‘Die Hard’s incredible heist’: two decades of Alan Rickman’s withering film reviews


Alan Rickman’s diaries make it clear that he never lost his passion for the screen. The pages are filled with his verdicts on the movies he loved – and hated. Here is a small selection.

Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin at The Piano.
Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin at The Piano. Photo: Jan Chapman Productions/Allstar

For half of it I thought it was a bit of a cold accurate rendering of the script. But somehow it took effect. Holly Hunter was wonderful. They all were. Inspiration.

In the firing line, 1993

Clint Eastwood, In the Line of Fire.
Clint Eastwood, In the Line of Fire. Photo: Columbia/Tri-Star/Kobal/Shutterstock

Amazing Die Hard ripping. Opponents on each other’s phone, falling from a skyscraper, etc., etc.

The Last Seduction, 1994

Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction.
Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction. Photo: Channel 4 Picture Publicity

Great reviews, Linda Fiorentino, etc. etc. It bodes well. But deeply cynical, joyless, diminishing work and we decide to leave. Espresso is better.

Timothy Spall and Brenda Blethyn in Secrets and Lies.
Timothy Spall and Brenda Blethyn in Secrets and Lies. Photo: Warner Bros/Allstar

Like watching your own life go by in an instant. Things that aunts did or said and mothers never forgot and never spoke of leave you at a loss as you open the Christmas doors to sobbing relatives. Tim Spall is really great.

Good Will Hunting, 1997

Robin Williams and Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting.
Robin Williams and Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. Photo: Cinetext Collection/ Sportsphoto/Allstar

A bit disappointed in the end. Matt Damon is a really good actor though. But the film feels like it’s searching for meaning, or that there’s too much of it. And Robin Williams is too cute from the start.

Salon of Trees, 1996

Steve Buscemi at Trees Lounge.
Steve Buscemi at Trees Lounge. Photo: Orion Classics/Sportsphoto/Allstar

Steve Buscemi’s beautiful film. A complete rethinking of being in it and directing it, even though there’s such a central stillness that you forget anyone is acting or directing anything. V inspiring.

Jamie Bell in Billy Elliot.
Jamie Bell in Billy Elliot. Photo: Un/Sportsphoto/Allstar

Jamie Bell is quite lovely – not a sentimental second in his performance. The film is Stephen Daldry at his most calculated. It’s almost as if he entered the requirements into a computer. The film could have been beautiful, but its cynical use of the miners’ strike, added to a long list of falsehoods (the boy in the dress, the snowman, the brother’s change of heart), made the headlines – “Best British Film Ever” – insult to [Joseph] loosey, [John] Schlesinger, [Lindsay] Anderson, Powell and Pressburger, [Mike] Newell, [Anthony] Minghella and the others.

Gosford Park.
Gosford Park. Photo: Capitol Films/Allstar

There you have it – the script is perfectly realized on screen. And I felt seriously ripped off. Maybe it’s a problem when you really don’t care about any of the characters. Because try as he might, Robert Altman can’t make us see the story through the eyes of the servants. The upper classes will always stop this. That’s the point.

Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult in About a Boy.
Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult in About a Boy. Photo: Universal Pictures/Allstar

The kind of depressing English movie where single mothers and Amnesty workers are ugly people in big sweaters.

Touching the Void.
Touching the Void. Photo: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

They had to dramatize it because the two of them [mountaineers] are on charisma bypass. But the footage is incredible, and the ongoing dilemmas harrowing.

Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Photo: The Weinstein Company/Allstar

Women’s Weekly by Woody Allen.

Searching for Sugar Man.
Searching for Sugar Man. picture:

A touching and simple documentary about the “lost” singer [Sixto] Rodriguez. Everything they say is right – he was ahead of his time, his music is wonderful and his composure humbling.

Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave.
Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave. Photo: New Regency Pictures/Allstar

A great movie, I’m told. Would I watch it twice? No. What’s writen? Should Chiwetel [Ejiofor] win an Oscar? No. He’s in it a lot, looking worried and breathing heavily. Is this enough? [Michael] Fassbender is very good though. Makes you understand it. Somehow I was always watching actors and not story.

Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in Philomena.
Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in Philomena. Photo: BBC Films/Allstar

Deeply disappointing. It seems to be based on the (correct) assumption about Judy [Dench]is a greatness that allows for quite a bit of laziness in the script. Watching him means you constantly want to throw up your hand and yell, “Excuse me, what’s up with/why not her/why not him???” etc.

Maggie Smith, Pauline Collins and Billy Connolly in a quartet.
Maggie Smith, Pauline Collins and Billy Connolly in a quartet. Photo: Everett/REX/Shutterstock

Maggie [Smith] and Tom [Courtenay] full of class. And Billy Connolly does a great job, but which OAP’s home is this? Let’s all move in.



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