"KEEP BUSTIN'."

So long 2015, you hustlin sonofabitch

tn_mcqueentoastWell, it’s been a year again. 365 days of 2015ness have passed, that much I know for sure. I did not manage to become a successful or highly paid individual yet. I lost some family. The world lost Darren Shahlavi, Roddy Piper and Wes Craven. A bunch of less celebrated people got shot and blown up all around the world. I’m against it. Stop doing that.

I’m gonna focus on the positive though. My life is mostly good, and I make it through the bad days in part because of you guys and what we do here. I think I had a year of writing that I can be proud of. Let’s go over some highlights.

As is my tradition now, I started the year with Clint, revisiting THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES. Later in the month I saw his AMERICAN SNIPER, which I still think is more complex than it got credit for. And if you think that makes me a war apologist, fuck you. I didn’t see you seeking out actual Iraqi films about the war like AHLAAM to write about too. That was me that did that.

Speaking of Bradley Cooper movies, I finally reviewed THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN, so I can include a link whenever I mention Cooper for any reason. In that sense I really made alot of progress this year.

I got really into the art of the themed review series this year. I decided to counter all the racism I was seeing in the headlines with a run of black history movies, including SELMA and some more obscure ones like PANTHER. In March I did a fun series called The Rookies, first features of badass directors, starting with Michael Mann’s THE JERICHO MILE. I also did a spin-ff called The Rookies: Indie Division, which started with Spike Lee’s SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT and ended with Vin Diesel’s STRAYS, which led right into a pre-FURIOUS 7 run with the Han prequel BETTER LUCK TOMORROW and the Paul Walker movies JOY RIDE and BOBBY Z.

You know I’ve always loved doing those summer movie retrospectives, so I decided to honor the anniversaries of all the major movies of summer 1995, starting with BRAVEHEART, which I’d somehow never seen. This also reminded me to finally write a worthwhile piece on DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE. (In July I also found a good way to honor the 20th anniversary of UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY.)

I loved doing a build-up to the release of STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, starting with Battle of the N.W.A Parodies, part 1: CB4. I don’t know if anybody else was treating that as an event movie, but I do things differently around here. For example, I decided to see how many reviews of part twos I could do in a row. No particular reason. From August 31st – September 24th I reviewed fifteen part twos in a row, starting with DELTA FORCE 2: THE COLOMBIAN CONNECTION. I got weak and interrupted the flow to review THE GREEN INFERNO, otherwise it would’ve been twenty part twos in a row.

For October I did some of my traditional Slasher Searching, but also managed to review all nine HELLRAISER movies, something I’d been meaning to do for some time. (This must’ve been the year of Clive Barker for me, because over at oneperfectshot.com I did a piece I’m very proud of about the racial themes in CANDYMAN.) And of course I wrote about all seven ROCKY movies, which was honestly one of the best parts of my year.

I had alot of reviews of movies I’d seen a few times before but never loved as much until now, like THE FOG and PURPLE RAIN. And ones I can’t believe I hadn’t reviewed before, like THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and WHEN WE WERE KINGS.

Many have called this a great year for movies. Not having seen many of the end-of-the-year-award-contenders yet it doesn’t really seem to me like an abundance of greatness. And yet yes, I know it’s one of the best years ever, because we had MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. This has got to be the most obviously special movie that has come along since I’ve been writing about ’em. It revved me up enough to write a sequel to my own review, pretentiously (but sincerely) titled Righteous Fury: In Praise of Peaceful Notions In Violent Movies.

I have to say I don’t think we’ll have anything as good as FURY ROAD next year, or for many years. But we’ll have a good time. I’m still excited about this Lucas Minus Star Wars series, which started back on December 2nd when I did THX 1138 and will continue into the next year. It’s been a good excuse to watch a really wide variety of interesting movies, and I think it’s serving my goal of showing Lucas’ impact outside of his biggest creation and why he deserves more respect. I’m loving this series and I’m gonna ride it ’til the wheels fall off. By which I mean I’m gonna have to make myself watch STRANGE MAGIC. But it will be worth it.

In Twenty Sweet Sixteen I vow to continue on my path toward full excellence. I will finish my horror-action novel and try to figure out how to actually promote it this time. (anybody got a good podcast?) But I think I’m on a roll with these reviews and I want to keep that momentum. I really want to re-dedicate myself to the broadening of horizons for me and all my readers. I still believe a well-rounded individual should give an earnest shot at enjoying everything from a Van Damme to a von Trier. I want to continue bringing serious consideration to lowbrow action movies but I also want to encourage my fellow Val Verdens to dabble in arty and respectable shit sometimes too, to see what’s out there that they might be missing. I’ve got at least one idea for a review series that will promote that crucial tenet of outlawvern.com and be laughably stupid at the same time. I think you’ll enjoy it.

And yes, I know about the new Florentine/Adkins movie. It comes out on the 5th and I got it on pre-order. If you watched a torrent then thanks alot, that’s why it’s gonna take forever for the next one too. Maybe you should buy a copy as a penance. But let me know what other kind of stuff you would like to see analyzed here in 2016.

Thanks everybody for taking the time to read my stuff, for all the great comments, the overall lack of assholishness, the donations, the kind words of support when I got more personal, everything. I really preciate it guys. Happy new year to everybody. I don’t know man, I got a feeling this is gonna be The One. Let’s do this.

