March 1, 1990

The Hunt for Red October

huntThree of my all-time favorite action films are from director John McTiernan. Predator is arguably Arnold Schwarzenegger's best movie* (without the word "Terminator" in the title). Die Hard is one of the best action movies ever. The Hunt For Red October is the best of the three: A world-class Cold War action-thriller. Exciting, clever, brainy while not complicated, great cast, faithful to the novel, technically accomplished, Red October has it all.
J.J. Abrams didn't invent deliberate lens flare!
I have seen Red October way too many times, but I was flipping through the cable channels the other day when Red October appeared, about an hour into the action. I watched for maybe 5 minutes, then said "Damnit, now I have to start from the beginning." I pulled out my laserdisc, and started from the top. My wife saw me doing this and said "well, if you're gonna start it from the beginning, I gotta see it too."
The next time I saw Red October on cable, I played the "Spot The Edited For Length Splices" Game. Poor Jeffrey Jones. Half his monologue got cut out!

"...lurking at the bottom of the
ocean like an addled schoolboy."
  The movie is endlessly quotable, but my favorite is Captain Tupolev (Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd) as Captain Ramius's protege/rival Soviet sub captain. When I see him in Good Will Hunting or Pirates of the Caribbean, I just imagine him barking orders through his cigarette "accelerate to flank!" grumbling "I'll shake him loose". (March 1, 1990, Revere multiplex, with my Mom, I think.)

HBO and the Non-Sequential Movie

My good friend the Blues Cowboy, once talked about media he cannot flip past when he's watching TV or listening to the radio. He mentioned the movie Ocean's Eleven as a movie he watches through to the end when he comes across it on HBO. I have six channels of HBO, and before I bought my TiVo, I experienced a moviewatching phenomenon: The HBO Non-Sequential Movie. Because HBO shows movies over and over on their six channels using a schedule only they understand, viewers who browse HBO will tend to start watching movies from somewhere in the middle. My first experience with this was in 1992, when I lived for three months in an apartment with HBO. That summer I saw The Hunt For Red October so many times, my Russian pronunciation got a seal of approval from a native Ukranian. Ocean's Eleven is one of those films I have seen in thirty-minute chunks about fifty times. And to think I almost bought the DVD! My then-girlfriend and I once watched The Fugitive on HBO, her in Somerville and me in Watertown, neither knowing the other was watching, and we both started at about the same time. The next night we got together and watched the first half on DVD.