I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Archive for February, 2010

The Late Shift

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

tn_lateshiftTHE LATE SHIFT was the HBO movie based on the book based on the time when Jay Leno and David Letterman were fighting over taking over The Tonight Show. It seeks to put you backstage and in the board rooms and Emmy parties to see with your own simulated eyes what happened. But at the same time it can’t help but distance you because that’s not Leno or Letterman, in my opinion it’s actually a couple of actors doing impressions. They also have legendary unfunny impressionist Rich Little playing Johnny Carson. He does a good impression but looks nothing like him, so in his scenes you just have to look away from the screen and then it seems like it’s Johnny.

The guy that plays Leno is Daniel Roebuck, who also plays talk show host Morris Green in the Rob Zombie pictures. And he was in BUBBA HO-TEP. Letterman is played by John Michael Higgins (BLADE: TRINITY). It’s also populated with character actors like Bob Balaban and Ed Begley Jr. playing executives whose names you used to hear all the time in the ’80s and ’90s but never really paid attention to who they were. Treat Williams plays Letterman’s super agent Michael Ovitz, so it’s the guy from the SUBSTITUTE sequels playing the guy who got Seagal into movies. The director is Betty Thomas, a fairly respected filmatist at the time because THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE and then PRIVATE PARTS were better than anybody expected. But I just looked it up and it turns out her most recent directorial work is ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS THE SQUEAKQUEL, so I guess that’s how that story ended. (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 Long Kiss Goodnight

Friday, February 26th, 2010

tn_longkissgoodnightI was looking through my notebook tonight and I found a review of THE LONG KISS GOOD NIGHT that I apparently never posted. It’s kind of like finding a dime under the couch.

It was actually Christmas time when I watched it. I had forgotten that’s when it took place, although I should’ve guessed, because it’s written by Shane Black. You write what you know, and the only thing Shane Black knows is what wiseass cops say together during the yuletide season. So I meant to post it to celebrate Christmas, but I guess instead we’ll post it to celebrate the recent news that Black is supposed to direct another movie (DOC SAVAGE). (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 Box

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

tn_theboxPUSH – BASED ON THE SHORT STORY BUTTON, BUTTON BY RICHARD MATHESON

Late in THE BOX somebody asks, “Can I be forgiven?” The character is talking about a lapse in moral judgment that caused harm to others. But you kind of hope it’s also writer/director Richard Kelly talking about his last two movies, SOUTHLAND TALES and DOMINO. Both are more like drugged out brainstorming sessions than actual finished movies – a couple funny ideas wrapped in a thousand, uh… other ideas, then chewed up and spit onto the screen with no second thought given to concepts like planning, timing, restraint, coherence or entertainment value. To me those are two of the most tedious, headscratchingly ill-conceived disasters of modern film, and the motherfucker did them in a row. With only one pretty good movie under his belt to hang his hat on*.

No. Not if this is an era of accountability. You can’t be forgiven.

So it’s in the spirit of forgiveness and Christian redemption that I say I thought THE BOX was pretty good. His best, for what that’s worth. (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 Stepfather (2009)

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

tn_stepfather09Speaking of small time horror remakes, the STEPFATHER one came out on DVD a week or two ago. This is another one where it’s not really a big name for the teens to have heard of like NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET or something, so it’s kind of weird that they bothered. But the source material is an underrated movie with a good, simple premise, so that’s attractive. I think the original’s script by Donald Westlake is real good, but it’s definitely elevated by a great performance by Terry O’Quinn. And that guy’s apparently on the popular television program LOST, so you’d think they’d just push the original on the kids and not bother with a new one. You’d think that – but the old one doesn’t have text messaging in it. The new one does. Also, internet research instead of going to the library. It’s a whole new ball game. (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.

Sorority Row

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

tn_sororityrowBruceSometimes when we talk about all these horror remakes it seems kind of senseless, you can’t even tell what they’re thinking when they pick which movies to remake. But the reasoning behind this one is clear: HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW is one of our culture’s most recognized and beloved stories ever. The name recognition alone is invaluable, even if you change the name, like they did here. But the idea of a killer going after sorority girls to avenge a prank gone wrong, you can’t just make something like that up. You gotta remake it up. You buy the rights to it, then you change what the prank is and who is accidentally killed and who gets revenge and how they do it and why, and you change the title and most of the characters and events.

I trust I’ve made my case. This young generation was hungry for a movie that is not named after but is slightly similar to a whole bunch of movies they never heard of including HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW. These producers and filmatists could feel that hunger, they could hear the growling stomach of the zeitgeist, and they delivered it this pizza. And we, as a culture, used a coupon and didn’t tip. (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.

