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

Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

I Know Who Killed Me

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

Other than having a scene where a girl gets sadistically tortured, I KNOW WHO KILLED ME is nothing like the current generation of American horror movies. It seems less influenced by SAW than by Brian DePalma thrillers and “giallos” out of Italy – you know, the weird slasher mysteries where logic is not as important as atmosphere and vivid colors. That’s definitely the philosophy of this one. Logic is for losers.

The director, Chris Sivertson (best known as the co-director of the behind-the-scenes featurette on the remake of THE TOOLBOX MURDERS) has a lush visual style and is unhealthily obsessed with the color blue. You see it on Lindsay Lohan’s clothes and car, her school’s football uniforms, the rose her boyfriend gives her, the big Liberace ring her piano teacher wears, her dad’s glowing phone, the gloves that both the police and the killer wear, the hospital scrubs, the entire emergency room, the weapons the guy uses to torture her, even the gag in her mouth. Seriously, you’ll be pissing blue for a week after you see this. The only things missing are Otter Pops and blue raspberry Jolly Ranchers, otherwise every bright blue colored object or substance that ever existed appears in the 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.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

The original THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR is not one of my favorite Steve McQueen pictures. It’s stylish and well-made, I can see the appeal of it. But first of all, as much fun as he may have had doing it, McQueen was not meant to play that kind of upper crust character. And secondly, as cool as you want him to be because he’s played by Steve McQueen, Thomas Crown is not a very cool character. He’s The Man. A rich guy who has other people do his work and then takes credit for it. Just because he picks up the money out of the garbage can after all the real work is done he gets to call it his Affair? There’s no justice in that movie.

John McTiernan’s loose remake takes care of those problems, while introducing other ones. While I’m much more fond of Steve McQueen, Pierce Brosnan is a way better choice to play this character. He’s smooth, he’s handsome, he looks kind of like Fred MacMurray but more girly, he has an accent. And there’s no way to imagine him working with his hands or having dirt on him or his hair unkempt. He IS Thomas Crown. (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.

Funny Games

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Not funny ha-ha, though. This is a very simple, solid, unsettling Austrian picture from 1997. The director is Michael Haneke, who has since become real respected due to movies like CACHE. In this one a couple and their son arrive at their vacation home. We know they’re well-to-do not only because of the vacation home, but because they listen to opera music in the car and have a boat. Right after they get there father and son are putting the boat in the water, mom is talking on the phone, cooking some steaks, and a young man shows up at the door to borrow some eggs. He dicks around for a bit but before too long there are two young visitors, eight broken eggs, one broken leg and the family held hostage.

So most of the movie is spent in the house with the family sitting helplessly as their smug home invaders talk about games and bets and pretend that they’re being friendly. It is not graphically violent or shock value oriented like CHAOS or something. The cruelty to the characters and audience is mostly psychological. The most horrible stuff happens off camera. One scene focuses on one of the tormentors walking into the kitchen and calmly making a sandwich while the horror goes on in the other room. (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.

No Country for Old Men

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

A guide for enthusiasts of Badass Cinema

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is one of those movies that’s so quiet it can be uncomfortable to watch with an audience. Alot of scenes all you hear is the wind blowing lightly over the wide open Texas plains, or the cars driving past outside a motel room, along with every squirm, every sigh, every shoulder crack in the theater. At the end when I saw the music credit for Carter Burwell I honestly couldn’t for the life of me remember any point in the movie where there was music.

So it’s clearly a little arty, it’s not like anybody’s gonna mistake this for THE MUMMY RETURNS. Or for THE FRENCH CONNECTION for that matter. It requires a little patience. But there’s so much about it that’s so fuckin good that it will win over all kinds of people from all walks of life. At first. (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.

To Live and Die in L.A.

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

I always knew the title to this one, because of that song by Wang Chung. But I never knew what exactly it was about. Turns out it’s loosely based on a novel by this guy Gerald Petievich. He was in the Secret Service, and the book was inspired by some of his experiences. So it’s supposed to be about the weirdness of that job, where one day you’re protecting the president of the United States and the next day you’re working for the treasury department so you’re just chasing some dude with counterfeit twenties.

This movie has the thumbprints of great filmatism smeared all over it. It has the kind of opening I’m a sucker for, the kind that throws you in the middle of something, sets the tone, then goes into the opening credits. Like a preamble or an overture. The main character Richard Chance (William Petersen) is on security detail for a Reagan speech (you just hear Reagan’s voice off screen, they don’t have Martin Sheen or anybody playing him). The guys are just kind of killing time when he notices something odd that leads him to the roof, where he finds an Islamic suicide bomber. (oh, shit.) He’s not able to talk him down but his partner climbs up the side of the roof and yanks the guy by the leg so that he explodes in mid-air, like a big balloon full of blood and chunks of meat. Then the two sit on the edge of the building to think about what has just happened. Chance says, “Let’s go get drunk and play cards” and it cuts into a stylish opening montage showing various images from the movie and that represent L.A. (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 Friends of Eddie Coyle

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

So there I was minding my own business, listening to an interview with Elmore Leonard. Suddenly out of the blue Elmore mentions this book I didn’t know about, The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins. He says it was a revelation to him, showed him that you could use profanity in a book and that you didn’t have to tell a straight forward story. And he calls it the best crime novel ever written.

