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Archive for the ‘Vern Tells It Like It Is’ Category

A long road

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

Friends, I need to write something very personal and sad right now. Some of it will include things about my family and my age that I usually try to be vague about, but fuck it. I’m really only writing this to get it out of my system, so if you didn’t come here to be bummed out or to read my fuckin diaries, that’s perfectly all right. I recommend instead this review from last year of STEELE JUSTICE starring Martin Kove.

But the thing is my mom died Monday morning. It wasn’t sudden, and yet, of course, it kinda seemed like it was. This has been a trying half decade for me. After my dad’s Alzheimer’s was severe enough that he had to be moved into a facility, but before he passed away, Mom tripped and hit her head. Just a normal clumsy accident, didn’t think much of it, but the raccoon eyes that developed the next day helped convince her she should get checked for a concussion. The damage from the fall wasn’t severe, but there was something else they noticed: a brain tumor. A huge one. The surgeon who would soon remove it described it as “the mother of all tumors” and “the size of a grapefruit.” (read the rest of this shit…)

Vern Tells It Like It Is: Pretty please vote for Clinton

Friday, November 4th, 2016

vtiliiI apologize for this political intrusion. I really don’t like writing about this stuff, which is why I don’t do it as much as I did back in the early 2000s when I started out. But sometimes you gotta get things off your chest, and sometimes you feel like an asshole if you don’t say something. I hope we won’t get into arguments about all this, but you can read it or not and consider it or not, and I promise we’ll be back to discussing Mario Van Peebles movies and shit in no time. Thank you.


Normally I don’t endorse candidates, but Trump recently got the endorsement of the official KKK newspaper. I’d like to think I have more readers than them (?) so maybe this balances it out.

Bottom line of this column: I implore you, if you are a registered U.S. voter, to vote for Hillary Clinton. I know there are many reasons why many people don’t want to. Let me bring up a couple of points I think are relevant. (read the rest of this shit…)

Righteous Fury: In Praise of Peaceful Notions In Violent Movies

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

tn_furyroadbVTILIIlogoa Vern Tells It Like It Is Adventure

WARNING: This essay is made up entirely of spoilers

Of the long list of things that are great about MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, one item that’s been getting alot of attention is its strong pro-woman vibe. People love its large cast of badass female characters and themes of escaping sex slavery, overthrowing a tyrannical patriarchy, etc. Surprised to see a movie with so much asskicking but also so many great female characters and themes, many have called it a “feminist action film.”

FURY ROAD is about as close to universally beloved as new movies come, but the stronger the praise the sweeter the temptation to backlash. A week in and we’ve already reached the “you guys said this movie is the ultimate feminist manifesto that will uplift women and change the world forever but I saw it and it’s some movie about cars and trucks driving around in the desert and exploding” stage. And of course there’s room in the world for anti-FURY ROAD sentiments, no need to shut down naysayers. But I’ve been looking for an excuse to write more about this movie, so thanks, I’ll take it!

The most annoyingly contrarian review I’ve seen passed around is “Actually, Mad Max: Fury Road Isn’t That Feminist; And It Isn’t That Good, Either” by Eileen Jones, a college professor and author of a book called Filmsuck, about how films suck. Some of her reasons why it’s not that feminist: the Wives are played by models, Charlize Theron has a “soft, tiny-nosed, blonde prettiness,” the consultant Eve Ensler couldn’t possibly know what it’s like to be Bosnian or Afghani. I was confused by her complaints of the “gorgeous color, red rock and rich umber sand against heartening blue sky,” which she feels is an example of “the scourge of color grading that’s afflicting so many action films.” I’m gonna have to get some action movie recommendations from her I guess because I haven’t seen enough of these Technicolor ones she’s so tired of. (read the rest of this shit…)

Vern Tells It Like It Is: Why I think MAN OF STEEL gets a bum rap

Monday, July 28th, 2014

VTILIIlogotn_mosI already wrote about MAN OF STEEL twice. First a review, then a second-viewing followup. Now here I am again, and for that I am truly sorry. But Superman is kind of like a new Batman, one of the inescapable topics in movie nerd discussions. With news stories about BATMAN VINCENT SUPERMAN popping up weekly, and internet bitterness (or binternet for short) toward MAN OF STEEL still lingering, I keep getting slapped with this persistent conventional wisdom that I just can’t abide. This is my attempt at a definitive rebuttal so I can get it off my chest and finally let it go and say “fly away, little Superman movie. Be free!”

MAN OF STEEL, The Internet says, is not true to the beautiful historic American history of the holy Superman, because this version doesn’t bother to rescue people, and he kills thousands of innocents. When I first heard this complaint, right after my first viewing of the movie, I wasn’t sure which part they were referring to where he kills all these people. I thought maybe I missed something. When I saw it again I looked for it and decided that whoever said that just wasn’t paying attention, or maybe it’s one of those easter eggs where you gotta look up on the internet the exact spot where they stuck it in there for the true fans to notice when they pause it and look at it upside with a magnifying glass. It’s not visible to the layman’s eye, I thought, so it must be some shit only Superweirdos would know about.

But then I started to hear it more. It comes up in every Badass Digest post about super heroes (especially in the comments), it came up in GODZILLA reviews, it comes up in the comments here, one of my buddies even said it to me in person when I started to tell him about what I was working on here. So this is like the end of the book I Am Legend. (spoiler for the end of the book I Am Legend.) It turns out I was the Superweirdo the whole time.

But let me plead my case. I’m not gonna convince any of you to like MAN OF STEEL, but I want to illustrate in detail why I don’t think this popular interpretation is supported by the actual movie.

