"I take orders from the Octoboss."


tn_bulworthWarning: this review talks alot about American politics that won’t matter to many of you, but then so does the movie so it should be fine.

Recently I was reading last month’s Rolling Stone article about the Democrats caving on all the meaningful parts of health care reform. It paints a convincing picture that if they give up on the public option then the plan won’t help much, could even make things worse, will hurt the Democrats politically and hurt the chances of real reform happening any time soon. I thought jesus, what is wrong with these people, we elected them for “change” and now the opportunity to do what we asked them to do makes them run around in a panic, peeing on the floor like a dog on the 4th of July. (Another American reference for you there.) Are they really all in the pocket of insurance companies? They have the majority, they have the majority of the people. You really worried those dumb fuckers at the town hall meetings are gonna be mad if you give them cheaper health coverage? I don’t think that’s worth losing sleep over.

You flash back to a few years ago when the Republicans controlled everything, had everything they wanted, including two wars and all kinds of rampant butt play in their overseas prisons, and still saw themselves as victims. They overplayed their hand. The Democrats are doing the opposite, they have the chance to do something great for their country and their children and grandchildren, they would rather do nothing at all. They’re folding their cards too early. Fuck you motherfuckers. Why can’t somebody cut the shit and stand up for what is obviously right?

mp_bulworthAll that was on my mind but also I had recently watched SOUL MAN so my solution was to watch another well-meaning but racially questionable satire, BULWORTH. Starring and written and directed by Warren Beatty, BULWORTH speaks to alot of this anger I have, but it does it in a way that makes me cringe. And I don’t think this is supposed to be uncomfortable comedy like THE OFFICE or something.

Beatty plays Senator Jay Bulworth, a Democrat who’s on the eve of his re-election campaign and hasn’t eaten or slept in days. When an insurance lobbyist (Paul Sorvino, KNOCK OFF) bribes him to kill a reform bill, Bulworth takes out a huge life insurance policy and hires an assassin to kill himself. He’s stressed and has nothing to lose so he just starts Telling It Like It Is at his campaign stops. For example at a black church he tells them that the Democratic Party doesn’t care about them because what are they gonna do, vote Republican? At a Hollywood industry party he says “my people aren’t stupid, they always put the big Jews on the schedule,” then starts flipping through his notes saying, “They must’ve put something bad about Farrakhan in here somewhere.”

bulworthIn South Central two young (very stereotypical) black women are so impressed by his candid statements that they volunteer for him, which means they follow him around cheering him on, snapping at people and gossiping. He goes to a club with them and, unfortunately, learns about rapping. And starts doing it. Throughout the rest of the movie.

Most of the ideas behind the movie are admirable, and there are other things I like about it, which I’ll get into. But there is no way to get around the rapping. He freestyles horrible nursery rhyme type lyrics and says them slowly, syllable by syllable, in a bizarre style that’s part out-of-touch-white-guy-attempting-to-co-opt-what-he-believes-to-be-black-slang, part speech impediment. He makes Vanilla Ice seem like Rakim or Slick Rick.

Late in the movie, after Bulworth rhymes to Don Cheadle and a gang of underage crack dealers in South Central, one of the kids asks, “Is that how white people rap?” It’s the movie’s only acknowledgment that he’s horrible at it. I mean, I never thought we were supposed to think he was good, but his entourage acts like he is, and nobody ever cringes or runs away like you want to do at home watching the fucking thing. The main joke, definitely, is that all these stuffy white people have to hear rap, and listen to The Truth from this guy, who by the way is on a spiritual quest assigned to him by a homeless street preacher played by the controversial poet Amiri Baraka.

But I guess if you look at ISHTAR (to be honest I’ve never seen the whole thing) it’s clear that Beatty finds something really funny in people performing awful songs. Still, I’m not sure he understands just how painful it is to watch this one.

I remember I read somewhere that Warren Beatty was hanging out with Suge Knight when he made this movie, as research. But I’m not sure he found the authenticity he was looking for. He kind of makes it seem like most black people are selling crack or working for crime lords, but have the potential to do good if only they would decide to get it together. Perhaps when nudged to do so by a white politician. And it’s a little painful to see Halle Berry trying to act “street,” saying “yo” and acting tough. She does look good with dreadlocks though. I can see why Bulworth goes for her. I would think the rapping would actually be a dealbreaker though. This was before Eminem raised people’s standards for white rappers, but I still don’t think anybody is gonna forgive how this guy raps. I sure won’t. Ever. Never forget.

What I do like about the movie is that it comes from a left wing point of view but criticizes the Democratic party as compromised and sold out. From my point of view most Democrats are too centrist, but the mainstream media usually doesn’t acknowledge that point of view. They offer Democrats as the furthest left you can get without being a communist (or sometimes they consider them actually to be communists). Senator Bulworth has sold out his values, promoting himself as more conservative to try to get votes. With Halle Berry he talks reverantly about the Black Panthers, but on TV he complains about welfare being “out of control.”

Usually in a political movie you’re either gonna have one side as the good guys and one side bad, or all politicians bad. In this one Republicans don’t even really figure into it. It’s not about the right wing at all. The blame is on the Democrats, arguing that they are the ones who believe in health care as a right, they’re the ones that should be doing something about it, but they never do because they’re more worried about campaign money than about their constituents and their country and the human race and things that are good. And that’s why BULWORTH is relevant now (despite the rapping), because we have the same thing going on now. Republicans just want to stop health care reform because they want to make Obama look bad, and as a bonus they get to cause the deaths of many poor people, which is a hobby many of them enjoy. But it’s not in their court, it’s up to the Democrats. They could and should do it and would do it if they weren’t mostly a bunch of dumb assholes.

