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Archive for December, 2010

True Grit (2010)

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

tn_truegrit2010Jeff Bridges makes a great Rooster Cogburn – weird froggy voice, sloppy beard, aura of laziness, legitimately kind of disgusting as he’s introduced taking a shit and later casually pisses himself. If you don’t know the character from the novel by Charles Portis, or from John Wayne’s Academy Award winning portrayal in the 1969 version, or from the considerably less Academy Award winning sequel, or perhaps Warren Oates in the TV movie version, or obviously the episode of Scooby-Doo where Rooster has to figure out which Harlem Globetrotter has been replaced by an evil Moon-man, then let me fill you in: Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn is an eccentric, one-eyed civil war vet turned U.S. Marshall who “really knows how to pull a cork” and has a reputation for unnecessary but high quality shootings of suspects. So he’s the bounty hunter of choice for 14-year-old Mattie Ross, who wants to “finish [her] father’s affairs” by chasing down the drunken ranch hand who killed him and fled into Chocktaw territory with the Lucky Ned Pepper gang.
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Blood From a Stone

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Hey guys, hope everybody’s having a good holiday time and what not. While I work on some new reviews please enjoy this short by outlawvern.com reader Bill Palmer. It pays tribute to many of our favorite ’80s action tropes and to the fashion sense of my man The Boz.

Reindeer Games

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

tn_reindeergamesIn the popular song and cartoon RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, “reindeer games” are the fun group activities that all the popular reindeers enjoy but Rudolph is excluded from due to his low social caste. In the movie REINDEER GAMES the character “Monster” (Gary Sinise) uses it as a synonym for “funny business,” something that he threatens Rudy (Ben Affleck) not to participate in. This misuse of Christmas terminology doesn’t bother Rudy or probly occur to him, but it does bug him when Clarence Williams III keeps referring to “Santa’s dwarves.” So he does have a certain amount of respect for Christmas tradition.

REINDEER GAMES is not a Christmas movie in the sense that it’s about Christmas, or about somebody coming to a realization about the meaning of Christmas, at least not a very convincing one. But I can guarantee you this much: it takes place in December, with a heist planned for Christmas Eve, and with the participators all dressed as Santa Claus. So there are some discussions of cranberries and what not. Maybe a mention of sugar plums, I can’t remember for sure. (Have you ever had sugar plums? They’re actually really fuckin good. I wish I knew a place that sold them. I might have visions of them dancing in my head now that I remembered them.)
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Christmas Holiday

Friday, December 24th, 2010

tn_christmasholidayEverybody knows about Christmas horror (BLACK CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS EVIL, the SILENT/DEADY NIGHT saga, etc.). And of course there’s Christmas action (DIE HARDs 1-2, the works of Shane Black). But did you ever notice there’s Christmas crime, too? I just reviewed SILENT PARTNER, and there’s THE ICE HARVEST, BAD SANTA and others. So I was using the Google.com websight to see if there were others and came across this interview with a guy who did a book just about Christmas movies. He chose this CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY as a movie he wishes were on DVD and that more people knew about.
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The Silent Partner

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

tn_silentpartnerTHE SILENT PARTNER is a Christmas-time bank robbery thriller directed by one Daryl Duke and written by Curtis Hanson (director of L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and 8 MILE, writer of WHITE DOG). Elliott Gould – who I wouldn’t think would be that into Christmas, go figure – plays Miles, a Toronto teller at a bank inside one of those indoor shopping malls. (This was 1978.)

I think Miles sees himself as pretty cool, not a loser, even though he’s not having the success he’d like in wooing his co-worker Julie (Susannah York), and is later revealed to own a Superman lunchbox. Maybe having a cool name like Miles balances that out, I’m not sure. He also has a passion for rare fish, which he keeps in his aquarium, that’s what he spends his extra money on.
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Christmas Evil

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

tn_christmasevilCHRISTMAS EVIL started life as YOU BETTER WATCH OUT, but according to writer/director Lewis Jackson, “some asshole who bootlegged the film changed the title card over and over and over again” and it got better known under the other name. I’m not sure which title I like better, they’re both pretty good. Whichever one you want to call it it’s kind of an alternate take on the SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT type of Santa-Claus-related-childhood-trauma-sends-troubled-man-on-homicidal-rampage-dressed-as-Santa story. Both use the MANIAC approach of following the slasher, not the slashees, so you get to understand him, maybe feel a little sorry for him, or maybe just think Jesus and be creeped out by him.

