So once again we have survived.

Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

The Best Years of Our Lives

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

tn_bestyearsofourlivesTHE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES is the earliest movie I’ve seen about veterans coming home from war and having trouble readjusting, and very different from the other ones. If it was made after Iraq and Afghanistan it might’ve been a sun-drenched support-the-troops true tale of sacrifice like AMERICAN SNIPER. If it was after Vietnam it might’ve been a dark but entertaining genre tale, like ROLLING THUNDER or FIRST BLOOD. But this was 1946, right after World War II, so it’s a beautiful black and white ensemble drama directed by William Wyler (BEN-HUR) and shot by Gregg Toland (CITIZEN KANE).

It’s the story of three men fresh back from the war. Army captain and bombardier Fred Derry (Dana Andrews, GOOD GUYS WEAR BLACK) can’t get a flight back to his home town of Boone City, but a woman at the airline desk points him to where he can catch a ride on an army plane. He has to wait around for hours, but ends up in the nose of a bomber with sailor Homer Parrish (Harold Russell, INSIDE MOVES) and infantry sergeant Al Stephenson (Fredric March, …TICK …TICK …TICK). They marvel over the view of America and bond over what they did in the war, and who and what they’re coming back to.

They get home and we follow each of them as they return to their families, try to find jobs, try to make regular life work again. For the most part their loved ones are thrilled to have them back, and will do anything they can to support them. And many people see their medals and treat them as heroes. Al is welcomed back at the bank where he worked, to almost an uncomfortable “we want to show off that we have a veteran on staff” level. Fred not as much. The drugstore has been taken over by a chain who will only hire him back as assistant to his old assistant when he was a soda jerk. (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.

Hell or High Water

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

tn_hellorhighwaterHELL OR HIGH WATER is one of these contemporary westerns, sort of a NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN fan film about two brothers robbing banks and two old Texas Rangers trying to catch them. It starts from the perspective of Toby (Chris Pine, SMOKIN’ ACES) and Tanner (Ben Foster, X-MEN 3) driving through barren stretches of country highway robbing banks in tiny, impoverished towns from Texas to Oklahoma, in between being brothers, annoying each other, talking around painful shit from their pasts, etc.

They did not cast against type. Tanner is the Mr. Blonde, yelling at and pistol whipping bank employees, causing scenes, screwing a hooker in the same hotel room while his poor brother lays wincing and facing the wall. I think this guy’s gonna be trouble. And Toby is the thief with a heart of gold, or at least the one who looks humanely through his ski mask with big blue sympathetic eyes and isn’t a jerk when a waitress (Katy Mixon from East Bound and Down) has a nice talk with him. (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.

Pride + Prejudice + Zombies

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

tn_ppzWhen I first heard about PRIDE & PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES – the book where Seth Grahame-Smith inserted the undead into Jane Austen’s original text – it sounded like a clever public domain art project, something I could respect without wanting to actually read it. When I heard that they were making it into a movie it sounded like kind of a bad idea, but since David O. Russell was doing it I thought maybe it would be interesting. By the time Russell left and it was finally made by 17 AGAIN director Burr Steers I had written it off.

But then I saw the trailer, where the absurd premise was done with a straight face, and that was all I needed to get on board. I should’ve known better, too, because this is actually a repeat of what happened with Grahame-Smith’s second book, ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER. The wackiness of the title made me groan, but then I enjoyed the deadpan movie version. To this day it makes me smile to think that that actor had to master both delivering the Gettysburg Address and spinning an ax.

So I should learn to trust this Grahame-Smith guy. He also wrote Tim Burton’s DARK SHADOWS, which I enjoyed. But more importantly he has a corner on this rare, ballsy type of movie: lavish, earnest productions of intentionally ridiculous historical drama/horror-action combos. Steers has the unlikely discipline to treat Austen’s story of courtship among the rich with utter respect even though he’s moved it to a post-zombie apocalypse London surrounded by a moat and wall and at war with the undead hordes. I actually found myself invested in Austen’s original love story regardless of any zombie business. (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.