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 31st, 2015 at 3:32 pm and is filed under Blog Post (short for weblog). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

58 Responses to “So long 2015, you hustlin sonofabitch”

  1. Happy 2016 everyone! You guys are great. In your honor, I’m thinking of changing my name to The Original.. Outlaw Franchise CJ Skani Griffmouth BroddieMayPie CrustaceanCrushinator MajestyShootMcSubtlety. Unless that doesn’t fit on a government form, in which case I will just continue to read and enjoy these reviews and their talkback.

  2. Rock on, Vern and everyone. Rock on, Original Undead Curt.

  3. Happy New Year. Thank you for the reminder about Close Range, just pre-ordered it myself. And looking forward to your next book, sounds different, like you’ve been hinting.

    My one request for what sounds like a busy 2016 would be to keep chipping away at the Michael Mann movies you haven’t yet reviewed.

  4. The Original Paul

    December 31st, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    Happy 2016! Just come in from seeing the fireworks. My new year’s resolution for this site is to try and avoid insulting old people again. Can I again say how sorry I am about that?

    *

    Of the nine(!) films that I saw in the cinema this year, I thought KINGSMEN, INSIDE OUT, and SICARIO in particular were excellent.

    INSIDE OUT is classic Pixar. My only criticism of it is that it sticks a little too rigidly to the same three-act structure as MONSTER’S INC and the ilk. That said, I went to see it with a seven-year-old. He loved it and so did I. Just a beautifully-made emotional gem of a movie from one of my favorite studios.

    KINGSMEN had an unlikely badass-performance-of-the-year contender from Colin Firth, and SICARIO might get the award for “Best film of the year that I thought was objectively excellent but that left me a little cold”. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either of these ones.

    *

    I don’t think I could name a “worst film of the year” because none of the films I’ve seen were that bad. THE LOBSTER, maybe, but I want a second opinion on that one. Honestly I thought it was a misfire, and my impression was that the audience who I saw it with mostly agreed. It’s one of those films, though, where I feel that there may have been a point to it that I was missing. I still can’t recommend it.

    Of the rest, ROGUE NATION was just ok for me. It wasn’t the M:I film that I wanted (I doubt I’m ever going to get that now!) and suffered from a weak villain, annoying lead main character and a few tonal issues. On the other hand, it had some great moments as well. It had a few really good action scenes (mostly the driving ones) and the first 45 minutes in particular seemed like it was a return to form for the M:I series. I still get the impression I liked it less than most, but it’s way better than MI:2 or MI:3. So there’s that.

    And of course there was TERMINATOR: GENISYS. Stupid name for a stupid movie, but I honestly can’t hate it as much as others do, and I certainly don’t think it’s any worse than T3. (Which was also a hilariously bad movie that I still kinda like.)

    *

    My worst film experience of 2015 won’t be a surprise – I’ve been mentioning it a lot – but it just bears repeating how much the nature of cinema these days has put me off watching movies there. Basically, the multiplex experience sucks. And it’s just continued to get worse and worse.

    In 2012, a year where I saw 67 films and barely any of them were ones I’d call “bad”, I put the Odeon cinema chain at #5 on my “worst of 2012” list for its shitty business practices and customer experience. Well, it still has all of those problems, as far as I’m aware; but this year I didn’t have the opportunity to go to the local Vue to see FURY ROAD. I decided to go to the Odeon instead. Since the Vue itself has hardly been a beacon of excellence recently either, I thought, “screw it. How bad can it be?” That was my mistake. I left that cinema two hours later with a thumping headache, a bad case of nausea, and a severe bout of tinitus (which is something I haven’t suffered from since I was thirteen years old or thereabouts).

    The Odeon ruined my experience of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. It’s made me nervous about even going to the cinema any more – I’ve missed so many films recently! – and has basically dissuaded me from taking a chance on any kind of film if it means that I have to sit in a cinema to see it. It has made the simple act of going to see a movie feel like something to be endured instead of something to look forward to. And that’s why the Odeon cinema chain gets my vote for the worst film experience of 2015.

    *

    My quote of the year comes from my film of the year, COHERENCE. “If there are a million different realities, I’ve slept with your wife in every one of them.” Just a perfect quote to sum up the movie.

    I’d like to talk about COHERENCE some more, because it really deserves it. But I’d first like to make a comparison to some other films I’ve mentioned – YOUNG ADULT, ROGUE NATION, TRANCE and others – which I’ve criticised for being ultimately far too predictable. I like my films to take me to places that I really didn’t expect to go to. But if they don’t manage that, the experience needs to be really good to justify the lack of surprises. So: predictable destination, uninspired journey = bad. Surprising destination, interesting journey = good. Got that? Cool.

    COHERENCE, of all the films I’ve seen over the last two years or so, has pretty much embodied the “interesting journey to a surprising destination” ethic the best. The first time I saw this movie, I thought it was flawed, but I praised it a great deal for consistently managing to surprise me. I could never have seen where this thing was going. And it did this with no script, just over a month’s filming schedule, one location, eight actors, and a crew of less than twenty people. COHERENCE makes most other indie movies look like big-budget extravaganzas. Basically all of the dialogue in it is ad-libbed (I’d recommend getting the DVD of this one with the “making of” special on it, by the way, because it’s one of the most interesting that I’ve ever seen). The eight actors give it their all – every character has a moment to shine, every character has a purpose. it’s basically a horror movie, short on jump-scares (there’s a couple that are all the more effective for their scarcity) and long on psychological trickery. There’s a moment in the film where two people meet that might be my favorite BODYSNATCHERS moment in any non-BODYSNATCHERS movie. It’s creepy as hell.