The opening scene is actually a really good one. It’s a montage of Bulworth in his office watching all the different variations on his new TV spots, repeating the same bullshit about welfare and “the new millennium.” And then he just starts to cry. It’s a really effective scene because the commercials seem pretty real and you just have to hear the same phrases over and over and over, not only showing you what empty slogans they are but showing you how he must feel having to say the same shit every time. He just feels like a phony. Because he is a phony.

Believe it or not the movie is scored by the great Ennio Morricone. But then it also uses some great hip hop songs like “100 Miles and Runnin'” by NWA and “The N**** You Love To Hate” by Ice Cube. It’s a bizarre combination, but strangely appropriate. When I reviewed ORCA a few months ago I talked about how Morricone’s music seemed to infuse the whole thing with depth, make it seem profound and poetic. Here’s an even better example of how fucking good the guy is. At the end, Bulworth embraces gorgeous young Halle Berry. As a viewer I’m still thinking this movie is ridiculous and what the fuck would she see in him and no way would this ever happen and neither of them (especially her) are particularly three-dimensional characters, but somehow, with the music, it seems kind of touching, like we have watched these two teetering on the edge of falling in love and invested ourselves in them and now we are relieved to finally see it coming to fruition. Completely unearned by the movie, but collected in full by Morricone.

And the end credits are really cool – a suite of Morricone music with hip hop songs by Ol’ Dirty Bastard and others occasionally fading in and playing for a bit and then drifting away as the orchestra continues.

Yeah, I guess I mainly just like the opening scene and the end credits.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 9th, 2009 at 1:42 am and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

77 Responses to “Bulworth”

  1. The Onion was doing a list of terrible film cliches they wanted seeing ended, forever. Mine would be white people (usually old) rapping like its 1979. “I’m old and I’m white and I’m here to say….”
    like that stupid fucking rapping granny from The Wedding Singer. And of course, probably the daddy of them all – Bulworth. Sweet jesus its cring-inducingly awful.

  2. “This was before Eminem raised people’s standards for white rappers”

    PAUL’S BOUTIQUE didn’t?

  3. It’s been a while since I saw it the last and I don’t remember anything.
    Anyway, I agree about Obama and the health care reform. As far as I can see from here, on the other side of the world, he is a good president, but way too nice. There is one thing where he should really follow his predecessor’s example: George W might have been a bad president, but at least he always got what he wanted. Just because he didn’t give a fuck what the opposition or the MILLIONS of demonstrators said! I appreciate that Obama tries to play by the rules, but it’s seriously time that he stands up in front of everybody and says: “You know what? I AM THE PRESIDENT! Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, and fuck you! I have to start a health care reform now and you can’t do anything against it.” He doesn’t have to say the “fuck you” part, but it would be funny. I just hope he gets his shit together soon.

    and RRA: I thought the same. People always forget the Beastie Boys for any reason! I blame Vanilla Ice. He must have eradicated every good memory about white rappers for years.

  4. Vern, your left-leaning partisanship gets tiring. It has always seemed – at best – a chip on your shoulder, and at worst a detriment to what are truly well written, thoughtful, original critiques that I happen to enjoy.

    Bush was evil. Republicans are assholes. Cops are pricks. Etceteras. I know you went to prison, but on some level I wish you would give it a fucking rest. I don’t feel sorry for you, and frankly, I don’t think Progressivism is the answer to our problems. Sorry.

    Btw, I liked Bulworth – Beatty’s martyr complex not withstanding.

  5. CJ Holden – Well to be fair, PAUL’S BOUTIQUE when it originally came out didn’t do shit in sales. People either were pissed that it wasn’t LICENSE TO ILL 2, or just didn’t get it, shrugged, and found Vanilla Ice. That’s the bitch of being ahead of your time.

    Then well, later CHECK YOUR HEAD was considered more a rock album than rap and well other great shit followed…but yeah despite all that great racial-crossing artistic effort by those caucasian Brooklyn Jews, “white rap” was still typified as Vanilla Ice/Marky Mark until Eminem.

    Which is weird, since LICENSE was the first rap album to go #1 in the charts, and still the best-selling rap album from the Reagan Decade. I guess that might have pissed off N.W.A.

  6. Uh, I don’t think Vern really went to prison, bud.

  7. He didn’t? Well, then color me fooled.

  8. Christof – People drag “baggage” to the movies they watch, whether it be politics or religion or whatever the fuck.

    Vern is the sort of chap who openly politically biased, using movies and his own situation, is able to fucking nail some “truths” even if one disagrees with some or all of his ideological viewpoints. Certainly not this conservative liberal.

    Now I don’t mean “truths” as in that mythical sterile journalism concept, but more in the emotionalism that people perceive reality, for which is constructed from our perceptions.

    Lets admit it: The Democrats in Congress are at best incompetent and disorganized (which sounds like the party since post-WW2) and at worst, many afraid to go too left despite their campaign promises. The GOP mostly wants reform dead to give the President a black eye, and despite we spending more on Health Care than any other nation on Earth, its a fucking train wreck. This whole paragraph, which of it can you “truthfully” cite as incorrect?

    And no, “Progressivism” doesn’t solve everything. Nor is all “conservatism” bad. It’s just, what have those in power under those banners done for us the people?