So, through the miracle of opening another window, I ordered a used copy of the book before the interview was even over. Much later it arrived, then I read it, then I loaned it to somebody and his car was stolen with it inside and later they found his car and the car thieves didn’t take the book with them. Their loss, my gain, because Elmore Leonard was right, it’s a hell of a book. Pretty much the first half of the book is all conversations, almost no description. Later some robberies start happening and it turns more into a traditional book. But it doesn’t have your normal type of a story here. It’s more a portrait of these characters and it kind of shows the complexity of a network of criminals, snitches and cops. And it has a great ear for the dialogue. Higgins I guess was a lawyer before he became a writer, maybe he was around some of these guys. (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 Town That Dreaded Sundown

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

This is the true story of a series of murders in Texarkana shortly after World War II. So it could also be called THE TOWN THAT COMBINED THE NAMES OF TEXAS AND ARKANSAS INTO ONE NAME AND THAT ALSO DREADED SUNDOWN. That doesn’t have the same rhythm to it though, I think they made the right decision.

This is a weird movie. It starts clunkily with corny narration about “the story you are about to see,” and the narrator pops up throughout the movie as if it’s an educational film. The actors in the small roles are obviously not actors, some of them are terrible. The filmatism is what you would call “crude and workmanlike” or maybe “serviceable” – although of course it’s a faded, full frame out of print VHS so maybe some day if they give it the Blue Underground or Dark Sky treatment it will turn out to be a fuckin masterpiece of photographical genius. (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.

Eastern Promises

Friday, October 5th, 2007

Viggo Mortensen is a damn contortionist of the face. He stretches and twists that motherfucker from regular Viggo face into badass Russian gangster face. His eyebrows and the lines on his forehead turn into an arch. His mouth twists and curls into an arrogant smirk. The slash-like lines on his cheekbones suck extra deep into his skull. I could’ve sworn the motherfucker even created a dimple on his chin somehow, like through some weird breathing technique, but I checked photos and it turns out he already had that. But it fits his character well. That’s just the chin dimple a Russian gangster like that would have.

After all those years of great supporting performances, and then hitting the lottery by being the king that returned in RETURN OF THE KING, now he is getting the roles he was born for. A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE is my favorite of his movies so far, so I’m glad he’s reteaming with Dave Cronenberg here. Hopefully they will continue to collaborate for at least one more movie, it could be known as “the Viggronenberg Gangster Trilogy.” (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 Reviews The DEATH PROOF DVD!

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.

Since this showed up at my house, I’ve screened it three times. I hate that they are not putting out GRINDHOUSE together, but I really like the international cut of DEATH PROOF, and I know that sooner or later, I’ll be able to own the same thing I saw in theaters this spring. It’s just not right now, and I guess that’s just the way it fucking goes.

Vern’s got a typically strong write-up of the disc for you today, and it was nearly as much fun to read this as it was to watch the disc:

For me GRINDHOUSE was one of the great theatrical experiences of 2007. A rare modern instance of filmatists trying to put on a real show, and giving you more than your money’s worth. Two movies for the price of one, plus fake trailers – an affordable night or afternoon out. Yeah, I read about how it failed to make money for the Weinsteins, but guess what? That’s what happens when you spend decades buying other people’s movies so you can cut them, dub them, retitle them, sit them on a shelf for years, and then only allow them to be rented at Blockbuster. When you spend that long doing that many cruel and unusual things eventually your bi-yearly good deed will fail for you too. Because you are an asshole. (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. SHOOT ‘EM UP!

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

SPOILER ALERT !!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.

Perhaps the single most important piece of film criticism we’ll publish this month. You don’t have to like me or Harry in any way to love Vern. He’s always been one of the most distinct voices we publish here, and there are certain films where I look forward to his opinion in particular.

I know a lot of you wanted to read a HALLOWEEN review from him, and he’s published one at his fantastic world-famous blog now. But I think it’s more important to be able to present his review of the film by Michael Davis that we’ve been talking about for a while now. Vern’s a stubborn, passionate fan of action films, and I knew that he’d approach this movie wide open to it. Seems like he really got it, too, enjoying it for any number of reasons and on several levels. This was a great read, Vern. Thanks for always raising the bar with each review.

We all know HARDBOILED is one of the greatest action movies of all time. This has been discussed, voted and agreed upon officially. But for all the time dedicated to honoring that movie, not much has been set aside for the HARDBOILED poster. Remember the first time you saw that, before you saw the movie? What more did you need to see? That simple, perfect, iconic image of Chow Yun Fat (whether you knew who he was then or not) holding a gun in one hand and a baby in the other – that should’ve been enough. It doesn’t tell you everything about HARDBOILED, but it tells you alot. The theory of badass juxtaposition at its most basic symbolic level – one man holding life and death. Good and evil. Innocence and violence. Machine and flesh. Yin and yang.

More importantly, the guy is holding a baby in one hand and a gun in the other. Forget what it means. Concentrate on what it is. (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.