    I’ve seen COHERENCE four times now, and like my favorite film of last year, EDGE OF TOMORROW, it keeps getting better and better with each revisit. In a year dominated by big action-packed extravaganzas like FURY ROAD, KINGSMEN and ROGUE NATION, I feel that not enough attention has been given to the underdogs. The films that take a tiny budget and a group of largely no-name actors, and just use them to the greatest effect possible. Like MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, my favorite film of 2013, COHERENCE comes across as a passion project. It’s obvious from start to finish that everybody involved in it gave it their all. This is a film that deserves way more attention than it’s getting.

    And y’know what, as much as I liked EDGE OF TOMORROW, sometimes I feel like giving a shout-out to the true underdog. The little film that has limited distribution, barely any marketing, no budget to speak of. But it takes what little it has and does the absolute best with it, ending up producing something great. That’s what COHERENCE does. And that’s why it’s my choice for best film experience of 2015.

    *

    Happy 2016 guys!

  5. We also lost some giants in the music world. The very recent passing of Lemmy Kilmister (who aside from the great 2010 doc that bears his name has also appeared in several films, most notably in spirit and in the flesh in AIRHEADS) is still reverberating quite heavily around the hard rock/metal world. B.B. King’s loss was no less impactful to the blues community, a great voice and set of fingers forever silenced. Same could be said for Chris Squire, who arguably helped define progressive with Yes.

    Unfortunately the Pro Wrestling world lost a few other giants aside from Piper. Losing Dusty Rhodes was as significant a blow, his blue-collar persona and dynamite charisma reaching the hearts of fans the world over. His passion for the industry could be seen in the personal relationships he cultivated with nearly everyone, from the very top to the rookies he helped train for WWE for several years until his passing. Verne Gagne might not be as nationally known, but the men he helped train and who broke nationwide under his leadership of the AWA is no less staggering.

    Haven’t seen a whole lot of 2015’s movies. According to the diary I have kept on Letterboxd (a discovery I made right at the beginning of the year), it’s been a lot of documentaries, concert films, and several older films up to last year. Of what I have seen that came out in 2015, my top favorites would be (in no order) SICARIO, THE MARTIAN, THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY, THE END OF THE TOUR, and MISSISSIPPI GRIND.

    I wish you a fruitful 2016 Vern. May it heal some of your broken heart through your creative endeavors, whether it be your next book or the many reviews you share here. I’ve had a great time talking about film with you guys here, and can’t wait to see what next year holds.

  6. Good year, everybody. Good, not great. Let’s don’t pat ourselves on the back too much. There’s still too many goddamn guns floating around my beloved home country, still not enough published novels authored by Vern, too many creeps, too few heroes. Lot of room for improvement in my opinion.

    But cinema ’15 did give us at least 2 all timer Masterpieces (BLACKHAT and FURY ROAD) that I plan to rewatch a hilarious number of blu ray spins for decades to come.

    There was also a lot of great television. R.I.P. The Soup. And R.I.P. Community, probably. What I’m trying to say is, I have a crush on Joel McHale.

  7. Fuck Yeah –

    1. CREED.
    2. STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON.
    3. SICARIO.
    4. AMY.
    5. THE DROP.

    Fuck No –

    1. SOUTHPAW.
    2. TRAIN WRECK.
    3. THE MAN FROM UNCLE.
    4. THE GUNMAN.
    5. EVEREST.

    Fuck, not bad at all – (in random order)

    – DARK WAS THE NIGHT.
    – BACK COUNTRY.
    – SPRING.
    – LOST SOUL.
    – THE HOMESMAN.
    – THE SALVATION.
    – STARRY EYES.
    – ROAD TO PALOMA.
    – THE VISIT.
    – THE HARVEST.
    – SKIN TRADE.
    – WILD CARD.
    – BLACKHAT.

  8. Mouth, don’t forget JUSTIFIED. What a way to go out.

  9. Before anyone points out my omission of FURY ROAD, I’m still trying to convince myself this movie actually exists, and I wasn’t just dreaming the whole wondrous thing, or having one of those out-of-body experiences. Somebody slap me, please.

  10. While we’re toasting to successes or pouring our liquor to fallen badasses, I want to mention the late Sean Price, ultimate elder statesman rap curmudgeon who passed away this past year. Search for the music video to Bar-Barian, recipient of the coveted “most and awesomest beards in a rap music video ever” award and definitely at least a runner up for most uses of the n-word in a single bar ever. Enough about Tarantino: P elevates it to an art form.

  11. I don’t watch enough new stuff to have a top 10 or even top 5, so I’m going to focus on things I dug watching (again or for the first time) this year, regardless of when it came out.

