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

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Archive for November, 2008

Dolemite

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Josef von Sternberg was an Austrian-American director whose first film, 1925’s THE SALVATION HUNTERS, is considered by some to be the first American independent film. He worked with Charlie Chaplin and Howard Hughes, he discovered and bedded Marlene Dietrich, Robert Mitchum threatened to throw him off a pier, he directed 25 movies including THE LAST COMMAND, THE BLUE ANGEL and THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN, and his influential films and stubborn dedication to directorial vision made him a hero to proponents of the auteur theory. Also he had a son named Nicholas Josef von Sternberg who was the cinematographer for DOLEMITE.

While DOLEMITE is arguably not as accomplished a picture as THE SCARLET EMPRESS, it does follow in von Sternberg’s spirit of independence, and that’s part of what appeals to me so much about the works of my man, the legendary Rudy Ray Moore, who passed away last month. (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.

Malcolm X

Friday, November 28th, 2008

The first actor you see in MALCOLM X is not Denzel Washington, or even a kid playing a young Denzel Washington. It’s Spike Lee getting his shoes shined, then strutting across the street in a zoot suit. As if to say, “Yep, after a long fight to be hired by the producers, struggling to shoot the movie, fighting the studio for the 3 hour running time, gathering donations from black celebrities for completion funds, here I am. Playing Malcolm X’s best friend Shorty. Welcome to my movie.” The audacity makes me laugh, but oh well, it works.

This is by far Lee’s most Serious and Important film, but there’s some fun to be had early on. In his youth Malcolm went to dances, tried to look good and pick up women, and Lee couldn’t resist an epic lindy hop sequence that’s incredible to watch. Hard to believe people used to know how to dance like that. I wonder how many people landed on their heads? (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 Throws A Kick At JCVD!!

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.

By now, you most likely know what this is, and wheter or not you’re interested in it. I’m thrilled Vern got a chance to check it out, though, and if there’s any review of it I’ve been waiting to read, it’s this one.

This is one of those things that almost seems too good to really exist. Did a talented French director really convince Jean-Claude Van Damme to play himself in an arty hostage thriller, giving him his best production values in years, one of his best movies, and definitely the best acting performance and most personal artistic expression of his career (so far)? Okay, I can believe somebody would come up with the idea, I can sort of believe Van Damme would be interested, but it’s hard to believe that they really found the money, really made it, really executed it this good. 2008, I love you. (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.

Bloodsport

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Okay, now that J.C.V.D. has polished Van Damme’s plaque in the action hero hall of fame I can’t keep running from the inevitable, it’s time to go back and watch those early Van Damme pictures I’ve always ignored. I’ve already seen NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER, his first major role, so I’ll start with BLOODSPORT, his first starring vehicle.

BLOODSPORT is from Cannon, and it’s very much in the vein (get it, vein, BLOODSPORT) as other Cannon chopsocky pictures like AMERICAN NINJA and ENTER THE NINJA, or other ’80s chopsocky movies like THE PERFECT WEAPON. These are stories of goofy white dudes mentored by Asians to take on ancient traditions and become great warriors. They lack charisma, presence and acting ability but are good at martial arts (or at faking them in the case of Michael Dudikoff). (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 Vs. TRANSPORTER 3!!

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Hey, everyone. “Moriarty” here.

Vern is the greatest writer about film writing about film anywhere that film is written about. If you disagree, I will pay a big guy to punch you in a soft place.

I haven’t seen TRANSPORTER 3 yet, but thanks to this review, I feel like I have. Every word’s a gem, Vern. Thanks for the huge Friday morning belly laugh.

Check it out. Tell me I’m wrong.

Here’s a test for you. How many times did you rewind the part in TRANSPORTER 2 where he sees in a reflection that there’s a bomb on the bottom of his car so he drives the car off a pile of junk, flips, successfully hooks the bomb onto a nearby crane and lands the car safely? (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.

The Beastmaster

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

After watching the complete PHANTASM series I thought maybe it was worth re-evaluting this Don Coscarelli individual, so I looked him up on that one websight. Turns out he did this BEASTMASTER movie that every American male child of the 1980s always talks about – I had no idea he did that one and I didn’t have cable in the ’80s so I’d never seen it before.

