I use hands to help my fellow man / I use hands to help with what I can / But when I face an unjust injury / Then I change my hand into FIST OF FURY

Ghost Dog and Titus on DVD

Well it brings tears to an old man’s eyes to point out that it has been 1 penny solid that I have been on the outside of the correctional system. 365 days of freedom. Good lord what a beautiful year. Very few brushes with the law or neighbors and many months of clarity and sobriety. It has gotten to the point where I can even wait patiently in line at a bank without much shuffling my feet or getting a sweaty forehead.

And the lord likes to bless us on these types of occasions and this week he has some doozies for me. Because GUESS WHO DOESN’T HAVE CHLAMYDIA! That’s right, thanks to all of your prayers, my test came back negative. Must be some other kind of infection. So you heard the lord girls. All ladies over 18, Vern is back open for business!

But there are a couple things in this world more important than disease-free sex, or even finishing a weekly column on time. And one of them is GHOST DOG: WAY OF THE MOTHERFUCKIN SAMURAI. Artisan home entertainment has kindly agreed to commemorate my anniversary by releasing my favorite film Ghost Dog to video as well as to the popular digital versatile disc format which I highly recommend. You see like many digital versatile discs, or “dvds” as many of us call them for short, GHOST DOG has many extra bonus type deals on it which are NOT on the tired, obsolete and embarrassing medium of the “vcr tape”.

For one, you got the documentary. It was made for the Black Entertainment Television and is made up of clips from the movie with interviews with Jim Jarmusch (writer and director), Forrest Whitaker (samurai) and Rizzo (composer). Yeah, it’s just one of those shitty promotional ad deals they make but it has some good bits. The main thing is that Jim here knows how to say things just right. He describes the music as “poetically beautiful but slightly damaged”, which pretty much sews it up. He also says that he hopes GHOST DOG is a movie where “two days later little bits revisit you in your brain” which is about the most accurate description of the movie besides “#1 movie of all time.”

For two, you got the trailers and ads. Now I understand a lot of individuals had the gall bladder to LAUGH at these trailers when they played in the Cinemas of greater north america as well as late at night on some tv station I never seen. But to me they are poetry. The poetry of war. I watch these over and over and all I can think is, man I like watching these. It is interesting to see how they make it look like a real action packed Badass film, a real good and exciting one. When actually it is a very slow and only partially action filled Badass film.

There is other crap on here too. You got a music video. You got an isolated score track so you can listen to the music and not have to deal with all that talking and sound effects and all that nonsense. You got a couple deleted scenes, the best one being the one where the mafia has a meeting with their accountant who recommends filing for bankruptcy.

But most importantly, you got the movie, GHOST MOTHERFUCKIN DOG: WAY OF THE SAMURAI. You got it letterboxed. High picture quality. High sound quality. You don’t get that on the videos boys.

Just kidding people I know not everybody has a hoodlum friend who gives them a dvd player of suspicious origins for christmas, they can’t switch over quite yet. But hopefully you will make connections soon and get hooked up with the DVD because this is a medium which in my opinion, not to be controversial but personally I believe it has a higher picture and sound quality than on the vhs, beta, laser diskette, etc. For my tastes anyway.

I know I sound like a broken record (or compact disk) but listen to me people, GHOST DOG: MOTHERFUCKIN WAY OF THE SAMURAI is your number one priority this week if you haven’t seen it. Drop everything else. Even babies. Even TV. No more watching the reality programs you dirty sons of bitches. If there is one thing I learned in my last year of freedom, it is to watch this fucking movie TODAY.

Now your number two priority is to take this chance to check out another Vern favorite that has been released for my anniversary, Titus. This is the Shakespeare picture starring Anthony Hopkins. What it is about, is a lot of soldiers and queens and emperors riding around on motorcycles, cutting off people’s heads, etc. There are hands cut off, there are heads in jars, there are mummies, there are orgies and giant wolf heads. On the cover Anthony is painted blue but, unfortunately, in the movie he is only painted gray. However it is still a very excellent picture in my opinion.