    Newer Stuff I Dug
    *Creed – Saw this twice, and even though I think it’s got some flaws, it is all heart, Rock.
    *Force Awakens – I had a lot of fun with this.
    *Bone Tomahawk – Great western, great horror, great stoic, reluctant “buddy” film.
    *Ex Machina – Super suspenseful. Great performances and atmosphere. Very different.
    *The Visit – I’m downwith Poeface on this one
    *Fury Road – This was solid.

    Newer Stuff I Didn’t Get
    *Straight Outta Compton – Grew up on this stuff, but this movie is crazy overrated. Too many plot threads to track, way too much fan service and timeline box-checking substituting for plot or character development, paper thin characterization, all the pathos of or emotional resonance of a behind the music episode, and then the fact that it is fundamentally a self-aggrandizing hagiography overseen by Dre, Cube, and longtime partner/acoylte Gary Gray. GTFO.

    Still Fairly Newish Stuff I Finally Got around to Seeing
    *It Follows – I think this one delivers the goods
    *Under the Skin – Weird as hell. Need to see this one again, but I dug it. One profoundly upsetting scene.
    *Creep – Netflix, yo. This one is good. Creepy as hell.
    *Nightcrawler – Dope
    *Enemy – Again, Gyllenhaal is that dude
    *Interstellar – I’m a sucker for this crap

    Un-New Stuff I Grew to Appreciate Even More
    *True Grit – Bridges Version (coda sucks, though)
    *Drive – May be the perfect film
    *Winter Light, Seventh Seal – Bergman, yo. Two great films. Max VonSydow will outlive us all.
    *The Master – Hoffman is just a joy to watch. A really beautiful ethereal film.
    *Rocky Series- All of it
    *Angel Heart – Great, moody, quirky film. Back when Deniro still had that twinkle.
    *Innkeepers/House of the Devil – Ti West is the real deal
    *Zombie Halloween 2 Unrated
    *Friday the 13th 6 and 7
    *Seed of Chucky – Goes downhill once Chucky starts talking, but the first 2/3 is sufficiently solid to make this a net plus
    *Shutter Island
    *Zombieland
    *Red – I’m a sucker for John Malkovich and this held up well on second viewing.

    Stuff I Still Don’t Totally Get (Release Date Non-specific)
    *Dario Argento (tried to get into three different Argento movies, and I couldn’t finish any of them)
    *Expendables – Just stop. This is a failed experiment.
    *DePalma – I like him and dig his films but they never fully connect or satisfy. Like Tarantino, though, I give him props just for style, balls, and distinct vision.
    *All this comic book crap and teen dystopian book series adaptations- enough already. I’m so oversaturated on this crap. “You kids and [mutters … indistinct]…”

  12. love you dude

  13. Happy New Years to all my fellow outlawvernians. May you all have safe and pleasant festivities.

    I don’t do the ranking thing but I do know that I saw enough this year to have had many cinematic experiences that were very fulfilling (CREED, FURY ROAD, SICARIO, PEANUTS MOVIE) and for that alone it was a pretty good year at the movies.

    Not to mention everything I caught up with on video as well as all the personal and spiritual growth that I endured which has positioned me to transform into the best Broddie I can be for 2016 and I can safely say 2015 was pretty alright to me.

  14. Oh yeah the best cinematic experience I had this year I somehow failed to mention. Watching Universal’s 1931 DRACULA and it’s Spanish language counterpart for the first time ever back to back on the big screen. If that have been my only trip to the movies in 2015 it would have been enough. It wasjustfieddamn satisfying

  15. Oh yeah the best cinematic experience I had this year I somehow failed to mention. Watching Universal’s 1931 DRACULA and it’s Spanish language counterpart for the first time ever back to back on the big screen. If that have been my only trip to the movies in 2015 it would have been enough. It wasjustfieddamn satisfying

  16. Whoops sorry for the double post. Was trying to correct typing out the phrase “just that damn satisfying” on this mobile device and I pressed submit by mistake.

  17. JTS – oh yeah, I meant to mention that. I’m gonna keep doing the Manns and the Spike Lees until I get all of them.

  18. Looking back, the 2015 movie scene has been splendid. There’s a certain swelling of the heart that occurs when one first watches those two aforementioned masterpieces, as well as SICARIO, BRIDGE OF SPIES, MR. HOLMES (so underrated), IRRATIONAL MAN (so overlooked), maybe INSIDE OUT, and maybe parts of UNFRIENDED. I can not, and do not want to, quantify the unique joy I also derived from RICKI AND THE FLASH, THE VISIT, JUPITER ASCENDING, and etc.. A bevy of big mainstream movies on which I’ve gladly spent $ and hours.

    I also watched STRANGE MAGIC a few weeks ago. Oof. Good luck on that one, Vern. May the something be with you.

    My favorite tv show in 2015 has been the Carolina Panthers and the New England Patriots.

  19. Vern and all – I have not been a participant around here for several years now, but I want you all to know how much I appreciate both the reviews and the discussions. Sometimes the net can be a pretty disheartening place, but I always walk away from this site feeling a little more hopeful about folks. Also insight into movies. That’s good too.

