So once again we have survived.

Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

The Ice Harvest

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

I was excited about this at one point, but I missed it when it was in theaters. I thought it was a diamond heist movie starring Billy Bob Thornton, but it turns out Billy Bob is the co-star and there are no diamonds. The ice in the title is literal, because it’s winter. Christmas Eve, to be exact. There’s not snow though, just frozen rain, which is not something you see in Christmas movies very often, and rings true to me since here we’re lucky to even see that. (I don’t know about Kansas.)

It’s not exactly a heist movie because like RESERVOIR DOGS or something you never see the theft itself. John Cusack (the rich man’s Scott Baio) is a Kansas mob lawyer and Billy Bob Thornton (ON DEADLY GROUND) is his partner in skimming. They have just stolen upwards of $2 million from their boss, but can’t leave town yet due to the ice. The movie is about them trying to hang out and play it cool for a few hours before they can leave. They figure the boss won’t know about the missing money until they’re gone, but this seems to be incorrect since Cusack keeps seeing an enforcer played by Mike Starr (ON DEADLY GROUND) going around town looking for them. (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.

Mean Guns

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

A while back I reviewed this sci-fi action movie called EQUILIBRIUM and I complained about the cliche of using techno music in all the action scenes. I asked why somebody didn’t try out some different styles of music on some action scenes. A while later a guy named Jonathan Lee wrote to inform me of a movie called MEAN GUNS where they did just that, they used mambo music during all the action (and other parts of the movie).

The only recognizable stars are Ice-T and Christopher Lambert, and then there’s a bunch of other people. Mario Van Peebles was not available. Anyway, “The Syndicate” has recently bought a prison somehow, and the day before the grand opening Ice-T calls a bunch of criminals there for big meeting, like THE WARRIORS. (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.

Transporter 2

Monday, March 27th, 2006

One day not too long ago I was sitting in a theater waiting to watch some movie, the identity of which has by now dissolved into the fountain of time. (that’s not a real saying, I just made it up. My audience deserves new sayings, not the same old shit they’ve heard before and understand.) And suddenly there was a trailer for a sequel that probaly nobody, and definitely not me, asked for. The movie of course was THE TRANSPORTER 2 in case you forgot which review you’re reading here. There was kicking, jumping, cars flipping, things exloding, a half naked lingerie wearing sexy nurse assassin with makeup smeared down her eyes Tammy Faye Baker style, that sort of thing. There was this ridiculous shot where The Transporter jumps his BMW from one parking garage into another and skids out right on the edge of the thing. All that flash and bang got me excited and I realized that somehow, even though I kind of hated THE TRANSPORTER, I wanted to see the sequel. I can’t remember ever being excited about a sequel to a movie I didn’t like. But like Jesus and the correctional system said, you gotta give a guy a second chance. (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.

Inside Man

Sunday, March 26th, 2006

INSIDE MAN has gotta be Spike Lee’s most mainstream joint ever. It’s a gimmicky bank robber thriller, not the type of story and characters he as a jointmaker is known for. You can go down his entire jointography and he’s never done this type of movie – it’s not as gritty and realistic as CLOCKERS, it’s not as meandering and novelistic as THE 25TH HOUR or SUMMER OF SAM, it’s not something he seems to be as passionate about as say MALCOLM X or the Jackie Robinson movie he’s been talking about doing for about 500 years that now is gonna be a Robert Redford Joint. (Yeah right Robert Redford, you had no idea Spike Lee wanted to do a Jackie Robinson movie. Who would’ve ever known Spike was interested in that sort of thing?)

So it’s not pure 100% grade A Spike Lee Joint which accounts for its lack of greatness, but I think it’s also kind of a good thing for Spike. He’s never made a movie completely lacking in merit (well, I haven’t seen SHE HATE ME yet) but he seems to get less and less focused as he gets older. Maybe doing one mainstream thriller will get him back in the mode of telling a somewhat concise story. I don’t know. (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 Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Saturday, February 25th, 2006

This movie is directed by and starring Mr. Tommy Lee Jones (UNDER SIEGE) and it’s a western, even though it takes place today. It might be the first western with cell phones. As far as I could tell there were only two literal burials of Melquiades Estrada depicted in the movie so I figure the other one is some kind of metaphor.

Tommy plays Pete, a Texas ranch hand with unspecified past, and his best friend Melquiades is played by a guy named Julio Cesar Cedillo. He’s not in the movie as much as Pete though, because he’s dead. The movie opens with some good ol’ boys driving around with guns and they see a coyote chewing on something, and they shoot it. Then when they go to gather up the sweet, sweet coyote meat they notice that what the coyote was chewing on was The One Dead Body of Melquiades Estrada. (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 (1968)

Saturday, February 25th, 2006

This movie stars Steve McQueen as a bank robber, which automatically makes it worth seeing. And this is a good movie. But to be honest it doesn’t live up to its reputation or its potential. I know that Steve McQueen, like me, was someone who often could be spotted out and about striving for excellence. So I don’t think he would have a problem with me holding him to a high standard of achievement.

