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

Posts Tagged ‘true crime’

Detroit

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

You guys, it’s seeming more and more like Kathryn Bigelow, Academy Award winning director of THE HURT LOCKER, has permanently replaced Kathryn Bigelow, awesome director of POINT BREAK and BLUE STEEL. That’s okay, they’re both very good at what they do. DETROIT follows ZERO DARK THIRTY as another heavily researched, based-on-actual-events issue movie with writer Mark Boal (IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH). This time they step away from the “War on Terror” to look at an even more intractable American quagmire: the war that members of law enforcement have on African American citizens, and the way the system harbors maniacs and racists who abuse their power.

The subject is the Algiers Motel Incident, a particularly gruesome chapter of the 1967 Detroit riots when police officers and National Guardsmen detained a group of young, mostly African American people, beat and tormented them, (SPOILERS if you don’t know about the true story) murdered three of them and were not punished for 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.

Monster

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

tn_monsterI’m about 13 years late on this one, but it turns out there’s a reason Charlize Theron got an Oscar for MONSTER. Jeez. Playing Aileen Wuornos, “the first female serial killer,” she not only transforms herself, she transforms Wuernos.

That first part got all the attention. Theron was a well known actress by that point, but in movies like 2 DAYS IN THE VALLEY, THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, REINDEER GAMES and THE ITALIAN JOB her acting chops usually took back seat to her hotness. Here she wore fake teeth, bleached her eyebrows and had her skin looking freckled and rough, a pretty decent likeness of the real woman and (though it looks natural in the movie) extreme enough to get a bunch of attention. I actually think the most drastic part is the hair, though. The way the movie tells it she has the hair of a butch lesbian before she even discovers that she is one.

This is a love story. Aileen, going by Lee, decides rather than kill herself one rainy day she’ll take her last five bucks to a bar and get a beer. And this lonely young woman Selby (Christina Ricci, CASPER) approaches her, talks to her, buys her a pitcher. Aileen protests at first – “What is this, a gay place?” she had snorted to the bartender earlier – but she can’t really pass up a person being nice to her. Too rare. (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.

Foxcatcher

Monday, December 29th, 2014

tn_foxcatcherFOXCATCHER is an eerie examination of a true story about two brothers, Mark and Dave Schultz, who won gold medals in wrestling at the 1984 Olympics and a couple years later went to live on the Pennsylvania estate of a rich guy named John E. du Pont. The guy said he was a patriot and wrestling fan and wanted to help America win again. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but you immediately get the sense – in part from the foreboding grey skies and long, dry stretches with little dialogue and no music – that it’s gonna be something bad. I felt pretty confident this would end in some sort of fucked up tragedy and not with a Survivor song playing over a freeze frame on a joyful Channing Tatum (who plays Mark) being lifted by a congratulatory crowd of sports enthusiasts.

Steve Carrell plays du Pont and he makes him very odd. He leans his head back and leaves his mouth slightly open, like he’s watching you and is perpetually about to offer an observation. He wears a comically large fake nose and a nerdily tight Team Foxcatcher sweatshirt or windbreaker. Occasionally he has lines absurd enough to be in a Will Ferrell movie: “Don’t call me Mr. du Pont. My friends call me Golden Eagle, or just Eagle.” But whatever comedy may be inherent in the role, he’s intentionally un-milking it. This is his Serious Role, his Playing Against Type, his Robin Williams in ONE HOUR PHOTO. I mean, I’m sure it’s funnier than that magician movie he did, but it’s his most dramatic, not-going-for-laughs movie, and he’s successful at being creepy 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.

Empire State

Monday, September 30th, 2013

tn_empirestateDito Montiel is a director I’ve kept an eye on since I saw his underground fighting movie FIGHTING. That one’s not good for action filmatism, but it’s really enjoyable as a more realistically textured take on the LIONHEART type of movie, and it has alot of personality. The example I always give when I try to convince somebody to see it is that the ultimate goal of the fight manager character played by Terence Howard is to get enough money to franchise an IHoP. So see that one, everybody. Totally underrated.

EMPIRE STATE is Montiel’s first movie that doesn’t have Channing Tatum in it, instead it stars an occasionally Tatum-esque Liam Hemsworth, a.k.a. the only expended Expendable as of part 2 (spoiler). There’s something odd about an Australian doing a New York meathead character, but Thor’s little brother has more range than I knew. Maybe Tatum was Montiel’s DeNiro, and Hemsworth will be his DiCaprio. I guess we’ll know that’s what’s up if Tatum starts doing a bunch of DTV cop movies with 50 Cent. (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.

Pain & Gain

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

tn_painandgain“Well, I didn’t think it was terrible or anything.”

–Vern, outlawvern.com

For the most part PAIN & GAIN is not that bad in the usual ways that Michael Bay movies are bad. Check this shit out: I honestly had no major stylistic problems with this one, other than some late-in-the-game freeze frame/on screen graphic things that are supposed to be funny (listing the side effects of cocaine use, saying “this is still a true story” during a crazy part, etc.) Even the action scenes are fine and have a good energy to them. I think maybe when Bay is limited to what he considers a low budget ($26 million) he has to do more planning and less shooting everything from a hundred different angles to slap together later.