Miles Ahead

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

tn_milesaheadad_milesMILES AHEAD is the directorial debut of Don Cheadle, and he stars in it as Miles Davis. I think it didn’t get much attention for the same reason it’s good: it’s a small, odd movie, not fulfilling most expectations of a musician biopic. I’m not sure if it even is a musician biopic. Maybe it’s a little of that mixed with Miles’ guest appearance on Miami Vice. It’s a small time crime story where the lead happens to be Miles Davis and the McMuffin is a reel-to-reel of the only recording session he’s done in years. He wants it for himself but Columbia Records has contractual claim to it, so people are trying to get it.

The story takes place over just a couple of days, with the device of Ewan McGregor as totally fictional Rolling Stone writer Dave Braden barging his way into the “black Howard Hughes” life of Miles, promising to write his “comeback story!” At first Miles gives him many variations of “fuck off, white boy,” but eventually the two are hanging out together. Making this odd couple happen requires deceit and cocaine and puts the reporter in the middle of many tense situations involving guns and/or a fierce insistence on artistic purity. (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.

Ben-Hur

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

tn_ben-hursummer2016originsMan, can you guys believe they made that cheesy 3D remake of BEN-HUR? From the director of WANTED, of all people? Imagine the nerve of thinking they have to cgi up a Hollywood classic like BEN-HUR. Is nothing sacred? BEN-HUR won 11 Oscars including best picture. Normally we say the Oscars are bullshit but let’s forget about that because in this one specific case they are totally proof that this movie is untouchable. It just really disappoints me that they can’t leave well enough alone.

Admittedly I have never seen the original BEN-HUR, which is a one-reel silent film from 1907. Nor have I seen the first remake, another silent from 1925. And until now I had not seen the famous 1959 version by William Wyler. Okay, the truth is I’m excited to see the new one and I didn’t want to be some asshole who went to see it but hadn’t seen the old one. So I am thankful for this new remake, even if it ends up being boring, because it made me watch the most famous old remake. Turns out it’s legendary for a reason. (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.

SAN DIEGO EXCLUSIVE: Hardcore (1979)

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

tn_hardcoresdccI know all the major websights are covering the San Diego Comic-Con this week. I will not be there in person and never have been but in my opinion there is alot I can cover from home in terms of the city of San Diego. For example I have learned that Paul Schrader’s movie HARDCORE from 1979 has a part that takes place in San Diego. This is an EXCLUSIVE SCOOP for Outlawvern.com or an EXSCLOOPSIVE for short. © 2016 Vern please credit.

Jake Van Dorn (George C. Scott) is a single father in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a successful factory owner (“we make rivets for the auto industry”) and devout Calvinist. It’s Christmas time and the family’s all together, Uncle Joe (Paul Marin, THE HAPPY HOOKER GOES HOLLYWOOD) being an angry prude about the dancing Santas on the Christmas special the kids are watching.

“I’m sick of watching this television stuff,” he rants after abruptly turning it off. “You know who makes it? All the kids who couldn’t get along here, they go out to California and make television. I didn’t like ’em when they were here and I don’t like them out there.”

Jake is the more laid back grownup who laughs and says “Give the kids a break, it’s Christmas!” (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.

Love On the Run

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

tn_loveontherunLOVE ON THE RUN is a part 5 where everything comes together: Antoine’s early estrangement from his parents, the patterns of his failed relationships, the risks of putting his personal life (and therefore the people he knows’ personal lives) in his so-called fiction. In the opening we see him with a new girlfriend, Sabine (children’s singer and cartoon show host Dorothée), who he seems to be screwing it up with already. He obviously hurts her by cancelling their plans, without explaining why, but it’s to finalize his divorce with Christine (parts 3-4). So we get to see her again, and then OH SHIT, part 2 co-star Collette (Marie-France Pisier, also one of the screenwriters) happens to see him, finds out about his book, and reads it. And later he sees her and wants to talk to her again.