    Not much if you ask me. Especially considering Robert Gates of the “traitorous bleeding heart” administration has been more true of a fiscal conservative at the Pentagon than the Dubya White House/Congress ever were this decade. Talk about irony. Or Obama being a pussy on DADT.

  9. Roachboy – You know who did go to jail for robbery?

    Booker T. Yeah, future WCW/WWE world champion.

  10. Roachboy, are you calling Vern a liar?

    Don’t make me put you in the Mississippi Guard Dog position.

    Just my two cents

  11. It’s interesting how in the nineties everybody used to have this elaborate Web persona: Vern, Moriarty, etc. Not it’s pretty much middle-class white guys, blogging. I guess social networking killed this sort of thing – it’s hard to twit like you just outta prison or have an underground lab or something.
    P.S. If I’m wrong and Vern really did jail or prison time, I apologize.

  12. It’s weird how film reviews NEVER mention the score – UNLESS the score is by Ennio Morricone. Then you can pretty much guarantee the music will be mentioned.

  13. Haha, it seems to me that somewhere in the middle of the review you figured out why Beatty dated Madonna for so long.

    And you are right that we are many non-Americans reading. There are simply not enough great reviewers of cinema to go around the world, so we’ve all learned english in order to read the master. Contrary to what many people seem to think, films about USA-politics can be highly entertaining to Laplanders as well. But I remember that Wesley Snipes trying to break into the white house worked better than this rapping politician.

    Most of us outlanders simply try to stay out of the debate whenever someone mentions USA and politics, because we’ve learned that you still figure yourselves to be mostly your own problem. But sometimes it becomes very difficult for a citizen of the world to bottle up the sarcasm, especially when people start using words like “progressive” in connection with the social policies that Vern seems to advocate.

    Now I have to go off and pat myself on the head for another job decently done on self control.

  14. Hey Vern, please dont listen to people like Christof.
    Witout your “Vern tells like it is” coloumn i would have probably given up on you Americans as a whole.
    It wasn’t so clear that there were still normal people left over there in the bush time.

    Thanks man

  15. I’m pretty disappointed with Obama, and I’m a little afraid of the repercussions of his presidency. I mean, here is this guy, getting people to care about politics again, having them make a stand about Change, and when he wins, there’s no change coming. People put aside their cynicism and believed for once – only to be betrayed. No transparency, no change in security policies and executive power, no torture investigation… and now no health care reform? If that doesn’t put people off voting, what will? And the Right-Wing assholes vote and vote. I’m sort of glad I’m not American, even though our own system has its own share of problems. But it is disillusioning to see a party having a true majority (Senate, House and White House) and not managing to get things done.

    And while there may be good and true Republicans in the sense of Goldwater Republicans, even they keep the partisanship going for fear of right-wing voter backlash or party repercussions (or for whatever reason), so the GOP is becoming the party of Palin, Jindal and those cooks. And these people are either lunatics or evil (Dick Cheney is still not in prison?). I can see no voice of moderation there, which is sad, both because a conservative party with rational positions does have merits, but also because this screaming hell and high water everytime Obama wants to talk to school children or maybe do a little tiny bit for health care has the Democrats running like chickens.

    By the way, Vern, have you read “The Authoritarians”? Really interesting. It’s free on the web, and you can find a cheap audio book of it. http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

  16. On Inauguration Day this year, I felt all alone. Not because I was a Republican, because I’m not. I voted for Obama. But while everyone else was swept up in this wave of optimism, I was suddenly struck with the notion that this was as good as it was going to get. We were one nation under a groove, with reform and change on the horizon. Nothing could stop us now. Except that I knew nothing would change. Obama might want to fix things, but there’s no way they’d let him. I think they open up a shoebox full of all the secrets about how shit really goes down when they give you the key to the Oval Office bathroom, and I think it pretty much shocks all the idealism out of everyone. You go in wanting to turn the world into a utopia, and you leave grateful that you didn’t have to nuke anybody.

    In other words, I think we’re pretty much fucked until something beyond our control wipes all of our systems away. And then we will create new systems that are just as bad, if not worse.

    I kept this all to myself on Inauguration Day, because I didn’t want to piss on anybody’s parade. And for once, I get no joy out of being right. I guess that’s the downside of being a pessimist.

  17. By the way, it’s my birthday. I’m just one big fucking ray of sunshine, aren’t I?

  18. I work with a bunch of die hard Fox News-watching Right Wingers. At least two of them called out of work yesterday so they could stay home because they refused to let their children go to school because of the Obama speech. Which is silly because kids don’t give a fuck, I asked my child about the speech and he forgot they had one. Yup that there evil Obama sure is gonna brainwash or kids.

    When asked why they let their kids stay home they both responded with ‘I don’t want my children listening to propaganda’ (from guys who watch Fox News religiously). They are both really funny though because they get extremely worked up over politics and start shouting and cursing. Naturally all their rants is how Obama and his ‘mindless’ liberal followers are going to destroy everything this country believes in. It’s quite amusing.

    As for this movie: kinda sucks

    Healthcare reform: I’ve seen how other government-run programs are run. Those same guys running my healthcare does not inspire confidence.

  19. Happy Birthday, Mr. Majestik! :)

  20. Christof – Well it must not be that tiresome, since I’ve had these comments for a while now and I think this is the first time you’ve shown up. Besides, the movie is more focused on politics than my review is, how else could I review it? And more importantly, I didn’t say jack shit about Bush being evil, I was praising a left wing movie for focusing on the problems with their own side and not demonizing (or even at all worrying about) the other side. There’s no way I’m gonna please you and I’m not gonna not mention politics in a fucking BULWORTH review so I think we’re at an impasse here bud. But thanks for the kind words.

