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5 minutes: "Concrete" is so obviously code for "cocaine."

10 minutes: This kid actor is a bit much, they really need to get him off and put Ruth Wilson on.

15 minutes: Oh Christ not Andrew Scott.

22 minutes: Wait, he's actually talking about concrete.

27 minutes: These calls are coming pretty fast but I can't really see how they can maintain the tension. In Phonebooth at least a dude was shooting at Colin Farrell.

34 minutes: he's gonna have to crash or something to give this an actual endpoint.

40 minutes: Look at him chugging cough medicine. that's how it'll happen.


53 minutes: Scott's loyalty and ordinariness is really quite sweet.

62 minutes: has he been driving the speed limit this whole time????

65 minutes: there is literally no other substance on earth more appropriate to this man's personality than concrete. He's if like Mr Stevens out of Remains of the Day got to keep all of Sonny Wortzik's promises about taking care of everything.

70 minutes: I think....the dude...just has...a cold...

76 minutes: I'm just so happy about the way this thing with Scott and Hardy ended I want to die.

83 minutes: how is it possible that Tom Hardy listening to his kid's voicemail about a football game is the climax of the movie and it works.

Camerawork too floaty and dependent on reflections, fuzzy lights. Editing too excitable. But a marvel of structure and screenwriting and performance and what the DoP misses in lighting the world he makes up for in his subtle and non-subtle lighting of Hardy's face. The play between minor victories and major roadblocks is impressive and involving. Viewer expectations are managed perfectly. And it is so rare for stories to rely wholly on the tensions of decency and competence; for a plot to hinge on a person's personality and identity and not be a revenge or crusade flick. For that reason alone it's worth a look.
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I was just gonna present these without comment but I'll never get over how well-made this movie is. Tremors (1990, dir. Ron Underwood, DOP. Alexander Gruszynski) is sharp and funny, and introduces absolutely everything you need to know about its premise and characters within ten minutes. It never moves at anything less than a cracking pace. Fred Ward has some golden broad comic beats to go with his crunchy broad face and Kevin Bacon, who is introduced taking a piss and pulling his undies out of his arse, sells the hell out of every second of his moments of alarm and victory.

The script by Brent Maddock and S. S. Wilson is a study in narrative economy: every secondary character introduction speaks volumes and every gag is an organic set-up for something of narrative significance later -- who's got the lighter, who wins rock-paper-scissors, Bacon taking it personally that McIntyre's not a green-eyed blonde with perfect breasts. It's very easy to enjoy this one on its own terms -- no need for the irony and distance that a lot of cult classics might require.

It's also WAY prettier than it has any goddamn right to be. These are not the kind of visuals you expect out of a creature-feature comedy from the exact group of people who brought you Short Circuit. These are Western shots; romance shots; comedy shots. They bring it scope and intimacy and humour.

It knows how to use scenery and it knows how to use faces and it knows how to place people in the screen -- Underwood is so good at framing in this movie. In the standoff in Perfection he often keeps one beroofed character in the background while another character is working in the foreground; the screen is alive with action and tension but it's never distracting. He keeps dirt (sorry, Pleistocene alluvials) in just about every shot, and dust is caked on windows, shirts, is always puffing up around people or dangerously in the distance. The sets are all practical, allowing shots through windows, all built in that extraordinary valley, with mountains looming in the background, at first trapping them, and then offering safety.

So just about every shot, apart from being gorgeous, carries multiple strands of narrative, character, and spatial information; and Underwood never misses a chance to use the camera for a visual gag either -- Bacon's burst of hair as he hangs upside down -- the reveal of Burt and Heather's gun wall -- pull back from a closeup of an object over Bacon's and Ward's shoulders to reveal how far they have to go to get to it -- Bacon running almost offscreen and screaming I GOT A GODDAMN PLAN over his shoulder like a madman.

Here are some of my favourite shots:

Broke into the wrong goddamn rec room didn't you you bastard! )


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