"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Author Archive

Good Time

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

GOOD TIME is a hell of a movie from Josh and Benny Safdie, thirtysomething New York indie directors I never heard of until the flashy A24 trailer acted like they were a household name. Sure enough it’s their fifth feature film (including one documentary) but this one got a little more attention for starring Robert Pattinson, the guy from the Cronenberg movies. He plays Connie Nikas, a New York City dirtbag who storms into a doctor’s office to get his developmentally disabled brother Nick (Benny Safdie) and bring him to help rob a bank. They get away at first but most of the money is ruined by a dye pack and Nick gets arrested. The movie is about Connie running around town all night trying to find $10,000 more dollars to pay Nick’s bail.

It’s a stylish epic of dirt-baggery – Meth Age Michael Man. An intimate look at a shitty dude doing idiotic things with fevered lighting, gritty real locations, some raw non-professional actors and one of the most legit retro-synth scores I’ve heard, a Tangerine Dream-esque thing by an electronic artist Oneohtrix Point Never, which is a name that I totally understand and can say easily, on account of how young and with it I am. And just so you know I didn’t have to ask anybody what vaporwave was and if I had I totally would’ve understood what Wikipedia meant about it being “built upon the experimental and ironic tendencies of genres such as chillwave and hypnagogic pop.” (read the rest of this shit…)

Doctor Sleep

Monday, November 11th, 2019

As a young man I read a bunch of Stephen King. He was my favorite until I decided Clive Barker was more interesting – I don’t know if I was right. The point is I’m just another movie-watching asshole and can’t pretend to be a King scholar. I haven’t read The Shining (1977) or its 2013 sequel Doctor Sleep. I have, of course, seen Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING, and like everyone except King and the Razzies voters I think it’s a masterpiece. (I also just realized it’s the first horror movie I remember seeing.)

It almost seemed like a suicide mission for writer/director/editor Mike Flanagan (OCULUS, HUSH, GERALD’S GAME) to make a movie out of Doctor Sleep. How do you even make a sequel to one of the most unfuckwithable horror movies ever made – a fucking Stanley Kubrick movie – let alone try to please the author who famously hated the movie’s take on his very personal story about alcoholism? He tried to bridge the movie with the books, and I think he pulled it off! (read the rest of this shit…)

Broken Path (a.k.a. Attack of the Yakuza)

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

BROKEN PATH (2008) is a humble but impressive low budget production, simple in story and filmmaking, but with a high volume of work put into its virtually non-stop action scenes. A little like last year’s NIGHTSHOOTERS, it has the feel of an indie horror movie, but its attraction is high quality fight choreography. It’s what happens when some passionate people get together a little money to make a violent home invasion movie, but those passionate people happen to be a star, director/choreographer and stunt team (Alpha Stunts) from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

I had a hard time getting a hold of this obscure footnote in the history of western martial arts movies of the oughts. I’m not sure I can call it under the radar, because I’ve had it recommended to me a few times over the years and seen it on an underrated action movies list. It never got American distribution though, so when I looked for it years ago I couldn’t find it. But it’s directed by GUYVER 2 and DRIVE choreographer Koichi Sakamoto, so Jack Thursby (and possibly another person on Facebook – sorry that I can’t find your comment) reminded me of it when I did Steve Wang Week earlier this year. This time I was able to order it on a German DVD under the title ATTACK OF THE YAKUZA. I think there’s also a UK release as BROKEN FIST. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Lion King (2019)

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

I honestly wanted to see the LION KING quasi-live-action remake in the theater, but never managed to. Turns out it did okay without my money. But by waiting until now to review it I missed out on timely discussions of related issues about a pioneering studio turned monolithic corporation treating their legacy of hand drawn animation as just a shitty licensing library to be resold (and possibly replaced in the imagination of new generations) with more realistic imagery. I guess I addressed it in my review of the (actually) live action ALADDIN. Basically, I’m open to to enjoying these remakes on their own terms, but the whole idea of them is a bummer.

Now let’s get to a more controversial topic: I have never thought the original LION KING was very good. I know it’s a beloved classic, one of the highest grossing animated movies of all time, etc. I watch it once every 5-10 years hoping to like it better this time, but I always strike out. I liked the dramatic stuff, like everything having to do with Mufasa’s death, but I always thought the musical numbers, in addition to not being really my jam, were more of a distraction than a story. And I was not really into the farting warthog. (read the rest of this shit…)

Anna

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

LEON (THE PROFESSIONAL) sums up Luc Besson pretty good, doesn’t it? He’s creepy about young women. Also, he’s really good at putting them in cool, stylish action roles. His latest in that vein, ANNA, came out this summer with little fanfare (or box office), at least partly because Besson had recently been accused of rape. Maybe it deserved to fail. But for whatever it’s worth it’s a solid movie full of what he does well.

It actually has alot in common with ATOMIC BLONDE. A beautiful bisexual spy (well, assassin in this case) double and triple crosses her way through end-of-the-Cold-War European intrigue with a twisty plot and a couple of long, impressive fight sequences. Charlize and her action and David Leitch’s intoxicating colors and music are more my speed, but ANNA has the advantage of being real complicated without being hard to follow. It’s a satisfying tale. (read the rest of this shit…)

Terminator: Dark Fate

Monday, November 4th, 2019

I love THE TERMINATOR, but I love TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY. To me it’s one of the all time greats of sequels, summer event movies, action movies, movies in general. It came into the world at the right time to knock me on my ass, and has only grown with me. We’d never seen a movie like it; the technology had not existed for a character to do the things that the liquid metal T-1000 did, and no woman, not even Ripley in James Cameron’s own ALIENS, had returned to the screen as thoroughly transformed into an indelible badass as Sarah Connor.