Now look here you dirty sons of bitches, I am not a retard nor was I born yesterday. I know that 90% of you motherfuckers haven’t seen this movie. It did not get a very “wide” release and was only advertised on tv stations like pbs and what not, tv stations for people who don’t watch tv. You fuckers didn’t even bother with this movie. You were probaly out drinking and making it with underage girls, and I don’t blame you. In the eight to ten minutes it took you to blow your wad, Titus also managed to come and go in your town. (Not sure how this works out mathematically since the picture is about three hours long but what the fuck do I know of math.) You didn’t get a chance to see the movie and it’s not your fault.

But jesus get on with it. Now there is no excuse. You saw Gladiator, right? Well Gladiator is this movie’s bitch. A real feminine bitch too, the kind that shave their legs and everything. And hell, I can’t believe this is coming up again but especially if you got the dvd. It may be too presumptuous to presume that these folks are campaigning for next year’s Outlaw Awards, but the Titus dvd seems to be aimed at showing up the Fight Club dvd. This is another one with two disks chock full of all kinds of great crap.

The best one is the 49 minute making of documentary. This is AMAZING. Now I admit I haven’t been around the block when it comes to making of documentaries but I have NEVER in my 12 months out of prison seen ANYTHING like this.

This documentary should be a text book for how everything in life should be approached. This is about how to make the best documentary, not about how to show a bunch of fucking clips from the movie and edit in two minutes of half assed interviews about it. Jesus you people can’t you see what this dvd is telling you? This is a CALL TO ARMS! This is a fucking WARNING SHOT! Titus is the end of filler and bullshit. It says listen up motherfuckers, time for the real thing. For now and forever.

Because this not some pussy ass infomercial trying to advertise the movie, it is an actual document of the production, one for the record books. It has interviews with the actors, the composer and etc., and not just sound bites. They let Anthony Hopkins talk slow and say what he wants. They even let the composer Elliot Goldenthal go off on a long tangent describing the themes for each character in another movie he scored, Interview With Some Vampires.

But the interviews aren’t even the main part of this documentary, it is mostly made up of actual footage of the making of the movie, mostly in the before-production phase. I could not believe I was actually watching all of the actors standing around in their casual clothes while the director Julie Taymor shows them pictures of what the sets are gonna look like and explains what the movie will be like. Jesus christ have you ever seen such a thing? Thank you somebody for finally making a making of documentary that makes you understand what it was like to actually be there as the picture went from an idea to a movie.

Then you got footage of them all sitting around a table reading through the lines for a long time. And then they start discussing – with each other, not for the benefit of the cameras – their characters and the themes of the play and all that type of garbage. Then you the actors rehearsing. You see recording sessions with the orchestra and the choir. You see the italian craftsmen at Cinicitta studios building giant mummies and stump hands and severed heads. You see Julie Taymor looking real intensely moved as she watches the actors saying their lines or the musicians whacking away on their violins and etc. You see her showing Jessica Lang how to curl her body around Harry Lennix, and you see her hugging anthony hopkins as he talks about how great the movie is gonna be. I mean you are THERE. this is like imax. 3-d. You ARE the making of Titus.

And the more you see the making of Titus the more you realize why the movie is so great. Because it’s a PURE movie. You get the feeling that nobody involved in this picture in any way gave a flying rat’s assfuck about money or commercialism. They were in it for the art action. They were an artist’s community, putting on the greatest play ever. If there was even a caterer or an assistant toothbrush handler who had qualms about the movie’s box office, chances are some of the italian craftsmen took him out back and beat him to death with a paintbrush handle. This is the type of dedication and intense artistry that all movies should be made with. Except maybe some of Paul Verhoeven’s.

These here are two great movies that show how the oldest themes and stories and philosophies can be combined with the great artists and ideas of today and be turned into some real balls to the walls Cinema. I think both William Shakespeare and the samurai dude would be very proud of these movies. there would be NO rolling in the grave involved in my opinion. MAYBE some dancing but that is not the same I don’t feel it is worth complaining about dancing in their grave.

Please people, get to your local video store, preferably not blockbusters or hollywoods, and rent both of these pictures. Or buy them. And then get back to me. And don’t give me any of that “I already saw both of them” bullshit. If that was true then you would already be renting them again without me having to tell you. You would know better.

jesus people get with the fucking PROGRAM.

Meanwhile I will finish up the preliminary mathematical calculations for the 100 Greatest Badass Films of All Time list. I’ll see you in give or take a week.

thanks guys, great to be out

–Vern

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 14th, 2000 at 1:11 pm and is filed under Vern Tells It Like It Is. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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