If anyone had told me a few years ago that I become an avid reader of film reviews by a man who holds Bruce Willis's Die Hard trilogy up as the pinnacle of film-making, I would have laughed in that person's face. But that was before I ran across Outlaw Vern, "a Writer who is trying to go clean after a life of crime, alcohol, etc." Sometimes I wonder whether Everyman, ex-con, action flick-loving Vern is real or just a persona created by Roger Ebert so he could use the word 'fuck' a lot, but his film reviews (as well as his occasional longer rants) make me laugh out loud. Anyway, I don't think Vern can be done justice by my descriptions, so I'll just let him speak for himself.
On The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie:
Most of you sickos probaly know Louie from that old porno The Andalusian Dog where some sick fuck cuts a lady right in the eyeball (but it's actually a cow's eyeball which is almost as bad, I mean jesus). He did that one with Salvador Dali and in his later solo work he still loved the dream logic of the surrealism but he used it to make comedies making fun of dumb rich people. And this my friends is a good fucking use for a movie.
On The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (or, as Vern calls it, "Fellows with a Ring"):
You nerds were right though. Hobbits and dragons and shit are back in style. The terrorists have already won. Can you imagine if you were that sap that went up on the space station for all those months? You come back and all the sudden there's no world trade center, nuclear bombs are considered okay, people like George W. Bush, everybody's watching wizard movies all day and on tv they're trying to shove this magic scooter down our throats as a new way to revolutionize walking. "No more cumbersome right foot left foot garbage - with the magic scooter all you gotta do is lean forward and you've walked all the way across the room! AMAZING!"
On Once Upon a Time in Mexico:
In ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO there's an even bigger gap between the movies. So much has happened that there are flashbacks back to what happened since DESPERADO. I think Rodriguez is pretending this is Mariachi 4 and it is following up on the loose ends from part 3 (Mariachi 3-D). So the Mariachi breaks a vow that is probaly from part 3 and not part 2. He avenges a couple deaths from part 3. Maybe in part 3 we saw where he met these two more gunfighter mariachis who help him out.
That is one of the reasons I love these movies. They take place in a world where if you are a gunfighter mariachi, you will be able to hook up with others like you. I wonder if in DESPERADO those stories everybody heard about the guy with the guitar case full of weapons - well we know now that there are at least 5 people like that. Are these stories even about the same guy? Maybe there's a sixth one out there that really is the biggest Mexican you've ever seen.
On The Powerpuff Girls Movie:
I believe this is a movie made for the little kids who say the names of all the characters when they come on the screen, for college kids and for the adults who come in by themselves, like me, and somebody thinks what is that guy doing here, is he a child molester. I'm not sure if it's for the parents though because they mean it when they say it is "rated PG for non-stop kinetic cartoon action" and I'm not sure if most moms and dads will be happy that they solve all their problems by brutally killing hundreds, maybe thousands of monkeys, some of them cute. Although to be fair this probaly is not something most kids have the chance to re-enact. Except maybe Michael Jackson's kids could do a smaller, more intimate version of some of the scenes, substituting a llama for the gorilla.
On Red Eye:
Before he tells her the deal though he adds an unneccessary flourish: he meets her in line at the airport, flirts with her, buys her a drink. Then "coincidentally" ends up sitting next to her on the plane. And she seems to be falling for him until the whole "I've been stalking you for weeks and right now there's a guy parked in front of your dad's house waiting for my command to kill him" thing comes up. Guys, remember, that's a dealbreaker for most women.
That is the real lesson to take out of this movie because really, how many people watching it are ever gonna get terrorized by Cillian Murphy on a plane? Probaly less than 10%. But of those others, many of them are gonna be working in jobs where they get treated like shit and have to eat it up. The type of job I'm sure this screenwriter was doing shortly before writing the script. So now he is sharing the RED EYE motto: the customer is sometimes right, the rest of the time they should go sit on a pole.
This is a weirdly old timey kind of future. Yeah they got spaceships and planets and what not but they still use bullets and knives. They punch alot. And they talk this kind of cowboy talk like "reckon" and what not. But it's also kind of current because they still have silk screened t-shirts, vibrators and other modern conveniences, not space-ified. This is maybe the first ever non-porno space movie to have a reference to a vibrator. Unless I missed something in 2001.
On Sleepy Hollow
Now you know I'm thinking it, so I'm just gonna go ahead and say it, this dude Ichabod would NOT last long inside. He's afraid of a headless horseman, afraid of a headless dead guy, afraid of a hairy spider. He hides under his blanket and won't come out of his bedroom he's so scared. I don't know what the fuck a pretty janey like this is gonna do when he has to shower with Mickey Deadly, a samoan dude with the devil tattood on his dick.
But I gotta be honest, this hiding under the blanket shit is something you don't see a whole lot in movies, so I gotta give it points for refreshingness. I don't want to see everybody start doing this in the movies, I'd rather have more walking bare foot on glass as in the film Bruce Willis's Die Hard. And if van damme tried the hiding in the bed he'd probably work in some kind of splits and that would just be kind of stupid. But this one time in sleepy hollow it's kind of cool, I like it.
But perhaps the best is his review of Doom, a film which I have not seen and have no intention of ever seeing but am glad was made if only so that it could provoke the following analysis:
There are three very clever sequences in this movie. First, it opens with narration over a starfield, and then pans over to show Mars. Suddenly the familiar UNIVERSAL logo letters spin around Mars. So it's just like the usual studio logo except the red planet instead of the globe. Then the letters go off screen and the camera zooms into Mars and into a space colony where the movie takes place. It's like there's not even time to bother with a studio logo, our only option is to work it into the plot. That is how urgent it is to get to the motherfucking DOOM.
Yeah yeah, I know my movie history, so you don't have to flood me with emails pointing out that the great visionary McG already connected the first shot of C'S As 1 to whichever studio logo it was. But this is a different thing because the movie has already started, and then we get the logo within the movie. If we are to follow our understanding of standard cinematical language, there may really be giant letters orbiting around Mars within the reality of DOOM. It all takes place indoors, so there's no way to know if there are giant UNIVERSAL shaped shadows dripping across the landscape.
The number two clever sequence is the one you maybe already heard about, the climax of the movie. It's a five and a half minute sequence that is a continuous shot from the point of view of the hero (Karl Urban), running through space colony corridors shooting monsters that pop out like it's a Halloween haunted house. Alot of his opponents are just dumb zombie dudes but there's also a variety of monsters from rubber costumes to computer animation, and weapons including guns, grenades and a chainsaw. (Apparently the video game the movie is based on is famous for being first person like this, so that's where the idea comes from. they sure have come a long way since Pac-Man in my opinion, although the stupid thing about the POV concept is that you can never do a MS. DOOM, because how are you gonna know if you're wearing a bow and lipstick?)
Number three, the end credits, the type that seem like they were designed for the opening but tagged onto the end instead so the movie can get down to business faster. These are computer animated and are also a continuous POV shot going through corridors shooting things. Only instead of shooting monsters, you're shooting the credits, blowing the letters to bits. This was maybe a little redundant after the other POV shot but I still thought it was the funniest credits since FREDDY VS. JASON was carved into flesh and then exploded. And it raises the same questions the Universal logo did. If the characters had stuck around longer, would they have eventually been attacked by flying letters? Maybe that's why they travel to Mars using a portal called "The Ark" instead of space ships. All the manned missions to Mars kept colliding with giant flying letters. Those things are big enough to wrap around Mars, you don't want to bump into those.
So hooray for Vern. Keep 'em coming.