Kathryn Bigelow's Big Adventure

Look at it! It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, man! Let me go out there and let me get one wave, just one wave before you take me in. I mean, come on man, where I am I gonna go? Cliffs on both sides! I'm not gonna paddle my way to New Zealand! Come on, compadre. Come on!

Now that Kathryn Bigelow has won an Oscar for best directing for Hurt Locker, let’s recall that she made her name with a vampire movie—Near Dark—and, wait for it, a Keanu Reeves cop movie: Point Break.

I feel vindicated. I was an early and enthusiastic believer in Near Dark, the best vampire movie of the last quarter century, with key roles for Bill Paxton and Lance Henrikson. I also defended, against the slings and arrows of my campadres and the satirical thrusts of Hot Fuzz, the virtues of Point Break, which isn’t just a wildly entertaining movie but an exceptional piece of filmmaking craft: consider the amazing hand-held-camera chase through various suburban backyards, which is one of the best pieces of pure kineticism put on film.

Not that blogs are really the best place to settle old scores (but if not here, where?). But I would like, in the wake of Bigelow’s Oscar, to remind one critic his ill-considered dig at PB in his review of Simon Pegg’s Hot Fuzz:

“Although Hot Fuzz is a parody, Wright and his team aren’t part of the current wave of satire that makes a film reference and calls it a day. I was astonished that Wright found inspiration in Bad Boys II and Point Break—the latter, a movie so mannered that even hardened ironists can’t tell if they like it ironically or not. Frost’s pantomiming of Keanu Reeves’ famous moment of emotional turmoil in Point Break goes beyond a joke. Love redeems all, and Frost’s love makes even Point Break look better.”

Who’s ironic now, I ask?

99 comments to Kathryn Bigelow’s Big Adventure

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  • RvB

    I stand by my slander. The fact that there’s a live version in San Francisco of this peerlessly dopey movie going on right now, with audience participation, shows it was meant to be ridiculed from the get go. The gang of assorted, non-denominational rubber-masked presidents also forecasts the apolitical take Bigelow would use on the war in Hurt Locker. She’s a great action director, but Point Break…meh (I do know people who don’t think much of Hot Fuzz, for that matter).
    I love Near Dark: knew it was a classic when I saw it. But as for the steadicam chase in Point Break: watching Paul Greengrass doing the latest version of this makes me want to take it back to its origins: Nic Cave getting run all over the map in Raising Arizona, with camera work by Barry Sonnenfeld.

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