Vern’s Cinefamily Journal

tn_cinefamilyWell, it happened. Last Saturday, after 15 years of admittedly weird dedication to anonymity, I went and stood unmasked in front of the Cinefamily theater to publicly share my love of the action films of S. Seagal. A couple of you who were there kindly told me not to worry, that I looked exactly like Lee Marvin, but on the internet I saw my looks compared to two different comedians. I won’t say which ones, so go ahead and assume Roddy Piper and Chopper Read. But now there are a couple blurry Loch Ness Monster type photos of me out there, and Griff says I am not buff and I look like his dad. Giving my reputation a hit like that was not what I had planned for my summer vacation.

But I got no regrets and the reason why can be summed up with one frame of film:

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Foodfight!

tn_foodfightWith the critical and commercial success of THE LEGO® MOVIE, Hollywood and corporate America are hard at work trying to figure out what other consumer products and trademarked property brands they can get away with adapting into feature film franchises. Recently for example we heard about plans for a movie based on Barbie dolls and even one based on Marshmallow Peeps candy. CHEETOS: RISE OF CHESTER and REVENGE OF THE NERDS™ CANDY can’t be far behind.

While THE LEGO® MOVIE is the most brazen product placement movie to be accepted by society, it is not the first one to be made. The innovator in this field is 2012′s computer animated feature FOODFIGHT!, the directorial debut of TRUE LIES and MORTAL KOMBAT executive producer Lawrence Kasanoff, who’d already helped pave the way for the hit  movie with a number of Lego®-based animated TV shows. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Expendables III Official Trailer I: The Hopening

Now’s the part where we get excited despite ourselves.

Notes:

1. the action in this trailer is all shot clearly and steadily. This suggests a higher ACR than the second one and of course the first one, which I was hoping for from director Patrick Hughes (RED HILL). This could still be screwed up by bad editing, but if not it will go a long way toward winning me over more than the other installments.

2. I like that Snipes’s character seems to be just getting out of lock up. Or possibly cryo-freeze.

3. I noticed that one of the credited writers is a woman. Just for those mooks who tried to hype the other two as some sort of chest bumping bros only affair.

She Shoots Straight

tn_sheshootsNote from Vern: I’m working on a write-up of the Cinefamily Seagalogy event, but for now please enjoy this review of an obscure Hong Kong gem thanks everybody.

SHE SHOOTS STRAIGHT (aka LETHAL LADY) is an action vehicle for Joyce Godenzi, who stole the show as the Vietnamese double agent in the classic EASTERN CONDORS. She had been in a bunch of movies before this, but I believe this is her only starring vehicle. Today she’s known as the wife of Sammo Hung (who has a supporting role in this), but it should be noted that she didn’t marry him until 1995, so that’s not why she gets a movie, it’s not because of nepotism. Actually, it’s probly because she was Miss Hong Kong, 1984. But I’m glad they thought of doing that because she is incredible.

Here she plays Mina, a supercop who recently got a promotion and also married her handsome co-worker Tsung-Pao (Tony Leung, the one from A BETTER TOMORROW 3).

And you’d think she’d be happy as a clam on Zoloft but she’s got this problem that now she’s got a gaggle of sisters-in-law who are fellow cops who all hate her. They’re worse than the sisters in THE FIGHTER. They’re jealous of her success at work, they try to undermine her authority, disobey her commands, embarrass her. They whine about her getting all the credit for an operation where she clearly deserved the most credit. If they were honest with themselves they would acknowledge that she was the one who slid down the side of a parking garage, jumped onto a moving cab, climbed through a bus, jumped out the other side onto the moving getaway car, got shot at and rolled off and almost run over by a motorcycle which she then commandeered and chased the car literally through a wall of fire, drove over it, ducked a bullet, skidded out the bike and jumped off so the car would hit the bike, flip and roll without hurting the princess. Yeah, the sisters helped, but Mina did the Jackie Chan shit. Plus, the attack happened when most of you ladies were in the bathroom. (read the rest of this shit…)

Seagalogy Goes Hollywood

tn_seagalpaintedWell everybody, I’m off to the land of dreams and what not. Pretty sure it will be a great time although I will also be terrified, like a sasquatch with a police helicopter spotlight on him. The show is 5 pm Saturday at Cinefamily. Last I heard there were still a few tickets left.

Be sure to introduce yourselves. I’ll have some of my books on sale at the concession stand I believe. I’ll try to sign for anybody that wants it, although there’s not a time set for that on the schedule. We’ll see what happens. The important thing is seeing ON DEADLY GROUND and its three excellent prequels in 35 mm.

