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"The level of family film that families should demand."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "A couple of people in the audience for "Wonderstruck" were saying this wasn't a PG movie as we exited the theater, and, yeah, it's heavy at times, and I'm sure that my brother and sister-in-law are going to cringe at some of the scenes of 1977 New York when I give a copy to my niece for her 12th birthday next year, but she's a smart kid, and bright girls like her should be able to handle it. This movie is frequently sad and occasionally scary, but it's also ambitious and kind of terrific, the sort of smart entertainment middle-schoolers deserve." (more)
"Mostly the right sort of dumb."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""Geostorm" is a deeply stupid movie, but it's my favorite kind of stupid, where the cast gets big, shiny sets to play on, an international team of experts is genuinely international, there's a ton of 3D mayhem that's nevertheless easy to follow, and, most importantly, the whole thing is built around a belief in a brighter future where humanity can actually do amazing things to make the world better, even if there is incredible danger. It's ridiculous and the breeziness that makes it enjoyable is often wrong-headed, but it's capable as big dumb adventures go." (more)
"Builds interest in its characters along with its case for forgiveness."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Redemption stories are hard, whether in fiction or real life, and this one probably has a tougher uphill climb than most, taking the perspective of a boy who bullied a deaf girl in elementary school and flipping it so that he winds up the outcast. It's not easy to get the audience behind him, especially when she is often the one still desperate for his interest and approval. Fortunately, "A Silent Voice" has time to get the audience there, even though it's easy to dig in and say you'll never forgive." (more)
"Why We Must Laugh At The Mighty Thor"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Thor may be the God of Thunder in the pages of the comic books but on the big screen, he has, to be frank, been a bit of a dud. As one of the players in the Avengers movies, he has largely existed to provide ballast while the other characters have gotten the fun stuff or the more dramatic beats. As for his solo ventures, “Thor” (2011) and “Thor: The Dark World” (2013), they have proven to be so profoundly boring and unnecessary that the only thing that I can immediately remember about either of them is that they somehow managed to give co-star Natalie Portman material so thin and substandard that it made the stuff she had to work with in the “Star Wars” prequels seem deep and fully fleshed-out by comparison. It seems that even the Marvel machine realized at some point that his screen adventures, while lucrative, were not exactly inspiring and decided that they could afford to go in a different direction without alienating the fanboy contingent too badly, starting with the unexpected hire of director Taika Waititi, a filmmaker from New Zealand known for the low-budget cult comedies “What We Do In the Shadows” and “Hunt for the Wilderpeople.” Oftentimes, when an indie filmmaker of his type gets hired on to head a blockbuster behemoth, most of the unique personality that they displayed in those earlier efforts gets excised along the way so that the final product is indistinguishable from others. Here, Waititi has apparently been more or less given free rein and the end result, “Thor: Ragnarok,” is all the better for it, a cheerfully goof work that both embodies and spoofs the superhero movie subgenre and allows us, at long last (and with apologies to Randy Newman), to finally laugh at this mighty Thor." (more)
"Some kind of grim masterpiece."
5 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "In the first shot of "Brawl in Cell Block 99," the heavy tire of a truck flattens a can of lite beer. This, I imagine, is a signal that you’re about to get a shot of the hard stuff." (more)
"White people problems."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "They didn't mention race much in the trailer for "Suburbicon", or give much attention to the kid who resides closest to the center of the movie, and while keeping something in reserve isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's also kind of something that happens with the movie itself, in that director George Clooney never really gets into the good, meaty stuff." (more)
"Teen noir stripped to its basics."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "The teenage girls in "Thoroughbreads" watch an old movie or three over the course of their own film, and, boy, would Anya Taylor-Joy be looking at a heck of a line in femmes fatales if there were still the same sort of regular demand for them. Her performance as a potentially-monstrous teenager is delicious, begging to be inserted into a film that has higher stakes or which gives her someone to pull down from a much higher pedestal." (more)
"Not Exactly A Fawning Review"
3 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Over the past few years, Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos has seen his star rise to the point where he is now considered one of the top names on the world cinema scene. For the most part, this is a development that I have been perfectly happy with—i admired the bleak vision, originality and formal precision of such provocations as “Dogtooth” and “Alps” and while I wasn’t quite as taken with “The Lobster,” his first conscious stab at breaking through to a truly international audience, as others were, it was certainly a unique moviegoing experience and the quirky humor that he infused the material with helped to further enliven things. With his latest work, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” something has gone slightly awry. Make no mistake, this is a film that is beautifully made and nicely acted but the end result feels a little hollow because for once, we can pretty much see where he is heading with the material at a certain point. As a result, none of the shocking developments and outrages manage to inspire much passion or excitement, either from him or from the audience, and the whole thing eventually feels like the unnecessary answer to the unasked question “What would it be like if Michael Haneke had been charged with doing his own version of “Thinner”?”" (more)
"Wonders Never Cease"
5 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "A few years ago, Martin Scorsese, pretty much the last filmmaker that one might expect to attempt to make a film aimed squarely at family audiences, managed to do just that with “Hugo,” an alternately moving, visually audacious and utterly delightful adaptation of Brian Selznick’s children’s story dealing with history, loss and the magic of silent cinema that viewers of all ages could embrace. Now, Todd Haynes, a filmmaker whose oeuvre (including “Safe,” “Far from Heaven,” “I’m Not There” and “Carol”) would hardly be considered family viewing in even the most liberal of households, has come up with “Wonderstruck,” another adaptation of a Selznick book that deals with many of the same themes as “Hugo,” albeit in different ways. While the end result is not quite as over-the-top wonderful as “Hugo” was, Haynes has nevertheless come up with an often-lovely work that adults and at least more thoughtful children can easily embrace while still feeling like a Todd Haynes project through and through." (more)
"Simple story told extraordinarily well."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "The last act of "In the Fade" doesn't seem like it should be especially nerve-wracking - the film has rearranged itself to more closely resemble a thriller, certainly, and the condensed form doesn't hurt, although that may not generate tension on its own. But despite that, it felt like the caffeine from a soda I drank at work hours earlier was just hitting me - all the meticulous work Faith Akin and his collaborators put into the film was having a cumulative effect, and getting every little thing right is the way a good movie becomes a great one and a movie that never seemed to be about creating excitement, per se, has one on pins and needles by the end." (more)

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