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Archive for August, 2005

Red Eye

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

Under normal circumstances Wes Craven’s new picture RED EYE would be nothing special. But his last one was that horrible werewolf travesty called CURSED so this is sort of an event. Wes Craven made a movie and it’s kind of good.

I believe this is a first for Wes Craven: not a horror movie, and yet not about a white lady teaching inner city kids to play violin. What it is is a suspense thriller type deal that takes place on a plane. It is the first in the slew of plane-fear-sploitation movies that I guess are inevitable both in the aftermath of 9-11 and in the leadup to SNAKES ON A PLANE. (read the rest of this shit…)

Brothers Grimm

Friday, August 26th, 2005

Ever since that documentary LOST IN LA MANCHA, Terry Gilliam has a reputation as the bad luck director who can’t finish a movie without the Lord dropping down on him like a bag of cinder blocks. I heard he writes his shooting schedules under a ladder on the 13th day of the month. It’s been what, six years since FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, he’s been trying to make movies since then but this is the first one to make it to the screen. People figure it’s a miracle if he can shoot a scene that is not interupted by an act of God, let alone finish a whole movie and have it released in theaters. So in that sense, THE BROTHERS GRIMM is a miracle. Because it is a finished movie with credits and everything. They even made a poster I think.

As far as actual entertainment value though it’s maybe a little less miraculous, in my opinion. The main problem: the first hour. A man of my knowledge and insights, I oughta be able to put my finger on it more than that, but all I can say is I was bored as shit for the first half of this movie. Nothing really painfully lame or anything but it’s just not involving and not in the usual Terry Gilliam way where he overwhelms and disorients you with his powerful imagination rays. It looks like a Terry Gilliam movie, it seems like an okay premise for a Terry Gilliam movie, but it just doesn’t click. It’s not funny. It’s not that clever. And takes for fucking ever to get going. (read the rest of this shit…)

Lipstick and Dynamite

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

Well I should get this out of the way upfront, there is no actual dynamite in this movie, or explosions of any literal kind. What this is is another wrestling documentary. It is not nearly as good as BEYOND THE MAT or my favorite, HITMAN HART: WRESTLING WITH SHADOWS, because it’s done mostly in that tv special kind of way with talking head interviews and Ken Burns style photo montages. (There is not all that much footage of the era they focus on.) But it’s a different and interesting angle on the wrestling topic. This one is all about lady wrestlers, told through interviews with a group of elderly women that used to do the deed back in the golden age.

Most of these women looked like b movie stars when they were young, but they were tough ladies with names like Gladys “Killem” Gillem, and as we know from the other wrestling documentaries, even if it’s fake, it’s a dangerous sport/artform/opera that destroys the body of pretty much anybody who does it long enough to be successful. (read the rest of this shit…)

Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

This is a documentary about something I never heard of before, one of the first pay cable channels, one for movie buffs. This was in Los Angeles of course and started in the ’70s, before home video. The movie focuses on the obsession and tragic life of Jerry Harvey, who was the programmer for most of the time the channel existed.

This guy starts out watching the channel at home, writing a letter to complain about their programming choices and how he thinks they should do it. They end up liking his ideas and hiring him, and he becomes a force, one of those ones that you have to reckon at or whatever. He starts playing foreign films, forgotten masterpieces, movies he loves that he thinks were unfairly panned. He makes friends with Sam Peckinpah, Robert Altman, Michael Cimino (they don’t mention Thunderbolt and Lightfoot though) and guys like that, using his connections to get movies nobody else knew were out there. He creates an event out of the director’s cut of the Wild Bunch. The director’s cut of The Leopard. Which it turns out is not about a leopard, but some kind of prince or somebody. The way the movie tells it, this guy singlehandedly turned around the reputation of Heaven’s Gate by showing the director’s cut. Same thing with Once Upon A Time In America. They interview James Woods and he says how the critic Sheila Benson called the theatrical release one of the worst movies of the year, then after seeing the director’s cut called it one of the best of the decade. (I’ve only seen the bastardized version and I thought it was great – can’t wait til I have 4 hours free.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Four Brothers

Sunday, August 21st, 2005

A saintly old white lady gets killed during a liquor store robbery in Detroit. She has four adopted sons that return to town for her funeral – Mark Wahlberg from Boogie Nights, Andre Benjamin from Be Cool, Tyrese from Baby Boy, and… some kid in a leather jacket. See, this dead lady was some kind of pillar of the community, bein a grandma to all the disadvantaged kids in the neighborhood, bringing people free turkeys on thanksgiving, teaching important moral lessons and what not. But these four kids, these were the worst motherfuckers anybody ever saw… out of all the kids she helped, these were the only little shits she couldn’t get anybody to adopt, because they were too bad. The dirty dozen of juvenile delinquents. Except there’s only four of them, I think I mentioned that already but I don’t want anybody to get confused. The dirty four brothers.