So, thanks for the support everybody, I’ll see some of you Saturday and the rest of you during the week when I’ll have lots of new reviews I’ve been working on.

your pal,

Vern

Maleficent

tn_maleficent(lots of spoilers throughout this one, if you care)

I don’t want to bust your fuckin bubble man but some of the shit in the Disney movies is kinda dramatized and what not. For example the movie POCAHONTAS and probly also POCAHONTAS II in my opinion is more a cartoon fantasy musical based on the legend of John Smith being rescued by Pocahontas than a legitimate historical document. Well, now the Walt Disney Studios live action division has courageously blown the lid off the old animation studio, accusing them of fudging some of the facts in their classic SLEEPING BEAUTY. Touché. Hats off to Disney for exposing all this before WikiLeaks or somebody did.

If you are not familiar with SLEEPING BEAUTY it is an ironic title in my opinion because it’s the best looking Disney cartoon but also… let’s say, not the least boring one. It’s about a princess cursed by a wicked sorceress so that when she turns 16 she’ll die except a fairy godmother changes it so she’ll only fall asleep. That’s better than dying, but the catch is she can’t ever wake up, except there’s this loophole that a kiss of true love can do it. But how the fuck would that happen oh wait there’s a handsome prince willing to kiss a sleeping gal, so it works out.

If that whole story seemed kinda suspicious to you then you’re gonna see MALEFICENT and you’re gonna be like “I knew it. I fuckin knew it!” This is the story of how that sorceress Maleficent was not really the wicked old bitch who goes around cackling and talking about how evil she is, she’s just a strong woman who got a bum rap from a patriarchal society. After seeing this, SLEEPING BEAUTY will seem like racist anti-fairy propaganda. (read the rest of this shit…)

Batdance – celebrating 25 years of bustin

tn_batdanceToday is June 9th, 2014 and I’m sure you know what that means: it’s the 25th anniversary of Prince’s “Batdance.” I don’t want to take away from your time celebrating with your families, and I’m sure the president will be making a speech and I don’t want to overlap too much with whatever he says, but I’d like to add a few thoughts real quick.

It’s the single that was released on this day in 1989, but I’m a movie reviewer, not an architecture dancer, so we’re gonna talk about the crazy ass music video. Do you remember it? A fuzzy TV signal flashes on a bat-symbol shaped screen. Now, you gotta understand, this was a time of feverish Batmania. America was enraptured by the upcoming Batman movie, which was advertised mainly with that symbol and no text other than “June 23.” Batman products of both official and illicit varieties were huge sellers. They would put a bat symbol on anything (and sometimes eyes on a bat symbol, if it was a bootleg t-shirt.) I remember they not only had Converse with bat symbols on them, they also had a phone that was shaped like Converse with bat symbols on them. So it is no surprise that Prince would own a TV screen shaped like a bat symbol. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a library of movies specifically composed for that aspect ratio. (read the rest of this shit…)

Edge of Tomorrow

tn_edgeoftomorrowGROUNDHOG DAY is an American classic in my opinion. It has this crazy Twilight Zone type of premise (what if you had to live the same day over and over again indefinitely?) that seems too out there for a 1993 studio comedy, and yet there it is. It’s funny and clever and last time I watched it I realized it was also beautiful and profound. It’s a complete original, so it’s weird to think that after two sci-fi spins on the premise, SOURCE CODE and EDGE OF TOMORROW, we could be headed toward a world where young people see it and don’t think there’s anything unique about it. I’ve seen this before, but with action scenes. I’m bored.

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In the Blood

tn_inthebloodI heard so much trash talked about Gina Carano vehicle #2, IN THE BLOOD, that I was scared off from watching it on VOD. And it’s true that there’s plenty wrong with it, especially as a followup to Steve Soderbergh’s HAYWIRE.

#1 problem for alot of people: director John Stockwell (UNDER COVER, BLUE CRUSH) isn’t as meticulous about massaging a performance out of veteran fighter, recent actor Carano as Soderbergh was, so there are some pretty stiff line readings. In one scene she even says she’s from “Cuh-NECK-ticut,” not a regionally accurate pronunciation in my opinion. But as a fan of Dennis Rodman, Brian Bosworth, early Van Damme, Daniel Bernhardt, Gary Daniels, Olivier Gruner, early Dolph, etc. this is not a problem to me at all, and seems like kind of a complaint for action movie lightweights.

The main complaint for people of our ilk, that will go unnoticed by normal people, is that the fights are short and over-edited. The hits feel hard, the camera’s not that shaky and most of the framing is okay, but it’s another one hit = one cut movie. Why directors don’t think it’s worth the effort to stage a bunch of moves – or shit, at least two moves – in a row is beyond me, especially since Stockwell is on the public record as having seen and enjoyed HAYWIRE. He seems to take some influence in how to portray Carano as a scary asskicker (even re-using the gag where she calls her betrayer on the guy she just killed’s phone), but little in the clean-as-a-whistle action filmatism that is HAYWIRE’s bread and butter. (read the rest of this shit…)

Vern Tell’s It Like It Is: The Confession

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…)