  20. Thanks Vern. I read all of your reviews, apart for the ones of new films that I haven’t seen yet (looking forward to seeing The Force Awakens and The Hateful Eight so I can catch up with your thoughts).
    My daughter turned 1 on the 16th, so I have seen very little stuff this year and practically nothing at the cinema. I bought Inside Out and Fury Road on Blu as everyone raved, and whilst I have very little to compare them to, they are my favourite films of the year (there is a good chance that they would still hold that mantle even if I saw everything).
    I am a proud New Zealander and I would love for you to cover some indie New Zeland stuff. Lee Tamahori, Martin Campbell, Jane Campion, and Under Siege 2’s very own Geoff Murphy made some really interesting stuff before going to Hollywood and I would love to read your thoughts on their early work.
    Thanks again for everything you provide.

  21. Happy new year, everybody!

    2015 was a super shitty year for me. Sorry to start with a shocker, but in January a friend of me died and in December another one was raped, inbetween I struggled health wise (Mentally and physically) and financially (Now entering my 6th year of unemployment) and every time I managed to have some fun, it seemed like I got punished for it quickly afterwards, by having something awful happening to me and/or my friends. (And believe me, I love my friends, but trying to cheer them up and stand by their side, drained me at times too much.) I don’t know where years go after they end, but I hope wherever 2015 is now, it suffers a lot!

    Basically the only reliable fun I had, came from watching movies. Of course I didn’t watch many new releases, because I don’t always have the money for that and also have thousands of older movies to catch up with. Judging by my movie diary (Which can be read by clicking on the link in my name or, if you have a Tumblr allergy: http://letterboxd.com/sammybronkowitz ), the only 2015 movies I saw were:

    Mortdecai (Which I really liked. Fuck the critics and that childish “Johnny Depp is the worst actor ever, because he gives performances that no other actor would be able to do” meme)
    Jupiter Ascending (Which I didn’t love, but just like the movie above, seemed to enjoy more than the rest of the world)
    Into The Grizzly Maze/Red Machine (Which is an entertaining B-adventure film with horror touch, that needed a bigger budget)
    Furious 7 (Which I think might be this generation’s COMMANDO in the way how silly and crazy it gets, while looking the audience in the eye and saying: “Yeah, I know. Got a problem with that?”)
    Mara und der Feuerbringer (Very entertaining German Fantasy movie with a big slice of comedy)
    Mad Max: Fury Road (Obviously the best film of the year)
    Tremors 5 (Which isn’t great, but also not a disgrace to the franchise)
    Tales Of Halloween (Lots of fun if you don’t expect a serious horror movie, even if it tries a little too hard at times to become a cult classic.)
    Asterix: Mansion Of The Gods (Technically a 2014 movie, but released here this year and maybe my 2nd favourite movie after FURY ROAD. Disclaimer: I can’t vouch for the quality of the English dubbing, in case some of you want to watch it, since ASTERIX is more of a European thing.)

    Also I not just broke my personal record of watching 180 movies in one year, but also broke for the first time the magical 200 movies barrier and ended 2015 with 216 movies. Still shooting for the big 365, though, but babysteps. Bonus: I introduced my mother to DIE HARD and she liked it and also finally made a friend watch THE ‘BURBS and she liked it too. Is there a better feeling than successfully introduce others to your favourite movies?

    And of course it’s always fun to come here, to talk with you guys about shit, even most of you are smarter than me and we sometimes end up talking about depressing shit, but as we all point out year after year after year, even if the discussions and topics become heated (which happens very rarely), this place always stays civilized.

    So thanks for everything, Vern and the gang! Have a great 2016!

  22. Paul, I saw Coherence two years ago and put it on my Best of 2013 and 2014 lists. Hope that helps, but glad to hear someone else discovered it. Also glad to see Dark Was the Night mentioned.

    CJ, so sorry to hear about your friends. Those are hells of things to go throughand I hope things turn around for you.

  23. CJ, I liked GRIZZLY MAZE but agree it needed more ‘something’. Probly too much cheap cgi ruined the effect of the attacks. And I like Thomas Jane but think he needs a strong director to bring out his best, otherwise he seems to flounder like he did in this. Billy Bob was a great Quint though. And RED MACHINE is an awesome alt. title by the way. Bless you Germans. The other bear attacks film that made it to my hon. mention list was BACK COUNTRY. The two leads were good and there’s a what-the-fuck-was-that sequence where Eric Balfour turns up and steals the show from Henry The Bear, or whatever he’s called.

  24. The Original Paul

    January 1st, 2016 at 5:00 am

    I have bought BLACKHAT but have yet to watch it yet. Should be interesting tho.

  25. The Original Paul

    January 1st, 2016 at 5:09 am

    CJ – damn, sorry to hear about your crappy year.

    I can happily say that it’s been a good one for me (especially after the shitstorm that was 2014).

    Fred – COHERENCE got its cinematic release over here in 2015, which is why it’s on this year’s list for me. I’m not sure if it was ever released anywhere else in the UK earlier than that, but it certainly didn’t come to any cinema close to me until I saw it this year. Glad to hear you liked it as well though.

  26. This was definitely my least favourite year of the decade so far, but it had some really good stuff in it too, so if this is the low point of the decade I think I’ll be OK. CJ- I saw the ASTERIX movie advertised when I was in German back in March, was really looking forward to it coming out in the UK but unfortunately the release date here was pushed back at least twice and is now not due to come out here until this April!

  27. Aww CJ you got me in the feels. It’s a testament of your great character how you managed to remain strong through very trying hardships. I definitely must applaud that. May you have a blessed and very prosperous 2016.

