday, September 30th on IFC (with Rocky IV airing at 8P as part of Rotten Fridays), check out a few reasons to appreciate the fourth installment as the king of the series.

1. The Greatest Opening Ever

How many openings are able to sum up the entire conflict of the film in less than a minute and without a single line of dialogue? And how many of those movies have exploding boxing gloves? Just try to watch the opening sequence above and not be completely psyched for the pumped-up flick to come.


2. Montages!

We all know that the best part of any sports movie is the montage, and Rocky IV doesn’t give you one measly montage. There’s a recap of the previous films montage, a getting to Russia Montage, two training montages and an ending fight montage. That’s five montages! There’s probably a montage of montages snuck in there, too.


3. There’s a Full James Brown Musical Number

This movie is so packed with memorable moments, it’s easy to forget one of the first things that happens in the film: Apollo comes out to fight Drago dressed as a shirtless Uncle Sam, while James Brown and a full band play “Living in America.” To drive home the number’s patriotism, there are dancers in tuxedos and top hats, weird unitards and bowler caps, and bedazzled showgirls with headpieces for miles. Oh, and don’t forget the giant tentacled dragon statue on the stage. This is how every boxing match should start. Heck, this is how we always want to enter a room.


4. The Soundtrack

The Rocky IV soundtrack doesn’t just feature James Brown — it has rock anthems galore, all of which make you immediately want to hit the gym. From “Heart’s on Fire” by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band to “Sweetest Victory” by Touch to multiple Survivor jams, you’ll get pumped and stay pumped. Even the instrumental score rocks! Sure, sometimes it sounds like it was made on a kids Casio, but this soundtrack never quits and — to quote Robert Tepper — never takes the easy way out.


5. Abs!

Rocky IV weights

Every Rocky movie shows off Stallone’s incredible physique, but Rocky IV really ups the game. Not only do we get Dolph Lundgren mostly shirtless looking like a man machine, but we get a wide variety of scenes of Stallone doing impossible tasks. Stallone’s crazy dragon fly crunches, aka a thing no human should be able to do, automatically take this movie to the top.


6. Two words: Ivan Drago

Ivan Drago
United Artists

Not only does Rocky IV explore the global conflict between the US and the Soviet Union, but it encapsulates all of our fears of the Cold War in one perfect villain. Ivan Drago only trains with machines and science and looks like he stepped out of an Aryan Nations recruitment poster. He also only responds in short, cold phrases like “If he dies, he dies,” or “I must break you.” There’s never been a villain who we so clearly want to get the crap beat out of than Ivan Drago.


7. Rocky Makes Chores Look Badass

Rocky saw
United Artists

Rocky doesn’t need to be hooked up to machines to become the perfect fighter. All he needs are huge tires and some outdoor chores to do. No one’s ever looked cooler chopping wood and using tractor parts. Half of his training is lifting an old wagon, probably to fix a broken axle. If anything, this film inspires us to take care of that gardening work we’ve been neglecting.


8. Rocky’s Beard

Rocky IV Beard

Stallone’s beard game is truly on point in Rocky IV. And this isn’t some “I forgot to shave, here’s a little stubble” look. No, we get full out, lumberjack-style beard action. Does any other Rocky movie have our hero looking like an old Russian aristocrat? Another point for Rocky IV.


9. There’s a robot!

Again, there’s so much to Rocky IV, you probably forgot about the robot. Well, Rocky has some money now and he’s not going to spend it on frivolous things for himself. He’s going to buy Paulie a robot! The best part of this scene is how truly disturbed Paulie is by this new technology until he gives it a sexy lady voice.


10. Rocky Ends the Cold War

If you’re still not convinced that Rocky IV is the greatest, answer this question: Does any other Rocky movie bring peace between the US and Russia?

By the end of the film, Rocky rises up to beat the seemingly undefeatable Drago. He fights so well, that even the Russians begin to appreciate his skills. Then, instead of using his victory to prove America’s superiority, he gives a rousing speech of “If I can change and you can change, everybody can change!” The whole crowd goes wild, including all of the Russian government, who we assume give up Communism immediately based solely on Rocky’s words. Stallone’s call for international reconciliation through brutal fighting and a variety of montages makes this if not one of the greatest films of all time, certainly the greatest Rocky of them all.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” movie Rocky IV this Friday at 8P on IFC. 

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