11 March 2009

DVD: "The Directors: John McTiernan"

The Directors: John McTiernan
Written, Produced and Directed by Robert J. Emery
Starring: John McTiernan, Alec Baldwin, Bonnie Bedelia, James Earl Jones, Andrew Vajna, Carl Weathers, Bruce Willis
Release Date: 14 December 1999
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
List Price: $9.98

The Television Episode
This episode of the American Film Institute's series, The Directors, spotlights John McTiernan.  As this was originally aired in 1997, only his first seven features are tracked.  New interview footage is cut with archived interviews as well as clips from these films.  The remarks from the actors consistently revolve around how decisive and determined McTiernan was on set, while the director himself largely laments how studio people and actor's entourages interfered with his work.

The DVD
There is an on-screen text list of the seven features directed by McTiernan as of the production of this episode.  Since this information is readily available on IMDB and there are only seven of them, I will tell you what they are: Nomads (1986), Predator (1987), Die Hard (1988), The Hunt for Red October (1990), Medicine Man (1992), Last Action Hero (1993) and Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995).

The Recommendation
The film clips frequently include language one would not expect in a television documentary series.  Given that only dedicated film enthusiasts are likely to have any interest in this series in the first place, coupled with this particular filmography, I can't imagine any of the handful of people who watch this to be surprised or offended.  Any time you survey an entire filmography, there is a trade made between quantity and quality, and the bottom line is that there are few genuine insights into McTiernan's approach as a director to be gleaned from this.  It is really more of an introduction to his filmography than it is an insightful look at directing.  So, while I would nominally say this is for enthusiasts only, it's really for beginner enthusiasts.

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