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

Archive for December, 2012

Happy 2013

Monday, December 31st, 2012

I always want a picture of Bruce Lee or somebody at a New Year’s party but I can’t usually find a good one. So instead here’s a beautiful rendition of Auld Lang Syne by one of the local Seattle musicians. Happy New Year everybody and let’s do less bad things and more good things in this one.

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 Hobbit Episode 1 of 3: An Unexpected Journey: The High Frame Rate Experience

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Remember those LORDS OF RINGS movies and books they used to have, about the magic ring that a bunch of little people had to throw into a volcano because it was so powerful it would warp the mind of even a good man, and dessicate him into a freaky, fish-munching Gollum? I always thought that story was supposed to be about the arms race, but it turns out the ring was actually a metaphor for The Lord of the Rings itself. The power of this thing has turned director Peter Jackson skinny and made him jones for his precious so bad that he’s adapted the first third of J.R.R. Tolkein’s 320 page children’s book The Hobbit into a 169 minute part 1-of-3 that’s somehow gonna have an additional 20-25 minutes added for video, meaning the full movie will likely end up being around 9 1/2 hours by the time the third blu-ray comes out around Christmas 2015. See, Jackson found a bunch of appendixes and supplemental materials, some recipes, golf score cards and a doodle of boobs that Tolkien drew on the back of an Arby’s menu, and he felt it was important to include all that. And in order to pack even more in he developed new technology to shoot at double the standard number of frames so that certain theaters willing to shell out the dough to upgrade their digital projectors can project it to look like a shitty shot-on-video mini-series or an HDTV somebody set up wrong because they didn’t know any better.

More – alot more – on the “48 FPS HFR” technology later. For now let’s talk the movie, as much as is possible. (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.

Django Unchained

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

A couple weeks ago the studio “lifted the embargo” as they say, and all the online critics unchained their DJANGO reviews even though non-critics wouldn’t see the thing until Christmas. I think that’s a silly ritual because I wasn’t gonna read that shit! This is the new Quentin Tarantino movie, you go in fresh. I already know I want to see any movie he makes, I don’t gotta read everything about it first. In case you’re different I’ve tried to mark the biggest spoilers in this review, but as usual I recommend seeing the movie first.

DJANGO UNCHAINED is the most straight forward movie Tarantino has ever made. It follows one main character from first scene to last, doesn’t cut away to another story or even jump around in time other than some very traditional flashbacks. There are alot of long conversation scenes, but it’s generally pretty clear what they have to do with the main plot of the freed slave Django (Jamie Foxx, STEALTH) becoming a bounty hunter and trying to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from a plantation. And that’s not a misleading description, that’s really the movie, a racially charged western (or “Southern,” Tarantino likes to say) in the tradition of those CHARLEY movies I just reviewed.

So in a way it feels uneventful for a Tarantino movie, the first time he made one that was pretty much what I expected from the commercials. On first viewing it seems low in my rankings of the QT filmography, but that doesn’t say much. Tarantino sure knows how to entertain, and I happen to love this genre of badass black cowboys out for frontier justice against practitioners of the slave trade. For his first straight up genre picture that’s a good genre to pick. I love this movie. (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.

Black X-mas

Monday, December 24th, 2012

I skipped BLACK X-MAS for six years ’cause everybody told me it was bottom-of-the-barrel, but after I heard Brian Collins and some guys discuss it on some podcast about their favorite horror remakes I decided to try it out this year. Of course it’s a disgrace to the pioneering original Bob Clark BLACK CHRISTMAS from 1974. But it’s a fun disgrace.

Like the original it’s about some sorority sisters (and one sorority den mother, or whatever it’s called) staying in the house on Christmas break, being harassed on the phone by some weirdo named Billy who stalks them and suffocates one or more of them with a plastic bag and leaves her in the attic in a rocking chair and nobody finds her for a while. It skips the original’s thread about a father going around trying to find his daughter, preferring to keep the cast mostly male-free and most of the running time isolated to the one location. But the biggest and boldest change was to give the killer a backstory.
(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 Nutcracker: The Untold Story

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

Finally the truth can be told. Because you know what? We have the right to know.

Not to brag or anything, but I always thought the official story behind this Nutcracker business was a bunch of bullshit. I mean, how naive can you be? And I knew the truth had to get out eventually. It was only a matter of time. Thank you, Freedom of Information Act.