THE BEASTMASTER stars Marc Singer as Dar, aka The Beastmaster, a shirtless dude who is friends with animals. Basically, he is the Aquaman of land, he can communicate with the animals and they help him out, but you won’t see any animals talking like a Dr. Dolittle picture or the later installments of the Air Bud saga such as AIR BUDDIES, SPACE BUDDIES or CSI – CANINE SPORTS INVESTIGATORS. No, it’s pure man-to-animal telepathy. So, you know, he basically hangs out with alot of different animals, they are his homies, they goof around together and then if he falls in some quicksand or something they help him. Come to think of it this is not that great of a power, if he just had human friends they would actually be better at pulling him out of quicksand than a couple of ferrets. I mean it’s simple physics, really. So maybe his real power is that he’s friends with John Amos from Good Times. (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 Trades Punches With James Bond In QUANTUM OF SOLACE!

Friday, November 14th, 2008

QUANTUM OF SOLACE
(a particular amount of consolation)

You and me we’re movie nerds. So when we go out to a movie we try to see it on the biggest, nicest screen. We see it in Imax if we can, or we have our favorite theaters where we hope it will be playing. But you gotta wonder why we keep doing that when more and more movies are not designed to be comprehensible on a large screen. Increasingly, action movies are designed to be viewed on your phone or wrist watch or whatever silly shit they invent next. Why do I wait out in the cold for two hours to see this movie on the giant Cinerama screen when it’s just gonna guarantee that I will have no idea if James Bond’s car is in front of or behind the other car, which one went off the cliff, what James Bond is doing to the guy he’s fighting and also which one is James Bond? At the very least they should rope off the front 2/3 of all these theaters since Marc Forster, the director of QUANTUM OF SOLACE, apparently was not told that people may sit within 250 feet of the screen. (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.

Phantasm Oblivion

Friday, November 7th, 2008

PHANTASM OBLIVION

get it, OBLIVION, and it’s part 4
If there are any Romans out there I think you’ll get the joke. Little numeral humor there on the part of the Phantasmers

I hate to be a tattle tale but PHANTASM part 4 here is a total fuckin cheater. If you saw part 3 you may remember the ending: Reggie is pinned against a wall by a swarm of metal balls. He tells the little HOME ALONE kid Tim to leave, that they’ve lost. But the kid won’t leave. Then I guess a dwarf might’ve jumped out and grabbed him or something, I don’t remember for sure. But the point is he was there. (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.

Phantasm III

Friday, November 7th, 2008

There’s a built-in weakness with the PHANTASM series. A big part of the PHANTASM appeal is the reveal of the crazy fuckin weird ass shit (or CFWAS) that’s goin down, and not really being able to comprehend it all. So in the course of each sequel they end up having to do two things that are sort of problematic:

  1. explain more things, making it less mysterious and
  2. pile on more CFWAS, stretching the credibility more and more to where it’s not quite as easy to swallow.

So you got those things, but otherwise this is a very enjoyable and unexpectedly adventurous sequel. It picks up right where part 2 left off, except suddenly James LeGros has morphed back into A. Michael Baldwin, the original star of PHANTASM. And now I sort of get it, because he does not look like a movie hero, he looks like some dude. But the same some dude from the original, so it’s good to have him back. (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.

Yes We Motherfucking Can

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Tuesday night, downtown Seattle, heading home just after Obama’s victory speech:

As strangers pass each other on the sidewalks we see each other’s signs or pins, or just the smiles on our faces, and we shout and high five each other. “YEEEEAAAAAHHH!!!” Somewhere down the block someone is just yelling “OBAAAAAAAAAMA! OBAAAAAAAAAAAMA!”

At the Showbox, downtown’s best music venue, people are spilling out from the election party put on by the local alternative weekly. Some of them stand on the side of the road holding their Obama signs, waving to the honking cars. It feels good. How often do we get to celebrate something like this?

The sidewalk group has grown to a few dozen. Suddenly a rented “Party Limo” pulls up – a minibus covered in Obama/Biden signs. The door opens and some very satisfied African American gentlemen in oversized Obama shirts emerge spraying champagne, passing out cups. We pour into the street. I always said we would be partying in the streets. (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.