At the time it seemed like the biggest, loudest, most over-the-top and technologically advanced action spectacle we’d ever seen. Now there’s a certain quaintness and groundedness to it. The then-show-stopping computer effects are only for a little bit of morphing – now we notice the huge amount of real stunts involving a semi-truck, motorcycles, a helicopter and various pyrotechnics that would never be so real in a modern movie. And the story is built on characters and emotions in a way that’s much more resonant to me than most subsequent movies of this type. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Hills Have Eyes

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

THE HILLS HAVE EYES is not my favorite Wes Craven movie, but in a certain sense it’s one of his purest. It has that LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT maniac-college-professor vibe – another raw, seedy gut-punch of a drive-in movie layered with completely sincere themes and social commentary. And it’s a little more fantastical than LAST HOUSE, with less straight up degradation, so I don’t feel as ashamed for liking it.

Instead of a gang of criminals we have a literal tribe of modern primitives – the wicked spawn of Papa Jupiter (James Whitworth, THE CANDY SNATCHERS), born “40 pounds and hairy as a monkey” in Nevada, mutated by nuclear tests and the nearby Air Force gunnery range, grew to adult size too fast, burned down his parents’ home, his dad split his face open with a tire iron and left him in the desert to die, but he survived in the hills and kidnapped some poor prostitute (Cordy Clark) “to raise a passel of wild kids” with. They wear animal parts and pieces of junk as trophies, and like the buzzards in the sky they stay above, keeping watch below, waiting to see what the highway brings them. (read the rest of this shit…)

Patreon bonus: Walker, Texas Ranger Halloween episode

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

Sorry, I never get trick-or-treaters at my apartment, so I didn’t get enough candy for everyone. But I do have a Halloween treat for Patreon people: an illustrated look at a 1998 Halloween episode of Walker, Texas Ranger.

click here for WALKER, TEXAS RANGER: “THE CHILDREN OF HALLOWEEN”

Remember, for $1 a month (or more if you can afford it) you can read this as well as other exclusives like my in-depth reviews of each of the TWILIGHT movies, an episode of Rambo: The Force of Freedom, and some extra tie-ins to the HIGHLANDERLAND series. More importantly you get to feel like a hero for helping me to only work part time so I have more hours for writing the good shit (most of which will always be free right here on outlawvern.com).

Thanks everybody!

Ma

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

MA is a pretty simple little Blumhouse thriller that doesn’t go much deeper than what you see in the trailer, but I had fun with it. Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer (HALLOWEEN II) plays the titelistical matriarch, a.k.a. Sue Ann, a single veterinarian’s assistant in a small town in Ohio who is randomly approached one day by some high school kids who want her to buy them alcohol. Not only does she hook them up that one time, she becomes their regular buyer. And then she decides to let them use her basement as their party space. She’s like a cool, irresponsible aunt. She jokes around inappropriately sometimes, but tells them she’d rather they be here than out driving drunk or something. (Plan A was to party in a van.)

There are a couple obvious ways to play this. One would be to draw out the reveal of whether or not Ma is a psycho. I like that they immediately show her looking up the kids’ Facebook pages like a stalker. There are two other major escalations in craziness that happened so abruptly I got a big laugh and wished I’d seen this with an audience. The suspense is in how far she’s gonna take this. And there’s tension about things like “why is she so insistent that they not see the upstairs” and “will Maggie (Diana Silvers, BOOKSMART) be able to make her friends and her boyfriend Andy (Corey Fogelmanis, Girl Meets World) see that this lady is trouble?” (read the rest of this shit…)

Hellbent

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

HELLBENT (2004) opens with your traditional lovers lane murder, well shot with colorful tinting that seems to come from a light shining through a bouquet of helium balloons they have in the car. The two lovers are beheaded by a dude (Nick Name, who also provides some of the soundtrack with his band Nick Name and the Normals) with a scythe and devil mask/helmet thing. We’ve seen a million scenes like this, but there are two things unusual about this version:

1. the lovers are both men

2. the killer is shirtless

Well, mostly #1. The 2014 remaquel of THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN had a male-male couple killed in a lovers lane, but this one takes place entirely in the gay community in West Hollywood, so it’s fair to call it a gay slasher movie. The hero – Final Boy? – is Eddie (Dylan Fergus), who works a desk job at the police station. He’s not an officer – an injury prevented him from finishing the training. He gets recruited to pass out flyers warning people in West Hollywood that there’s a murderer loose, and uses Halloween as an excuse to wear his dad’s old uniform when he does it. (Strangely he won’t get into any kind of impersonating-an-officer trouble while wearing it. But I guess it reminds him of the shoes he’s trying to fill.)

At night he goes to a Halloween carnival with some friends, where you have your typical slasher movie debauchery (except gay) while the devil mask guy follows them around looking for a window to behead them. (read the rest of this shit…)