Here, at last, is Tchaikovsky’s music and the associated Mouse King story (no credit for E.T.A. Hoffman) adapted into non-ballet, special-effects-laden movie form. This unexplainable Christmas fantasy mess was released theatrically in 2010 as THE NUTCRACKER IN 3D. It was directed and co-written by Andrey Konchalovskiy (RUNAWAY TRAIN, THE LION IN WINTER). I read that it was a dream project he’d tried to make for over 20 years, which would mean he started dreaming about it around the time he did TANGO & CASH. But on the making-of extra he said he’d been working on it since 1969. I wonder in which decade he lost track of why the hell he was doing it?

(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.

Boss

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Don’t worry, this is the last of the pre-DJANGO slavery-themed reviews. I don’t want to ruin Christmas or anything, but I gotta finish the trilogy.

BOSS was originally called BOSS [word white people shouldn’t say], but it was easy to change to just BOSS and therefore it’s the only one of the Charley trilogy available on a legitimate DVD. In this one it’s still Fred Williamson as Charley, but he’s just called “Boss.” (Or maybe “Bas” like Bas Rutten?) And D’Urville Martin is still his sidekick but he’s called “Amos” instead of Toby. Maybe it’s an alias. At this point they’ve left behind their town in Mexico and are traveling bounty hunters. But it definitely is meant as a sequel because Williamson says so on a title card added to the DVD where he explains why he approves of the use of the n-word in the title, dialogue and theme song. (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 Top 10 Christmas Crime Movies on Fanhattan

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

As I mentioned a month or two ago, frequent outlawvern.com commenter Franchise Fred Topel hooked me up to write some posts for this thing called Fanhattan. It’s… something to do with streaming movies, but their blog/interface/thing has lots of movie news and features and stuff. And their official editorial policy is against “snark,” so I like that.

Today I have a piece introducing people to my beloved subgenre of Christmas crime. Also I contributed one to their worst holiday movies of all time, but it’s a movie I really enjoy. I just can’t claim it’s not terrible. You’ll see.

Check it out, and maybe if you’re so inclined write some comments with your own Christmas crime recommendations or whatever. It would make me look good.

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.

2012 Village Voice Film Poll

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

This year, for the first (and last?) time ever, I was invited to take part in the 2012 Village Voice Film Poll, a survey of 85 critics about the best movies and performances and shit of the year. Hopefully I did not bring too much shame or dishonor upon the institution. My lowbrow tastes did not seem to affect the final tally too much, but it is funny to see that me and one other critic caused John Hyams to be tied with Ang Lee, Bela Tarr & Agnes Hranitzky, Jafar Panahi, Richard Linklater, Steven Spielberg and Ben Affleck for 6th place in the Best Director category.

I struggled with alot of my answers, especially in the actress categories, since I clearly haven’t seen enough movies with good roles for women. I mean, I love Rachel Weisz, but you guys know which movie called DEEP BLUE SEA I’ve seen, and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t in it. I’m kind of embarrassed of some of those votes. I feel pretty good about honoring Jessica Biel for THE TALL MAN, though, and definitely Salma Hayek for SAVAGES. I’m not taking that one back. One category where I thought I would agree with the consensus was Daniel Day Lewis for best actor (he played Lincoln), but he ended up #3. #1 went to Joaquin (Popeye), who was my second place vote. (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 Soul of (hahem) Charley

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

The first sequel to THE LEGEND OF (cough cough) CHARLEY is the best of the series in my opinion. It takes place after the Civil War, so Charley is no longer a runaway slave, but he still has to deal with racists, including a former Confederate colonel who still leads his troop of assholes on violent rampages in black settlements.

Charley (still Fred Williamson) and Toby (still D’urville Martin) come across one of these towns right after everyone’s been massacred except for a little boy. By this time Charley is such a legend that the kid can’t believe he’s meeting him, it’s like he gets to hang out with Mohammad Ali. Or Fred Williamson.

(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 Legend of (word white people shouldn’t say) Charley

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

I’ve been curious about this series of Fred Williamson slavery-era westerns, and with DJANGO UNCHAINED coming at the end of the month it seemed like a good time to finally get to them.

As the old white patriarch of a plantation is on his death bed he wants to free his favorite slave, who took good care of him. She says she’s too old to start a new life and asks him instead to free her son, Charley (Fred Williamson). Charley works as a blacksmith, which makes me think this was probly one of the inspirations for THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS. But unfortunately he never uses his ironworking skills as a free man, not even in the sequels.
(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.