Important Badass Happenings

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

tn_riddickI get alot of nice emails from people pointing me to the big stories I should know about, announcements of new movies that they know I would be excited about and things like that. I appreciate you guys looking out for me but also I figured I should mention some of the big ones to save you guys the trouble of making sure I know about them…

And anyway there are some things worth discussing in the comments.

1. STEVEN SEAGAL: LAWMAN renewed for season 2.

I know there were some doubts (even my cable box called the last episode “series finale”) but I figured Chief Seagal knew what was up when he called it the “season finale” on his twittering device. Although the ratings dropped after its spectacular debut it was still high for the fuckin A&E network. (Too bad that didn’t work for BLADE and Spike TV.)

The new season was apparently already filmed during Mardi Gras, which I hope means they harass more white people, possibly while in the process of going wild. It’s also 16 episodes, 3 more than season 1. (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.

Shutter Island

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

tn_shutterislandSHUTTER ISLAND is alot like JURASSIC PARK. Outside experts are called in to a remote island where some unusual shit goes down. They’re shown the operation, the security setup, the layout. Then there’s a big ass storm so they can’t get off the island, the electric fences go down and the captives get loose and it’s bedlam. But it’s the criminally insane instead of dinosaurs, and it’s the guy who plays GANDHI instead of the director of GANDHI who’s their guide on the island. There are other minor differences, like for example this one is less about people staring in awe at dinosaurs and more about piecing together the traumatic events that haunt the hero, and figuring out how they tie into this mystery which unfolds in a surreal horror movie atmosphere and within the context of the 1950s, with the lingering horrors of WWII still in people’s minds as well as the fear of the hydrogen bomb and of communism, and most importantly during the psychiatric community’s bumpy transition from barbaric surgical methods to more modern psychotropic drugs and verbal forms of therapy. Otherwise though it’s pretty much the exact same movie, a blatant ripoff. (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.

Matchstick Men

Friday, February 19th, 2010

tn_matchstickmenI don’t know what my problem was, but I didn’t dig on GLADIATOR like everybody else did, and for some reason I was bitter about it and skipped most of the Ridley Scott movies after that. But like the typical SCARFACE-loving American male I couldn’t resist AMERICAN GANGSTER, and that’s when I realized the error of my ways. So predictably my post BAD LIEUTENANT fascination with Nic Cage sent me back to catch up on Mr. Scott’s con men movie.

Cage plays Roy and Sam Rockwell plays Frank, two grifters we first meet in the midst of scamming an old lady by calling up and telling her she won a contest. I must be getting soft in my old age because seeing it open that way made me wonder if this movie was gonna be too unpleasant to watch. We all love a good con job in a movie, but telemarketing scams on the elderly? Usually not as fun. Fortunately it gets more complicated when they show up at her house pretending to be FBI agents after the people who scammed her and take advantage of her hotheaded husband. The more complicated it gets the less moralistic we become as an audience. We would cheer on Ocean’s 11 even if they were stealing from orphans, as long as they had to use a tunnel and dress up in uniforms. Or that’s one theory, anyway. (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.

Shadowboxer

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

tn_shadowboxerI never heard of Lee Daniels before he got a best director nomination for PRECIOUS, BASED ON etc. Turns out PRECIOUS… is his third movie as a director, SHADOWBOXER is his first, and Kent M. Beeson insisted in the comments that I had to see it.

I’ve seen a few interviews and things with Daniels, and he seems like a nice, normal guy. Based on these movies alone, though, you’d have to assume the motherfucker is nuts.

SHADOWBOXER is a very serious crime drama. It has some colorful characters and intense violence, but it’s not an action movie at all. It’s focused on the characters, and with its lush colors, weakness for soft lighting and classical music it’s a similar style to PRECIOUS. It’s the story of a male-female team of assassins who, when hired to take out a crime boss’s pregnant wife (Vanessa Ferlito from DEATH PROOF) decide instead to deliver the baby and take mother and child into hiding.

The two killers have a strong attachment, they take care of each other, and they are lovers. And, uh, they’re played by Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Helen Mirren. Hahem. (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.

Law Abiding Citizen

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

tn_lawabidingcitizen’90s studio action thriller – I’d like you to meet my friend SAW.

LAW ABIDING CITIZEN is the story of a guy named Clyde (Gerard Butler, 300) whose family is killed in a home invasion in the opening scene. To add insult to injury his attorney Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx, STEALTH) makes a deal for one killer to testify against the other and just get one of them executed rather than risk going to trial just based on Clyde’s eye witness testimony. At the time of the attack Clyde was working on a circuit board, so we know he’s some kind of technological wizard or sorcerer, which explains why ten years later he can exact an ingenious master plan of super revenge with strong overtones of cultural critique. You see, he doesn’t just blame the killers, he blames Rice for putting his conviction rate above actual justice, and the judges for whatever they did, this whole system is out of order, you can’t handle the truth, etc. (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.