I heard so much trash talked about Gina Carano vehicle #2, IN THE BLOOD, that I was scared off from watching it on VOD. And it’s true that there’s plenty wrong with it, especially as a followup to Steve Soderbergh’s HAYWIRE.
#1 problem for alot of people: director John Stockwell (UNDER COVER, BLUE CRUSH) isn’t as meticulous about massaging a performance out of veteran fighter, recent actor Carano as Soderbergh was, so there are some pretty stiff line readings. In one scene she even says she’s from “Cuh-NECK-ticut,” not a regionally accurate pronunciation in my opinion. But as a fan of Dennis Rodman, Brian Bosworth, early Van Damme, Daniel Bernhardt, Gary Daniels, Olivier Gruner, early Dolph, etc. this is not a problem to me at all, and seems like kind of a complaint for action movie lightweights.
The main complaint for people of our ilk, that will go unnoticed by normal people, is that the fights are short and over-edited. The hits feel hard, the camera’s not that shaky and most of the framing is okay, but it’s another one hit = one cut movie. Why directors don’t think it’s worth the effort to stage a bunch of moves – or shit, at least two moves – in a row is beyond me, especially since Stockwell is on the public record as having seen and enjoyed HAYWIRE. He seems to take some influence in how to portray Carano as a scary asskicker (even re-using the gag where she calls her betrayer on the guy she just killed’s phone), but little in the clean-as-a-whistle action filmatism that is HAYWIRE’s bread and butter. (read the rest of this shit…)
Hello friends, I need to talk to you about something. Probly not a big deal to most of you, but it is to me. A major, scary step in my life’s journey or whatever. What does it take to change the essence of a man time I need time time I do too I do too.
The occasion for this thorough soul and/or bellybutton search: after a decade and a half of secrecy I’ve decided to show my face in public, at least one time, at this Cinefamily Steven Seagal marathon I’m co-hosting with Jeremy Smith on June 14th. A one night event so promising I am risking my very Vern-ness to take part. Tickets still available.
As you know, I’m kind of a recluse, and have remained mysterious and anonymous and shit since starting my sight in 1999. This hasn’t helped me career-wise. I’ve turned down many fun opportunities: podcasts, signings, being a talking head on an A&E Biography of Steven Seagal, being seriously injured in the ring by “Demon” Dave DeFalco. And I’ve had trouble filling out forms that require last names. (read the rest of this shit…)
Man, I don’t want them to make a chump out of me and do STAR WARS: A NEW BEGINNING or GEORGE LUCAS’S NEW STAR WARS, but let me just say that this part 6 really seems like the end to the whole saga. SPOILERS: Anakin is unmasked and apologetic, he finally gets the sense to throw fuckin Ted Palpatine into a bottomless pit, he dies, Yoda dies, Luke becomes a Jedi, the Empire is defeated, the people celebrate on multiple planets, they knock over a statue, they even blow up the Death Star again just to be sure. Or to pump up the crowd.
I feel like they’ve wrapped up pretty much all of the loose threads, other than the thing in part 5 where Yoda says “No. There is another hope.” I thought he meant Leia, but then it never became relevant. So either there could be some other potential Jedi out there for a part 7 or it would just be about Leia carrying Luke around in a backpack and doing flips. Either way it would be a terrible idea. Don’t do it, Mr. Lucas! (read the rest of this shit…)
There has long been a beautiful cultural exchange between America and Japan. They captivated us with their ninjas and their karate, we let them use our rockabilly. We loaned them Steven Seagal, they sent him back polished into an aikido master. A few samurai movies have been famously remade as westerns, but it’s about time it went in the other direction. Director Sang-il Lee (HULA GIRLS, VILLAIN) has taken a little 1992 movie by the name of Clint Motherfuckin Eastwood’s Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Film Editing Oscar winner UNFORGIVEN and faithfully remade it as a samurai picture.
I think this is the type of remake that’s a sign of respect, not exploitation of an existing title. It’s saying “we all know this great movie UNFORGIVEN, I mean what kind of assholes do you take us for, but here is another take on it for you to enjoy a bit before returning to the original.” Even in that case the impossible part about remaking a Clint Eastwood movie has got to be finding a guy to replace Clint Eastwood. I gotta say, Ken Watanabe was a brilliant choice. He has a stoicism and masculine presence that’s reminiscent of Clint, he kinda looks like him on the poster, and he even knows the guy well as the lead in Eastwood’s underrecognized-even-while-nominated-for-best-picture directorial work LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA. But his character Jubei is not just an imitation of Clint’s William Munny. He’s a little less gruff, and even more internal. He talks a little less I think, even skipping a perfect spot to fit in the famous line “Deserve’s got nothin to do with it.” I guess he figures it goes without saying. (read the rest of this shit…)
Oh shit, so this is the magic rebootification formula now: the J.J. Abrams STAR TREK recipe. One or more original cast members cross paths with younger actors playing the same characters thanks to time travel. That way they can use the veteran cast of X-MEN 1-3 but also the whippersnappers of FIRST CLASS. I’m sure they’re already doing the math for how to apply this to Harry Potter, James Bond, DIE HARD, AMERICAN PIE, you name it. You fucking know Danny Glover will go back in time to recruit a young Riggs not played by Mel Gibson.
X-MEN PART 5 OR SO: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST takes place in a literally dark post-apocalyptic future where the surviving mutants and humans hide in the ruins, hunted by giant morphing robots called Sentinels. Sounds kinda like a TERMINATOR movie, but it’s actually the reverse. Instead of machines sending a robot back in time to kill the guy that’s gonna lead the human resistance, the mutants send a Wolverine back in time to not kill the guy whose death is not gonna stop the creation of the Sentinels.
