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Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

Payback: Straight Up – The Director’s Cut

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

I don’t know how familiar any of you are with Payback, the 1999 Mel Gibson-starring adaptation of Richard Stark’s The Hunter. That’s the same book that inspired one of the all time canonical works of Badass Cinema, Point Blank.

Well, Mel Gibson is no Lee Marvin and writer/director Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale) is no John Boorman. But I think Payback is an underrated movie. It’s a good balance of vicious and funny. It’s got a bit of a ’70s throwback feel and lots of weird touches to make it an indistinct time period. There are rotary phones, and primitive credit card technology that makes fraud more convenient, and the film is washed out with bleach making everything have a pale blue tint to it. You’re not sure when this is supposed to be taking place, which in a weird way reminds me of the experience of reading the books. Most of it reads pretty modern but obviously you are dealing with armed robbers, there is money, communication and security technology that would make some of the stories impossible today. So I sometimes have to check the copyright dates to be sure when this would’ve happened. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Lookout

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

They got a real unique advertising campaign for THE LOOKOUT, they are trying this new thing where you don’t promote the movie at all, and nobody knows it even exists. So there is this mystery around it. I don’t know why it hasn’t blown up yet but so far this playing-hard-to-get approach does not seem to be capturing the public consciousness.

About the only thing I knew about THE LOOKOUT was the reason I wanted to see it: it is the directivational debut of screenwriter Scott Frank, who wrote many movies but most importantly OUT OF SIGHT. He also wrote GET SHORTY so it’s easy to expect Elmore Leonard if you know this is a movie involving a bank heist. But the feel is very different, it’s not really fun or jokey, it’s actually a little sad. But it is a real good and tightly-written thriller. (read the rest of this shit…)

District B13

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

(originally BANLIEUE 13)

I’m way behind on this movie. I remember a couple years ago I went to see some movie at the film festival here, and this one was just getting out on the same screen. I saw some people I knew coming out and I asked them how it was. They said it was ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK except in France, and with some weird martial art where they run up walls and shit. I knew it was a Luc Besson joint so I thought wait a minute, is this related to that YAMAKASI movie I saw? The art of climbing and flipping?

Now it’s years later and the movie has long since played American theaters and DVD players in a dubbed version called DISTRICT B13. The advertising campaign has tried to convince us we know what the word “parkour” means. Another practicioner of the art has battled (and lost) the new, badass James Bond. Now it’s old news, the excitement has worn off, so I saw it now. That’s just how I roll. (read the rest of this shit…)

Zodiac

Monday, March 5th, 2007

David Fincher’s movie SEVEN (no, I’m not gonna do that cute shit where you type the number seven instead of a v, do I look like the type of dude that would try to pull that sort of typographic horseshit, I don’t think so) is the deadbeat dad of the modern serial killer thriller. Or the killer that inspired all the copycats. Ever since then, hacks have been trying to cop that thick atmosphere, that dark-as-tar nihilistic tone, that sicko mix of religion and violence, that serious treatment of the type of gimmicky murder sprees that used to be fun when Vincent Price did ’em, and especially those fonts used on the opening credits. Simply put, without SEVEN there would be none of those other movies where Morgan Freeman tries to catch a serial killer, nor would there be a GLIMMER MAN. And then where would we be as a society?

When you take away the artfulness of Fincher’s direction (and add a side order of Seagal/Wayans bickering) you can see how morbid and ugly that type of subject matter is. So the fact that Fincher took the time to do such a good job of it makes you question his mental health a little. Didn’t they say he personally splattered the fake blood on some of those victims? (read the rest of this shit…)

The Departed

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

If you saw INFERNAL AFFAIRS you know the storyline. Undercover cop vs. undercover gangster. There’s alot of stories about cops going undercover in gangs, but this one also has a member of the crime family who entered the police academy and moved up the ranks as a mole for his gang. So now both traitors are well situated and it starts to get obvious to both sides that they have a mole in their midst. And the moles are given the job of finding out who the mole is. It could be called LOS TOPOS.

Mr. Scorsese took that premise and moved it to Boston and told his own story about contemporary Boston criminals. Scorsese’s young associate Leonardo Del Caprio (looking more like Benicio Del Toro every year) plays the cop who pretends to get kicked out of the force, does some time and then joins Jack Nicholson’s gang. Matt Damon plays the cop who’s really working for the gang. We first see him as a little kid getting money from Nicholson in a diner. And the kid they chose is a dead ringer. They even taught him how to cock his eyebrow like Damon. Somebody’s gonna have to find a young Ben Affleck doppelganger and these two can go on the road. Or they could do THE YOUNG JASON BOURNE MYSTERIES where the camera shakes around while he’s fighting some kid in a treehouse. (read the rest of this shit…)

Ballbuster

Monday, February 12th, 2007

Remember when that jackass Geraldo opened up Al Capone’s vault on live tv, and there was nothing inside? I know he remembers, people probaly give him shit about that four times a day. Well, most of us are smart enough to check inside the vault before we go live on tv, but the truth is that most of our big discoveries turn out to be a bust. I mean, if it was easy to find gold it wouldn’t be gold, would it?

