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Archive for February, 2008

Vern’s Been PISTOL WHIPPED By Seagal!

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.

Vern’s my hero. If I could be anybody I wanted to be when I grow up, I’d choose to be Vern. His new book is one reason. This review is another.

This April marks (for death) the 20th anniversary of ABOVE THE LAW. Can you believe we’re that old? Two decades since Steven Seagal’s debut, arriving on the action movie scene fully-formed, already a star, already with his iconic look (well, he didn’t have the ponytail quite yet), already with his shadowy CIA past, his intense knowledge of Asian tradition, and his drive to take on the corrupt and throw them through panes of glass.

Alot has stayed the same in those 20 years, but alot has changed. He got bigger. His movies got bigger (UNDER SIEGE), then smaller (THE PATRIOT). He moved from the big screen to the DVD. By my way of thinking he’s gone through three major periods of his career and is now late in the DTV Era. (read the rest of this shit…)

Death Wish II

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

For the first DEATH WISH sequel we trade down from Dino DiLaurentiis to Golan and Globus producing. Apparently Menahem Golan almost directed, but Bronson wouldn’t do it unless they got Michael Winner back. I bet he said “why get a loser when you can get a Winner?” Anyway we caught a lucky break there. I guess Winner must’ve broken up with Maria from SESAME STREET by this time so Herbie Hancock was out. Instead he got one of his neighbors to score, a neighbor who happened to be Jimmy Page. I was worried but there’s only guitar soloing on the beginning and end credits, the rest is standard old school score, not cheesy ’80s keyboards and rockin guitars and shit. So I’m not gonna complain.

It’s 1982 now, 8 years later, but they say it’s 4 years later. (The magic of cinema.) Paul Kersey lives in L.A. now. His adventures in Chicago (portrayed in the book Death Sentence) are ignored. He’s still an architect, h has a new girlfriend (Jill Ireland) and he’s moved his daughter to a hospital in California. She’s still so traumatized she doesn’t speak. (read the rest of this shit…)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

Technically Freddy already got his revenge in part 1 by going after the children of the people who burned him alive. In this one he’s just messing with a new kid who moves into the same house. It really is not revenge when you do it to a stranger who never did anything to you before and is not related to anyone who did anything to you before. Not to be pedantic but, come on dude, titles are important. Make ’em count.

I always thought FREDDY’S REVENGE was the worst of the ELM STREET pictures, a pretty common view. They ended up figuring out the sequel formula in part 3 and they stuck with that for a while so part 2 is now kind of the odd man out when you look back at it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Death Wish

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

After enjoying recent DEATH WISH ripoffs and spinoffs like DEATH SENTENCE and THE BRAVE ONE, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the source, and to see those sequels I never got around to watching. (By the source I mean the first Charles Bronson movie and not the book by Brian Garfield, which is apparently similar but clearly anti-vigilante in the end – that’s why he wrote the sequel Death Sentence, because he was so mad about the DEATH WISH movie.)

Charles Bronson plays Paul Kersey, New York architect, happily married father, “bleeding heart liberal,” Korean War veteran with conscientious objector status. A cool guy. Then one day a gang of hoodlums (including Jeff Goldblum in his first movie role) follow Paul’s wife and daughter home from the grocery store and rape them. Mrs. Kersey dies and the daughter is so traumatized she’s hospitalized in a near catatonic state. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Brave One

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

I’m not totally sure why she’s The Brave One, but Jodie Foster plays a public radio host who gets attacked in Central Park one night by some assholes. They steal her dog, beat her fiancee to death and leave her in a coma. All of which I’m against. Then she tries to get revenge. Good stuff.

Since the director is Neil Jordan, and especially since it stars Jodie Foster, I kind of thought it was gonna be a pretentious “serious” take on the vigilante genre, maybe even condescending toward it, looking down on these types of movies and trying to do the respectable version of them. But thankfully the movie doesn’t have that feel, and if you check the publicity interviews on the DVD they all check out. Foster states that it is in fact a genre movie, and Neil Jordan drops names like Don Siegel and Sam Fuller. I guess I forgot Joel Silver was the producer, he’s not gonna get all fancy pants on us. (read the rest of this shit…)

Michael Clayton

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Who the fuck is Michael Clayton and why is he so awesome that a movie is named after him? Well to answer your first question, Michael Clayton is a highly effective “fixer” played by George Clooney who cleans up messes for a big law firm, and to answer your second one I guess they figured coming up with some thriller type name like THE FIXER or DEADLY REVELATION or THE BREADWINNER would be corny so they just said I don’t know, fuck it, use the character’s name, I don’t give a shit. And MICHAEL CLAYTON was born.

