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"Decent crime, decent romance, decent movie."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Director Michaël R. Roskam and actor Matthias Schoenaerts made a heck of an impression with "Bullhead", enough that the pair returning to Belgium after making the pretty-good "The Drop" in America is at least worthy of some attention. "Racer and the Jailbird" is not the gritty-but-exciting seventies throwback that its English-language title might suggest; French title "Le Fidèle" is closer to what Roskam and his collaborators are going for. Either way, it's not quite the movie it could have been, though the cast makes it worth a look." (more)
BEAST (2018)
"A dark romance that never quite gets dark enough."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2018: "Beast" is the sort of movie that figures it can let a serial killer running loose in the community sort of simmer in the background, confident that the psychological drama it's got running up front is more interesting. That's true enough for a while, as the audience gets to know its young woman with an overbearing family and her own dark side, but eventually it's got to start pulling things together, and it's all too clear that neither the crime wave nor boyfriend Pascal is nearly as interesting as Moll is." (more)
"Appropriate in some situations, less so in others."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL XX: "Good Manners" is one of those movies that is split close to right down the middle and thus sets itself up for a fall, because the odds that it's going to do two unusual things really well are slim. It's also possible that one just works better, making the other look bad. That's the case here; the first half works in a way that the second doesn't, even though it's not hard to imagine that part working well on its own or even if handled differently here." (more)
"Smart and fierce."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL XX: Movies like "Tigers Are Not Afraid" have a tendency to start deconstructing themselves before the very first scene, and this one is no different, with narration about fairy tales and magic, hints that Estrella (Paola Lara) may be embellishing the tale as she tells it and tries to understand it. This is maybe not literal, filmmaker Issa López seems to be saying, but it's certainly how things feel to someone like Estrella, so let's try to both avoid picking nits while also thinking about why she'll approach it this this way. It can be a transparent gambit, though López's film rises well above that." (more)
"Body politic."
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "When a transgender person sets out to transition from male to female, it can be a great help if she has a small, slender body. Many transwomen, though, don’t have such a body, and sometimes they are sufficiently discouraged from transitioning because they lack the physique that society deems “feminine.”" (more)
"Oy vey."
1 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "The only moment I freely enjoyed in Bruce LaBruce’s erotic satire 'The Misandrists' comes when a woman dressed as a nun, walking on the grounds outside an all-girl school, suddenly and randomly breaks into the Charleston while music plays (coming from where? We don’t know). Then, as inexplicably as it started, the music stops, the dance is cut off, and the “nun” resumes walking." (more)
"Behind the scenes of a movie that wasn't."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL XX: There's an obvious comment to be made about how you see the producers in "MexMan" as antagonists or villains based on your own age and experience, but it's probably an important part of how people are going to approach this documentary about a man trying to make a feature version of his student film. It's equal parts being changed by his enthusiasm and alarmed by the mania, to an even greater degree than is usual with scrappy young artists. Documentary director Josh Polon finds a nice balance, fortunately, and even if you can easily see where it's going to wind up, it's at least an entertaining trip." (more)
"Not really a great choice."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""A or B" starts out as a slick-looking thriller based upon a decent enough concept, but it's not long before the filmmakers run up against the limits on what you can do with a guy locked in a room, tormented by an unseen abductor. It's a classic place to start even if it probably can't be where a movie ends, so a filmmaker has to find a better place for things to lead than Perry Ren Pengyuan does here." (more)
"Sin City, Hong Kong"
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""The Trough" starts out looking like it's going to be a throwback to old-school Hong Kong triad films, what with its cops so far undercover they can't get out and elaborate shoot-outs and professional but ineffectual police, but not necessarily a great one. Plus, it's following that through an over-cool desaturated digital aesthetic, so it doesn't have the grit that made them sing. But here's the thing: Somewhere around the second over-the-top action sequence, it starts to get weird, and kind of delightfully so." (more)
REVENGE (2018)
"Good bloody vengeance."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL XX: "Revenge" does what it says on the package - it's a gory, effective rape-revenge picture with moments that are not for the squeamish. It's a lot of violence, maybe more than some are going to be up for, but it's well-staged and good-looking as well as blood-soaked." (more)

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