  28. I got to peep BLACKHAT as well. Not really a fan of that Hemsworth fellow but it’s still Michael Mann. It warrants a watch off that fact alone.

  29. The Original Paul

    January 1st, 2016 at 6:11 am

    It’s been the year of the DVD for me. I’ve seen so many great movies – and more than a few crappy ones.

    I watched 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN (a great training movie, topped and tailed by a completely extraneous revenge story that’s only there to justify the awesome training bits, which is just fine with me), ATTACK FORCE (Oh Seagal, you so funny), PISTOL-WHIPPED (great for 3/4s of its running time, then loses it a bit), THE CONJURING (“real” it may not be, but I’ll take it – excellent movie), DISTRICT 13 (awesome), SPY GAME (very good), TRICK ‘R’ TREAT (can’t believe I didn’t see it coming), SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (can’t believe I didn’t see this one until now), THE GRUDGE (it’s no KAIRO but it’s still good), IN BRUGES (great), MAGIC MAGIC (made me feel like a dirty old man, but still really good), and also rewatched the DIRTY HARRY and EVERY WHICH WAY movies (mostly awesome), the HARRY POTTER movies (best to worst: 7, 3, 6, 1, 2, 8, 4, 5), NUNS ON THE RUN (yeah, I still kinda love it) and of course DEEP BLUE SEA (deepest bluest, my hat is like a shark’s fin).

    On the other hand there was CRADLE TO THE GRAVE (crap), THE ONE (crap – man, it was a good year for watching shitty Jet Li movies), GAME OF DEATH (the Wesley Snipes version – I’m beginning to really dislike Snipes, and this does not dissuade me), HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW (it’s a slasher movie version of Jane Eyre, without any of the cleverness that that would imply; it says a lot that the unnecessary remake of this movie is actually more watchable than the original), VENOM (watch out for when a movie advertises itself as “From the producers of…”), and a few other duds.

    The most depressing one was WAR OF THE WORLDS. Probably the worst experience I’ve ever had watching a DVD. My reaction to this one was to sit, facing a wall, for ages. Hours. For longer than the actual movie. I tried to write something about it on this site (you can see the results of that in the WAR OF THE WORLDS thread). I couldn’t. I think I got about two sentences out. Then I just went back and sat down. I couldn’t write anything. I couldn’t watch anything else. I just sat there until I could get this thing out of my brain.

    The second most depressing one was the sadly Clint-directed SUDDEN IMPACT, which I actively resent because a whole section of its defenders are right-wing zealots who want to live in a police state. A state of mind that SUDDEN IMPACT utterly justifies, because we’ve gone from Callahan torturing a suspect to tell him where he’s holding an imprisoned and dying young girl in the original DIRTY HARRY, to him basically murdering a guy at his granddaughter’s wedding because Callahan was too damn bad of a cop to actually make a case against him for the crime he thinks he committed. (If you believe some of this movie’s defenders, this is a clear case of the police “cutting through red tape” and “defying the namby-pamby bureaucrats”. Yeah.) I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that the Internet uses this movie as an outlet for their fascist ideals, or the fact that according to the movie they’re right to do so. Anyway it’s incompetently directed and just awful on every level, so there’s that. All I can say is, thank goodness UNFORGIVEN exists to show what Clint can really do when in the director’s chair.

  30. As far as gleaned inspiration for 2016 goes, 2015 movies were my manna. I also learned that I am an emotional man. And that I’m okay with it.

    AMY taught me to not be a judgemental dick. After seeing this doco I was surprised at how much of the bullshit the media projected about her had tainted my opinion. Fuck those guys. I was moved by how unpretentious, funny, charismatic and vulnerable she was. Exploited by her father, whose response to the need to get her into rehab at a crucial point in her life was “But we have shows booked, we need to tour.” God bless the gentlemanly Tony Bennett who showed her the patience and gentle touch of a true father, during a recording session with him where she kept blowing it. Seriously, Tony Bennett gets my Hero Of 2015 award.

    STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, the movie as well as my introduction to rap music through Vern, Majestyk, Broddie and Skani, was a revelation in the sense I had no fucking idea how great Ice Cube is.

    * Back in the day I did my share of dirt
    Sometimes I got away clean
    Sometimes people got hurt
    But if you know me you know that I’m liable
    To bust a cap cos it’s all about survival of the fittest
    I’m a menace crook, I did so much dirt I need to be
    In the guinness book, from the shit I took from people
    I reap all your fat shit Jack, back to the criminal set
    I leave clue after clue but they can’t catch me yet
    Cos I’m slick as slippery, they can’t get wit me
    Cops ain’t shit to me
    I can’t dig a pig so I drop the dogs
    And sweat em like sweat hogs
    And get mad mad cos I’m the nigga that flaunt it
    Amerikkkas most wanted *

    I’ve never been more angry or disturbed at the disgraceful racism on display, as five young black guys are eating lunch outside their recording studio when a bunch of redneck pigs try to strip them down of their human dignity by making them face-plant the concrete. And for what? This provided one of my great fuck yeah moments in cinema this year, as Cube hands Dre his lyrics to Fuck Tha Police, and the look on Dre’s face and the blast on the soundtrack as NWA retaliate.

