“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Archive for November, 2007

The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

The original THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR is not one of my favorite Steve McQueen pictures. It’s stylish and well-made, I can see the appeal of it. But first of all, as much fun as he may have had doing it, McQueen was not meant to play that kind of upper crust character. And secondly, as cool as you want him to be because he’s played by Steve McQueen, Thomas Crown is not a very cool character. He’s The Man. A rich guy who has other people do his work and then takes credit for it. Just because he picks up the money out of the garbage can after all the real work is done he gets to call it his Affair? There’s no justice in that movie.

John McTiernan’s loose remake takes care of those problems, while introducing other ones. While I’m much more fond of Steve McQueen, Pierce Brosnan is a way better choice to play this character. He’s smooth, he’s handsome, he looks kind of like Fred MacMurray but more girly, he has an accent. And there’s no way to imagine him working with his hands or having dirt on him or his hair unkempt. He IS Thomas Crown. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

Funny Games

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Not funny ha-ha, though. This is a very simple, solid, unsettling Austrian picture from 1997. The director is Michael Haneke, who has since become real respected due to movies like CACHE. In this one a couple and their son arrive at their vacation home. We know they’re well-to-do not only because of the vacation home, but because they listen to opera music in the car and have a boat. Right after they get there father and son are putting the boat in the water, mom is talking on the phone, cooking some steaks, and a young man shows up at the door to borrow some eggs. He dicks around for a bit but before too long there are two young visitors, eight broken eggs, one broken leg and the family held hostage.

So most of the movie is spent in the house with the family sitting helplessly as their smug home invaders talk about games and bets and pretend that they’re being friendly. It is not graphically violent or shock value oriented like CHAOS or something. The cruelty to the characters and audience is mostly psychological. The most horrible stuff happens off camera. One scene focuses on one of the tormentors walking into the kitchen and calmly making a sandwich while the horror goes on in the other room. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

Across the Universe

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Look man, I’m pro gay rights, pro gay marriage. I’m all for gays from A-Z, Alan Cumming to Ziggy. So don’t take it the wrong way when I say I’m not the type of dude who intentionally watches a musical. It just ain’t me. If I’m gonna make an exception to that policy it’s gonna take a hell of an extenuating circumstance, something air tight. I haven’t even watched that one with Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin, that’s how strict I am. But for Julie Taymor I went out and got a waiver.

Now, I have been accused of being sweet on Julie Taymor, but nothing could be further from the truth. Actually I’ve seen interviews with her and I’m afraid of her. If I had a chance to hang out with her I don’t think I would do it. About the only scenario where I would feel safe and comfortable would be some sort of puppetry workshop in a neutral public place, but I’m not into puppets so that’s out. Despite these feelings, I also think Taymor is a genius. This is based on TITUS and on a book I read about her. She’s an opera-directing, puppet-carving, globetrotting, volcano-climbing, secret-forest-ritual-witnessing, visionary genius. So even though FRIDA was a mixed bag, and even though this is a musical, and especially even though it’s a musical where the actors sing Beatles songs and are named after Beatles lyrics and their story illustrates the turbulent political climate and cultural shifts of the 1960s (oh for cryin out loud), I decided to give it a try. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

No Country for Old Men

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

A guide for enthusiasts of Badass Cinema

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is one of those movies that’s so quiet it can be uncomfortable to watch with an audience. Alot of scenes all you hear is the wind blowing lightly over the wide open Texas plains, or the cars driving past outside a motel room, along with every squirm, every sigh, every shoulder crack in the theater. At the end when I saw the music credit for Carter Burwell I honestly couldn’t for the life of me remember any point in the movie where there was music.

So it’s clearly a little arty, it’s not like anybody’s gonna mistake this for THE MUMMY RETURNS. Or for THE FRENCH CONNECTION for that matter. It requires a little patience. But there’s so much about it that’s so fuckin good that it will win over all kinds of people from all walks of life. At first. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

92 in the Shade

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

This guy Don’s been bugging me to review 92 IN THE SHADE since he nominated it for the BADASS 100 update and nobody else had seen it. And it clearly sounded worth seeing but I think the title had bad associations for me because it reminded me of a porno this dude I used to work with liked to watch. That one was called 92 AND STILL BANGIN’. Don’s movie is alot better, in my personal opinion. Your mileage may vary.

The title probaly could describe the heat in Key West where it takes place, but the movie never really shows or mentions it being that hot. So it could also describe the tensions between the young man (Pete Fonda) back in town resuming his job as a fishing guide and his main rival (Warren God Damn Oates). That’s a hell of a ’70s cast already, and then you also got Harry Dean Stanton as another rival, Margot Kidder as Fonda’s girlfriend, William Hickey as his dad, Burgess Meredith as some other dude, even Joe “MANIAC” Spinell as a client. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

To Live and Die in L.A.

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

I always knew the title to this one, because of that song by Wang Chung. But I never knew what exactly it was about. Turns out it’s loosely based on a novel by this guy Gerald Petievich. He was in the Secret Service, and the book was inspired by some of his experiences. So it’s supposed to be about the weirdness of that job, where one day you’re protecting the president of the United States and the next day you’re working for the treasury department so you’re just chasing some dude with counterfeit twenties.

