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LATEST REVIEWS
READY PLAYER ONE
"Spielberg recharges poorly executed source material again."
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "I lasted about two pages into Ernest Cline’s geek-friendly novel 'Ready Player One.' The book’s voice was just too obnoxiously steeped in trivia, with nothing really to say about the pop-culture landmarks it referenced and/or used." (more)
ST. BERNARD SYNDICATE, THE
"Questionable business plan, interesting movie."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2018 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: The director of "The St. Bernard Syndicate" has spent much of his career doing "satirical documentaries", and one wonders if he may have had that in mind for this film as well. The subject matter is certainly ripe for such an approach, but in a bit of irony, it turns out that taking a scripted approach allows him and his collaborators to hit upon something that feels a little bit more real." (more)
SPY WHO DUMPED ME, THE
"Female Bond-ing"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "At this point in a typical summer movie release season, pretty much all of the expected big guns have already been deployed and the titles that remain are either dregs that might have otherwise sunk without a trace had they gone up against the bigger titles or quirkier efforts hoping to take advantage of audience fatigue towards the blockbusters that they have already seen. Many of these films tend to be kind of dreadful but every once in a while, a refreshingly oddball movie comes around to help liven up the dog days at the multiplex. The new action comedy “The Spy Who Dumped Me” doesn’t quite reach those lofty heights but for all of its flaws—and there are a lot of them—it does possess a certain shambolic charm and a number of big laughs and while I admit that trying to recall much of it was a bit of a struggle the morning after the screening, I must also admit that I had a better time than I frankly expected while watching it." (more)
CHRISTOPHER ROBIN
"100% Pooh"
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "The best scene in “Christopher Robin,” Disney’s latest attempt to produce a live-action variant of one of the familiar titles in their animation library, in this case the Winnie the Pooh stories from A.A. Milne, comes right at the very beginning. In it, taken mostly from the final scene of Milne’s last Pooh story, “The House at Pooh Corner,” young Christopher Robin is about to be sent off to boarding school and, before moving on, spends one last afternoon hanging out in the Hundred-Acre-Wood with his friends—Eeyore (Brad Garrett), Tigger (Jim Cummings), Piglet (Nick Mohammed), Rabbit (Peter Capaldi), Kanga (Sophie Okonedo), Roo (Sara Sheen), Owl (Toby Jones) and, of course, Pooh (Cummings again). Granted, it is a bit disconcerting at first to see characters who have thus far been depicted on screen in 2D animation rendered in a combination of live-action and digital effects but the decision to give Pooh & Co. a design closer to the original E.H. Shepard illustrations than to the softer versions seen in the Disney cartoons is a nice touch and the scene does a pretty good job of capturing the warm sentiment and gentle good humor of its predecessors. Unfortunately, this is also the only scene that works in the film and as it lurches on, it quickly turns into an unforgivably ghastly grotesquerie that seems to have been made by and exclusively for the same rotten people who have unaccountably elected to cite “Hook” as one of the formative cinematic experiences of their lives." (more)
BIG BROTHER
"Silly but sincere heroic-teacher flick."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2018 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Big Brother" is corn of the highest order, and it probably won't be long before Hong Kong film fans watch it with more than a bit of irony, laughing at just how unrefined it can be at times. And that's fine, if not necessarily what the filmmakers were going for, because while the script is heavy-handed, the cast plays it with a relatively light touch, so it's an entertainingly cliched uplifting teacher movie rather than a sneer-worthy one." (more)
MONTREAL DEAD END
"Happily homemade horror."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2018 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: I enjoy that "Montréal Dead End" opens near Berri-UQAM, near the bus station where I arrive for the city's Fantasia International Film Festival every year. This is, obviously, a complete coincidence, because as with much of what is produced by Québéc's film industry, it is an intensely local product, filled with references that may befuddle first-time tourists and probably don't travel well. But while a tale zombies, ghosts, and other horrors may seem like an odd love-letter to one's home town, there's a certain charm to it that transcends its DIY nature." (more)
DETECTIVE DEE: THE FOUR HEAVENLY KINGS
"Dee-lightful."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2018 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "The Four Heavenly Kings" is Tsui Hark's best Detective Dee movie yet, in large part because he recognizes that trying to play these movies as straight mysteries would be silly at this point and he's got the budget not to bother. He starts with big, colorful fantasy that it seems like he'll have a hard time topping, but in this case it's better than saving this particular good stuff for later. This is the first time Dee feels like he's in the middle of an outrageous world from the start, and the frantic political machinations play off the madness well." (more)
BLACK TIDE (FLEUVE NOIR)
"A decent missing-kid story with a couple memorable performances."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2018 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Fleuve Noir" ("Black Tide" in English) feels like the sort of grimy, thoroughly compromised police movie that stopped showing up in America with any great frequency back in the 1990s, perhaps for good reason - it's dark and sometimes feels like it reinforces humanity's lesser impulses rather than shining a light on them. There's still an undeniable fascination to imperfect men trying to travel down the truth, though, and this one's got a story that gets under one's skin, the sort of mystery that gets solved by just picking at it until it bleeds, and the filmmakers a fair job of keeping that going until it's done." (more)
AJIN: DEMI-HUMAN
"Over-the-top action made to go down easy."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2018 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Ajin: Demi-Human" is a better-than-usual attempt to cram a lot of comic book into a two-hour movie; you can see the filmmakers making compromises between character depth and world-building, action and explanation. They generally do okay; there's a fair chunk to absorb but it moves fast and puts the characters in position for sometimes gruesomely creative action." (more)
LIVE WIRE
"A Bomb, Alright"
1 stars
Jack Sommersby says... "Went straight to home video where it rightly died a VHS death." (more)

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