I’m very late to this one, but I have finally seen and written down words about Thor picture #4, THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER, directed by the suddenly controversial Taika Waititi. I see most of the Marvel movies right away, but various other happenings conspired to make me wait until three weeks later on this one, and honestly it was kind of nice to miss most of the conversation and see it after the storm had passed. I’m curious to see if this review will still generates anything close to a new release level of discussion, or if the interest in such topics dissipates with exposure to oxygen. I honestly don’t know the answer.
It was also good to see later because I was aware that the response had been much more widely negative than for most MCU movies, and especially than the in-my-experience-universally-popular THOR: RAGNAROK from the same director and general attitude. Before that I had taken for granted that it would be one of the better Marvel movies. I concede that it’s the opposite. But maybe the lowered expectations contributed to me still being entertained and not hating it. (read the rest of this shit…)
FORD v FERRARI: VROOM OF JUSTICE is a perfectly enjoyable, kind of square and obvious, know-it-all-car-guy underdog racing picture. It has been widely described as a “dad movie,” and sure enough a one-day awards season engagement drew a different crowd than I usually see at the Cinerama, with a higher contingent of gray-haired men. Everyone applauded and cackled at the sticking of it to the man, and in recognition of all the lines from the trailer. A good time was had by all.
It’s the story of Caroll Shelby (Matt Damon, TITAN A.E.), one of the only Americans to ever win the 24-hour-Le-Mans, now retired from driving due to a heart condition, making his living building and selling cars and sponsoring a racing team. Then one day he’s approached by Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal, THE ACCOUNTANT), who has convinced Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts, who also played the grouchy boss in LITTLE WOMEN and maybe other best picture nominees) that the way to make his grandpa’s car company into Not Your Grandpa’s Car Company is to build a car that beats Ferrari in Le Mans. It’s a tall order, but Shelby agrees to give it a shot and recruits his friend Ken Miles (Christian Bale, POCAHONTAS), a “difficult” automotive genius, to help develop and drive the car. (read the rest of this shit…)
Scott Cooper is an actor-turned-writer/director who seems slightly under the radar to me. He made a splash with CRAZY HEART ten years ago, a movie that somehow seems overshadowed by Jeff Bridge’s Oscar-winning performance in it (and that I thought of a few times watching A STAR IS BORN). His followup, the gloomy crime drama OUT OF THE FURNACE (2013), teamed him with Christian Bale (POCAHONTAS) for the first time, and I have to admit that I have not seen his poorly reviewed BLACK MASS (2015). But he didn’t write that one. I only watch the ones he directs and writes, obviously.
2017’s HOSTILES (based on a manuscript written by Donald E. Stewart [JACKSON COUNTY JAIL, DEATHSPORT, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, PATRIOT GAMES, CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER] in the ’80s) reteamed him with Bale for what might be categorized as a Real Serious Western – the kind where the director is hesitant to call it a western (“I don’t think in terms of genre… If anything it’s a psychological western in the vein of Anthony Mann…I don’t think it’s a western, it has more in common with Joseph Conrad or Larry McMurtry or Louis L’Amour” he told Moviemaker) and you want to grab them and tell them “all right cool it buddy, just admit you made a really good western.” (See also THE REVENANT.)
But I guess I sort of get it. A completely traditional western is not very marketable in this day and age. Most people don’t really want the genre without a little bit of a new spin on it, and HOSTILES has one. (read the rest of this shit…)
When I heard writer/director Adam McKay was doing a movie with Christian Bale (TERMINATOR SALVATION) playing Dick Cheney, I couldn’t picture what that would be, but I assumed I would love it. The former Saturday Night Live writer has much more experience in beloved Will Ferrell comedies than in Serious Important Movies, but I enjoyed THE BIG SHORT‘s novel and audacious attempt to make entertainment out of explaining the early 2000s housing bubble. Many worship ANCHORMAN or STEP BROTHERS, but for me it’s TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY that makes me laugh no matter which part I rewatch for the one-thousandth time on cable. Maybe people don’t think of it this, way, but to me it’s the best pop culture portrait of what was going on in our country during the Bush years. So I figured McKay had good instincts about this stuff. (read the rest of this shit…)
Do you remember the Will Ferrell movie THE OTHER GUYS, how the end credits were a big animated info graphic about the banking crisis? It connected to the scheme by the villains in the movie but seemed jarringly serious at the end of a cop movie parody from the director of ANCHORMAN where Ferrell carries a wooden gun, has an evil pimp alter ego and has a chief played by Michael Keaton who quotes TLC all the time and works a second job at Bed Bath & Beyond. That’s why it’s not completely out of the blue that its director Adam McKay has made his first non-comedy, THE BIG SHORT, which has been nominated for many awards including Oscars for best picture, director and adapted screenplay. This is not the classic funny-man-yearning-for-respectability-with-corny-Oscar-bait-movie gambit. This is a rage that’s been fighting to get out.