    JJ Abrams has made not only a pretty great STAR WARS entry in THE FORCE AWAKENS (from my previous list above, move THE DROP down to hon. mentions, and insert TFA- my bad), but a fucking excellently crafted filmatistic action sci-fi film. I don’t think he missed a beat with his emotional tones, his framing, plus his handling of a cast of veterans like Ford and Fisher, and newbies Ridley and young Denzel Washington. Abrams showed great action chops like in the scene where Finn and Rey steal the Falcon and are chased by Tie-Fighters through the desert. Rey flying out of the tunnel then flipping the Falcon upside down so Finn can take the shot was pure badass gold. Loved it. That last scene on the mountain, and the last facial close-up of Luke Skywalker was simply perfect. Bravo Hamill and Abrams.

    As I look at some of the challenges ahead of me in 2016, I take away two images among multiple great ones from the films of 2015. The first is symbolic of an action – Han Solo walking out on to a suspended bridge to face his lost son. To try and bring him back from darkness. As a father, and to others a father-figure (an unassumed title by me, rather an awareness of responsibility as I look around at the people I care about and see their needs), it’s absolutely crucial I step into the danger zones of their emotional needs. To ask hard questions, to offer myself, even if I’m afraid and the outcome is unpredictable. But I can’t not do it. There is too much to lose.

    The second image is from the top of those famous steps at the Philly museum, where a certain warrior/lover/friend stands after decades in the fight, having known poverty, wealth, obscurity, fame, love and loss, and can reflect on a life lived from the heart.

    Thanks 2015 movies. I love most of you.

  31. Thanks for your words and also apologies for kinda derailing this a little into a “Poor CJ” thread, although I guess that I’m the only one who feels bad for doing it.(And I didn’t even tell you half of the shit that also went down, but let’s leave it like that.) *manly group hug*

  32. Poeface, great stuff up there. Even though I couldn’t rock with you on the Straight Outta Compton film, Ice Cube was a hi hop force to be reckoned with, and I even think some of his newer output (that no one is really listening to) is pretty good. Also, police brutality and racism suck. Also, as a testament to what a badass image Ice Cube cut in the late 80s and early 90s, I once watched a Nicolas Cage interview on one of those morning shows where he said that his inspiration for his role in Kiss of Death was still photos of Ice Cube. As Adonis Creed says, “Respect.”

    CJ, I hope 2016 is way better than 2015. May you find the strength and courage to continue going the distance.

  33. Testing…

  34. 2015 was a really great year of reviews, Vern. I can’t wait for 2016.

  35. I finally watched A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Given much thought to a Kubrick retrospective, Vern?

    Speaking of which, I imagine this will be a good year to finish up your Michael Mann reviews. Shout Factory is releasing a definitive Blu-ray of MANHUNTER in the summer, and 20th Century Fox is prepping a new Blu-ray/DVD release of HEAT.

  36. Thank you Vern, for your fantastic ans cool reviews, I am really enjoying them for many years now, and recommend your site to anyone I know who is into films an also as enthusiastic about cinema. Keep up with it! Last year I really enjoyed your review about MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, because that movie really hit me. Loved it, so I was happy to see, that you liked it too and spoke so good about it. Also I loved your PURPLE RAIN review. Because Prince.
    A Podcast I really like is “How did this get made” by Paul Sheer. Give it a try, it is actually really funny. I can recommend it to anyone here.
    I wish you the best for 2016! Thanks.

  37. Really inspiring thoughts for 2016. Thanks everyone.

    It just got me thinking tho, it seems 2015 had some form of hurdles for everyone, more than just the usual life stuff. I wonder what it was. This time last year I was so excited and optimistic for the real 2015, based on Back to the Future II. I know it’s just a movie but it seemed most of the world shared that optimism. And then slowly we all got beaten down. October 21 was still special and I felt the warmth but when did last year turn?

    And how do we make sure we don’t let 2016 go that way?

  38. I’ve been making a conscious effort not to express any negative thoughts, which goes a long way to explaining my scarcity on this sight over the past few weeks. I’m trying to see if that changes the way I feel overall, because I got a lot of shit left to do in this life and being pissed off about everything isn’t gonna help me do it. 2015 was a year of big changes for me, and big change comes with major adjustments and soul-searching and even mourning. I’m hoping 2016 is the year I reap the rewards of those changes.

  39. Mouth – I too was disappointed when I heard THE SOUP got canned.

    Anyway confession time, 2016 is not just another year for me fellas, 2006 was the year I got my first laptop as a gift from my parents and for the first time had regular access to the interwebs and various sights, it’s a year I look back on with a lot of fondness and it also feels surprisingly recent to me, I can’t believe its’ been 10 years already, for the first time in my life I can say that I clearly remember a decade back “like it was yesterday”, it also gives me pause for thought because frankly I’ve spent so much time of the last decade ON the internet and am not currently a millionaire with loads of pussy that I can’t help but kinda feel like I’ve wasted the last decade of my life, just in general realizing that a decade can go by before you know it makes me feel my own mortality for the first time in my life.

    But oh well, time waits for no man, here’s hoping 2016 is as special to me as 2006 was and to everyone here, happy new year!

  40. Thanks Skani. And I like that Cage/Cube story, I never knew that. Too bad there was nothing notable from Cage this year. I watched FACE/OFF again though, and that always makes me happy.