So now Motown’s Most Infamous are back in the neighborhood like blaxploitation stars, and somebody out there killed their mom, and they aren’t quite as forgiving as she is so holy shit is somebody gonna have all hell brought down on them, in my opinion. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Aristocrats

Sunday, August 21st, 2005

This is a whole documentary about one single joke, so let me tell you what the joke is. I am not a good joke teller but this is the joke.

Some guy walks into a talent agency, says look mister can I please have a moment of your time, I got an act here and I think you will agree it’s gonna knock your fuckin socks right off of your ass. It’s a family act, I got my wife and my kids involved and what not, real fancy, etc. So the talent guy says okay, you know I got a couple minutes before I have to meet somebody, you got two minutes to give me your pitch there asswipe.

So the guy says well you know we come out, my wife is playing piano real soft, we got these matching uniforms – I got some glossies in my billfold here if you want to see em, they got sequins and everything. And I come out and I balance on one toe on top of the piano while she’s playing, right? And she’s real good, kind of a ragtime style but she puts her own spin on it you know? Then my kids come out, they’re teenagers but they’re wearing diapers right, and this homeless guy has them on a leash, and they’re carrying magazines in their mouths, like Motor Trend, The Economist, stuff like that. (read the rest of this shit…)

The 40 Year Old Virgin

Sunday, August 21st, 2005

I am no expert on comedy or laughing, and you know that. But not too long ago I reviewed a movie called “THE WEDDING CRASHERS” which I said was lazy formulaic forgettable throwaway crap that will be forgotten forever about 20 minutes after the last time they advertise the dvd on tv. The movie is already considered a smash hit but I still stand by my evaluation. If you want to see Owen Wilson lie to a girl to get laid and then really fall in love and go riding bikes onbeaches and saying cutesey shit and then having his secret discovered and being hated but then proving himself by going and making a long humiliating speech about how much he really loves her and that other horse shit, please, by all means, go watch it. You’ve never seen anything like it, unless you have a TV or grew up in a country where there are TVs.

I wanted to say a few words about STEVE CARRELL IS… THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN though because in my opinion this is a movie that could be a good influence on WEDDING CRASHERS and teach it how to grow up and become a man and contribute to society. (read the rest of this shit…)

Karl Rove, Steroids, Movie Slump, Snakes on a Plane!, Why Mustard?

Thursday, August 11th, 2005

I get alot of emails these days asking for a new Vern Tell’s It Like It Is column, with all the political business. Because there’s so much going on and some people I guess want to know what I have to say about it. Except one guy. There was the guy who wrote to me to say I was good with movies but I need to never talk about politics because I just copy the “talking points” from moveon.org. I checked out that web sight and it was a good suggestion but I couldn’t find a link for the talking points so I guess maybe that’s why I haven’t done a new column in a while.


Obviously the first order of business has to be this Valerie Plame/Karl Rove thing. But I mean, I don’t got much to say that hasn’t been said already. My reaction when I first heard about it obviously was like Roddy Piper in THEY LIVE when he sees all the rich ladies in fur coats and businessmen in ties are actually skeleton faced alien invaders, and he says, “It fuckin figures.” I remember Joe Wilson saying way back when this thing started that he thought Karl Rove was the leaker, and I wondered why he’d say that if there wasn’t more to it we didn’t know about. But then he backed off from that statement and I was as surprised as anyone to see it actually come out into the open all this time later. (read the rest of this shit…)


Thursday, August 11th, 2005

Director Rob Cohen’s STEALTH, which would be called WHOOOSSSHHHH! if it was up to me, takes place in the near future. In the near future, the world’s three best and also sexiest pilots have been specially trained to combat terrorism. The way this works is, they fly around and drop bombs on the terrorists. They got this shit down to an art, so for example the CIA calls and says listen up super flyers, we know for sure that three evil terrorist cell leaders who are planning an imminent and deadly attack are going to be meeting up in 24 minutes in a completely empty skyscraper in Rangoon. Have at it, kids.

Even though they know for sure that there are no innocent office workers, janitors or burglars inside the building, our three top guns check out some statistics on their onboard computers to make sure this is morally sound. They know this is in the middle of downtown so they have to plan out a way to implode the building so that it will be all neat and tidy and no bricks will fall on anybody’s heads or anything. And they pull it off! (read the rest of this shit…)

Broken Flowers

Thursday, August 11th, 2005

I don’t know if this is true, but there’s legends that Chevy Chase and Bill Murray are some kind of arch enemies. Ever since Chevy left Saturday Night Live and was replaced by Bill, there’s been some kinda bad blood between these boys. I don’t think it’s ever come to a duel, or even a wrestling bout, but you know. Probaly gave each other dirty looks or something.

If that’s true Chevy Chase must be having a shit fit these days cause Bill Murray is the only one of any of those guys that figured out how to still have a career with integrity. I guess there aren’t too many guys left from that era of comedy, and I’m not sure if Chase even counts because I can’t remember the last time he made a movie. But let’s use Steve Martin as a symbol. That’s what you’re supposed to do now, you’re supposed to make shitty studio comedies with no style or imagination that nobody will ever remember. You’re supposed to be considered funny on the basis of distant memories. Not current reality. (read the rest of this shit…)