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

Posts Tagged ‘Brad Pitt’

Cool World

Monday, June 5th, 2017

a survey of summer movies that just didn’t catch on

July 10, 1992

In the early ’90s, American animation was on the rise. WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, THE LITTLE MERMAID and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST had birthed a new golden age for Disney. Other studios tried to ride their coattails with movies like ROCK-A-DOODLE, THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN and ROVER DANGERFIELD. On TV, the massive phenomenon of The Simpsons had everybody else scrambling to put a cartoon in prime time even if all they could come up with was The Jackie Bison Show, Hollywood Dog or Fish Police.

But even amid this gold rush I don’t think anybody expected a new movie by Ralph Bakshi, the iconoclastic animation rebel best known for the x-rated FRITZ THE CAT. Having started in Heckle & Jeckle cartoons, he founded a studio to do Rocket Robin Hood and Spider-man episodes, then forged a completely new path with personal, idiosyncratic, adults-only features like FRITZ, HEAVY TRAFFIC, COONSKIN (a controversial blaxploitation riff on SONG OF THE SOUTH) and HEY GOOD LOOKIN’. He also had a fantasy period with WIZARDS, the abbreviated LORD OF THE RINGS and the Frank Frazetta collaboration FIRE AND ICE, which had been his last feature way back in 1983. Several years back he’d made a small mark in television with an influential Mighty Mouse update, but that’s about it. He was as unlikely a candidate as any to direct a major summer release starring Kim Basinger. (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 Big Short

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

tn_bigshortbestpictureDo you remember the Will Ferrell movie THE OTHER GUYS, how the end credits were a big animated info graphic about the banking crisis? It connected to the scheme by the villains in the movie but seemed jarringly serious at the end of a cop movie parody from the director of ANCHORMAN where Ferrell carries a wooden gun, has an evil pimp alter ego and has a chief played by Michael Keaton who quotes TLC all the time and works a second job at Bed Bath & Beyond. That’s why it’s not completely out of the blue that its director Adam McKay has made his first non-comedy, THE BIG SHORT, which has been nominated for many awards including Oscars for best picture, director and adapted screenplay. This is not the classic funny-man-yearning-for-respectability-with-corny-Oscar-bait-movie gambit. This is a rage that’s been fighting to get out.

Based on the non-fiction book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Moneyball author Michael Lewis, the movie tells the stories of several small-timers and outsiders in the financial world who had the foresight to see that the housing market was built on fraud and was destined to collapse. They figured out a way to basically bet against the banks, who gladly accepted the offers because they believed their own lies. They thought these people were crazy and giving them free money. (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.

Fury

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

tn_furyFURY is an intense, well-made WWII movie. It doesn’t feel like just another forgettable same ol’ same ol’ type of war picture. For one thing, the focus on the crew of one tank makes for some unique and thrilling combat scenes. One battle scene in particular really shows the strategy of tank on tank action. They’re like pirate ship battles waged from inside vans. Or like giant turtles trying to outmaneuver each other. Not all battles are just about who has the most guns. And filming inside real tanks really adds to the realistic feel I think. It’s pretty damn cool.

Also it’s a more violent movie than most, or at least more effectively violent. Always good to hear somebody in the back of the theater loudly gasp right at the beginning of a movie. I guess somebody thought this was gonna be about nice, polite combat.

But I think FURY is signifying something too, and I’m still processing what I think about that. Writer/director David Ayer last did the really enjoyable Schwarzenegger movie SABOTAGE, which was a more fun and pulpy version of his usual topic, the Burnt Out Cops That Cross the Line (END OF WATCH, HARSH TIMES, STREET KINGS, TRAINING DAY). And this is kinda like the soldier version of that.

(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.

Cutting Class

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

tn_cuttingclassslashersearch14“Shouldn’t you be bouncing a ball somewhere?”

CUTTING CLASS is the slasher movie starring Brad Pitt. It’s one of his first couple movies, so I figured he would just be a supporting character, like, smaller than Johnny Depp in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. But he’s actually one of the three leads. There’s Final Girl Paula (Jill Schoelen) and two serious suspects for a series of murders that are going on around her school: her jock boyfriend Dwight (Pitt) or Dwight’s childhood best friend Brian (Donovan Leitch, THE BLOB), who was just released from a mental hospital after being blamed for the murder of his father. The movie does a good job of leading you back and forth about which one of these guys is the killer. Or if you want you can go ahead and believe the parts where the creepy janitor (Robert Glaudini, writer of the one movie Philip Seymour Hoffman directed, JACK GOES BOATING) acts suspicious. (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 Counselor

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

tn_counselorI’m a lightweight when it comes to reading Cormac McCarthy books. I read No Country For Old Men, loved it, then loved the movie version. I was deeply moved by The Road, the movie was decent. Before those I tried to read All the Pretty Horses, but I think it was too dense for my brain at the time, I didn’t get very far. I haven’t tried Blood Meridian yet, I know that’s the one everybody recommends.