    More importantly…

    RRA – Everybody loves Paul’s Boutique but the Beastie Boys are one of a kind and their appeal isn’t really about great vocals or lyricism. Eminem was the first well known white rapper to have technical skills greater than many of his peers of other races. After the Beastie Boys the other white rappers that came out were mostly copycats (or Third Bass). After Eminem people just started accepting white rappers if they were good. It’s not as much of a hurdle anymore.

    But none of them would be here without Bulworth.

    Majestyk – happy birthday

  21. “Impressive. They’re busting mad rhymes with an 80% success rate.”

  22. Thanks, you guys. I feel a little better about the state of the world, or at least my little corner of it.

  23. Hey Vern.
    Im sorry Obama hasn’t worked out for you. The guy believes in pleasing everyone so he wont achieve anything substantial. You on the other hand wrote a review that you knew would piss off some of your readers. But you did it anyway coz its important to you, which is cool with me.

    For this film to work, there had to be some chemistry between Beatty and Halle Berry. But there wasnt. The portrayal of black people is the usual Hollywood bullshit.

    Oliver Platt is the best thing about the film.

    Sorry again Vern

  24. Pete Nice and MC Serch were the first white rappers who didn’t use their race as a gimmick. They got by on skills alone. Well, that and the incredible production of Prince Paul, who had the good sense to sample Tom Waits before Biz Markie made such high-profile beat-jacking financially untenable.

    Also, Serch discovered Nas, so his legacy in hip-hop is assured.

  25. Roachboy, I present “Deceitful Hearts,” or “How I Got Over My Leroy Dilemma and Loved the Vern.”

    First, the discovery, circa 2002. I was working at a record label, your classic cool job for shit pay. Occasionally I’d meet people such as Maceo Parker or Jack McDowell—but it was all fleeting and actually kind of boring—and like everyone else I searched the internet for larger-than-life figures to burn away the long hours. Aint It Cool News loomed large, not because they were outsized personalities (although with Harry, Jesus) but because I loved movies. We all know the make-up of their personalities; then it was Harry, Moriarty, Quint, all unique in their way, but all cut from the same cloth—fanboy. They approached film from the same angles, diverging and arguing, but none were as distinctive as a lone, brilliant voice from the wilderness.

    At first I couldn’t believe my luck; it was like Hunter S. Thompson and Jim Thompson had a love child, and that child grew up watching the same kind of movies as me. Moreover, he was using these movies for rehabilitation. I can’t stress this enough. In 2002 many of Vern’s articles dealt with his time on the inside. I’ll never forget the one detailing an episode where everyone in the prison started wearing underwear on their head. It was a special kind of underwear, possibly fragrant, and divided the have’s from the have nots. Things started to get nasty; death loomed, all because people wanted to wear boxers on their head. The action culminated with Vern, halting disaster in the lunch room, by—

    Well, I’d hate to ruin it for you. Point is, in 2002 Vern was writing about his experiences inside the system with a fresh, startling intimacy. Everything about him felt genuine, down to the grammar, which was rough and even more stream of consciousness then than now—but it worked. It was a voice I sought constantly, and I began to turn others on to it. “You have to read this guy,” became my mantra down the hallways; perhaps I was a bit mad for the guy.

    Then came the dilemma. Not right away, but a few years down the line, in 2006. Asia Argento (one of my all time favorite actresses) was making “The Heart is Deceitful Beyond All Things.” The movie was based on a book by JT Leroy, a professed male, teenage prostitute and drug addict who wrote the novel to escape a harrowing childhood. It made for great reading, great film—and was pure bunk. Leroy was fiction, created by a writer, Laura Albert, who was tired of rejection and hungry for fame. But it was more than just pulling a James Frey; Albert had the half-sister of her then boyfriend dress up as a man—an androgynous, sexually confused man. And people fell for it, despite the evidence right in their faces. Not just Argento but Marilyn Manson, Gus Van Sant, Shirley Manson, and others; they stared him (her) in the face, and bought it.

    I marveled and how willingly people believe the myths people create around themselves. I wondered if there was anyone in my life that I trusted on their word alone? At first I shrugged it off, but then it hit me. One of my all time favorites, a man hugely underrated both then and now. Could it be that Vern made it all up? Bullshit. Pure Bullshit. But I doubted; after all, what proof did I have outside of Vern’s own posts. They were all brilliant and 100% authentic—but then again, so were Leroy’s. Could it be Vern created an alias to distinguish himself from the crowd? Was I another sucker? What did I have to prove his reality to myself?

    Harry said he met Vern on a book tour in Seattle. I think his exact words was that Vern was “A big, lumberjack son of a bitch.” There, more proof—except countless famous people met a woman in drag and thought she was Leroy, so a brief meeting at a book signing alone couldn’t put the issue to rest. Of course it was out there, of course the odds of someone pretending to be an ex-con, recovering alcoholic named Vern, seemed ludicrous. By this time he’d been at it for four years. If it was just a con then the con was over. Except, maybe the performance alone was enough. You see where this is going? Always a little bit of doubt, never a clear end to “what if?”

