Saving Mr. Banks

tn_savingmrbanksSAVING MR. BANKS is the story of P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) flying out to Burbank to develop the movie of her book Mary Poppins with Walt Disney (Tom Hanks). I’m surprised it’s not called TRAVERS, following the last-name-of-character-to-indicate-this-is-a-biopic-and-this-small-story-is-representative-of-the-larger-story-of-their-life trend (CAPOTE, HITCHCOCK, LINCOLN, BLADE, E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, etc.). Maybe they were worried people would think it was about Peter Travers.

As a one-time film critic herself, P.L. would never be confused with Positive Pete. It’s not mentioned in the movie, but I’ve read that in ’37 this Travers reviewed Disney’s pioneering achievement SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS and trashed it. I wish I could read the whole thing, but all I can find is this quote that’s been floating around: “There is a profound cynicism at the root of his, as of all, sentimentality.” Lucky thing Rotten Tomatoes was only on index cards back then, so nobody cared that she was the Armond White of the ’30s, fuckin up its 100% fresh rating. (read the rest of this shit…)

Well, you gotta post an EXPENDABLES teaser I guess

I guess I got a little Charlie Brown in me. I’m gonna keep trying to kick that football. I mean, I do have fun with these movies, I just want one some day that meets or exceeds my hopes for it.

Either way this is a pretty good teaser. A nice return to the abstract, non-movie-footage type of early trailer, and I like the increasingly ludicrous skull logos for these movies.

I can’t really make out everybody in the picture. Is Kelsey Grammer really in there somewhere? That still makes me laugh that he’s playing a badass mercenary. But maybe he’ll pull it off. And I’m pretty sure Gibson will be an excellent villain. The description under the trailer on Youtube reveals that they’re crediting it as “with GIBSON with FORD and SCHWARZENEGGER.” So the “also” credit was a Van Damme exclusive. Good job Van Damme.

House Party: Tonight’s The Night

tn_houseparty5You may remember my important review series Kid ‘n Play: 20 Years On Film: A Cinematic Legacy. Year end awards did not. But to be fair I think the Pulitzer has a print requirement. And I’m in for the long game anyway, I got my fingers crossed for best of the decade type awards.

Anyway it’s obvious that somebody read my series because they decided it was time to rebooten the HOUSE PARTY film franchise for a generation newer than the one that theoretically watched 2001’s HOUSE PARTY 4: DOWN TO THE LAST MINUTE starring Kid ‘n Play’s younger movie cousins Immature. HOUSE PARTY: TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT is kind of a modern rehash of the first one but done with actors and not music people like the original or the previous rebootal. In that sense it seems to be not really in the same spirit, it comes from the attitude that it’s easier for an actor to learn how to rap than the other way around. But it’s still the story of teenage rapper friends trying to get the girls they like and this time get a record contract at a party they aren’t supposed to be throwing. (read the rest of this shit…)

Force of Execution

tn_foe“I think the streets are clean for a while. I’m a dinosau’. Ain’t nobody around like me no more, so…”

Steven Seagal’s new one FORCE OF EXECUTION isn’t really a movie I would recommend to most people, mainly because they would ask what “force of execution” means and I would have no idea what to say. I guess it means the same thing as “reservoir dogs,” but just doesn’t sound as cool or poetic.

However, as a dedicated Seagalogist (in fact, one of the West Coast’s most respected, if I do say so myself) I found plenty of things interesting about this one. In fact, I watched it without reading anything about it and it kept confounding my expectations for a Seagal picture. In the opening scene Seagal’s character Mr. Alexander has a guy tied to a chair and he’s threatening him, saying “You broke the code, Sasha,” and stuff like that. He gives him a knife and tells him to slit his own throat as punishment for being “a rat.” When the guy tries to defend himself Mr. Alexander beats him to death and complains about getting blood on his suit. I mean, Seagal characters are always kinda over the line, but they don’t usually capture a traitor, torture and kill him. (read the rest of this shit…)

Oldboy (2013 remake)

tn_oldboyBefore I talk about the remake of OLDBOY it’s important that I say I liked the original but only saw it one time 8 years ago. Here’s what I wrote about it then.

