Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

Paparazzi

Sunday, November 21st, 2004

This is one of those mysterious movies that suddenly appeared out of nowhere one Friday night, then disappeared again a week later without so much as a puff of smoke. It straddles that blurry line between mainstream studio movie advertised on national television and straight to video thriller nobody’s ever heard of.

I actually saw an ad for it that week and I gotta admit I was a little intrigued. You just saw some dude falling down a fire escape and maybe a car flipping or something, and I thought maybe it was some gritty low budget late ’70s early ’80s style down and dirty revenge thriller. I mean there were no stars in it, it looked like the main character was that sleazeball Tom Sizemore (actually it’s Cole Hauser, some guy who looks kind of like Christian Bale but sounds kind of like Willem Dafoe). The only way they tried to make it sound like a Real Hollywood Movie was to brag that it was produced by Mel Gibson. (the guy from MAD MAX.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Man on Fire

Wednesday, October 13th, 2004

I gotta question I was wondering about. If you had to choose one Scott brother that was better (or not as bad), which would it be, Ridley or Tony? On one hand, Tony has never made a truly great movie like ALIEN or, you know, BLADE RUNNER is a good one too in my opinion. Both by Ridley. Tony’s got nothing on that level. But on the other hand, Tony has a couple okay movies: TRUE ROMANCE and CRIMSON TIDE are both pretty okay. I’m looking on IMDB here and– okay wait a minute, Tony Scott did TOP GUN? I forgot about that one. Never mind. I guess I choose Ridley. Congratulations on this great achievement, Ridley. I remember you seemed pretty pissed off that you didn’t get the best director Oscar for that corny gladiator movie you made. Maybe this great honor will cheer you up. Way to go, champ.

So I guess that makes Tony the underdog here, and he had one this year called MAN ON FIRE that seemed to show some promise as a film of Badass Cinema. Academy Award Winner Denzel Washington (“You shot me in the ass!”) plays an alcoholic ex-CIA killer guy who’s hard up for work so he becomes a bodyguard for a little girl in South America. People get kidnapped there more often than they don’t get kidnapped, so next thing you know she gets stolen and this motherfucker stops at nothing to get her back and/or torture, maim and murder the people responsible. And I don’t know if you ever saw the poster for this one but it was real good. No collage or nothing, just one giant picture of Denzel wearing a suit and sunglasses, looking real tough. Behind him you see nothing but fire and smoke, and he’s standing half way in front of this little girl, holding out one hand in front of her, and she’s wearing a private school uniform and hugging a teddy bear. (You know, for emphasis.) It’s like Chow Yun Fat with the baby on the HARD BOILED poster, only 9 years later. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Manson Family

Friday, October 1st, 2004

About a month ago I saw this movie DEADBEAT AT DAWN, a sleazy, gorey student film about lowlife THE WARRIORS style gang members stabbing each other and robbing armored cars and spinning nunchucks in the cemetery. The director and star was Jim Van Bebber, who seemed a little bit too into shock value but I thought he was still likable. His movie is corny and amateurish as hell but it has alot of conviction. This guy is swinging on ropes and jumping off bridges and piling on the hideous gore effects like nobody’s business. It’s one of those things where you don’t really love the movie but the guy’s obvious dedication to getting it done sort of elevates it. It’s about the journey, man.

Usually a guy like this, they go on to make bigger and better movies and become well known and respected, or more likely they go on to make slicker but much worse movies and then their career fizzles out and you forget you ever thought they had any potential. It’s hard to say where Van Bebber is headed though because since he finished DEADBEAT in 1988 he never bothered to sell out to Hollywood or get stuck signing deals that never amount to anything. Since then he has spent almost his entire career on one other movie, CHARLIE’S FAMILY. Another raw, fiercely independent, ten thousand miles away from Hollywood kind of low budget movie. This time it’s about the Manson family, it has some of the same cast but Van Bebber plays family member Bobby instead of the lead. (read the rest of this shit…)

My Name Is Modesty and Frankenfish

Thursday, September 9th, 2004

Hi, everyone. “Moriarty” here with some Rumblings From The Lab…

Holy cow, I think that’s the sound of my balls getting busted. And I s’pose if they’re going to get busted, I’m glad it’s by Guillermo Del Toro’s favorite working film critic, the Northwest’s greatest ex-con turned online movie columnist… the one… the only… Vern:

VERN’S VHS PILE

Howdy boys. Well I know Moriarty’s got his DVD shelf that he’s real proud of and he has more DVDs than he will actually live to ever watch, which is good. Always wise to have that shit around to pawn, in my experience. I’m not saying he’s gonna get a whole lot for BASIC, GHOST SHIP, ROLLERBALL, MR. DEEDS, and that kind of crap (yeah, I studied that picture too), but hey, if it buys half a bowl of soup on a cold day it might be worth it. Always save for the future. Anyway I’ve got a couple more reviews of straight to video movies for you so I thought it was time I shared with you something very special. Not to brag or anything but this is Vern’s VHS Pile:

Yep, that’s right, that’s a pile of VHS tapes right there. Most of them are screeners, all of them are an obsolete format, and one of them is even a good movie. Two if you count the headcleaner. I know alot of people will not believe I actually have such a pile, so let me just head you newsies off at the pass and tell you that no, that is not fake, that’s a bonafide 100% real photograph, and all are owned by me, not rented like Ja Rule’s mansion on that episode of CRIBS I read about. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Driver

Sunday, September 5th, 2004

This is a lesser known but completely fucking badass Walter Hill picture about a getaway driver. Ryan O’Neal plays the driver character (called “The Driver”) who is pursued by a semi-crazy cop with no name (“The Detective” on the credits) played by Bruce Dern.