The thing I cannot stress enough about this movie is that it’s really fuckin good. I wasn’t prepared for that. I heard it was good, I knew it was nominated for best picture, but I don’t know man. Nobody really properly conveyed it to me I guess. I didn’t expect to be blown away by it. But this is just a great thriller, one that works so well and talks down to you so little it’s hard to believe it was made in this day and age. (read the rest of this shit…)


Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Imagine you’re Nicole Kidman (well, a character played by Nicole Kidman) and your husband died ten years ago. (Not Tom Cruise or the country singer guy she’s with or whoever, I am talking about a fictional character played by Nicole Kidman). You’re still sort of getting over this but your boyfriend (the head vampire from 30 DAYS OF NIGHT [but not a vampire, just the same actor]) has proposed to you and you think you’re finally ready and you’re gonna make this work.

And then a 10 year old boy (the kid from X-Men 3 [playing a different character {I think I will stop mentioning what other movies they’ve been in}]) shows up at your apartment and tells you that he’s your dead husband Sean. Hopefully this hasn’t happened to most of you, so just try to imagine what it would be like. (read the rest of this shit…)

Undisputed II: Last Man Standing

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

First of all I gotta note that it’s weird this movie exists at all. Walter Hill’s prison/boxing movie UNDISPUTED is not exactly a title that appears in everyone’s home library. It was not a box office hit, it did not catch on huge on video, it does not hold a nostalgic place in anyone’s heart, it did not inspire other movies or hip hop videos or launch a catch phrase. I think I know one guy besides me who saw it, he liked it, I didn’t. He hasn’t seen part 2. I never saw it until now. There’s your audience.

The original got a brief theatrical release, the sequel was straight-to-video. Maybe they could’ve gotten Wesley Snipes to return, since he’s stuck in straight-to-video lately. Instead it stars Michael Jai White – you know, the guy who was cut out of KILL BILL who everybody on the internet thought should’ve replaced Wesley in BLADE: THE SERIES. So that’s cool. Except Wesley’s character is not mentioned – White is playing Ving Rhames’s villain character George “The Iceman” Chambers. (read the rest of this shit…)

Until Death

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

It’s always exciting to hear that a Van Damme or a Dolph or a Seagal is taking a risk, so here’s an exciting one. Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a heroin addicted, womanizing, fucked up cop. (He’s not totally dirty though, he won’t take bribes.) Most of the other cops kind of hate him, especially the guy who blames him for the death of his fiancee in an undercover operation. Van Damme’s wife is pregnant from her new man. And his former partner (Stephen Rea, believe it or not) is the crime kingpin he just can’t seem to bust.

Eventually Van Damme gets shot in the head and goes into a coma. When he wakes up he’s sort of born again and tries to make amends. He gives his settlement to a schlub he got kicked off the force. He stops shooting heroin. His wife is taking care of him while he recovers and they start to repair their relationship. If you haven’t figured it out yet this is a genuine drama, not an action movie. He doesn’t do the splits once. (read the rest of this shit…)

American Gangster

Monday, February 18th, 2008

I haven’t been big on Ridley Scott post-ALIEN, but when I saw he was doing the real-life gangster epic starring Denzel Washington – the one I already wanted to see when it was Antoine Fuqua that was supposed to direct it – man, I was excited. And the trailer looked great. And then it came out and without exception everybody I knew who saw it said “yeah, it was… pretty good.” Suddenly there was less urgency to see it, and I watched other movies, wrote some stuff, maybe took some naps, ate some food, and then it was gone.

Well, maybe it was for the best. Now I watched it with lower expectations, in its 20-minutes-longer UNRATED EXTENDED CUT (4 minutes shy of 3 hours) and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I see your “yeah, it was… pretty good” and raise you a “it was… pretty fuckin good.” I am proud to review it alongside such other great American films as AMERICAN PIMP, AMERICAN PSYCHO and AMERICAN NINJA. (read the rest of this shit…)