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Tag Archives: three-stars

Company (2011): We’ll Make You Shout “Encore” And Send Us Out for More

photo credit: Oregon State University

Nathan Fisher, Company (Publisher unknown, 2011)


Surprisingly, the tattoos do have something to do with the story. photo credit: my copy

Company” seems to have disappeared from Amazon, along with the rest of Nathan Fisher’s Testing the Boundaries series. Which is kind of a shame, because when it comes to cheap Kindle porn, 99% of it ranges from mediocre to downright awful. “Company” is average, which is still better than mediocre. It’s a pretty standard story (sexy married couple invites wife’s friend to join them one night) with pretty standard (read: overly beautiful to the point of being flawless) characters, but it’s well-written and the actual sex is realistic enough that it’s better than most of this sort of thing. My main gripe with it is my main gripe with pretty much any ultra-short piece of Kindle porn that’s actually good: Fisher could have made it so much better by building characters we could actually get to know and care about, interesting, flawed people whose reactions to the sex are as realistic as the sex itself. Alas, however, it seems we can’t have everything. ***

Queen of Hell: I’m a Sucker for the Witch

Jeff O’Brien, Queen of Hell (Riot Forge Studios, 2016)


Jeff O’Brien pulls a trunk-novel move: he’s taken one of his earliest works (“Devil Rain”) and done some heavy revise-and-extend to turn it into a 120-ish page novella. And, as usual, for those of you who don’t want to stick around for the thousand-word breakdown, I’ll give you the tl;dr right up front: if you’re a fan of horror-comedy with a decidedly sexy (but surprisingly non-graphic) bent, then Queen of Hell should be right up your alley. It is not without its flaws, but it’s still one hell, pardon the pun, of a good time.

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Capsule Reviews, November 2014

Only late enough that December’s capsule reviews are coming next Monday…
[update 25Nov2014: and this should have been posted yesterday, but WordPress seems to be having problems with graphics uploads for some reason. I will get there, honest…]

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The Evictors (1979): Court Is Now in Session

The Evictors (Charles B. Pierce, 1979)

A dark figure carries a dead body away from a house on the movie poster.

We get ’em out the old-fashioned way!
photo credit:

There are a whole lot of directors at work in America today who should be sat down—with as much force as necessary—and made to watch The Evictors, which is an excellent example of how to make a stylish, effective thriller on a basement budget. But since that’s not going to happen, I can distill what they need to learn from this movie into a single sentence: look backward, not forward. Look, if you dare, at the plague of Asylum pictures and Syfy Original Movies and all that sort of dreck, and one thing you will likely notice is that everyone’s waving around CGI like it’s a brand-new toy they can’t get enough of. It’s a very loud, flashy toy, and it annoys the hell out of mom and dad five minutes after the box is opened. Now watch the opening sequence of The Evictors, which is filmed in sepia-tone; the sequence takes place in the thirties, and Pierce was going for that kind of look. It’s very well-shot, it’s obviously out of place, and it does what it sets out to do. If this movie was made in 2013, that sequence would probably be CGIed to death, and the movie would be the worse for it. This is not to say that The Evictors is a perfect film, not by any stretch of the imagination, but for what it is, it is a very good one.

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The Maze Runner (2014): Death Metal

The Maze Runner (Wes Ball, 2014)

A pair of ant-sized figures make their way to the massive doors at the edge of the glade on the movie poster.

Those are some big walls right there.
photo credit:

The Maze Runner does something interesting in the current world of YA dystopias: it gives as an actual mystery as opposed to laying everything out at the beginning and then getting on with the plot. (I’m looking at you, Hunger Games.) The shape of the dystopia and the reason for its existence is therefore a part of the mystery of The Maze Runner, and that is a good thing indeed. Of course, it helps to have a compelling story and a number of good actors to help pull it off, as well as a solid director in Wes Ball, turning in his first feature film.

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Interstellar (2014): First They Came for the Wheat

Interstellar (Christopher Nolan, 2014)

Matthew McConaughey walks to a spaceship on the movie poster.

One of these days, Alice…
photo credit:

Coincidentally, I saw Interstellar a few days after pulling my review of Christopher Nolan’s 2002 film, Insomnia, out of the vault and posting it at var.ev. I opened that review by saying that it seemed to me that Memento may have been a one-shot deal for Nolan. That is no longer true, if only for The Prestige and The Dark Knight, but when Nolan attempts the same mindbending that he did in Memento, he seems to end up every other time with very attractive eye candy that thinks it is far more clever than it truly is. Such was the case with 2010’s Inception, and so it is with Interstellar. It seemed to me that Nolan was looking for a film with the size and scope of 2001, but he ended up with a film with the size of Bollywood and the scope of The Black Hole.

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Amélie (2001): Jeunet Without Caro: Oil Without Vinegar

Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)

[originally posted 3Dec2002]

The title character, in a red blouse, smiles against a green background on the movie poster.

Impish or Satanic? Your call.

For the past two years, I have been reading reviews of Amélie that all have one thing in common: the word “sweet.” I have no idea what film these people were watching, but it wasn’t the twisted little minor gem I saw on Sunday night. “Sweet” may be the last word I’d have come up with in trying to describe it. I should have had more faith in the brilliance of Jeunet. (Of course, all of these same people persist in describing Audrey Tatou as anything from “pixie-like” to “gorgeous,” as well. I found her rather disturbing-looking, as I find everyone in Jeunet films.)

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