(no disrespect intended to any of the websights, writers or commenters quoted or referred to here)

(read the rest of this shit…)

Vern Tell’s It Like It Is: The Confession

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

tn_ineedtimevtiliiHello friends, I need to talk to you about something. Probly not a big deal to most of you, but it is to me. A major, scary step in my life’s journey or whatever. What does it take to change the essence of a man time I need time time I do too I do too.

The occasion for this thorough soul and/or bellybutton search: after a decade and a half of secrecy I’ve decided to show my face in public, at least one time, at this Cinefamily Steven Seagal marathon I’m co-hosting with Jeremy Smith on June 14th. A one night event so promising I am risking my very Vern-ness to take part. Tickets still available.

As you know, I’m kind of a recluse, and have remained mysterious and anonymous and shit since starting my sight in 1999. This hasn’t helped me career-wise. I’ve turned down many fun opportunities: podcasts, signings, being a talking head on an A&E Biography of Steven Seagal, being seriously injured in the ring by “Demon” Dave DeFalco. And I’ve had trouble filling out forms that require last names. (read the rest of this shit…)

Vern Tells It Like It Is: Those Damn Vulgarians

Monday, June 10th, 2013

VTILIIlogoOne Seagalogist’s perspective on the “vulgar auteurism” debate

Recently, on my FURIOUS 6 review, commenter Jeroen pointed me to an interesting essay in The Village Voice called “Fast & Furious & Elegant: Justin Lin and the Vulgar Auteurs” by Calum Marsh. A buddy of mine who is way deeper in the online criticism circles than I am had mentioned the “vulgar auteurism” term to me once before, but then I kinda forgot about it and didn’t really realize it was a thing. Now I keep seeing debate about it. I bet this is either the first you’ve heard of it or you’re sick of god damn hearing about it. But I feel like it needs to be mentioned here.

According to Marsh, “‘Vulgar auteurism’ is an increasingly popular concept in contemporary criticism, particularly among young critics. Though it’s emerged online and in print over the past several years and has yet to be granted an official definition, the term generally refers to unfairly maligned or under-discussed filmmakers working exclusively in a popular mode—filmmakers like Lin, who, despite an obvious formal command and distinctive directorial voice, are rarely discussed in a serious way.” He goes on to name Tony Scott, Michael Mann, John McTiernan, Paul W.S. Anderson, Neveldine/Taylor and Michael Bay as other alleged vulgar auteurs. (read the rest of this shit…)

Vern Tells It Like It Is: please vote, Americans

Monday, November 5th, 2012

My fellow Americans. The ones who are eligible to vote, who are registered, who haven’t voted yet, who are open to my opinion on this. This is for you two.

This is the big one. This is the endorsement that’s gonna seal the deal, in my opinion. My friends, I believe Barack Obama deserves re-election, and not just ’cause I don’t want that creepy game show host looking guy in the White House. I believe Obama is a good person and a good president, and also has good taste because I read that he had some Gil Scott Heron on his iPod. And that blows my mind. Being friends with Jay-Z, that could be seen as a cynical ploy to attract youth, but Gil Scott Heron? That’s gotta be legit. That doesn’t appeal to any significant voting block.

There is no way Mitt Romney knows who the fuck Gil Scott Heron is. But we have a president who does. He appreciates the music and he knows about the revolution that won’t be televised and maybe he wasn’t gonna be able to be a part of that but he would do what he could in his own televised way, which was to become president. Wow.

Man, I wonder if he has any Last Poets on there? But anyway. I’m getting sidetracked here.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Vern Tells It Like It Is: Forgiven

Thursday, September 6th, 2012
Go ahead, break my heart.

Clint Eastwood at the 2012 Republican National Convention

Now that it’s been a week since Clint Eastwood spoke at the Republican National Convention, and the rest of society has moved on to the Democratic National Convention and the great speeches by Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama, I’m psychologically and spiritually prepared to comment.

Man, you can imagine how crushed I felt when a buddy told me Clint was gonna speak at the RNC. You probly felt it too. They’d been making a big deal about some “Mystery Speaker” and I was actually looking forward to finding out which clown was gonna have to go up there and try to talk up Mitt Romney. Could be funny, I thought. I never guessed the dirty motherfuckers would give the job to one of my heroes.
(read the rest of this shit…)

VERN TELLS IT LIKE IT IS for October 14, 2011

Friday, October 14th, 2011

ButTellsitLong Live the Round Disc

Why we’d have to be stupid to let hard copies go away

You and I, we love movies. We might even love music. Possibly books. We might’ve been happy living our lives going to movie theaters, watching videos or DVDs at home, putting on a record or a CD, then cracking open a paperback. It worked pretty well, nobody had any complaints really. But we live during the time of a massive technological shift that’s changing everything we do, including our viewing, listening and reading. Come to think of it it’s changing our way of life.

There are countless great things about digital technology, but there are also some huge drawbacks to abandoning some of the old ways. In our lust for the latest gadgets and conveniences I wonder if we’ve put enough thought into what we’re on the verge of giving up. (read the rest of this shit…)

Some random thoughts I had about the news

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

tn_bruceplanetterrorHoly shit, so he really was still alive? I kinda figured he got blown up a long time ago.

So it was a mansion he was in? When Obama said “compound” I pictured some kind of fortified bunker. Now I’m picturing it more like Scarface’s compound.

I wonder what he was doing when they showed up? I bet he was chillin by the pool in a beach chair.
(read the rest of this shit…)