Beck 'Colors' (2017) ***

Well this doesn't sound much like Beck at all, but I like it regardless. Maybe I'm not cool anymore. Maybe I need my Music Card revoked. Who knows?

There's doesn't seem to be a theme or connecting tissue that I can spot on the first few listens, just a collection of catchy "single" songs. And I don't see anything wrong with that, if done well. I dig the House stylings of the title track. "Seventh Heaven" reminds me of a more dancy Mew. "I'm So Free" and "Dear Life" are solid songs that move the album along. "No Distraction" veers into Bruno Mars territory but I still don't mind it. "Dreams" is a nice little slice of pop that was released as a single back in 2015 and works well in the context of 'Colors.' The safe Hip Hop of "Wow" somehow doesn't offend me and it's actually one of my favorite tracks on the album. "Up All Night" sounds more like those brothers that share a similar name with Mr. Hansen who also happened to work with The Dust Brothers but, again, I don't hate it. "Square One" is short and decent. Finally, the last track, "Fix Me", is my least favorite and doesn't do much for me at all.

As I mentioned in my review of his last album (HERE), I prefer "Weird Beck" most of all, but I'll still take this Beck over "Sad/Folk Beck". And let's be honest, Hansen wasn't going to "get crazy with the Cheese Whiz" for the rest of his career. Very concise (this album is 40 mins but feels like 30) and very slick but if you're not adverse to a good dance/pop album, you might dig 'Colors.' I do.

St. Vincent 'Masseduction' (2017) ****

While overall I definitely prefer the more organic Annie Clark and it probably would have been impossible to top her last self-titled album (my thoughts on that one HERE), this is still a great LP.

She seems to be channeling a bit of a Tori Amos/Fiona Apple vibe on this latest go-around, intentionally or not. The slick production doesn't always work for me, but on certain tracks it fits like a glove. "Los Ageless" is an incredibly catchy single and I love that the guitar motif from that song is introduced on piano on the track preceding ("Sugarboy").

As always, she remains interesting and unique. Being that I equate her to a modern day Bowie, I will always be on board with her, even if she has some albums I like less or outright flops. Here's hoping that she stays vital.


The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected) (2017) ***1/2

Baumbach makes another very dry Woody Allenesque comedy about quasi-rich quasi-artistic New Yorkers with a very Joplinesque by Randy Newman and the 2nd best against-type Adam Sandler performance after Punch-Drunk Love. Highly enjoyable and at times hilarious.


The Hidden (1987) ***1/2

Car chases, heavy metal, aliens, strippers, flamethrowers, gory practical f/x. So very very 80s. 


Blade Runner 2049 (2017) ****1/2

Happy to report that my initial thoughts (HERE) are only backed up by a 2nd viewing. Just as enjoyable, even when you know what's coming. Not quite as epic as the IMAX experience (the picture and sound obviously were noticeably inferior) but still an incredible film.

Primus 'The Desaturating Seven' (2017) ***1/2

The proggiest Primus album to date, based on Ul de Rico's children's book 'The Rainbow Goblins', who also apparently contributed to the character designs for the film of The NeverEnding Story (which makes sense). I've listened to the album twice through and I'm not in love with it, but it's growing on me.


Mother's Day (1980) **1/2

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre meets I Spit On Your Grave with twice the comedy and half the talent. Still quite entertaining.

Cop Land (1997) ****

Mangold's modern western has true staying power, bolstered by a macho dream cast and a memorable score by Howard Shore. If you love a slow burner with style, look no further. Think Tarantino with less humor meets High Noon / Rio Bravo.

♫Then little by little we drifted from each other's hearts♫


Mad Max: Fury Road - Black & Chrome Edition (2015) ***

You can view my thoughts from my initial viewing HERE. My "Take 2" reaction is largely the same, I might even say I like the film less. Now granted, I watched the Black & Chrome Edition, which is supposed to be Miller's preferred version, but I found myself thinking that the CG (and there is so very very much of it) looked even worse and it felt like I was watching a Robert Rodriguez film (and nothing against him, I like him).

But that's not my kind of Mad Max film. Plus I really disliked how most of the voices seemed to be dubbed in post (and man, some of the dialogue is so basic and cheesy). The elements just feel disconnected and everything is too pristinely presented. I'll stick with the first 2 films when I need a true Max fix.

If you're interested in listening to a podcast that I guested on where we discussed all 4 Max films you can so HERE.


Spielberg (2017) ***1/2

Very enjoyable doc about one of our greatest living directors and arguably one of the greatest directors ever. I kind of wish the director of this doc/HBO had chosen to make this a multi-part serial though. I would have liked a more comprehensive delve into each and every film (not to mention the man's many endeavors outside of just directing). Some were barely mentioned or touched upon (Always was curiously the only one of his films not even glimpsed, unless I blinked and missed it) and not enough time was spent on the Indy films IMO.

Here’s my personal ranking of Spielberg’s films: boxd.it/1fBya

And if you are so inclined please check out the special Spielberg episode of the Movie Matters Podcast that I guested on HERE.


Blade Runner 2049 (2017) ****1/2

Denis Villenueve manages to accomplish the typically impossible task of honoring and referencing the film that came before it whilst creating his own strikingly beautiful and original film (with a little help from a brilliant man named Roger Deakins).

The visuals are absolutely stunning, the sound design is incredible (so worth seeing in IMAX), the performances were all strong, and the f/x were seamless. A truly satisfying and moving cinema experience.

I do think that it's necessary to have seen Blade Runner to get the most out of 2049 but if you see this  film and don't like it, you can simply ignore it. It operates on its own playing field and doesn't tarnish the 1982 film in any way. I actually found that 2049 explores its themes on a deeper level than Blade Runner did, without destroying any mystery. I hate to say it, but I'm glad that Ridley Scott merely executive produced this one and didn't direct.

I truly believe that this is the director's best film yet and will go down as a future classic, worthy of the original. My favorite film of the year so far. I'm still jittering with excitement.


Of Unknown Origin (1983) ***

Raging Rat vs RoboCop from the director of Rambo II

If you’ve ever seen interviews with Peter Weller you’ll know that he is incredibly well-spoken, intelligent and literate. I’d love to see him wax philosophical about this film.


Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939) ****1/2

As cynical as I can tend to be, I can't help getting sentimental when I watch Capra films, even if they are idealistic, as this one so clearly is. James Stewart is at his impassioned best here and Jean Arthur's reactions frequently make me tear up. Politics are still the same.


Steve Jobs (2015) ****

Copying my review from first viewing below...

Danny Boyle is a director that I'm largely hot and cold about - I love Shallow Grave, very much enjoy Trainspotting, hated Sunshine, was lukewarm for Slumdog Millionaire, I used to really like 28 Days Later and now I'm lukewarm for that as well. I wasn't dying to see Steve Jobs but ended up enjoying it much more than expected.

The dialogue by Aaron Sorkin is what shines and we've come to expect that. Boyle does some interesting things with the camera and his images and that's expected as well, though I don't feel that every choice works. All the actors inhabit their roles well, particularly Fassbender, who was inspired casting, portraying a man who truly was an innovator, yet was a flawed human being, as we all are. The film is very humorous and largely avoids falling into "feel-good" territory. Definitely recommended.