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

Posts Tagged ‘arthouse badass’

Only God Forgives

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

tn_onlygodforgivesFor ONLY GOD FORGIVES, the latest from writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn (DRIVE, VALHALLA RISING, etc.), Ryan Gosling trained in Thai boxing to play a quiet American running a Muay Thai gym in Bangkok. That lady who sued DRIVE for not being like THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS is gonna have to sue this one for not being like BLOODSPORT.

Or for not being like DRIVE, for that matter! This is not a commercial movie at all. It’s all mood and ambience. Slow, deliberate camera moves down hallways, precise, Kubrickian compositions, men introduced standing in poses rather than walking into rooms, not alot of dialogue, credits in Thai. It doesn’t explain much and leaves alot of weirdness lying around to either interpret, enjoy as surrealism, or get frustrated by. Of course I like to read a little symbolism into some of it, but I think it also works taken literally. This is a foreign, dangerous world that people like us wouldn’t understand. Not just because it’s Bangkok, either. The Bangkok you live in is just a sugar coated topping. (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.

Haywire

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

tn_haywireBSteven Soderbergh’s take on an action/spy thriller – built around “The Face of Women’s MMA” Gina Carano after he saw her on Strikeforce while flipping channels around – lives up to my high expectations. It’s written by Lem Dobbs and it’s like the kid sister of THE LIMEY, mixing the style of that Soderbergh classic with kind of a more upbeat ex-Marine-badass-operative-betrayed-and-on-the-run type of story. It has THE LIMEY’s sense of quiet, deliberate pace and dread and also its dry you-just-fucked-with-the-wrong-person type of humor. Of course, professional fighter Carano has different strengths as a performer than Terence Stamp does, so her movie has less emotion and more punching, kicking, choking, armbars, heads broken through furniture, foot chases, etc. Gina’s not gonna mourn the loss of the daughter she never knew, and Terence isn’t gonna climb up onto a roof. In my opinion. And it’s great to have both of 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.

Drive

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

tn_driveRemember how the driver in Walter Hill’s THE DRIVER didn’t get a name, he was just “The Driver”? The driver in Nicolas Winding Refn’s DRIVE is so minimalistic he doesn’t even get a ‘the.’ Or an ‘r’. Ryan Gosling plays said driver, a mysterious toothpick-chewing dude who’s a masterful getaway driver and does stunt driving for the movies. He also works at a garage for Brian Cranston, who helps set up his jobs and prepare his getaway cars. When not working Drive is sparking up a relationship with his neighbor, Carey Mulligan and her son. He’s better with the kid than you might think – even offers him a toothpick. (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.

Valhalla Rising

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

tn_valhallaVALHALLA RISING is a slow, quiet mood piece about back in the day when Christians had “pushed the heathens to the fringes of the earth.” Mads Mikkelsen, the bad guy from CASINO ROYALE, plays one of those heathens and he starts out the movie in those fringes, locked in a cage, then tied to a pole like a junkyard dog, forced to beat other warriors to death. Not in a cool action type of way but in an upsetting “oh shit, he just exposed that guy’s brain” type of way.

Before long he’s free and traveling toward “home,” wherever that is. He tells people he came from Hell, and he’s such a scary motherfucker they tend to take that literally. Actually, he doesn’t say a word, but a little boy accompanies him, speaks for him, and names him “One Eye.” “Well, you need a name,” he explains. “And you have one eye.” (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.

Le Samourai

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

tn_samouraiLE SAMOURAI is a movie I’ve meant to see for years. It just comes up so often when you’re into the shit I’m into. It was a big inspiration for THE KILLER and GHOST DOG, and probly THE AMERICAN, and since it’s both a crime movie and an instigator of that French wave that was new at the time it appeals to a broad range of movie buffs. People who wouldn’t normally watch too many French movies from the ’60s might watch it because it’s about a hitman, and vice versa. (‘Vice versa’ is Latin by the way, not French.)

So after hearing about it all these years it’s kind of a surprise still, ’cause it turns out I got the wrong impression. The way people talk about it I thought it was gonna be way more arty, way more slow and difficult, way more pretentious. But it’s a pretty straightforward crime movie in my opinion. It’s not fast-paced by modern standards, but it doesn’t have much fat on it either. Just alot of quiet. And a bird chirping.
(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 American

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

tn_americanGeorge Clooney is… THE AMERICAN. In Anton Corbijn’s Americanized remake of Soderbergh’s THE LIMEY, Clooney plays–

nah, that’s not true, it’s not a remake. That would be weird though, especially since Clooney knows Soderbergh pretty good. But I do think THE AMERICAN joins THE LIMEY in a modern genre that I think of as arthouse badass. These are movies that are too quiet and leisurely paced to show to a bunch of teens in a multiplex, but also got motherfuckers getting shot or punched. THE AMERICAN is much more basic and straightforward than THE LIMEY, LIMITS OF CONTROL or GHOST DOG, and admittedly less original. But there’s something powerful about its simplicity. Like a bullet. (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 Limits of Control

Monday, May 11th, 2009

tn_limitsofcontrolIn Jim Jarmusch’s new one, Isaach De Bankolé plays a man (“Lone Man” according to the credits) on a mission. He meets some guys at an airport who give him a key and a box of matches and tell him to go to a certain cafe and wait for “the violin.”