(Jesus is the guy’s birthday we’re celebrating here, by the way. I’m not using his name in vain, I’m trying to keep him in the conversation. Nobody dresses up as baby Jesus when they go on these Christmas horror rampages, I’ve noticed.)
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Blast of Silence

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

tn_blastofsilenceHere’s a movie I never heard of until Criterion released it a couple years ago. It’s a real raw, pulpy, hard boiled crime deal, low budget, filmed independently and released in 1961. It’s about a hitman from Cleveland coming into New York, staking out his target. Because it’s black and white and full of hard-nosed tough guy narration it makes you think of old noir movies, but because it was made in the ’60s it’s a more modern, realistic approach to dialogue and acting, all done in real locations, on real city streets, not always with permits.

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TRON Legacy

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

tn_tronlegacyRemember TRON? The 1982 live action Disney fantasy from director Steven Lisberger (ANIMALYMPICS, HOT PURSUIT) about a dude magically sucked into a video game to play frisbee and ride bikes? It’s memorable for its only-in-1982 approach to design, its one-of-a-kind black light type look, its pioneering computer effects (which still look surprisingly cool today) and a weird electronical score by Wendy Carlos (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE). The only major problem I have with it besides it being boring is the entire silly premise of a guy going inside a computer and the “programs” are alive and they battle each other.

Believe me, I’m a man who knows how to suspend the ol’ disbelief. I suspend that shit all the time. I’m about this close to banning it for life. But Jeff Bridges getting shrunk and playing games with tiny neon people who live in a city inside a computer chip is just not compatible with my brain, in my opinion.

And besides, if video games are gonna come to life then why don’t you put Pac-Man in there? I’d like to hear what Pac-Man has to say for himself.

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Interviews with Isaac Florentine, Scott Adkins, Larnell Stovall

Monday, December 20th, 2010

florentineThis guy Conor from Dublin wrote to me about The Wireless Express Show, a podcast he does, where it just so happens he has interviewed a few of our favorite voices in the DTV action renaissance. I highly recommend the episode where Conor and his co-host interview Isaac Florentine and then Scott Adkins. Florentine talks alot about his influences and about UNDISPUTED III, and reveals alot of interesting tidbits (like why UNDISPUTED II and III each almost but not quite played theatrically, how they made Adkins and Jai White appear to be close to the same size, how hard it was to make Adkins look like a bad guy).

Both Wireless Express hosts are big on the post-action issue and like to ask these guys their opinions on shakycam and quick cuts. Adkins’ response is especially interesting, having actually worked with Paul Greengrass. He also gives a surprising answer to “what is your favorite fight scene?” that most of you will enjoy.

An arguably even better interview is with Larnell Stovall, the fight choreographer for UNDISPUTED III. He gives some great insights into the art of choreography, how many action movies are ruined in post-production, and gets kind of worked up talking about the shakycams since it’s his hard work at stake.

Conor also recommended his interviews with Bey Logan and Johnny Tri Nguyen, so I look forward to listening to those too.

House Party 4: Down To the Last Minute

Saturday, December 18th, 2010


I gotta tell you, I was surprised how much I liked HOUSE PARTY 4 (aka HOUSE PARTY 4: DOWN TO THE LAST MINUTE). A clever and meticulously constructed re-invention of the orig- Nah, just fucking with you. HOUSE PARTY 4 is a terrible movie. It’s the first in the series that’s at least as bad as I figured it would be, but not at all in the same way I thought it would be. It was made DTV in 2001 with the style and production value of some cable TV show made for 11-12 year olds (who would’ve been babies when the first HOUSE PARTY came out). In fact, I think the only thing making it higher than a PG rating is a song that plays on a radio that uses the word “pussy.” Otherwise it’s safe for Saturday morning TV. (read the rest of this shit…)