The first thing you’ll notice about the movie is that it’s very stylish. The opening and various other scenes use split-screen up the wazoo, splitting the screen into something like six different little boxes to show the different people intersecting for a heist. The cinematographer is Haskell Wexler (see TELL THEM WHO YOU ARE above for more on him) so despite all the showoffery in the editing alot of the footage is very handheld, documentary looking, like you’re there. Alot of the scenes are just dialogue-free footage of Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown fucking around. For example he flies in a glider or drives around really fast in a dune buggy. The dune buggy footage is pretty spectular, it seems like he’s about to flip over at any moment and you can’t help but notice he’s got no roll bars above his head. (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.

Thursday

Friday, February 17th, 2006

This poor bastard Skip Woods. How was he supposed to know? He stumbles across this winning formula of late ’90s independent quirky crime drama, and it just so happens that another individual, somebody named Quentin Tarantino, has already done it.

You gotta feel sorry for Skip. How was he supposed to know that Tarantino loved to take larger than life movie archetypes and show the mundane parts of their lives? Like this opening scene where three criminals who obviously don’t realize how annoying they are (Aaron Ekchart, Paulina Porezkova, James LeGros) stop in a convenience store after a big score to get coffee, and argue over the price until they end up killing the clerk and then have to pretend to work there when a cop comes in. And how could Skip have known that when he has the cop ask, for no reason, whether Eckhart prefers Picard or Kirk… that it JUST MIGHT look like he was some fuckin idiot jackass blatantly and embarassingly trying to copy the most superficial elements of Tarantino’s formula? (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.

Bubble

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

I might’ve mentioned before, I like this Steve Soderbergh guy. Number one, he knows what the fuck he’s doing. Number two, he does what the fuck he wants. He’s the epitome of the guy who does smart but crowdpleasing commercial movies (OCEAN’S 11, ERIN BROCKOVICH) then turns around and makes a crazy no budget weird ass movie (SCHIZOPOLIS, FULL FRONTAL). I wish he’d make more badass crime movies like THE LIMEY and OUT OF SIGHT but that’s just me. If I could tell him what to do that would violate number two (see above). A violation like that would probaly ruin the roll he’s on and all the sudden he’d start doing half-assed FINAL DESTINATION sequels or something.

Now that this guy has a best director Oscar (for TRAFFIC), a Criterion Edition (for SCHIZOPOLIS), an outlaw award winner (THE LIMEY) and the all important misunderstood sequel (OCEAN’S 12), he decided there was one thing he was missing: a series of six digitally shot improvisational movies starring non-actors in their real home towns to be released in theaters, on dvd and on cable all at the same time. BUBBLE is the first in this ridiculous experiment and let’s be honest here. Even if you don’t know exactly what you’re getting into, you do know what you’re getting into. First motherfucker that watches BUBBLE and complains that it’s not INDIANA JONES gets a knuckle sandwich. This is not designed to entertain the whole world. It’s designed to be the type of movie you shoot quickly with a low budget on hi-def video and release on DVD at the same time as theaters. (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.

Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power

Friday, January 27th, 2006

Geez, I shouldn’t have put off seeing this movie so long considering it really is my beat. This is kind of a miracle actually. This is the rare DTV movie that could’ve passed for a low budget theatrical movie. The only thing really holding it back is being a prequel with a different star from the original, which is a real good reason not to release it in theaters. Going straight to video lowers the expectations and makes it only half count as a sequel or prequel, which gives it a better shot at working. And for me it did. Even if you don’t go for it I think you will be awed by its competence. This is definitely a landmark in DTV sequelization.

I love the original CARLITO’S WAY, but I haven’t seen it in years, so that probaly helps. I never knew this but DePalma’s movie was based on the second book in a series. The book was called After Hours, but they didn’t want it confused with the Scorsese movie of the same name so they called it CARLITO’S WAY, after the first book in the series. RISE TO POWER is actually adapted from the book Carlito’s Way, according to legend. (I haven’t read the books so who knows.) (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.

Match Point

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

MATCH POINT is the new Woody Allen picture. The title refers to tennis but to me it sounds like just some generic name of a place title like GOSFORD PARK or PACIFIC HEIGHTS or LAND OF THE DEAD. If it was up to me it would be called KEEP YOUR DICK IN YOUR PANTS. You know, like, “This winter, director Woody Allen invites you to… Keep Your Dick In Your Pants.”

This is the first Woody Allen movie in a long time that doesn’t seem exactly like every other Woody Allen movie. It takes place in London with a mostly british cast. Jonathan Rhys somebody (a guy from TITUS) plays a guy named Chris. He’s a former pro tennis player who’s kind of a cheapskate, always trying to bum shit off of people. So one day he’s taking advantage of a rich tennis student’s generosity when he falls for the guy’s sister (Emily Mortimer). And then as soon as that’s rolling he falls even harder for the guy’s fiancee (Scarlett Johansen [hubba hubba]). He wants Scarlett bad and tries to make a pass at her but it doesn’t work out. So what the hell, he marries Emily. He gets a good job out of it and her parents pay for him to have a nice apartment and shit. And she wants some babies, now. (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.