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

Let’s talk about this Parker movie

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

tn_parkerYou guys know how much I love Richard Stark’s Parker books. I think I’ve mentioned it one, maybe one and a half times over the years.

So of course I was intrigued when Variety announced the other day that Jason Statham is in talks to play Parker in a new movie called PARKER, based on– well, that part’s not clear, the article doesn’t say. Some have assumed that it’s another adaptation of the first Parker book, ‘The Hunter’ (even though we’ve already seen that turned into POINT BLANK, two different cuts of PAYBACK and a recent comic strip book). Others think it’s gonna just be a new story based on the character.
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Vern Tells It Like It Is for September 19th, 2010: Of Storms and Stadiums

Monday, September 20th, 2010

ButTellsitI don’t really do these columns anymore, but what the hell. Here is a column I want to write. You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. It’s a free country.

I thought this was gonna be a followup or update to a previous column, but using the power of search engines I can’t figure out where I wrote about this topic before. I don’t know if it was in some talkback or comments or on the door of a bathroom stall or what but I could’ve sworn that somewhere I wrote about the phenomenon of the multi-millionaire owners of professional sports teams blackmailing taxpayers into building them unnecessary new stadiums. So forgive me if I repeat myself here.

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The Mystery of Bearded Harold

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

weirdads5Not too many people use Hotmail these days, so I don’t know if any of you guys’ve seen these before, but there are a series of strange ads that show up on the Hotmail pages alot.

The second thing you’ll notice about these ads is their weird tendency to word their sales pitches like propaganda, as if your country is telling you it’s your duty to use whatever their service is. But the first thing you will notice is the crazy ass photos they choose to represent the sort of person they are trying to sell to – i.e. you.

At left is the first one I noticed, and I think you probly have some of the same questions that I do:

What’s up with that? Who is that man with the giant nerd glasses and cartoonish overbite? Why does his face have the waxy look of a caveman dummy at a history museum? Is he organic or digital? Why does his open collar and string necklace suggest a laidback, comfortable surfer dude when his head looks like a hideous monster? Is that a fake nose, and if so is it attached to the glasses? What does he want from us?

I mean, this is weird. Somebody made this ad, and somebody purposely chose that picture to appear on that ad. What were they trying to make us think? Who was he supposed to represent? Is he one of the 9 out of 10 homeowners who fail to take advantage of government refinance plan? I don’t think so. Judging from his smile he must be the tenth guy, the guy who succeeds to take advantage of government refinance plan. That means he’s the person who is supposed to respond to this ad. That means he’s us. He’s how they see us seeing ourselves, isn’t he?

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Michael Jackson

Friday, June 26th, 2009

tn_mjIt’s not like there’s anything new that needs to be pointed out about Michael Jackson, but I can’t think about anything else. Over the years I’ve spun off on many tangents about his talent, his fascinating persona and the tragic circumstances of his life, so it’s nothing really new except for the unhappy ending, the lid put on my dreams of what could happen next. But maybe putting it into words again will help me accept that this has really happened. (read the rest of this shit…)


Thursday, May 7th, 2009

tn_summer09A Preview and a Pep Talk

With WOLVERINE: X-MENS in theaters and STAR TREK: NOT THE MOTION PICTURE BUT JUST STAR TREK hitting tomorrow, the ribbon on the 2009 summer movie season has officially been cut. Doesn’t matter that it’s early May and greyer than your grandma’s hair outside my window – I’ve seen with my own eyes they got Wolverines and Terminators on the Slurpee cups, and that means it’s summer. Come to think of it, the summer movie season keeps getting earlier in the year, just like Christmas decorations. Anyway, since I got a blog now and I can just blog about anything I want to blog about here on my blog, I might as well get back to the standard movie nerd shit I used to do in the old days. So here’s my SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW plus a little venting at the end. By the way, blog is short for weblog, that is why you say blog, it just sounds so good to say it instead of weblog. (read the rest of this shit…)

Script review (on video): MACHETE

Monday, April 27th, 2009

I don’t do script reviews very often, partly because I don’t usually want to read the scripts before they’re movies. But somebody sent me Robert Rodriguez’s script for MACHETE and at the time I wasn’t sure I believed it would actually be made, so I couldn’t resist taking a look.

And then it gets messy. You know I tried out Twitter, and I don’t think it’s really for me. Here I’m testing out another technology the kids use today, the video. They got it on all the websights, etc. Anyway that’s why I haven’t had many reviews lately, I was working on this thing. So please watch and let me know what you think.

UPDATE: For those who complained that they can’t understand what the hell the robot is talking about you can click through for the text version. (read the rest of this shit…)


Tuesday, January 20th, 2009


I stand writing this on a foggy street Monday night, wondering if Bush already left the White House forever, or if he’s staying the night. I heard he already had all his shit moved out – I usually stay up all night the night before moving, still packing. I guess he was in a hurry.

