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  • 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 II: Aftershocks

    Tremors II: 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…

  • Tremors

    Tremors 1990

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 06 Oct, 2015

    I love this movie. I have always loved this movie. It's a Tex-Mex monster movie with Kevin Bacon at his best, Fred Ward at his Fred Wardiest, and the beginning of Michael Gross' quarter-century stint as paranoid survivalist Burt Gummer. It's funny, it's scary (seriously, that scene where the graboids take the car is classic), it has Reba goddamn McEntire wielding a semi-automatic. What's not to love?

  • Tremors 5: Bloodlines

    Tremors 5: Bloodlines 2015

    Watched 01 Oct, 2015

    I'm still slightly amazed this movie exists. For years, Tremors creators S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock beat the drum for a fifth installment of their giant underground worms series...and now, 11 years after Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, Tremors 5: Bloodlines has arrived without the involvement of either Wilson or Maddock. Which is not to say the movie would have been better with their input; the original Tremors remains one of the most enjoyable horror comedies ever made, but if…

  • Phoenix

    Phoenix 2014

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 13 Sep, 2015

    The noir-ish psychodrama so nice I had to see it twice.

  • Phoenix

    Phoenix 2014

    ★★★★★ Watched 06 Sep, 2015 1

    Precise, riveting psychodrama set in post-WWII Germany. Nina Hoss is astounding as a woman both physically and emotionally disfigured, in denial after surviving a concentration camp and struggling to regain her sense of self. Director/co-writer Christian Petzold delves into survivor's guilt, Germany's inability to confront the Holocaust, and the lengths a person will go to in order to convince themselves that they can go home again. Builds and builds to a stunning conclusion; when the credits rolled, the audience exhaled, like a sigh of relief.

  • The End of the Tour

    The End of the Tour 2015

    ★★★★½ Watched 13 Sep, 2015

    In large part a two-hander between Jason Segel as Infinite Jest author David Foster Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky, and more riveting than most movies I've seen this year. Lipsky, an unsuccessful Serious Writer who finds himself doing puff pieces on pop stars, wants the literary fame Wallace has achieved. Wallace doesn't particularly seem to want said fame, and moreover has a thing for pop stars. James Ponsoldt's The End of the Tour explores the…

  • Blue Velvet

    Blue Velvet 1986

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 13 Sep, 2015

    Only the second time I've seen David Lynch's masterpiece. As disturbing and inscrutable as when I was a teenager. "Lynch’s great skill has always been to imbue the fantastically banal with the fantastical taboo, to paint the home as a hostile place," writes Lauren Carroll Harris in an interesting piece on sex in Lynch's films. It's as good a description I've ever read of his unsettling appeal. Blue Velvet is a '50s melodrama cut open to reveal all manner of…

  • Results

    Results 2015

    ★★★ Watched 14 Sep, 2015

    Andrew Bujalski's Results is a sharp, more or less realistic take on the romantic comedy. It also, at only 105 minutes, feels far too long. After a very enjoyable first half, it becomes apparent that there's no real shape to the narrative, ostensible lead Kevin Corrigan eventually feeling like a third wheel to Cobie Smulders and Guy Pearce's bickering personal trainers. All three are great, though, and there's enough good material here to say the results (haha!) are commendable.

  • Bessie

    Bessie 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 15 Sep, 2015

    Not exactly what I would have wanted for director/co-writer Dee Rees following her great, underrated debut Pariah, but I can understand why she did it. Though Bessie follows the standard biopic formula beat by beat, it's rare that biopics are about black icons, let alone black women. Artists like blues legend Bessie Smith deserve to have a light shone on them, and they all deserve a performance as powerful and impassioned as Queen Latifah's. Thanks to Latifah, the film has a warmth and an energy it might otherwise have lacked. She single-handedly makes Bessie worth watching.

  • Black Mass

    Black Mass 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 19 Sep, 2015 2

    I'm the guy who both saw and enjoyed Kill the Irishman, if that tells you anything about my fondness for gangster movies. Black Mass isn't an entirely dissimilar film, in that it's about a cop and a crook with a close bond...and that it tears pages from the Scorsese playbook. Scott Cooper reminds me of what Tarantino's detractors (wrongly) say about him: he doesn't have a reference point beyond other movies. Everything he makes is like a third-generation copy of…