So he flies there, checks into the hotel, goes to the cafe, waits around, nothing happens. Goes back to the hotel, stares at the ceiling until the next day, comes back, waits. He goes to the art museum, where he sees a painting of a violin. Is this the violin he’s supposed to be waiting for? Not sure. Goes and waits some more. Eventually a guy with a violin comes (SPOILER), talks to him, they trade boxes of matches. Inside his box is a scrap of paper with a code on it, which he reads and then eats.

Basically, the whole movie is him doing variations on this routine again and again, all of it nicely photographed in Spain by Christopher Doyle. He goes to different places and meets different people. At every cafe he orders two espressos in separate cups. Every contact says the same thing to him at first, then talks to him about some interest of theirs (movies, music, molecules). He doesn’t respond and usually doesn’t look like he’s listening. Then they give him the same kind of matchbox with the same kind of note in it which he always eats. In between he checks out some art such as paintings, music or dance. (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.

Redbelt

Monday, May 19th, 2008

If you’ve seen anything by David Mamet then you know it’s kind of surprising (and awesome) that his new movie is about Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I even heard rumors that it was a straight ahead kickboxing movie like BLOODSPORT, and when the opening credits had Japanese drums like Christopher Lambert’s THE HUNTED I was about ready for the rebirth of action cinema. But this is really not an action movie. Anyone who goes in looking for that might be disappointed like the guy who wanted his money back when I saw GHOST DOG. Maybe not quite as much – there’s not alot of poetic shots of birds flying or long scenes of dudes driving around quietly contemplating. But this is not BEST OF THE BEST 2008, it’s definitely a David Mamet movie. Slowly unfolding plot that could go in any direction, narrative that respects the audience enough not to spell everything out for them, an intricate con, macho dialogue, magic tricks, Ricky Jay, Joe Mantegna, Mamet’s wife, songs by Mamet’s wife. I was hoping William H. Macey would show up as some retired kickboxing legend, but maybe next time.

The best thing about the movie is Chewetel Ejiofor. He plays Mike Terry, the instructor at a small, struggling jiu-jitsu academy, and a total fucking badass. He has some ties to bigshots in competitive mixed martial arts (or “karate potpouri” I believe they prefer to call it) but he doesn’t consider competition fights to be honorable, so he won’t do that even when he needs the money badly. It’s best to just let the plot fall into place, it’s not exactly high concept. But I will say that it involves some coincidence, a broken window, some lies, and some sleeper holds. (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.

Point Blank

Tuesday, January 1st, 2002

This is a nice little 1967 action picture starring Lee Marvin and directed by John Boorman, the sick fuck who made the movie deliverance I think you know what I’m talking about, oink oink.

Lee Marvin plays Walker. Not Walker the Texas Ranger, this walker is a Badass criminal type who is betrayed by his partner and his wife and left for dead. But he resurfaces, sees his wife die of a drug overdose and then works his way through his ex-partner and a crim corporation called The Organization, trying to get back the $93,000 that was stolen from him. As you can tell the plot is very similar to 1999 Outlaw Award winner Payback. There is even one scene in Payback that seems to be a direct lift from Point Blank, and believe it or not alot of the characters even have the same last names! An even stranger coincidence is that both films are based on the same book, “The Hunter” by Richard Stark. I mean what are the chances of something like that happening it boggles the mind, in my opinion. (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.

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

Monday, April 3rd, 2000

First off folks I would like to apologize from the deepest recesses of my big ol’ outlaw heart for getting this column in late. I know some of you really count on the punctuality of this particular column Vern Tell’s It Like It Is and if it is not ready for you on monday morning it throws off your whole damn week. Without my artistical Cinematic musings, my down to earth stories and advice, you are not ready to begin your week.

Oh who the fuck am I fooling, nobody knows this but this column usually goes up early Monday morning, but this time it was late. If anyone noticed then sorry bud. Remember it comes out on monday gang please read it regularly. jesus.

Anyway, the reason why I was late can be blamed on one individual named Ghost Dog and his picture Way of the Samurai. You see ever since seeing this picture I have been trying to be more open to the different ways of the individuals in different parts of the world, cultures, etc. I think Ghost Dog has a very good point that it is time people started learning from people who are different from them, from the chinese circus acrobats who swing from their hair to the dude in El Topo who has no legs who is strapped to the back of the dude with no arms.

We as americans must stop taking everything so literally man. Just cause a guy is a shaolin monk or a guy with blue hair does not mean you can’t exchange tips on how to live life. I think a cowboy or an astronaut could go out for a drink with say a ninja or a ballerina, and could learn from their ways. This does not mean the astronaut starts wearing a tutu underneath the astro-suit, or even that he does ballet moves while floating through outer space. What I’m talking about is they can get to the core of the thing, the understanding. They can learn from the philosophy or the attitude and figure out how to apply it to their own life. I mean imagine if Clint Eastwood in the westerns had learned how to look at life the same was as a ninja. I mean jesus he would be unstoppable, that motherfucker. I almost don’t even wanna think about 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.