    So here’s how I settled it. I put my faith in Vern. Moreover, put my faith in myself, and my ability to discern the truth. As of now I’ve been reading Vern for over seven years. In this time I’ve seen references to his time inside gradually drop away. Not at once, not suddenly, but naturally, with the faded memory of a man six plus years on the outside, a man whose very writing style has developed from raw bursts of scar ridden hilarity to deeply touching soul exposures that forced me to reexamine the worth of Steven Seagal and Michael Jackson. At no time did I detect a lie, at no time did I find a suspicious reference. In my gut I know he is who he says he is, and he doesn’t need to do or say anything more to prove it to me, or to anyone else. He values his privacy, and so do I. At the end of the day his writing stands for itself, and carries its own truth.

  26. “(Paul Sorvino, KNOCK OFF)”
    Well played, sir. The discussion of white rappers reminds me of recent academic claims that rap has it’s roots in (my home country) of Scotland
    Which would be hilarious if it were true.
    Happy Birthday, Majestyk!

  27. Geoffreyjar — no one is talking about a government takeover of health care. No one! It was never even up for discussion. All they want to do is create an option to ensure that people who currently have no health insurace can get medical treatment.

    Since I’m on the topic, let me tell you that I have a genetic condition which makes it essentially impossible for me to get personal private health insurance, and though I’m just out of college the economy is shit right now and I have a shit job with no health insurance. I, and a lot of people like me, really, really, need this bill to pass. This is not some political debate over how to maximize efficiency – this is about people’s lives. My life. My wife’s life. We’re one week-long hospital stay from losing everything that we’ve saved over the years and everything we hope to one day build to. Lots of people in America NEED this to pass, warts and all. Please, all you have to do it let Obama keep everything exactly as it is, except allow those of us who can’t use the system now some small access to it.

  28. Patrick Stephenson

    September 9th, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    I love this site! That was a great piece of writing, Bad Seed.

  29. I saw BULWORTH a very long time ago; thought it was okay, but the rapping ensured that I will never watch it again. Not even as intentionally bad, sorry Beatty, but you blew it there.

  30. Happy birthday, Mr. Majestyk. For your gift I give you Steven Seagal’s ABOVE THE LAW in 4 minutes:

    I hope you don’t already have it.

  31. I don’t remember anything about this film except that video clip for Ghetto Supastar with ODB. The mention of “white man raps” ensures that the film is unlikely to grace my DVD player any time soon. Maybe they could do a remake with Eminem, if he isn’t too busy dissing celebs or being teabagged by Sasha Baron Cohen.

    As someone outside the US I find this debate about health care reform to be weird and kind of hilarious. Pretty much every other industrialised nation has public health care in some form or another, and people are running around in a panic talking about “death panels” and economic collapse like it’s never been done before. If I were in a country that allowed sick poor people to die because they can’t afford treatment I would be furious.

    Mr Majestyk: Happy birthday!

  32. Jake, I have the 99-minute director’s cut, but I’m happy to see that the studio-imposed four-minute version doesn’t have any extraneous narration or anything. And it’s cool that they kept the unicorn scene. Thanks.

  33. I’m still holding out for the long awaited Final Cut where Seagal breaks both the unicorn’s front legs and then throws it through a plate glass window. I heard he also stabs it in the forehead with it’s own horn but that might just be an internet rumor.

  34. I’m Canadian, and to be honest I was hoping all the rumors about people being dissapointed with Obama and the rest of the democrats was just another fabrication of Fox News and CNN. I guess it’s real, which is pretty shitty. Is there no potential for a march-on-Washington-style show of support for health care reform? I mean, it seems so universally acknowledged that the American health care system is in shambles it’s beyond me how anyone is up-in-arms about trying to reform it. Isn’t anything better?
    This may sound ludicrous, but is it at all possible that people standing up and saying “we want health care reform, you promised it, so fucking give it to us” would show the dicknuts in power that they’ve got the support to actually go through with it? I don’t know, I’m probably being overly-optimistic just like a year ago when I realized you yanks were actually going to go ahead and elect Obama like the rest of the world was hoping for. But nobody thought Obama had a shot until the crowds started assembling and showing how much they supported him. Maybe that same collective voice needs to do something to keep that momentum going….otherwise, I guess we’re all fucked.
    And Vern, in terms of anybody telling you not to write politics. It’s your site, write about whatever the fuck you want. I’ll still be here.

  35. Happy Birthday Mr. Majestyk. In researching your birthday I came across something startling. According to the Dalai Lama and Werner Herzog you are, from where you’re sitting, the center of the universe.

    Didn’t I always say that?


  36. Thanks Danny. I’ve decided to mainly write about botany for now on.

    I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed in Obama at this point. I never expected him to be perfect. I just was frustrated by the stories that he was gonna possibly let them drop the public option to please Republicans that had openly said they wouldn’t vote for the bill anyway because it would make him look bad. There are cases sometimes where one or both sides of a political debate are clearly not serious adults trying to get something done, and I feel like when that happens he needs to tell them they blew their chance for “post partisanship” and they can go fuck a duck while he gets shit done.

    He pretty much said that in his speech today, although I don’t think the go fuck a duck part is a direct quote, only a very close paraphrase. And he did not back down on the public option. I’m pretty sure he read my review and possibly watched BULWORTH right before the speech. So I give myself 25% credit for this and 75% goes to Ennio Morricone.

    By the way, important update, I got my NICO: BLIND SPOT OF THE LAW poster today. If Obama had anything to do with that he has my full support.

