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"Not necessarily cause for distress."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2018: The Zellner Brothers' "Damsel" has the odd habit of trading one memorable performance and situation for another rather than letting them build into something bigger, filling in the gaps with admittedly entertaining deadpan oddity. It makes for a movie that feels like the filmmakers came up with a bunch of Old West gags and laid them end to end, managing a constant sort of arch tone and not quite wearing it out." (more)
"Open the door, get on the floor, Everybody walk the dinosaur"
3 stars
alejandroariera says... ""Jurassic World" delivered what it promised: a louder, bigger reboot of the "Jurassic Park" franchise. It was also disposable, a by-the-numbers exercise, a first chapter of a trilogy that we frankly didn’t need, the product of a corporate mindset willing to squeeze every last drop of its back catalog. “The last thing the world needs is another 'Jurassic Park' sequel. As much as I enjoyed this entry, there is no question in my mind that the Jurassic Park franchise is past its expiration date,” I wrote in my review of "Jurassic World" when it was released. Then came news that Spanish filmmaker Juan Antonio Bayona ("The Orphanage," the critically underrated and magnificent "A Monster Calls") had been hired to direct the sequel and my curiosity was piqued. Would executive producer Steven Spielberg and Universal allow Bayona to leave his mark in the franchise the way Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro and Waika Taititi were allowed to in the Harry Potter, Blade, and Thor franchises? Or would he be hampered by them?" (more)
"Where Is A Giant Asteroid When You Need It?"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "For about the first 10-15 minutes of “Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom,” I felt something that I have only rarely experienced throughout the franchise’s 25 years of existence and certainly not for a while—a genuine sense of excitement and enthusiasm. The film kicks off with a couple of scenes that are so well done that the series might finally—finally--pull itself out of its creative topper and bring on the thrills, entertainment and wonder that it has long promised but only rarely delivered. Alas, outside of a couple of skillfully executed action beats here and there, the film fails to live up to those opening scenes enough to make it worth watching (not that this will stop people from turning out to see it in droves). The good news is that it is certainly better than its predecessor, the utterly insipid “Jurassic World” (2015). The bad news, on the other hand, is that it is not that much better." (more)
"A fair thriller from a filmmaker who is great at other things."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2018: It's kind of amusing that this sort of movie - a crime thriller that's more complicated than the plot of an hour-long TV show, but not necessarily by that much - is often treated as less impressive or difficult than the less plot-driven movies that filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda usually makes, because he stumbles here. This doesn't mean that the emperor has no clothes and genre work actually more difficult than closely-observed, subtle family drama, just that it's a different skill set, and a guy who is good at the sort of movies that regularly impress critics is not necessarily going to elevate other material when he gives it a try." (more)
"Different from the rest."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2018: Though coming-of-age stories often seek to tap into some sort of universal sort of experience, the best ones are often the most specific, and "We the Animals" is very specific indeed. It's an intriguing, well-observed story of growing up different in just about every way, heightening how very alone a kid can find himself feeling." (more)
"Barely gets out of the starting gate."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "If one's filmgoing tastes stretch far enough for Indian action-adventure and "Race 3" is playing at the local multiplex - and it's more likely than usual; the big Eid release is getting more screens than Bollywood films typically get in the U.S., including some in 3D - the number in the title should not deter you; it's not connected to the two previous movies and even the returning actors are playing different characters. No, give it a pass because it's not very good, a prime example of how a movie can have a little bit of everything and not enough of anything." (more)
"Maybe true, but not a good enough story."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2018: Filmmaker Cheryl Eagan-Donovan presents an interesting argument for Edward de Vere as the true author of the plays and poetry of William Shakespeare in "Nothing Is Truer than Truth", enough that the viewer cannot necessarily dismiss it completely out of hand. The trouble is, an interesting case is not enough, especially on this subject: When the simplest explanation is as plain as "the plays of William Shakespeare were written by William Shakespeare", the case against must be compelling or overwhelming, and that is not the case here." (more)
"Maybe Not Incredible, But Pretty Good."
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "When “The Incredibles” was release in 2004 to near-universal acclaim, superhero films had not quite begun to totally dominate the film industry in the way that they do today and as a result, writer-director Brad Bird’s keenly felt homage to the genre felt fresh, exciting and funny while at the same time offering surprisingly nuanced takes on such subjects as balancing work and family and the pains and pleasures of being special and unique in a world that oftentimes simply finds it easier to embrace mediocrity instead. The result was both one of Pixar’s finest films and one worthy of belonging placed alongside “Superman: The Movie” (1978), “Hulk” (2003), “Spider-Man 2” (2004,” the Christopher Nolan “Batman” films and the current “Black Panther” as one of the greatest superhero movies ever made. Now, “Incredibles 2” has finally arrived and the good news is that it is fast, funny, often visually stunning and should prove to be entertaining enough for young and old viewers alike, even those who were not even born when the original came out 14 years ago. The bad news is that while it is never less than entertaining to watch and certainly preferable to the likes of “Avengers: Infinity War” or “Deadpool 2” as superhero movies go, it lacks the additional grace notes that made the original so much more than just another action-packed extravaganza." (more)
"Proof Positive That "Once" Was More Than Enough"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Every summer, there is at least one instance—and usually more—where a film that was praised to the skies after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival finally opens in a properly oxygenated climate and those who weren’t caught up in the need to anoint the next big thing are left befuddled and wondering what all the fuss could have possibly been about in the first place. (To cite just one of many examples, consider last year’s “Patti Cakes”—better yet, don’t.) For this season, that film is “Hearts Beat Loud,” a cloying and ham-handed attempt to replicate the magic of “Once” (a Sundance favorite that actually did live up to the hype) with increasingly diminishing and tone-deaf results." (more)
"Genuine dumb fun."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2018: An enjoyably crude comedy about two people whose simple-if-ill-advised plan for a weekend at the beach is detailed by a bunch of disasters both of their own and others' making, "Never Goin' Back" is a bit of a standout right now because they don't necessarily make a lot of these movies about teenage girls. And while it's noteworthy for being unusual now, it will probably age well because it's genuinely funny throughout." (more)

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