I only bring this up because when I discovered this little known ’80s blaxploitation/karate dude from Indianapolis named Ivan Rogers, and especially when I found his movie BALLBUSTER, I figured I had pretty much just opened Al Capone’s vault and found Jimmy Hoffa and Amelia Eirhart’s skeletons inside holding hands. I mean the title alone is a treasure, but you read the back of the box, one of those way-too-detailed synopsises you find on some real low budget movies, and you gotta get excited: Ivan Rogers plays a P.I. named Roosevelt “Ballbuster” Prophet. I repeat, his name is Roosevelt “Ballbuster” Prophet. Two of the villains he fights are called Hacksaw and Paycheck. Later he fights mercenaries called “The Nasty Boys.” (I’m not sure if they said this in the movie, so I’m glad it’s mentioned on the box.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Black Caesar

Monday, February 12th, 2007

In my opinion BLACK CAESAR is one of my favorite blaxploitation movies. It’s got a good story and direction (by Larry Cohen), a badass soundtrack (by James Brown) and a super badass lead (Fred Williamson). Fred plays a cruel motherfucker, sort of a Scarface type anti-hero, but makes him mostly sympathetic.

You already know the movie is good at the beginning because it has such a good and unusual opening. Fred’s character Tommy Gibbs is a kid (played by some young guy, don’t worry it’s not Fred wearing a beanie or nothin) working as a shoe shine boy.

There’s a nervous white man in a suit, looking over his shoulder, but Tommy convinces him to get a quick shine. Suddenly a scary mafia dude comes out with a gun and the whitey tries to run. But Tommy holds onto his shoe. After the dude is dead, Tommy meets up with the mafia dude in an alley. He gets his payment and also gets to hold the murder weapon and check it out. This kid may have some problems, is the idea. (read the rest of this shit…)

Crazed Cop

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

I don’t know if you ever do this, maybe this means I had a bad childhood or somethin, but every once in a while I see a weird old VHS box in the action section at the video store and I say “what the fuck is THIS?” and even though it looks like shit I have to rent it just to take a peek at some weird corner of the action cinema universe that I had not previously charted. I’m an explorer, is what I’m saying. The latest example of this is CRAZED COP starring a guy named Ivan Rogers. I will be impressed if any of you know who this guy is, because I asked around and only got blank looks.

First a visual of Ivan Rogers: an African-American gentleman of slightly above average build, with a mustache, likes to wear light colored suit and tie with dark shirt. If there was a movie about his life he could be played by Steve Harvey. But he doesn’t make any jokes in this movie, and doesn’t talk unless he has to. He has a dead-eyed stare and frown. His face betrays no emotion so, to show how depressed he is throughout this movie (or how crazed he is, I guess) he drinks lots of scotch and points a gun at his head 3 different times. (read the rest of this shit…)

Lethal Weapon

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

I meant to see APOCALYPTO this week but I was too god damn sick to haul my ass to the theater. So I figured what the hell, it’s December, I’m Vern – might as well revisit LETHAL WEAPON. Haven’t seen that one since the ’80s. One of my buddies swears by it.

Well, it was interesting to watch this movie again, and I had fun, but I can’t say it has aged too well. I know it’s not fair to compare everything to DIE HARD, but LETHAL WEAPON is no DIE HARD. Bruce knew to keep the hair conservative, it will be timeless, no problem. His hair in that movie is so not dated that today, when the LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD teaser debuted online, everybody was pissed that he didn’t have the old hair do. (read the rest of this shit…)

Vern’s Seen SMOKING ACES!!

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

SPOILER ALERT !!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.

Carnahan fans have been waiting a while now for his follow-up to NARC, and it seems crazy that it’s almost here.

If you’re a fan, you might want to hop over to CHUD, where Devin Faraci has been fielding questions that Carnahan’s been answering on his very own blog.

In the meantime, let’s see what our own Vern has to say about this film that I’m eagerly looking forward to:

You know what this movie is, it’s a remake of BOBBY. Almost the whole movie takes place in and around this hotel. And you got your huge all-star cast of characters with their various intersecting stories going on. But instead of them all living their lives and making corny speeches not knowing Bobby Kennedy is about to be assassinated, they are all trying to sneak into the hotel to kill Jeremy Piven. And instead of tons of stock footage of Kennedy speeches there is all kinds of fighting and guns. So it’s a reflection of our times. Or a very loose remake. A reimagining. (read the rest of this shit…)