  37. The Republican proposal for health care reform: everyone who wants coverage is required to wear a mambo sock.

    (Thanks for reminding me of that story, Bad Seed. And, oh yeah, thanks for writing it, Vern.)

    Also, happy birthday to Mr. Majestyk. Your mambo sock is in the mail.

  38. ok three thoughts

    1. I remember seeing the cover of this movie once in a video store as a kid and it kinda freaked me out

    2. I still like Obama, but I do wish he would grow a fucking pair of balls and do what needs to be done

    3. as to whether Vern’s persona is a myth or not, I don’t think it is, but I don’t care wither way because Vern is still an excellent writer and his movie reviews rock, I would LOVE to see a picture of him though, better yet I’d love to meet him in person

  39. PS – I tried to post a happy birthday to you yesterday, M. Majestyk, but I was having a lot of problems in accessing the sight.
    I hope you like this; you probably already have one, but I’ve still got the receipt so I can exchange it if needs be…

  40. Just thought I’d give you a brief view of the English view of this since our health service seems to have been dragged into it…


    Vern, love the reviews. Still not going to watch this though… Beatty rapping sounds like my idea of hell.

  41. I think it says more about the state of America when people are trying to stop the poor and medically challenged from receiving public health care.
    I’m embarrassed to be part of the same species as these so called ‘educated’ folk who are saying that public health care will lead to more deaths and poorer care for all. Have these people no shame, whatever happened to compassion for your fellow man and helping those weaker or less well off than yourself.

    So much for the greatest nation on earth. More like every man for themselves and fuck the rest.

    Oh and Vern, you could be a 28 virgin living at home with mom for all it matters, you take the time and effort to create this site, lots of reviews on movies that aren’t always well reviewed or even taken seriously on other sites.

    So all power to you, the writing and your take on things are what brings me and i’m sure others back time and time again. Hope you have a cool spot picked out for your poster.

  42. Jono – for a second I read your sentence as “NED Beatty rapping” and I thought, “Oh my god, I would see that movie in a second.”

  43. Was that the Matt Taibbi article in RS?

    I like that guy. He was on Bill Maher back before the election just ripping ass at some convention.

  44. I don’t want too much politics on here, so I didn’t want to make a separate post for this, but I wanted to mention the Republican congressman who yelled “YOU LIE!” to Obama during his speech. There are apparently some Democrats who want to censure him for this. I just want to say – that’s fucking stupid.

    Yeah, it was rude, and also wrong, since the bill Obama was talking about clearly says that it won’t pay for illegal immigrants, exactly as he was saying. The guy is a dumb ass. But if somebody from any party had yelled something at Bush during one of his many bullshit-filled speeches I guarantee you I personally would’ve wanted to build a statue of the guy. I certainly did for the guy who threw shoes at him. And I’m sure many others on the left would agree. Therefore I can’t get mad at somebody doing something similar that I (and facts) happen to disagree with.

    I say lay off the “YOU LIE!” guy. All he did was make himself look bad. As Barney Frank said, “Obama is a grownup.” No harm done, move on to real business.

    If he had rapped though I think that would be reason for censure.

  45. and yes Mike, it was the Matt Taibbi article “Sick and Wrong: How Washington is screwing up health care reform – and why it may take a revolt to fix it”.

  46. Daniel Strange, The first time i typed it, it said Beatty raping… Ned Beatty raping is certainly something I would rather wash my eye balls in bleach than see….

  47. Patrick Stephenson

    September 11th, 2009 at 6:57 am

    Matt Taibbi is the guy who wrote that NY Press-destroying “The 52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope” article. http://www.nypress.com/article-11215-the-52-funniest-things-about-the-upcoming-death-of-the-pope.html

    I’ll always be a fan after that.

  48. I want to thank Bad Seed for distilling exactly how I feel about Vern and his writing. In fact, Bad Seed’s opinions are so close to mine that I’m a little worried I must have written them myself in some sort of blacked-out, split-personality haze. Bad Seed, get thee out from my head! But also thanks.

    And thanks, Vern, for so many years of striving for excellence. Maybe someday when you retire from writing for your assuredly lucrative web sight, Matt Taibbi can pen a profile of you and your work, and the truth behind the legend will at last be revealed.

    Then again, I guess they’d probably just print the legend.

    Mike V.

  49. I don’t think Joe “You Lie!” Wilson should be censured or that Obama should (or will) waste one more second thinking about it. On the other hand, though, I’m kind of glad he’s catching some flack for it and the media seems to have decided not to just let him slide.

    Not because he was rude or disrespectful of authority or anything, but because he’s emblamatic of the vitrolic and rabid disinformation campaign which has defined this debate about something which should have been pretty easy to be civil and constructive about. These guys think the more shrill the stunt, the bigger the lie, the more heinous the accusation, the more people will be scared away and the more they’ll win. Not this time, asshole. Turns out the one thing authoritarian personalities don’t do well with is disrespect of authority. And the rest of us don’t like idiots who go around screaming things which are dead wrong while we’re trying to actually solve real problems.

  50. “Usually in a political movie you’re either gonna have one side as the good guys and one side bad, or all politicians bad. In this one Republicans don’t even really figure into it. It’s not about the right wing at all. The blame is on the Democrats, arguing that they are the ones who believe in health care as a right, they’re the ones that should be doing something about it, but they never do because they’re more worried about campaign money than about their constituents and their country and the human race and things that are good.”