What I really expected to be deadly in this movie was the jokes. Of course I hold a grudge against Bay for the way his and Simon West’s editing and framing began the crumbling of the visual language of action cinema that led to the current state of things where only a very small percentage of American action movies are worth watching if you are hoping for there to be action scenes in them. That’s what he’s gonna have to answer for when he gets to the Pearly Gates, but it’s definitely not the worst thing about his movies – that would have to be his terrible sense of humor. BAD BOYS 2 and the TRANSFORMERSes especially can’t go a minute without some unfunny ad-libbed jibber jabber, or a cut away to a dog fucking something, or a sassy black lady swearing at somebody (or vice versa), or a cartoonish service person or government stooge being an asshole for no reason other than to reflect Bay’s world view. So when this joker said his next movie was gonna be a comedy I heard the JAWS music.

(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.

Kill the Irishman

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

tn_killtheirishmanFrom the director of PUNISHER #2 and the star of PUNISHER #3 comes a solid, entertaining period gangster movie. It’s a biopic of Danny Greene, an Irish American union president, gang enforcer and dodger of car bombs in Cleveland, Ohio circa early ’60s through late ’70s. If it had been done as two separate movies maybe it would’ve got an arthouse release and some critical respect, but they did it as one so it was barely released by Anchor Bay and nobody ever heard of 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.

Mesrine: Killer Instinct

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

tn_mesrine1MESRINE: KILLER INSTINCT is part 1 of a 2 part French true-ish crime saga about Jacques Mesrine, international terror, mustachioed robber of banks and casinos, killer of forest rangers, escaper of prisons, etc. One of these lovable maniacs who make the world worse and the movies better. This review is just of the first part. Both parts have been available as an import for a while but I waited for the official American release, so I gotta wait another month for part 2.

Vincent Cassel (EASTERN PROMISES) plays Mesrine as a fun-loving, woman-enjoying dude, a charmer who wins you over when he’s caught robbing a house and without missing a beat just pretends to be a police officer responding to the robbery. In real life nobody likes some asshole that lies to the elderly and steals their shit, but through the filter of a movie we admire his cleverness. And hey, he could’ve just pistol whipped them and gotten similar results. He made a better choice. But he’s not a good man.
(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.

Bonnie and Clyde

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

tn_bonnieandclydeIt is a time of economic turmoil. The gap between the haves and the have-nots keeps getting wider and wider, like a hippopotamus’s mouth when he yawns. Hard-working people hit some bad luck and they lose their homes, property and life savings to the banks. Anger rises, and in the face of cruel systems too complex for guys like me to understand, it’s easy to fall into simplistic stick-it-to-the-man sentiment. These faceless institutions seem to be crushing people under their boots, and we want revenge. If a company can have the rights of a human being, it ought to feel the pain of a human being. We want it to suffer.

Am I talking about today? No, I’m talking about the Great Depression, as depicted in the movie BONNIE AND CLYDE. Arthur Penn directs Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the legendary armed-robber couple whose sex appeal and brazen outlaw lifestyle made them a media sensation in the early ’30s. You know come to think of it though I did say “we” a bunch of times, as if I was talking about us right here, the people alive now, that seems a little misleading if I was really talking about the movie. We’re not in the movie, we’re in today. Wait a minute, maybe I really was talking about today? I think maybe I was. Ah, shit. I can’t remember anymore. I get them mixed up. Man, I really fucked up this opening. Forget about this. Let’s start over. (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.

Normal Life

Monday, January 4th, 2010

tn_normallifeor NOTHING’S WORTH THIS SHIT

I think NORMAL LIFE is a good movie, but I’d sympathize with somebody for hating it. It’s a true crime story about a husband and wife bankrobbing team, but mostly it’s about their fucked up relationship, and it’s like it drags you into the whole mess when you watch it. It’s about as pleasant and fun as you’d expect from the director of HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER if you didn’t know he’d go on to direct WILD THINGS. (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 Manson Family

Friday, October 1st, 2004

About a month ago I saw this movie DEADBEAT AT DAWN, a sleazy, gorey student film about lowlife THE WARRIORS style gang members stabbing each other and robbing armored cars and spinning nunchucks in the cemetery. The director and star was Jim Van Bebber, who seemed a little bit too into shock value but I thought he was still likable. His movie is corny and amateurish as hell but it has alot of conviction. This guy is swinging on ropes and jumping off bridges and piling on the hideous gore effects like nobody’s business. It’s one of those things where you don’t really love the movie but the guy’s obvious dedication to getting it done sort of elevates it. It’s about the journey, man.

Usually a guy like this, they go on to make bigger and better movies and become well known and respected, or more likely they go on to make slicker but much worse movies and then their career fizzles out and you forget you ever thought they had any potential. It’s hard to say where Van Bebber is headed though because since he finished DEADBEAT in 1988 he never bothered to sell out to Hollywood or get stuck signing deals that never amount to anything. Since then he has spent almost his entire career on one other movie, CHARLIE’S FAMILY. Another raw, fiercely independent, ten thousand miles away from Hollywood kind of low budget movie. This time it’s about the Manson family, it has some of the same cast but Van Bebber plays family member Bobby instead of the lead. (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.