So once again we have survived.

Posts Tagged ‘James Caan’

Alien Nation

Monday, January 9th, 2017

A premise like ALIEN NATION’s is as rare a mineral as unobtainium. It alchemically melds two seemingly unmixable genres (’80s cop thriller and sci-fi alien movie) in a way that organically lends itself to social commentary within pop entertainment. I wouldn’t say ALIEN NATION succeeds wildly in those goals, but it gets the job done and just the conception of it is so beautiful it can get away with coasting.

At its heart it’s a standard-issue interracial buddy cop movie. Like Dirty Harry and a million other movie cops, Detective Matthew Sykes (James Caan)’s partner dies, and he tries to solve the case with a new partner who happens to be from a different culture, and has a very different personality and approach to law enforcement. Like Tyne Daly in THE ENFORCER, Detective Francisco (Mandy Patinkin, DICK TRACY) is part of an advancement program to promote diversity, and is receiving rejection and resentment from the usual self-centered-backwards-afraid-of-change-knuckledragging-anti-progress assholes. Sykes isn’t any more enlightened than his bros, but he knows Francisco is on a case that might be related to the guys who killed his partner.

So Sykes says culturally insensitive things, insults his partner, makes a fool of himself, but starts to learn, they get to know each other, they bond with each other, he changes his perspective, starts to stand up against racism from the other cops, all while they go after the killers.

But Francisco is different from other cops who are different, because he’s not just a different race or gender from Sykes, he’s from a different planet. He’s a Newcomer, an alien. Three years ago they arrived in “an intergalactic slave ship,” but they’re genetically engineered to be highly intelligent and adaptable, so they’ve already integrated into human society much more than the ones in DISTRICT 9 did. They have large, bald heads with distinctive spots on their skin, but they’re humanoid so they just wear suits and ties and sunglasses and shit like anybody else, and they take on human names and jobs and try to fit in like any immigrant in America. (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.

Thief

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

tn_thiefTHIEF is a pure dose of most of what I love about Michael Mann. It’s moody, atmospheric and macho as hell. It matter-of-factly drops us into a gritty underworld, makes us feel like we’re witnessing the real deal, and puts us on the side of a guy who has no business being the good guy except that he lives by more of a code than the other guys do. Not even really a code of honor, just a self-serving code of independence, but one that we can loosely apply to more ethical aspects of our own lives.

By today’s standards it’s an arty movie, full of long, quiet scenes, not a bunch of noises to tell you it’s exciting. It opens with a 10 minute heist sequence where everything goes right. No one gives chase or almost sees them. They’re just very professional about it and perform their jobs well. And it doesn’t need tension. It’s fascinating without it.

It’s a movie that’s low on exposition, high on uncomfortable moments where we aren’t expected to agree with the protagonist (like the aggressive way he courts Jessie [Tuesday Weld], and then the heartless way he cuts her off, treating her as a property that’s been tying him down). But also it has plenty of moments of badassness, not shirking its duty to deliver on the genre goods. Its closest modern equivalent is DRIVE, which at times plays as an homage or ripoff of THIEF. But that’s a character, believe it or not, with more heart. (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 Killer Elite

Friday, February 20th, 2015

tn_thekillereliteTHE KILLER ELITE is Sam Peckinpah’s don’t-be-naive-these-covert-ops-are-happening-all-the-time thriller kinda like MUNICH. It starts with straight up perfection: a title card explaining that “This film is a work of fiction. There is no company called Communications Integrity NOR ComTeg and the thought that the C.I.A. might employ such an organization for any purpose is, of course, preposterous.”

James Caan and Robert Duvall star as Locken and Hansen, two hard-drinking, lady-loving partners who claim to have never heard of the C.I.A. even though we just saw them bomb a building. They’ve spent enough time together that they’re always singing made up songs and saying stupid jokes that seem like you had to be there. But they’re obviously having fun.

When they go to a safe house, Locken goes to take a shower and Hansen turns traitor, killing the defector they’re supposed to be protecting and then trying to cripple his partner. When he’s standing there naked with a gun pointed at him Locken doesn’t even get scared because he can only comprehend it as a joke. He really thought he knew that guy, now he’s shooting him in the shower? He never took him for a shower-shooter.
(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.

Eraser

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

When we think of Arnold Schwarzenegger we think of the TERMINATOR movies, PREDATOR, the CONAN movies, COMMANDO… movies that came out in years before, say, 1995. I don’t know if the crazy action/sexism combo of TRUE LIES used up everything he had, or if it was playing a pregnant man in JUNIOR that pushed him over, but by the time he made ERASER in ’96 the salad days were over. There was only some slimy lettuce left.

But I kinda enjoyed watching this one again. I’d say I like it better than THE SIXTH DAY, COLLATERAL DAMAGE and END OF DAYS (although that last one has more distinctive weirdness in 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.

Santa’s Slay

Monday, December 19th, 2011

tn_santasslaySANTA’S SLAY is an enjoyably dumb killer Santa movie. It’s from 2005 but it’s in the ’80s b-horror tradition of cheesy acting and dialogue and sort of pretending to be serious but with an intentionally asinine premise. Not quite as campy as KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE or RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES, but less serious than the SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHTs. Actually the movie it reminded me of most is from the year before, Jeff Lieberman’s SATAN’S LITTLE HELPER. That was a Halloween movie, though. (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.

Freebie and the Bean

Monday, May 16th, 2011

tn_freebieFREEBIE AND THE BEAN is an early example of the buddy cop movie, but it seems like it was made after that was a long-established genre, and by a director who got bored and tried to subvert it at every possible turn. The director in question is Richard Rush in 1974, before he did THE STUNT MAN. The story seems fairly by-the-numbers after we’ve seen so many other movies of this type, but that doesn’t prevent the whole thing from seeming really fuckin odd, sometimes in ways that it’s hard to put your finger on.
(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.

Bulletproof

Monday, January 1st, 2001

You know how I am, I get out to the real world, I make it my duty to try to catch up on what’s going on in the culture and what not. And I have heard alot about this Adam Sandler, #1 box office star, funny guy, sings songs. Sounds kind of like my man Bruce Willis. Well I don’t wanna be left in the dust so I decided to check the kid out.

I found several to choose from – you got golf, you got babysitting, you got kindergarten, etc. The choice was obvious, Bulletproof. (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 Way of the Gun

Sunday, September 10th, 2000

You know what, I got me a new theory. Look out people. If this theory pans out its gonna be in the textbook for Badass Cinematical studies for now on. It is about the difference between ’70s Badass filmmakers and ’90s Badass filmmakers.

The difference is, the ’90s boys went to college. Or read alot of books. Studied alot of movies. The ’70s boys traveled the world, drank alot of whiskie, got in fights and drag races. The ’70s boys had a natural knack for the poetry of Badass Cinematics, while the ’90s boys had a great knowledge of technique and equipment and approaches to witty dialogue. Now obviously there are many exceptions to this rule, but it is a good sweeping generalization to ponder. The ’70s masters like Peckinpah and Leone and Siegel and Mr. Eastwood had an effortless feel to their films, like it was just something that came out of their pores. The ’90s ones, even the really good ones, usually seem like they put a whole fucking lot of thought into it. Drew alot of schematics and diagrams. And figured out how to do it just 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.