Based on the non-fiction book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Moneyball author Michael Lewis, the movie tells the stories of several small-timers and outsiders in the financial world who had the foresight to see that the housing market was built on fraud and was destined to collapse. They figured out a way to basically bet against the banks, who gladly accepted the offers because they believed their own lies. They thought these people were crazy and giving them free money. (read the rest of this shit…)
One movie that came and went during the “summer is over, time for some actor-y shit” period of 2013 was OUT OF THE FURNACE. This is the second movie directed by Scott Cooper, who also rewrote from a script by Brad Ingelsby (writer of the gratuitous American remake of THE RAID that apparently is still happening). Cooper previously directed CRAZY HEART, which was known as the Jeff Bridges Oscar movie, but it was also a good movie in its own right, so it was intriguing that he was doing one with Christian Bale next.
I feel like after we got used to him being Batman we kind of forgot how great Christian Bale is. It’s a relief to see him being funny again in AMERICAN HUSTLE, but I also still like watching Earnest Christian Bale. And in this case Rugged Christian Bale. (read the rest of this shit…)
David O. Russell’s latest is a fictionalized take on a true 1970s incident when the FBI worked with conmen to entrap politicians to take bribes from a fake Sheik. The movie opens in the thick of it, right before a big attempted sting, with a long, quiet, unbroken take of Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) gluing on his toupee and carefully combing his remnants of real hair over it. It’s pretty representative of the movie: silly almost to the point of Will Ferrell cartoonishness, but you have to stare at it and contemplate it long enough that it’s on the verge of becoming more sad than funny.
Who does this guy think he’s fooling? Why is he so vain? Won’t somebody tell him how terrible he looks? So when FBI Agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) angrily grabs the toupee and makes it stick straight up, and Irving just stands there angrily, I already feel for him. It’s a funny sight gag, but also it says something about human vulnerability. We can be so hung up on a phony image that we fool ourselves. (read the rest of this shit…)
If I had turned off TERMINATOR SALVATION about 2/3 in I would’ve come to you and made a case for it being underappreciated. I mean, I think it is, it doesn’t deserve the worldwide wholesale rejection and scorn it gets. But it has such a crippling case of T.A.P.s (third act problems) that it’s hard to be excited about it after you get to the end.
But let’s talk about what’s good in it, because there’s plenty of it, and nobody ever talks about that. First of all, a good cast. John Avatar himself, Sam Worthington, plays the anti-hero Marcus, a death row inmate (we don’t actually know exactly how Riddick he is – “My brother and two cops are dead because of me” is the only explanation of his crimes) who gets the lethal injection and then wakes up in a post-apocalyptic battle between man and machine. On one hand, hey, I’m alive, and I’m free! On the other hand… (read the rest of this shit…)
Well, shit. I had been staying offline working on this review for a couple hours before I had to check a detail on IMDb and found out about the massacre in Colorado last night. Fucking horrible, man. Be safe everybody.
We had a fucked up tragedy in Seattle a few months ago, and even though that was on a smaller scale you see how many people it affects. For those of us blessed enough to be unscathed it still has a psychological effect, it forces you to think about yourself and your loved ones having to go through that. Because I walk by the place where it happened, I know people who went there all the time, I’ve dealt with mentally ill people that could’ve been that guy. Or in this case I love movies too, I went to a midnight showing too, alot of my friends did, alot of you guys did. It’s just as bad as all the other things we read about on the news but it seems more personal.
But I’ve also seen how the community has come together, has celebrated the lives and the art of the people who died, are continuing to hold benefit shows and fundraisers for the families and for the little cafe where it happened. You see that people really do care about their neighbors. And I hope we will also try to learn from these horrible things and figure out how to improve the system to identify the root causes and fix things, get sick people help or whatever needs to be done long before it comes to this.
Warner Brothers is pulling advertising for the weekend, canceled a premiere in France and all TV appearances for the stars, because it seems tacky to promote a movie during this. But instead this sick asshole gets to pretend he’s a super villain, he gets to be on TV, the whole world has to pay attention to him. He gets to stand in for the big summer event movie.
Is it wrong to let one psychopath intentionally take away this source of joy, this thing we’ve been looking forward to so long, that we we want to discuss and (possibly) celebrate? Or is it superficial to still want to do that in the face of this sickening loss of human life? I don’t think Batman movies are the most important thing in the world but shit, I want to talk about Batman movies!
I don’t know what the right thing to do is. Maybe it’s too depressing to think about right now, but when you’re ready for my review of the new Batman movie here it is.
THIS IS AN ALL SPOILERS, I’M-ASSUMING-YOU’VE-ALREADY-SEEN-IT REVIEW. If there’s anybody out there still deciding whether to see it or not this is not gonna help, don’t read it. (read the rest of this shit…)
Wow – for some reason I never had any interest in EMPIRE OF THE SUN before. Turns out it’s great and sort of a beginning for alot of things. It’s Spielberg’s first WWII drama. One of Christian Bale’s first movies. The one that gave Ben Stiller the idea for TROPIC THUNDER. etc. (read the rest of this shit…)
WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT THE SHIT OUT OF VERN & OUTLAWVERN.COM
if that's your thing:
Toss me a couple bucks a month, support the good shit, also get access to a bunch of exclusive writing. This is my primary source of writing money that has allowed me to cut down to part time at the day job. Thank you!
2. Buy my books from your local bookseller or somebody