In the remake directed by Spike Lee and written by Mark Protosevich (THE CELL, I AM LEGEND), Josh Brolin (THRASHIN’) plays a Nick Nolte character named Joe Doucett. He’s an alcoholic, sexually harassing deadbeat dad and advertising asshole who after a long night of drinking, puking and crying in 1993 meets a woman who takes him to a hotel and when he wakes up he realizes she’s not there and there are no windows or doorknobs. One of those hotel conundrums, you know. And this was before Yelp and shit like that so he couldn’t even give them a bad review. Turns out this is not a normal hotel in that you can’t leave. Someone, for some reason, has locked him in this weird prison. Every day they stick a plate of dumplings and a bottle of vodka through a hatch in the door, but they don’t tell him why he’s here.
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Obsessed

tn_obsessedI guess Beyonce Knowles released a “surprise album” on iTunes on Friday. They didn’t announce it in advance or anything and word spread like word spreads on the internet and holy shit it became the number one selling digital file album of such and such. Everybody lost their shit and wrote headlines and everything. Amazing! Revolutionary! It may seem like a clever attention-getting gimmick for a star of her size to not bother with marketing, but here’s the truth: her husband Jay-Z knew through the Illuminati that I had just watched Beyonce’s Christmas-time thriller OBSESSED and was about to put up a review. So she knew she had to rush the album’s release in order to take advantage of that extra spotlight. Your welcome, Beyonce.

Like in DIE HARD, the shit goes down at an office Christmas party for some L.A. financial something-or-other firm. But instead of faux-terrorists taking over the building it’s a stalker executive assistant trying to take a married man. Lisa (Ali Larter from FINAL DESTINATION) is a temp who’s been breathing all over Derek Charles (Idris Elba, GHOST RIDER’S SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE), listening in on his phone calls, finding out too much about him, putting him in uncomfortable situations. The camera makes her seductive, zeroing in on her crossed legs when she sits near him, her glossed lips when she smiles at him. (read the rest of this shit…)

R.I.P. Tom Laughlin

tn_tomlaughlinWell, we lost some cinema icons today. Peter O’Toole of course. I’m not the guy to write the definitive tribute for him, but here’s a piece I wrote when I saw LAWRENCE OF ARABIA in 70mm a couple years ago. And one on THE STUNT MAN. And, uh, SUPERGIRL.

Also Joan Fontaine from REBECCA and SUSPICION died, so there will be some good tributes to her. She was 96.

But me being who I am I want to write a few words about Tom Laughlin, whose family announced today that he died on Thursday. He was 82, a year older than O’Toole! I was surprised to read that. Laughlin was an actor, writer and director who occupied a unique corner in the history of Badass Cinema and independent film and I don’t think alot of the young people know about him. So put your learning pants on.

“Put your learning pants on” and related phrases and merchandising are © 2013 by Vern

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Whiskey Mountain

tn_whiskeymountainWHISKEY MOUNTAIN is an obscure movie I came across through my usual Slasher Search method of scanning for VHS boxes in the horror section. It’s from 1977 and I’m pretty sure it was made after the filmatists saw 1974’s THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, but you could probly stick it in the DELIVERANCE redneck attack type of genre more than in horror.

This is the story of two couples who take their dirtbikes up into some mountains in search of treasure. Like in TEXAS CHAIN SAW they’re looking for family property they vaguely know about, and a local business proprietor warns them they don’t want to be nosing around on other people’s property. Also like in CHAIN SAW that local shows up later on as one of the attackers. (read the rest of this shit…)

Homefront

tn_homefrontHOMEFRONT is a Jason Statham vehicle with an interesting pedigree: screenplay by Sylvester Stallone (Academy Award nominated writer of ROCKY), meth manufacturing villain played by James Franco (Academy Award nominated lead for 127 HOURS), James Franco’s girlfriend played by Winona Ryder (Academy Award nominee for LITTLE WOMEN and THE AGE OF INNOCENCE). Unfortunately the weak link is director Gary Fleder (CableACE Award winner for an episode of Tales From the Crypt), who’s just the guy who did KISS THE GIRLS and RUNAWAY JURY and stuff like that. He’s not terrible but also not the type of strong director that could shoot a bullseye with a simple story like this.

This is the second movie in a row where Statham starts out wearing a long hair wig. This time it’s because he’s a DEA agent undercover in a biker gang. He busts the kingpin Danny T (Chuck Zito), whose son gets shot to death by other cops. Danny and his gang want to kill the shit out of him for this so he has to shave his hair. Also he either goes into witness protection or just retires and moves to a small town somewhere in Louisiana. (read the rest of this shit…)

Green Street 3: Never Back Down

tn_greenstreet3You guys know I got a soft spot for the unlikely DTV franchise. Back in the day I loved to review ‘em for The Ain’t It Cool News. Sequels to WILD THINGS, CRUEL INTENTIONS, ROAD HOUSE, THE HOLLOW MAN… movies that really had no business getting sequelized, it made no sense, but there they were on the video store racks. Or now on the VOD menu or something. Of course, very few thrive in this medium. UNDISPUTED is a rare exception, and since it was originally about boxing it wasn’t that much of a stretch to turn it into this generation’s BLOODSPORT. Most of these sequels are not high quality like that, they’re mildly amusing at best, so I should probly stop wishing for those DTV followups to GHOST DOG and REDBELT (starring Harry Lennix). They would probly lead to disappointment. (read the rest of this shit…)