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  • Best of Enemies

    Best of Enemies 2015

    ★★★★½ Watched 06 Jan, 2016

    In showcasing William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal’s televised debates during the 1968 Republican and Democratic National Conventions, Best of Enemies expertly illustrates how our political past has informed our political present. There's a fine line between intellectual debate and irrational argument, as well as a slippery slope from enlightening television to mindless cable news punditry. A watershed moment in TV history, and one with unintended and unsettling consequences.

  • The Wolfpack

    The Wolfpack 2015

    ★★★★½ Watched 05 Jan, 2016

    Seven children were raised in the isolation of a tiny Brooklyn apartment by their anti-social (to put it lightly) father. With nothing else to cling to, they became enamored with movies, obsessively watching and re-enacting Reservoir Dogs, The Dark Knight, Halloween, etc. to connect with a world of which they knew nothing. Crystal Moselle’s documentary is a powerful testament to the transformative nature of art and pop culture.

  • Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom

    Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 04 Jan, 2016

    Invaluable for its footage of the Ukrainian Revolution at ground level and helpful in the way it shows how peaceful protest gave way to bloodshed. A little more context and clarity could have brought it up to par with its Netflix counterpart The Square but still very much worth watching.

  • The Hateful Eight

    The Hateful Eight 2015

    ★★★★★ Watched 26 Dec, 2015

    As nasty and cynical as any movie you’ll see this year, and as indulgent as any Tarantino’s ever made. For some, that may sound like a terrifying prospect, but for those who loved every second of Death Proof, it’s thrilling to watch the man dig this deep into his psyche. A chamber piece blown up to the huge proportions of Ultra Panavision 70mm, a stage play in the guise of a three-hour epic, The Hateful Eight is populated with American monsters. If Django Unchained was a pop revenge fantasy, The Hateful Eight has something real--and real mean--on its mind about current race relations.

  • Magnolia

    Magnolia 1999

    ★★½ Rewatched 01 Jan, 2016

    Magnolia is not a timid film. It is operatic, musical in its composition, frequently hitting a crescendo and scaling to find another. I admire Paul Thomas Anderson's ambition, and I wouldn't even say he misses his mark. I think he hits it dead on; it's just not for me. This is the kind of thing that's ether going to captivate you from the opening frame or leave you cold. Sadly, it's never quite held together for me. Of the many…

  • Chi-Raq

    Chi-Raq 2015

    ★★★ Watched 03 Jan, 2016 1

    When it comes to Chi-Raq, his latest joint, Spike Lee's stance against gun violence is on point. It's vital and relevant, with mentions of Tamir Rice and Sandra Bland. As an impassioned wake-up call for America, you have to give it a hand. Based on the Greek play Lysistrata, there's a sex strike to stop gang fights. The gimmick? It rhymes sometimes.

    Then, every once in a while, when it wants to get serious, it drops the whole rhyming shtick,…

  • Sicario

    Sicario 2015

    ★★★ Watched 29 Dec, 2015 7

    Another slick, hermetically sealed offering from Denis Villeneuve. At best, Villeneuve offers a simulation of human feeling; at worst, he makes pretty pictures (though here he gets some of genius cinematographer Roger Deakins' least inspired work). When all Sicario tries to be is an attractive thriller, it gets the job done. Though Villeneuve has dropped the pretensions of Enemy, he still strains to make Sicario more than a genre piece; the attempt is half-formed and a little hollow. The film's intention to illuminate the self-fulfilling nature of the drug war is noble, though it longs for a director who deals in flesh and blood.

  • The Good Dinosaur

    The Good Dinosaur 2015

    ★★½ Watched 27 Dec, 2015

    If you had told me, at 5 years old, that a cartoon dinosaur with my name was going to star in his very own feature film, I woulda been psyched. Truth be told, at 25, I was still pretty excited. So it's a shame The Good Dinosaur is Pixar's most generic, least interesting effort to date. Cars 2 may have been misguided, but this is Pixar on autopilot. If you've seen one big screen computer animated movie in the last…

  • The Star Wars Holiday Special

    The Star Wars Holiday Special 1978

    ½ Watched 28 Nov, 2015

    I no longer remember the names or faces of my loved ones.

  • Tremors 4: The Legend Begins

    Tremors 4: The Legend Begins 2004

    ★★ Rewatched 14 Oct, 2015

    You know the phrase to describe the third and fourth Tremors? "Pleasantly bad." These are not good movies, but they're completely harmless and inoffensive. (Well, some of the minority characters in this one border on the stereotypical.) The Legend Begins, with its cheapo Old West backdrop, has a lot in common with your average Hallmark Channel production: there's a bland, workmanlike competence at play, and it's hard to argue that the film doesn't hit every note its audience expects. None…

  • Tremors 3: Back to Perfection

    Tremors 3: Back to Perfection 2001

    ★★ Rewatched 12 Oct, 2015

    Yeah, this is more along the lines of what I expected from my Tremors II rewatch. Unlike the second, Back to Perfection gives off serious direct-to-video vibes. Sure, Michael Gross is great (and this is his first real starring role in the franchise), and there are some fun gags about Perfection's tourist trap status. But while Aftershocks gave us the legitimately cool Shriekers, this one gives us the Ass-Blaster, which...yeah. Actual line of dialogue: "Ha ha, Ass-Blaster! Blast your own ass!" Tremors 3 doesn't take itself seriously enough to be truly regrettable, but the series' novelty has worn off.

  • Tremors 2: Aftershocks

    Tremors 2: Aftershocks 1996

    ★★★½ Rewatched 10 Oct, 2015

    I hadn't watched Tremors II in many years. I was prepared for the worst. But you know what? It's a totally fun movie. For a direct-to-video product of the mid-'90s, the production values are great; you can tell it started life as a theatrical feature. It makes clever use of its smaller budget (only $4m compared to the original's $11m) while introducing new monsters that don't look half-bad. Fred Ward and Michael Gross are clearly having a blast reprising their…