But from my limited experience THE COUNSELOR, the Ridley Scott movie made from McCarthy’s first original screenplay, is sure recognizable as his work. It’s a crime story full of colorful characters and the occasional brutal violence, but it’s not interested in a straightforward approach to storytelling. I mean, it’s never as aggressively untraditional as that one really abrupt thing that happens toward the end of No Country (I had to flip back a few pages after that one ’cause I thought I missed something), but it takes it’s sweet ass time getting to a point where you even know what it’s about on the surface. (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.

Summer Movie Flashback: Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

tn_mrandmrssmith

2005
2005

MR. & MRS. SMITH is an action comedy from Doug Liman, the director of THE BOURNE IDENTITY and JUMPER.  It has had a bigger imprint on pop culture than JUMPER because it caused Brad Pitt to ditch the lady he was with at the time and stick with his wife in the movie, LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER THE CRADLE OF LIFE star Angelina Jolie. The two play John and Jane Smith (of course), who have been married for “5 or 6 years” without knowing that each other are highly skilled assassins for rival secret organizations. It’s kind of like TRUE LIES I guess but less hateful, more equal (though also the action, like the movie in general, is not as huge).

John works out of a cluttered headquarters like a construction office, his partner a misogynist loser who lives in his Mom’s basement (Vince Vaughn, his shtick already pretty worn out by that point). John keeps his weapons in a secret bunker under the tool shed. Jane’s firm is a high tech MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE type joint in a high rise. She seems to be the boss, pampered by an all female, all model staff including Kerry Washington. At one point she tells two of them to make her coffee. Her weapons, of course, are in a secret compartment under the oven.
(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.

World War Z

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

tn_worldwarzI don’t want to say I’m a zombie fan. I mean, George Romero’s first three LIVING DEAD movies are some of my all time favorite movies. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD is a classic. Fulci’s ZOMBI 2 is pretty good.  I keep watching The Walking Dead. And there’ve been other ones I’ve enjoyed. But I mean, it goes without saying that this particular type of monster has gotten overexposed. I do not envy whichever poor bastard decides to do a book chronicling all the zombie movies, and has to watch every imagination-free piece of shit that’s come along in the last ten years or so. Don’t make any more zombie movies for a couple ten years, you guys. You wore ’em out. I’m sick of fuckin hearing about em.

But it’s true, I do like a good one, and I was open to Brad Pitt’s blockbuster-budgeted zombie epic because it’s an approach that hasn’t been tried before. (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.

Killing Them Softly

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

I really thought it was a sure thing. Andrew Dominik, director of CHOPPER and THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD: THE MOTION PICTURE, doing another crime movie, this time based on the book Cogan’s Trade by George V. Higgins. I haven’t read it but I loved a different one by him, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, a book about small time hoods that’s made up mostly of long conversations, sometimes going for long stretches without any description, but never getting boring. And also made into a good movie.

After a long wait and a title change and everything we finally got Dominik’s movie, and it’s got all the great things I assumed would be in it: really good performances, a strong sense of tone, a willingness to take its fuckin time, lots of visually inventive scenes, lots of talking (in a good way), some brutality. It’s a solid, arty crime movie that I can almost love, but it also does this thing that makes me kinda hate 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.

The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

I saw KILLING THEM SOFTLY today and I’m working on the review right now, and that made me realize that when I finally caught up with the director’s previous movie earlier in the year I didn’t ever post a review of it. But it turns out I did write some stuff in my notebook, so I dug that up and I don’t mean to brag but I am a pretty good typist so here is a quickie review for you, friends.

THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD has gotta be the longest title to a movie that I’ve ever reviewed. What’s that, 17 syllables? THE BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS is only 11, LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GAHOOLE is 12 or 13 (depending on your pronunciation of “owls”), and both of those have colons I think, so that softens the blow. This has no colons. This title is amazing.
(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.

True Romance

Monday, August 20th, 2012

TRUE ROMANCE is an entertaining, uniquely textured crime movie, a celebration of youthful love, kitsch, Asian exploitation cinema, and great character actors. At the time it seemed like a new feel, especially coming from Tony Scott. Now it’s more notable as a record of young, undisciplined Quentin Tarantino manning the word processor. (Roger Avary was hired to restructure the original non-linear story and write an ending where the hero doesn’t die – yeah, that sounds like young QT all right.)
(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.