  41. Hey, if anybody is having trouble with the spam filter not letting you post, email me at outlawvern at hotmail dot com and let me know. Chris showed me how to go in and find your denied requests and allow them. I tried to do everybody that looked legit in there but let me know if I missed you.

    Also, I wanted to say that I didn’t mean to cast aspersions on anyone specific with that CLOSE RANGE thing. I’m always suspicious of people apparently seeing these DTV movies before they’ve been released, but I know different countries have different schedules and what not. Thanks everybody.

  42. Close Range was actually VOD first December 6 so you could’ve been watching it this whole time!

    I thought it was great. And we’ve got Boyka and Hard Target 2 in the can too so it’s gonna be a badass year!

  43. The Original Paul

    January 2nd, 2016 at 6:44 am

    Griff – “THE SOUP got canned!”

    Hehehe… I only just got that.

  44. Vern, it’s available in the United State of America through VOD and itunes so it’s really not something that isn’t like people are cheating to see so you could have seen it already and reviewed it and continued on with whatever cool passion project you had next. Happy New Year!! You’re the best around.

  45. I paid for my copy of CLOSE RANGE.It may have been released earlier over here

  46. I also respect waiting for the physical media, and while I don’t doubt some unscrupulous people Found a way around legit vod, I’m sure no one HERE did that.

  47. Vern, I was surprised you never reviewed The Scorpion King 4 or any of the John Hyam’s directed episodes of Z Nation, so maybe they’re things you could look at writing about this year?

    Keep up the great work otherwise, I’m particularly enjoying your Lucas Minus Star Wars series.

  48. If you’re looking for a podcast to promote your new book on, I’ve got one of those. It’s a movie review podcast, too, although time could be made to talk about the book/its release schedule/where to buy it/etc.

    Of course, at this point, having you on would be better promotion for the podcast than it would be for your book. Just starting out, not very many listeners as of yet.

  49. Happy New Year, everyone! I had a pretty good 2015, so I’m sad to hear about those of you who didn’t. There was a lot of shittiness that went down in the world (and here in the U.S.), so I hope for everyone to have a good 2016.

  50. The emigrition-crisis pisses me off, the Paris terrorism as well, so I can´t possibly see how anyone sees the end of this year end as none other than just another pisspool of shit. I am just so fucking angry about things, this year has just been an abomination. Fuck 2015!

  51. Crushinator Jones

    January 4th, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Hey my dudes, sorry I missed the train on this one but I just wanted to say Happy New Year, and here’s to everyone’s passions paying off for them in 2016. Salud!

  52. 2015 was an exceptionally fun year at the movies. It was the year I saw three WWE movies (VENDETTA, 12 ROUNDS 3:RELOADED, THE CONDEMNED 2), two Bruce Willis movies (VICE, EXTRACTION), two JCVD movies (POUND OF FLESH, JIAN BING MAN), a new Steven Seagal movie (ABSOLUTION), three new Dolph Lundgren films (SKIN TRADE, WAR PIGS, SHARK LAKE), two new movies with Arnold (MAGGIE, TERMINATOR GENYSIS), a new Stallone picture (CREED), the latest Marko Zaror film (REDEEMER), and even a new movie with Olivier Gruner (THE CHEMIST) … all theatrically on a big screen. That’s not even counting stuff like RZA’s AWOL-72, and all the post-apocalyptic stuff, the latest batch of 8 Films to Die For, and the wacky Chinese action movies I saw like KUNG FU KILLER, DRAGON BLADE, and MOJIN: THE LOST LEGEND that I went to see in theaters. I doubt we’ll get another fun year like 2015 any year soon.

  53. This year my three favorite movies were a Rocky sequel, a Mad Max sequel, and an ultra-gory cannibal movie. It’s like it’s 1982 all over again. That is to say, it was a really good year (even if I was mildly disappointed by Star Wars 7: Return of the Jedi 2).

  54. I’m with Shoot, 2015 can go to hell!

  55. It was a fine year of great reading, Vern. I’m pumped to read your next novel.

    Here’s to 2015 for all it established, but most of all for this weird and surprisingly wonderful re-make-uel trend that gave us a new Star Wars, a new Rocky, a new fucking MAD MAX, and some ridiculously high expectations for Hollywood to completely ruin in 2016.

    I’m lookin’ at you, INDEPENDENCE DAY! Maybe they can bring The Rock in for part 3, get some of that franchise viagra, so when the fourth one rolls around Will Smith can return and they can call it ID4 4. Or ID4² which is my preference.

    And also, shit? CLOSE RANGE has been available for a month? I guess I should re-follow Scott Adkins on Twitter to keep up with the real scoops.

  56. Happy new year, everyone. Thanks to all of you for another year of thoughtful film critique, discussion, etc.

    My year has already started off in great fashion, as my Arlo t-shirt arrived this weekend!

  57. Happy belated holidays everybody! Recently I haven’t had the chance to post as much as I would like and when I do I have been ambushed by the Spamblocker, but 2015 was a great year for film and I am looking forward to 2016.

    Vern, thank you for everything you do. I am sorry to hear about your loss.

    And a thank you to all of you that post here regularly. Vern’s hard work, passion, and insight have cultivated a community of movie fans like no other and it is a joy to be part of the conversation with you all.

  58. Ugh…. Stupid typo… I meant Argyle t-shirt.

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