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She-Hulkgate, Day 3. As founder and president of the Motherfuckers Act Like They Forgot About BLADE Society, I feel compelled to weigh in on this mounting controversy.
A few days ago David S. Goyer, writer of the upcoming movie BATMAN V. SUPERMAN AND THE CASE OF THE DAWN OF JUSTICE, was one of several guests on a live panel of the Scriptnotes screenwriting podcast. Alan Kistler, a writer on “Girl Geek Culture” websight The Mary Sue, wrote a post objecting to comments Goyer made about the comic book characters She-Hulk and Martian Manhunter. The complaints were picked up by other websights (I first saw it on Badass Digest), the torches and pitchforks came out on Twitter and in long comment threads, and it snowballed so much it ended up covered by secular news outlets such as The Hollywood Reporter and Slate. The Washington Post actually got Stan Lee to respond. For fuck’s sake, Time Magazine (the web version at least) had a not-joking “The She-Hulk Scandal Explained” item, like they probly had to explain the Clarence Thomas hearings back in the day.
What did Goyer say that was so offensive? That the character was created to be a sex fantasy for male comic book fans.
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STAR WARS PART 5… okay, admittedly you’re stretching it by the time you get to a part 5 that doesn’t have a “FAST” in the title. Even a prestigious series like DEATH WISH is gonna be a little goofy in part 5, it’s gonna have a part with a remote controlled exploding soccer ball. FRIDAY THE 13TH had to be “A New Beginning” because they claimed they were gonna stop at 4. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET had to get a baby involved, but STAR WARS sorta already did that in part 4. It had Luke “A New Hope” Skywalker using The Force and the lessons of Ben O.W. Kenobi to blow up the Death Star and defeat Darth Vader and the Empire, a great ending.
But oh, great, now the fucking Empire strikes back. How convenient. (read the rest of this shit…)
GRAND PIANO is a tight little thriller, the kind of thing I would have to call snappy, crackling, popping or perhaps krispy if I had the vocabulary. It’s a cool premise, well-executed, and then it gets the fuck out in around 80 minutes not including credits. And get this: it’s THE PIANO on speed! Picture that. Great idea, right?
Oh, I’m sorry, no, I meant it’s SPEED on a piano! Elijah Wood (FLIPPER) plays a disgraced world’s-greatest-concert-pianist, reluctantly pushed by his movie star wife (Kerry Bishé, ARGO, RED STATE) into a high profile, high pressure performance in tribute to his eccentric, recently deceased mentor. He’s already ready to shit out all his insides on stage and then in the middle of the performance he finds threatening notes on his sheet music and a crazy sniper starts threatening him over a headset. (The credits tipped me off that it was [SPOILER?] John Cusack, but the voice is immediately recognizable anyway. Actually, I don’t know if I’ve seen him play an evil mastermind before, and he’s a natural. Usually you’re supposed to love him for his asshole qualities, in this one he’s just being more honest.) (read the rest of this shit…)
One thing that would really help with the class tensions in the world would be if the rich people would stop betting on so many fucking death matches. I don’t even care if the combatants entered the competition by choice (like in BEST OF THE BEST 2) or if they were kidnapped (like in this). Whatever the context, fancy dressed motherfuckers lustily cheering for bloody death in the ring, cage or arena sends the wrong message about the value of the working man’s life. These fighters, there’s usually one or two greedy ones, one or two assholes, but for the most part they’re just human beings in a bad spot. They gotta feed their family or pay back some money so they don’t lose the dojo or the mob doesn’t kill them or whatever. Or in this one they’ve all been abducted along with their kids and moms and stuff who the bosses are threatening to kill if these ladies fail to fight to the death. You gotta have some respect for their situation and cool down with all the gleeful cheering and high-fiving, you know?
RAZE seems influenced by HOSTEL – victims locked in a dingy, windowless sanctum for the entertainment of rich sickos. Instead of being there to be tortured it’s the ol’ “they’re watching the live feed” as the fighters, all women, are forced to beat each other to death. The killing with bare hands is not 100% believable, especially from the girls who’ve never fought before. But it’s not pretty. It’s repeated head-bashings, strangulation, neck snaps, thumbs in eye sockets. Pretty brutal. The actors and stunt women acquit themselves well, but it’s rare that a shot shows more than one hit without cutting, and that’s a problem. (read the rest of this shit…)
Godzilla is one of those great icons who’s been around for fuckin ever because he re-invented himself many times over the years. Like the Madonna of Japan. He started all depressing and black and white in the ’50s, then he got crazy in the ’60s, kinda psychedelic in the ’70s, a little bit preachy about the environment in the ’80s, kinda garish again in the ’90s. There was that one movie in 1998, Godzilla’s iguana period, a laughable mistake like when MC Hammer tried to go gangsta rap. In my opinion that movie doesn’t even exist anymore since they used the exact same title for this one. Technically there can only be one American movie called GODZILLA, so they had to delete the other one to get this one.
Director Gareth Edwards, who did that found footage movie called MONSTERS that I still haven’t watched but heard was pretty good, is responsible for the one and only American GODZILLA. I think he has the right idea: treat it serious, no wackiness, but let the situations be humorous sometimes. The gloomy, often ashen-gray cinematography and Spielbergian sense of awe (lots of dollying in on kids that notice something dangerous approaching before the adults do) makes me suspect he was going for a little less silly than what he came up with, but I dig what he ended up with anyway. It’s a straight-faced movie where survivors of massive devastation aren’t scared that the giant radioactive dinosaur they’re standing next to is still alive and about to stand back up, because they know he’s the good guy. And I respect that they weren’t ashamed to use Godzilla’s trademark energy breath (though I’m not sure why they didn’t want to build up to it, like he gets some source of radiation that powers him up to be able to use it at a crucial moment). (read the rest of this shit…)