    Amen, brother. And this is one (of several) reasons I love your reviews–you aren’t afraid to personalize them, interject your own views, and if someone disagrees they can go read some other fucking site. There are plenty of them out there, and you’re smart enough to not believe that pretending to have no opinion, or going along whatever idea the media is pushing as safe (like some political parties we know) will make you popular or whatever. You don’t give a fuck about being popular, you’re more interested in calling it as you see it.

    I hear that kind of shit all the time from other people in my line of work (I write fiction), who are all “politics has no place in writing” wah wah wah, like if you write the most bland piece of crap possible it will get you on the NY Times Bestseller list or something. Maybe it will and maybe it won’t, but if you try to get ahead by pretending that you don’t care about anything, you’ve already sold your soul, and that’s a damn bit worse in my opinion.

  51. Fantastic post Elaine. I would much rather read/watch passionately, sincerely argued works that I disagree with than vanilla creations that try not to offend anyone.

  52. No! Paul’s Boutique did not raise the level of white rappers! The Beastie Boys were great but that’s like comparing the Sugar Hill Gang to Rakim . If the only rap you knew that existed was The Sugar Hill Gang you would be content ,but once you heard Rakim there was no turning back.3rd Base didn’t raise the level of white rappers either and I actually liked Gas Face.

    I haven’t seen Bulworth in in years, but I do remember thinking that all the rapping was terrible, while being completely taken in by the message of the movie. If all the black people in the movie weren’t complete stereotypes this movie could have actually been a classic. I would love to see a good filmmaker remake this. How about Steven Soderbergh’s Bulworth?

  53. One thing we can all come together and agree on: That poster is fucking horrifying.

  54. You know what’s weird – I’m pretty sure that poster is by this guy Overton Lloyd, who painted some of the Parliament album covers. He had some sketches of it on his websight and looking at it with that in mind it does look like his painting style.

  55. After a bit of research it appears it was Bemis Balkind.


    Mostly pretty generic stuff but some good ones in there too. Bulworth one may be one of his best after a quick look.

  56. Holy Shit! That link doesn’t do the guy justice.

    He’s been around since ’68 and designed the Alien & Rosemary’s Baby one-sheet for example.

    If you click his name at the top of the page it takes you to his official site.

  57. I’ve still never seen this film. The clips I saw were just too embarrassing. Sounds like I made the right decision.

    Here’s a question: how many people in Great Britain or Europe are lobbying to discard their system in favor of American-style health care? Has this ever happened?

    Also, how often do most of you go to right-wing movie blogs so you can complain about their politics? Why does it always seem to be the other way around? Are there any film bloggers with hard-right views that are must-reads? I can’t think of any, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It’s a serious question.

  58. Frankbooth – Good last question. Before it got shut down, culture 11 were doing a fucking fascinating (and surprisingly intelligent) analysis of the history and politics around that MAD MEN program. Not National Review bitchyness, more intelligentsia and less partisan bullshit. Then again, no wonder it went out of business.

    Certainly some right-winger filmmakers I’m a fan of, like John Milius but he’s not shot a movie in 11 some years. Recent convert David Mamet has been kicking ass with his “conservative” movies in SPARTAN and REDBELT.

  59. Thanks for the reply, RRA. I wasn’t referring to filmmakers so much as bloggers and blog commenters. I don’t know how often I’ve seen someone complaining about a critic’s politics. “Why can’t you just review the movie?” As if art exists in a vacuum. But do these people go hang out someplace more ideologically friendly? No, they come back to make the same complaint, again and again. I see this ALL the fucking time, on any number of blogs. It gets old.

    What I don’t often see is the inverse. Possibly, this indicates that no one cares enough to argue on sites like Big Hollywood. Maybe no one bothers to visit those sites for reasons other than shared political affiliation. Or it could be that anyone who fails to toe the line is instantly banned. I really don’t know.

    As for Mamet, I haven’t seen his last couple of films. This may be sacrilege to his more fervent followers, but I find that the best adaptations of his work are the ones directed by someone else, like Glengarry and Edmund. When he’s at the helm, the actors are apparently too intimidated to deviate from stereotypically Mametian (is that an adjective?) line-readings, which renders the dialogue false to my ears.

  60. Bad Seed, what a lovely post and exactly how I feel about Vern and his writing

    I know there are people who dislike his political stuff but

    a) it’s his own fucking site, not a newspaper article so he can write what he wants


    b) he really is a very good writer and I find his non-movie posts just as interesting as his movie posts

    In particular, three pieces stand out for me – his eulogy for Michael Jackson, his review of/musings on The Battle of Seattle and the excellent piece he wrote about the Democartic primary, which for me reading from Scotland was an insight into the US election that I had never seen before and was a real eye-opener

    Also I liked the whole saga years ago about kicking the shit out of the guy who smashed his pumpkins, though I don’t know what ever came of that

  61. As far as Bulworth goes, yeah the portait of black people and culture is pretty lame and in particular the ‘turning around’ of Don Cheadle but I liked the film probably more than most people

    The thing with the rapping is, it’s meant to be lame

    I dunno, for me the shitty rapping was funny, I never thought that you were meant to NOT think it was shit

    Dunno, maybe I’m biased becaue it has Don Cheadle AND Oliver Platt, two of my favourites

  62. Frank Booth – this is off topic but you should really consider seeing REDBELT and SPARTAN. I’m not a Mamet worshipper (though I like most of his stuff that I’ve seen) but those two really stand out as smart, kind of arty approaches to action movie material. If his dialogue bugs you you’ll shake your head a few times, but I think you’ll still think it’s worth it.