Not too long ago it was hard to picture this day. Remember, some people even worried there would be a terrorist attack and they’d declare martial law and the Bush reign of terra would continue. Ha ha, now we can save our paranoia for other things. God damn, I should’ve sold all those political expose books I got for Christmases. Nobody’s gonna take that shit off my hands now. I’d feel like an asshole even bringing them into Half Price Books. No more Bush documentaries either. We’re moving on.

The grocery store is draped with American flags – I don’t remember the inauguration being an event to celebrate at home before, but this year everybody’s taking the day off and getting up early. A local bakery is distributing cookies emblazoned with portraits of the Obamas, including the silhouette of a dog with a question mark over it. I drank the Obama Jones Soda but I’m not comfortable with the idea of crunching on the first family. (read the rest of this shit…)

Vern eulogizes the great Donald E. Westlake

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Well, shit. The first bummer of 2009, or the last one of 2008. Turns out last night before his New Year’s Eve dinner the great mystery writer Donald Westlake collapsed and died. He was 75.

Westlake was a hell of a prolific writer. He started in 1960 and delivered books faster than his agent thought he should. Supposedly it was bad to try to promote more than one book in a year, so he started using pseudonyms. Under the Westlake name he wrote around 50 books – add in the pen names and that number doubles. Movies based on his books include THE HOT ROCK (a fun Robert Redford heist comedy recently reviewed by Quint), BANK SHOT, A SLIGHT CASE OF MURDER and the most recent Costa-Gavras movie THE AX. He was also a screenwriter who sometimes adapted other writers – Patricia Highsmith for RIPLEY UNDER GROUND, Dashiel Hammett for a TV anthology, Jim Thompson for THE GRIFTERS (he was nominated for an Oscar for that one). Personally I think his best screenplay is THE STEPFATHER, which does such a great job of including dark satire of ’80s family values in the subtext of an effective thriller. He was often known for lighthearted and goofy material but he was definitely good at the mechanics of a tight mystery or thriller story.

The reason this one hits me hard is that one of the other writers hidden beneath the friendly Westlake exterior was Richard Stark. If you had asked me yesterday I would’ve told you Stark was my favorite living writer. Aside from four spinoffs about an actor/thief named Grofield, Stark’s entire output was the 24 novels of the Parker series. These are the sparsely written, ridiculously badass adventures of a guy who plans heists, then leads the team executing them. He’s the best at what he does, knows how to work with the best people, and is usually disciplined enough to follow his rules and obey his instincts. But something always goes wrong anyway and that’s his other job, the problem solver. The guy who cleans up the mess. Usually, but not always, he’s able to outsmart and outfight everybody and get away with his ass intact, and most of the loot. (read the rest of this shit…)

Vern has read Stallone’s THE EXPENDABLES!!!

Sunday, December 28th, 2008


Usually I don’t write much about a movie before it’s made, because I prefer movies that exist. Every once in a while somebody sends me a script like LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD or RAMBO, but I usually ignore them. I would rather watch the finished movie and not know what the original plan was. And to be honest I’m not sure how qualified I am to tell you about the meal based on the recipe. But THE EXPENDABLES – a Sylvester Stallone action ensemble picture where he will write, direct and then star alongside Jet Li, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Forest Whitaker and Randy Couture – is a big fuckin deal among those of us who love the action cinema of the ’80s and ’90s. We can’t help but dream about this one like nerds once dreamed of Star Wars prequels or new outfits for their limited edition Serenity dolls so they can act out what would’ve happened in the second season. So when Stallone’s script fell into my lap this time I couldn’t resist.

By the way I would like to take a moment to welcome A.B. King to the talkback. Welcome, A.B.

The ragtag team of the title are a group of elite mercenary badasses – at one point described as “totally prepared to die in a blaze of glory” – hired to take out a dictator in the South American country of Corza. I do not have an opinion on what’s going on in Corza because I believe it is a fictional country, but if in fact they’re real I’m against them. They got all kinds of human rights violations and shit. No good. (read the rest of this shit…)

Yes We Motherfucking Can

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Tuesday night, downtown Seattle, heading home just after Obama’s victory speech:

As strangers pass each other on the sidewalks we see each other’s signs or pins, or just the smiles on our faces, and we shout and high five each other. “YEEEEAAAAAHHH!!!” Somewhere down the block someone is just yelling “OBAAAAAAAAAMA! OBAAAAAAAAAAAMA!”

At the Showbox, downtown’s best music venue, people are spilling out from the election party put on by the local alternative weekly. Some of them stand on the side of the road holding their Obama signs, waving to the honking cars. It feels good. How often do we get to celebrate something like this?

The sidewalk group has grown to a few dozen. Suddenly a rented “Party Limo” pulls up – a minibus covered in Obama/Biden signs. The door opens and some very satisfied African American gentlemen in oversized Obama shirts emerge spraying champagne, passing out cups. We pour into the street. I always said we would be partying in the streets. (read the rest of this shit…)