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LATEST REVIEWS
SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY
"One for the fans who buy the tie-in material, and hopefully a few more."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "There are degrees of fandom for big properties like Star Wars, and the companies who own these properties have long created enough material to ensure that everyone can get as much as they want, especially when there were relatively long, fallow periods between main events. These tie-in materials are by their nature inessential, and even conditional - they are sometimes contradicted and booted out of canon - but, despite being more clearly created for mercenary purposes and being inconsequential by certain measurements, these secondary additions to the franchise can be quality entertainment. That's the sort of movie "Solo" is, tie-in material that wound up getting a big-screen budget and doing fairly well with it." (more)
ON CHESIL BEACH
"A turbulent, troubled honeymoon."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "There's no missing the point with "On Chesil Beach"; even before a couple flash-forwards that hammer things home in the most obvious way possible, it's clear what the filmmakers are talking about and where events are headed. It's not really a problem, since it's being played out by a couple of fine young actors and seldom fails to be anything less than beautifully mounted." (more)
HOW LONG WILL I LOVE U
"Could use a few time-travel tweaks."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""How Long WIll I Love U" doesn't exactly waste a fun premise and a likable cast, but it's almost never as inspired in its follow-through as it is when introducing things. The opening act of the movie gives us a nifty main setting and a quick introduction to a potentially fun couple, but the rest of the movie seems dedicated to taking it for granted on the way to a finale where there's a lot of plot but it's also even fuzzier than that of most time travel stories." (more)
RAAZI
"Sometimes arranged marriages cement alliances, and sometimes..."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""Raazi" is something of a weird one for people used to Hollywood spy movies, which tend to either be bigger or more morally ambiguous; this opens, at least, with some unequivocal flag-waving, and doesn't spare the talk of duty and straightforward setting of goals early on. For someone with an arm's-length interest in the India-Pakistan conflict, it can play somewhat dry. Of course, espionage is a dry business on the planning side, and writer/director Meghna Gulzar does all right when things get dangerous on the ground." (more)
FIRST REFORMED
"Losing My Religion"
5 stars
alejandroariera says... "If you went by his apparently placid exterior and demeanor, you wouldn’t be blamed if you thought Reverend Toller (Ethan Hawke) was a good man. He diligently tends to his shrinking flock at First Reformed Church, a historic site in Albany, New York that used to be part of the Underground Railroad that transported escaped slaves from the South to the North and now has been taken over by a Megachurch. His relationship with Reverend Jeffers (Cedric Kyle, a.k.a. Cedric the Entertainer), leader of that Megachurch is cordial; their tête-à-têtes about faith and the new generation of churchgoers are robust, full of spark. Toller is an amiable host to the small group of tourists and students that visit his church and like the country priests and doctors of times past, he pays house calls to those congregants struggling with their faith. But underneath that apparently placid exterior, underneath that friendly and slightly uncomfortable smile, lies a tortured soul. A man struggling with both physical and spiritual pain who embarks on a self-destructive journey that might, just might, lead to redemption." (more)
SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY
"Solo or The 120 Hands of Sabacc."
3 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "The arrival of “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” the latest entry in the long-running and highly lucrative film franchise and the second spin-off film to come out that is not a part of the currently unfolding trilogy, is an event that even the most dedicated members of its devoted fanbase may regard with more than a little suspicion. For one thing, while moviegoers used to have to wait three years or so between the films, this marks the fourth “Star Wars” property to hit screens since 2015, leading to the very distinct possibility that most audiences may be getting to the point where they need a bit of a break from them. More significantly, this was a film with a number of well-publicized production problems that culminated with the original directing team of Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, hot off of “The Lego Movie,” being fired with reportedly less than three weeks until the completion of principal photography amidst rumors of clashes between them and the producers and the suggestion that star Alden Ehrenreich required acting lessons. Granted, recent “Star Wars” productions have not always run smoothly—“Rogue One” underwent extensive reshoots and the original directors for a planned Boba Fest spinoff and “Episode IX,” Josh Trank and Colin Trevorrow were both sacked before they even got near the cameras—but to can the directors that late in the process suggested a production that was in serious trouble and the hiring of Ron Howard to come in and take over (reportedly reshooting between 70-80% of the film, depending on who is telling the tale) further indicated that the producers were now less concerned with doing something a little off-beat (which was presumably the idea behind the hiring of Lord & Miller in the first place) and more interested in simply getting the damn thing done in the quickest and most painless manner possible (which would explain the hiring of Howard, a good director when blessed with good material but not exactly the most daring or innovative member of the DGA). The fact that the film would make an extremely high-profile debut at the Cannes Film Festival suggested at least some degree of confidence in it but my guess is that most will approach it with a level of trepidation not seen since “Attack of the Clones” arrived in the wake of the thunderously underwhelming “The Phantom Menace.”" (more)
GREAT SILENCE, THE
"No good guy with a gun."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Sergio Corbucci's "The Great Silence" is making the rounds right now, celebrating its fiftieth anniversary with a new digital restoration, and despite its age and period setting, it feels especially incisive and contemporary in 2018. Truth be told, it probably never seemed anything else, but it never hurts to rediscover just how incisive this sort of western can be." (more)
DEADPOOL 2
"Meets comic superhero x-pectations."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "It's tough to do "Deadpool" twice; the first was a well-needed go at taking the piss out of Marvel's ubiquity and how seriously some fans take corporate shared universes, but the second can't help but build up its own continuity even as it spends the credits shredding the very idea. Plus, Marvel has done "Thor: Ragnarok" and "Spider-Man: Homecoming" in the last year, closing a little ground, which means "Deadpool 2" has to go farther to try and get the same results - although, isn't that the case with most sequels?" (more)
DEADPOOL 2
"Another unrepentant middle finger to Superhero seriousness"
4 stars
Greg Ursic says... "After languishing in development hell for the better part of a decade, Deadpool finally got the green light after test footage for the project was “accidentally” leaked and fanboys went crazy. The wise cracking Merc with a Mouth delivered on every level: an unconventional love story, gory deaths galore, a barrage of smart ass one-liners, a measure of redemption for Ryan Reynolds and the best ever box office for an R-rated flick, guaranteeing a sequel, if not a franchise. Prepare not to be disappointed." (more)
CRIME + PUNISHMENT
"Watching the watchmen."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2018: At times "Crime + Punishment" feels like two related documentaries superglued together, as director Stephen Maing tells the stories of a dozen NYPD officers suing the department over an illegal quota system alongside that of a teenager held for a year before trial as a result of such a system. It makes for a somewhat crowded movie, but a compelling one, especially as one half of the story, at least, can have some resolution." (more)

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