    REDBELT is my favorite because of its obsession with codes of honor and unexpected badass performance out of Chewitel Ejiofor. I’ve recommended those two movies to many people and almost always heard back that they loved them.

  63. I’m not sure about whether right wing reviewers get a hard time about their politics like I occasionally do. I’m sure those super right wing guys I hear about sometimes (like the guys who tried to spin 300 as a pro Iraq war and not at all homoerotic movie) do at least get emails of people telling them they’re morons. But those tend to be guys who are more political than me and are coming specifically at movies from a political point of view, I’m more someone who brings it up when I think it’s relevant.

    I haven’t read much by him so I can’t vouch for him but I know alot of people have mentioned Victor J. Morton as being a conservative writer, I think he’s supposed to be a good critic who happens to call himself “the right wing film geek.”

    I don’t mind Christof’s comment. I thought it was an exaggerated characterization of what I write and I’d take it more seriously if he’d commented any of the other many non-political reviews I’ve written in the last couple months. But I still see where he’s coming from because if I always read Roger Ebert or somebody and he had started praising Bush or the Iraq war, or complaining about gay marriage, something that I strongly disagreed with it, I might feel like Christof does about my Bulworth review. I can sympathize.

  64. Okay, Vern, you talked me into it. I’ll put ’em in the queue. But please watch the off-topic stuff. Wouldn’t want you to get in trouble.

    And I just want to clarify, it’s not that I don’t like his dialogue. He’s one of the great dramatizers of our time, right? It’s just something about the way he directs actors to sound like robots.

    “I’d take it more seriously if he’d commented any of the other many non-political reviews I’ve written in the last couple months…”

    That ‘s another good point. Some of these guys materialize out of nowhere specifically to complain. Do they have some kind of specialized software that trolls the web and activates an alarm system tricked-out with red flashing lights and a klaxon? LEFT-OF-CENTER POLITICS! AAH-OOGA! AAH-OOGA! MUST COMMENT!

  65. Hi Vern. I like joining discussions very late.

    I enjoy that you completely ignored the charge that you are lying about your past.

    I don’t really understand where the doubt comes from. Lots of people go to prison. Why is it so unlikely that one of them would like to write about movies?

    I also think it’s fantastic you writes politics in movie reviews. I especially enjoy it when it shows up in random rants in the middle of reviews of complete apolitical movies.

    Christof – If you don’t like who Vern is, and what he writes about, go read some other free shit on the internet.

    Anyways, what I came here to say is that people shouldn’t underestimate what Obama has achieved so far. It’s pretty fucking amazing, including the significant stopping the entire economy from collapsing achievement. Polifact has a decent list of campaign promises kept here:
    He’s cut taxes for 98% of American families, is on track to end the war in Iraq, and hired a person to run FEMA who has lots of experience managing emergencies. Yes, the health care bill is really disheartening right now. But America has come further in the past 9 months than in the last 9 years, and that’s worth some enthusiasm.

  66. Obama called Kanye West “a jackass.”

    I think both sides can agree on this.

  67. Hear hear! All of our glorious nation’s problems can be traced back to the treachery of the Kanye West! We must round up all Kanye Wests into an internment camp so that they cannot pollute our society further! It is the final solution!

    (Also, he kind of sucks. Dude thinks he’s the John Lennon of his day, when he’s barely the Lionel Richie. And Kanye never made a song half as good as Easy.)

  68. Oh yes, I laughed up a lung when Kanye called himself the best artist of his generation.

    Really? Yes hes 6 years older, but shit Jay Z is more legitimate holder of that crown. At least in hip-hop. At the least.

    “when he’s barely the Lionel Richie.”

    Mr. M – That’s great.

  69. To be fair, Kanye did produce alot of Jay-Z’s classics. You can’t really argue with the jackass part though. The weird thing is he repeatedly turns self reflective and seems very mature and thoughtful about his mistakes, then goes and makes another one. I definitely don’t think he’s the artist of his generation, but he has made alot of good music.

  70. I will concede that he used to be a good producer. But then he opened his mouth and it was all over.

  71. as much as i got a chuckle out of it, i don’t think Obama should be concerned with this Kanye incident whatsoever. it’s embarrassing that the president would even validate the existence of MTV culture, let alone take sides in an awards show publicity stunt. isn’t there more important things to wo…

  72. sorry to cut you off, i’ma let you finish, but Mr. Majestyk had the best response on the page.

  73. i reply to dan

    are you really begrudging obama for taking 10 secs to discuss something that everybody else whose been within 100 yards of a tv or radio has been talking about since Sunday. Yeah theres more important things going on like his getting cock-blocked by the republicans on everything he campaigned for . but cut the man some slack he’s just human and said what everyone was thinking.

  74. Also, him and Kanye are both Chicago dudes, so maybe he felt like he had to say something for the good of the hometown.

  75. well i like that Obama doesn’t mind stepping foot into the world of entertainment once in a while, and to be fair i didn’t actually hear his response clip. but i dunno, just seems so trivial, below him. the MTV whatever awards seem to me like the world’s biggest celebration of shallow meaningless bullshit. only reason i heard about this is because the entire internet won’t shut up about it. poor patrick swayze, got ousted but one stupid douche being rude to some girl about A MUSIC VIDEO. hahah.

    i’m so glad i’m Canadian.

    anyways, /rant.

  76. fuck i didn’t change my name back after the joke. credibility out the window. haha.

  77. this movie was great.

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