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LATEST REVIEWS
ENDLESS, THE
"Intimate and grand, a perfectly human horror film."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2017 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson have not only not made a bad movie yet, but they're 3-for-3 in making fantastic films that at some point make the viewer's eyes bulge with delight at one point or another, when it becomes clear that they are doing something really clever. "The Endless" is no exception, building tension in an almost conventional way and then making sure that both the things that build mystery and resolve it are genuinely thrilling. It's a genuinely great horror film that will excite their fans and likely impress even those who aren't huge fans of the genre." (more)
VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS
"Great-looking but god-awful."
1 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "I can’t quite bring myself to convince you that the entire two hours and seventeen minutes of "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" are worth sitting through for Rihanna’s appearance some eighty minutes in." (more)
ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ.
"Far Too Willing To Settle"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "If one was to make a list of the most charismatic actors working today, I cannot readily imagine one in which Denzel Washington was not in a place of high prominence. From the earliest days of his career, his searing magnetism, working in conjunction with his superlative skills as an actor, has made him into one of the most electrifying performers of his time—even when he is playing a thoroughly rotten and detestable person, he does it in such a compelling manner that he still manages to keep most audiences on his side despite the things that he says or does. For his latest film, “Roman J. Israel, Esq,” Washington has been given one of the biggest challenges of his career—dial down the charisma factor to practically zero and play a character that most people will be find to be genuinely off-putting throughout. Because Washington is a supremely talented actor, he actually manages to pull this considerable feat off but he is let down by a confused and meandering screenplay that doesn’t really seem to know what to do with his efforts." (more)
COCO (2017)
"Good Bones"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "With a storyline that is set mostly in the land of the dead and deals with a young boy who accidentally crosses over and struggles to make his way back to the world of the living before he becomes a permanent resident of a world where everyone is a skeleton and one’s worth is measured by how much they are remembered in the real world, “Coco,” despite having been produced under the aegis of Pixar, may strike some as sounding a little on the dark and morbid side for a film ostensibly aimed at younger audiences. As it turns out, the film, despite its ostensibly creepy trappings, is a good, if not great, run through the standard Pixar formula that is bolstered by its distinct visual style, the long-overdue expansion of its cultural palette and a storyline that deftly charts the challenges of maintaining family traditions while at the same time striking out to follow the beat of their own drummer." (more)
PREY (2017)
"Fine lions."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2017 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Prey" is, make no bones about it, a silly extra-large-animal-attacks-humans movie, but it's one that is quite well aware of precisely what audiences want from that sort of picture. There is not really a single sequence that doesn't play out with exactly the beats that one might expect for this sort of B-movie, which adds up to the film in general playing in the same sort of way. This is thankfully more of an asset than a weakness here - director Dick Maas and company hit familiar genre notes, but hit them fairly well." (more)
LU OVER THE WALL
"A littler, more eccentric mermaid."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2017 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Masaaki Yuasa had two feature films at the festival, which is some pretty spectacular productivity for someone working in animation, and I suppose that when you're on that kind of roll, it's no surprise that both wound up pretty darn good. "Lu Over the Wall" is a different sort of delight than "Night Is Short, Walk On Girl", in some ways a more conventionally unconventional coming-of-age fantasy: It's hardly the first story with magical creatures helping a lonely kid find his place and save the town, although few are quite the same feast for the eyes and ears." (more)
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
"Everybody Hurts"
5 stars
alejandroariera says... "“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt,” wrote American humorist Erma Bombeck. Irish playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh (“In Bruges,” “Seven Psychopaths”) obliterates that line with his darkly funny and tragically sad third film, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” the story of a woman who has yet to overcome stage two of grief —anger— after the brutal rape and murder of her daughter." (more)
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
"The Signs, They Aren't A-Changing"
5 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "While watching “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” the latest film from audacious British writer-director Martin McDonagh, whose previous efforts were “In Bruges” and “Seven Psychopaths,” I experienced a sensation that I rarely experience at the movies these days—I genuinely had no idea what was going to happen next. Most movies made today, even the good ones, tend to fall into comfortable patterns and once a viewer detects them, they can pretty much figure out, at least in the broad strokes, everything that is about to happen. With this film, however, even though I knew the basics of its plot, I spent most of the running time never knowing where it was headed—and on the rare instances when I was willing to hazard a guess, I was usually wrong—and that sensation only added to what was already a tremendous work. This is a darkly funny, deeply moving and always audacious high wire act of a film that, much like its unforgettable heroine, obeys none of the rules or niceties and is all the more memorable and exciting because of it." (more)
JUSTICE LEAGUE
"Waiting For Superman (And Go To Hell, Spoiler Babies)"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "While I cannot say that I am an especially huge fan of the superhero sub-genre that has been flooding multiplexes in recent years, I have to say that 2017 has actually been a pretty good year, quality-wise, for such films. “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol.2” built on the cheerfully goofy tone of the original without merely rehashing what had come before. “Wonder Woman” came about as close to hitting the top tier for such films as any of them in recent years, missing the mark only by the lack of a truly impressive villain. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” managed to find a fresh approach to what was Sony’s third separate take on the character in about 15 years. Hell, even “Thor: Raganork” managed to take one of the dullest of all the comic book heroes and finally give him an entertaining vehicle by presenting him with a welcome sense of humor and offering up Jeff Goldblum in a hilarious out-of-left-field supporting turn. This run had to end sometime, I suppose, and with the arrival of “Justice League,” DC Comics’ attempt to replicate the success of Marvel’s multi-hero “Avengers” films, it has come to a screeching halt. To be fair, the film is not nearly as bad as the advance word (which included word of massive reshoots and the departure of original director Zack Snyder following a family tragedy) might have suggest and indeed, it is better than such disasters as its immediate predecessor, “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and the monstrous “Suicide Squad.” On the other hand, that isn’t exactly saying much and it doesn’t change the fact that the film is a leaden, lugubrious mess that has a few engaging moments and performances that are often overwhelmed by noisy setpieces, a screenplay that only flirts with coherence and one of the least interesting villains ever seen in a film of this sort." (more)
MUMON: THE LAND OF STEALTH
"Nutty ninjas and savage satire."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2017 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: When attending a genre festival, find the movie by Yoshihiro Nakamura. It will often be relatively unheralded, either because he's not as outrageous as fellow very productive Japanese auteurs like Miike or Sono, or because he's not adapting something that has already found a fandom across the Pacific, but it will almost certainly be one of the best films there. Such is the case with [I]Mumon: The Land of Stealth[/I], and on top of that, it's one of Nakamura's very best. It looks every inch the silly bit of ninja action from the start, but there's a biting criticism of capitalism lurking underneath, so that when it comes to the fore at the end, the audience shouldn't be surprised, but it still hits a bit harder than expected." (more)

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