I’m not saying it’s FAST FIVE good, but it has a similar quality of uniting characters and threads from across the series and putting them into a story that’s in some ways more exciting and satisfying than previous entries. It also made me think of the fourth PHANTASM because of its liberal use of footage from when the actors were younger, though in PHANTASM it’s unused footage and here it’s almost like a clip show episode of a TV show. They keep bringing up things that happened in the past and then there’ll be a short clip from the movie where it happened. (Since this was pre-home video it was reasonable to expect that even if viewers had seen all the other ones it had been only once a long time ago.)

It’s also a little like ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO because in the midst of these flashbacks there are also flashbacks to things that happened between the last movie and this one, as if it’s clips from another sequel we never saw where they moved in with Christine’s lesbian friend. And of course bringing Collette and Christine together for a scene at the end is kinda like when Michael Dudikoff and David Bradley met up in AMERICAN NINJA 4. (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.

Bed & Board

Monday, May 30th, 2016

tn_bedandboardBED & BOARD is Antoine Doinel Part 4: The Married Years. I don’t know how the fuck he did it, but that weasel Antoine got hitched to Christine and they appear to live happily in an apartment in Paris together. He works at a flower stand right outside the building and can hear her giving violin lessons to children upstairs.

While THE 400 BLOWS was groundbreaking for being kinda naturalistic, this one reminds me of modern quirky French movies with their cute little gimmicks and ensemble of different funny characters who poke their head out of windows to get involved in conversations and stuff. Early on there’s a trick where Antoine is soaking the stems of white flowers in red dye, the camera pans up to a guy talking to him and when it comes back the flowers are now bright red. It’s like a simple magic trick. I like 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.

Stolen Kisses

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

tn_stolenkissesSTOLEN KISSES – or as I would have retitled it, 400 BLOWS III: THE SHADOW AGENDA – is the story of Antoine Doinel, an ex-military private eye hitting the streets for a case that will change everything. Or whatever.

This is the one that brings Antoine into the worlds of adulthood and color photography. It’s also the most Cannon-like so far because it opens with him as a soldier in an army jail, much like Joe Armstrong found himself in AMERICAN NINJA, except he’s reading The Lily In the Valley to show off that he loves books and instead of getting out when ninjas come to attack him the guards just let him out and he’s told he’s being kicked out of the army.

In real life Truffaut, after being rejected by the girl who Colette was based on in ANTOINE AND COLETTE, attempted suicide, then joined the army, deserted, went to military prison, etc. So this is autobiographical again.

Antoine can’t hold in all his impish smiles as the commanding officer reads the list of every place he went AWOL and lectures him for willingly enlisting but then not even trying to do a good job. This is not a “punched out the commander for giving him a command he couldn’t follow” type of situation. No, he just sucks at his job. (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.

Antoine and Colette

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

tn_antoineANTOINE AND COLETTE, a.k.a. THE 401ST BLOW (not really), is only about half an hour long, ’cause it was originally the first segment of an anthology called WHEN YOU’RE 20 AND IN LOVE, with other ones directed by Shintaro Ishihara, Marcel Ophuls, Renzo Rossellini and Andrzej Wajda. I couldn’t find the whole thing, but they have DVDs that include just Truffaut’s segment along with THE 400 BLOWS or the earlier short LES MISTONS. It is the continued blowing adventures of Antoine (still Jean-Pierre Leaud). Patrick Auffay also returns as his best friend Rene, who now is in love with his cousin because she has short hair like Joan of Arc. I’m not sure if that was a French thing or a Truffaut thing. I’m gonna try not to judge. Anyway the two of them have a flashback to when they almost got caught smoking Rene’s dad’s cigars.

Isn’t that weird? What if Tarantino’s segment of FOUR ROOMS was about, like, Jules Winfield and the bartender Paul, and had a flashback to their scene in PULP FICTION? We might be living in a different world then. (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.