The movie starts out with a robbery sort of like the dog race robbery Hill wrote for the remake of THE GETAWAY, except that the movie rushes through the robbery part and focuses on the escape. Right away you know you are in for a treat with this movie, because it’s some of the most intense car chases I’ve ever seen. Lots of car’s–eye-view shots as the driver swerves through oncoming traffic, red lights, parking garages, narrow alleys… he’s got 2 or 3 cops right on his ass everywhere he goes but he keeps managing to run them off the road or fake them out and leave them in the dust. (read the rest of this shit…)

Deadbeat at Dawn

Tuesday, August 31st, 2004

What this is is a no-budget first timer trying to prove himself 16mm type movie. A film student named Jim Van Bebber stars in it and directed it, using his film school buddies as actors, spending many years and sweating alot of blood to make his movie and prove himself. He finally finished it in 1988, but it feels more like early ’80s or at times even late ’70s. I think he was definitely trying to make a movie like EVIL DEAD or TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE or something but one thing that makes it unique, he made an action movie instead of a horror movie. But he still put in a whole lot of bleeding and stabbing and screaming and dying, etc.

Now, there are alot of reasons not to like this movie. There is alot of bad acting and dialogue, awkward and amateurish shots, self conscious attempts at shocking the audience. Worse than that, it is a movie about gangs with names like The Spyders and The Ravens. And the characters have names like Goose and Bonecrusher (actually I thought they were saying Bumcrusher, but I’ll take IMDB’s word for it). We’re talking about those movie type of gangs where they are a bunch of long haired heavy metal dudes who don’t look tough at all but they figure if they wear a headband and a driving glove, and supposedly do alot of drugs, then that will make them hardcore. There are lots of bad getting high scenes and drinking beer scenes and evil cackling and threatening gum chewing. And every once in a while they remember that they want it to be THE WARRIORS or CLOCKWORK ORANGE so suddenly the guys will be wearing Halloween masks or codpieces or something. And there is always graffiti in the background that says things like “THE CITY IS SHIT.” (social commentary) (read the rest of this shit…)

Zatoichi

Sunday, August 15th, 2004

I’ve seen a couple of the old Zatoichi movies and I liked them, but I was excited for this one not because it was a Zatoichi film, but because it was a TAKESHI KITANO film. The great badass laureate does his usual writing/directing/editing deal while playing the blind masseuse with the deadly cane sword.

So I don’t know why but for some reason it threw me off that this really was more of a Kitano movie than what you expect when you see a Zatoichi movie. It’s like, what if Jim Jarmusch made a Zorro movie? It’s kind of weird. The character is very similar to how Shintaro played him, with a little more of the Beat Takeshi humor and for some reason with blond hair. But the feel of the movie itself is very Kitano. It wanders around like a dotted line in a Family Circus comic, gradually introducing a family of offbeat characters, without letting on too strong about which ones the movie is about. It has the usual Kitano sense of humanity, introducing a couple of dumb (one arguably retarded) characters and one crossdresser, without a trace of being judgmental. (read the rest of this shit…)

Miami Blues

Tuesday, August 10th, 2004

I don’t know if you guys have ever heard of this one. It’s a weird crime movie starring Fred Ward as a cop with fake teeth, Alec Baldwin as a crook who steals his teeth, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Baldwin’s dumb hooker turned naive fiancee.

From the cover you’d assume this is just some boring cop movie, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that it’s something completely unique. Or don’t take my word for it. Let me explain to you a little bit about the plot, and see if that waxes your mustache.

See, Alec Baldwin (back when he was young and skinny, and made the gals swoon) gets off a plane in Miami, steals somebody’s luggage, and heads for the exit. At the bottom of an escalator he is approached by a hare krishna, who asks him what his name is. He says, “Trouble,” breaks the guy’s finger, and leaves. (read the rest of this shit…)

Cradle 2 the Grave

Friday, July 23rd, 2004

From the same director, producer and cast as Romeo Must Die and Exit Wounds comes another exciting pile of disparate elements squooshed together into the same basic shape as an action movie. It’s really more of a booger sculpture than a movie, but for a booger sculpture, it’s not that bad, I guess.

Joel Silver originally announced this as Untitled DMX Project, supposedly a remake of Fritz Lang’s M. If that was the case, then I guess Tom Arnold (our generation’s Peter Lorre) would’ve been playing a perverted child killer whose killing spree had caused the police to clamp down so hard that organized crime would be pretty much put out of business. So the leaders of rival gangs (DMX, Jet Li, Mark Dacascos) would pool their resources to catch Tom Arnold so everything could go back to normal. (read the rest of this shit…)

Walking Tall

Thursday, July 22nd, 2004

I’m not all that familiar with the films of Phil Karlson. Supposedly he did some good gritty crime movies in the ’50s, but I just know him from his later years, when he did movies like BEN and WALKING TALL (he did one more, FRAMED, after those two, and that was that), where you’re convinced at the beginning that it’s some crappy TV movie but by the end you’re surprised by how involved you somehow got.

Loosely based on an actual guy, WALKING TALL is the story of Buford Pusser (Joseph Donald Baker), a soldier turned professional wrestler who moves his family back to his hometown in Tennessee, only to discover that things have changed a little bit. You know, same way they always did in blaxploitation movies. Suddenly there’s a bunch of criminals running the town, selling (in this case) moonshine. You can’t go to a bar without getting in a fight and a woman can’t even step one tippy toe onto God’s green earth without a bunch of drunken yahoos doing donuts in a pickup truck yelling “whooo hoo” and trying to grab her boobies. (Not that this literally happens in the movie as far as I remember, but you know, it’s that kind of movie.) (read the rest of this shit…)