This movie has the thumbprints of great filmatism smeared all over it. It has the kind of opening I’m a sucker for, the kind that throws you in the middle of something, sets the tone, then goes into the opening credits. Like a preamble or an overture. The main character Richard Chance (William Petersen) is on security detail for a Reagan speech (you just hear Reagan’s voice off screen, they don’t have Martin Sheen or anybody playing him). The guys are just kind of killing time when he notices something odd that leads him to the roof, where he finds an Islamic suicide bomber. (oh, shit.) He’s not able to talk him down but his partner climbs up the side of the roof and yanks the guy by the leg so that he explodes in mid-air, like a big balloon full of blood and chunks of meat. Then the two sit on the edge of the building to think about what has just happened. Chance says, “Let’s go get drunk and play cards” and it cuts into a stylish opening montage showing various images from the movie and that represent L.A. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

Is Beowulf the Beginning or Another False Start?

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Outlaw Vern tackles where 3-D is headed by looking at where it has been.

Man, 3-D is gonna save the movie industry! Movie theaters are making less and less money these days. People are staying home to watch movies thanks to growing ticket and concessions prices, the shrinking theater-to-DVD window, the crass commercialism of the multiplex viewing experience, a new generation of cell phone toting little bastards who think it’s okay to talk and answer phones and play video games during movies, movies that are shot and edited for a tiny monitor so you can only tell what in God’s holy name is going on if you watch them at home in slow motion, the continuing crapitization of the Hollywood blockbuster, the trend of movies being cut to PG-13 for theaters and released uncut a few months later on DVD, the extreme laziness afforded by Netflix mailing movies directly to your house, and most of all, because of that one girl who recorded 20 seconds of Transformers on her cell phone to show her little brother. Actually, forget about the first eight reasons I listed, it’s all because of that girl.

But never fear! Beowulf is in 3-D now and it’s like the first time they introduced sound or color! Except that they already introduced it a couple times, like in the ’50s and in the ’80s, and a few years ago with Polar Express, which used the same technology and was even from the same director, and didn’t save movies yet. But this time for real! (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

Vern’s review of the unrated LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD dvd, where you’re allowed to say mother&*#$@%!!!

Monday, November 19th, 2007

LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD: 2-DISC ALLOWED TO SAY ‘MOTHERFUCKER’ EDITION

“YIPPEE KI YAY, MOVIE FANS!” That’s what some dipshit wrote on the back of the new LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD dvd. But in the new unrated cut of the movie itself John McClane is allowed to live free and say the whole legendary, maybe-shouldn’t-have-become-part-of-the-DIE-HARD-formula catch phrase. Say goodbye to “Yippee ki yay mother(gunshot).” It’s out the window like Hans Gruber.

The new cut is not drastically, hugely or monumentally different. If you hated the theatrical version you’ll still hate this one. The story is the same, I didn’t notice any scenes removed or added, there’s no new narration or a corny shot of a unicorn that’s supposed to make you see the whole movie in a new light. McClane still doesn’t make good on his threat to beat Kevin Smith’s character to death – not even in a deleted scene, unless it’s one a them “easter eggs” and I just didn’t find it. I’ll keep looking. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

Beowulf

Friday, November 16th, 2007

THE BEOWULF 3-D IMAX EXPERIENCE

BEOWULF is the new “motion capture” weirdly computerized sword and sandal 3-D movie from Robert Zemeckis. He’s using the same technology and directational style as POLAR EXPRESS but it will go over better because that one was for kids, this one has a bunch of stabbings and monsters and a part where Virtual Angelina Jolie gives a handjob to a sword, so that means it’s more sophisticated and adult.

Ray iWinstone voices the blonde he-man of the title. Anthony Hopkins 2.0 plays the old king, Robin Wright Penn’s likeness plays the princess from the fuckin Shrek movies, and John Pac-Mankovich does his usual distractingly weird performance as some asshole who is pissed off about something or other. Also you got Crispin Glover inhabiting the monster Grendel and a very good computerized duplicate of Angelina Jolie’s head as Grendel’s hot mom. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

FANTASTIC 4 2: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER 1

Man, I don’t know how this works, but somehow just putting a silver guy in a movie brings me in. When FANTASTIC 4 PART 1 came out I had no interest, but when they started advertising part 2 I thought, oh, who am I fooling? Nobody can resist a silver guy. So I rented part 1 to catch up. And I gotta say, as bad as I pictured that movie being, it was actually alot worse. Definitely in the lower tier of comic book movies, which puts it in the lowest tier of movies overall unless you include immoral material like child porn, snuff, crush videos or TRANSFORMERS.

Basically the first one is the story of four unappealing dorks who get in a space accident that gives them magical powers so they put on shiny blue scuba suits, make bad puns in a big cheesy laboratory set and fight some prick that shoots lightning. The makeup on “The Thing” looks stupid, the digital effects are surprisingly terrible for a big budget movie and any attempt at turning this ridiculous shit into actual drama or excitement is immediately undermined by the constant stream of groan inducing “jokes.” (read the rest of this shit…)

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.