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"Gone Baby Gone"
4 stars
Daniel Kelly says... "Some may choose to disagree, but for me, Gillian Flynn’s 2012 bestseller “Gone Girl” isn’t a cinematic text. Filled with interior voices, unreliable narration and characters incessantly explaining themselves, the book is a craftily woven examination of marital disharmony, society’s relationship to gender and the sensationalist depravity of modern media. Flynn’s prose are indebted to high-quality airline fodder, but her articulation of character and theme ascend the norm. “Gone Girl” is a riveting and cleverly assembled work, but again, not one I’d immediately have pegged for film. Nobody is going to argue that David Fincher isn’t a cinematic director. Even his Netflix series “House of Cards” feels too big for laptop monitors or TV sets, bustling with the same rich visual storytelling motifs that govern his more reputable work. With 1995’s “Se7en” Fincher turned a procedural into a morality tale of nightmarish beauty and to an even grander extent, with 2010’s “The Social Network” (clearly his best film) he wove the tabloid-worthy narrative of Facebook’s mischievous inception into a powerful odyssey of brotherhood undone by pride, greed and pitiful insecurity. In “The Social Network” modern Trojan wars erupt through a relationship status, and Helen isn’t a physical beauty, but a small, squared digital image tucked beside the tempting option of requesting her friendship. On paper the story of Mark Zuckerberg isn’t that ripe for movie treatment, but with a skilled visualist and master storyteller at the helm, it became one of 2010’s most satisfactorily epic pictures. This brings us back to “Gone Girl”." (more)
"Not what it looks like, but winds up being pretty good."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "I'd heard the story that likely inspired "My Old Lady" (and is retold within the movie) before, and I suspect that knowing it or just getting the gist of it from the start of the picture may give one the wrong impression of what sort of film it's going to be. It takes a while for the film to really find its feet, but it does eventually, the way one sort of figures it must with the cast it has." (more)
"Barely any boxing, basically bonkers."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""The Boxer's Omen" seems like two extremely different movies made into one, much as one character is... No, that metaphor is not quite right, and I am not going to spoil one of the more jaw-dropping moments of complete insanity that this movie offers up, even though that would likely still leave several dozen for the viewer to discover. It is a downright strange movie wrapped in something conventional and almost unrelated, a fine midnight movie if there ever was one." (more)
"'Drink' for everyone!"
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Cheng Pei-pei was cast in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" because Ang Lee remembered her fondly from the films she made as a young woman, with several articles specifically mentioning this one, also a signature film of King Hu. It would be Hu's last for Shaw Brothers before moving to Taiwan, regarded as both a pivotal moment in the wuxia genre and a great film in its own right. It is not an undeserved reputation." (more)
"Early Jackie Chan, which at least shows impressive flashes."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""The Fearless Hyena" is noteworthy in large part because it is Jackie Chan's first credited movie as writer and director as well as star, and given that "screenplay by Jackie Chan" never exactly became something that drew people to movies, it's not surprising that the story is fairly perfunctory. On the other hand, Chan's greatest skill as a director - getting out of the way of his own fight choreography - is visible from the start." (more)
"Arguably darker than serial killer thrillers, but still engrossing."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT FANTASTIC FEST 2014: Film festivals, or the other ways that film lovers cram more movies than their friends watch in a month into a much shorter span of time, can really warp one's perception of a given picture via context. On its own, I might consider "The Treatment" to be a dark, pessimistic movie about especially horrible crimes; after three screenings that plunged me into that sort of dark water without any sort of lifeline, this movie's police procedural approach made it seem much more an exciting thriller." (more)
"The case of the missing mystery."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT FANTASTIC FEST 2014: One of the best sorts of mysteries plunges its detective into a world not his own, such that figuring out how this other culture works is an important part of finding the killer. Some sort of personal growth is nice too. The trouble with "Waste Land" is that it never offers much more than the plunge, and that never with the sort of depth that makes the lack of a compelling mystery or fleshed-out character arc less keenly felt." (more)
"Not trash, but certainly not pleasant."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT FANTASTIC FEST 2014: "Just jerk off when your brother tells you to" isn't quite the first line of "I Am Trash", but it's close and gets the audience's attention. It also turns out to be one of the less horrific moments in this movie about a family of sex offenders. If that description puts you off, you're probably well-served trusting those instincts." (more)
"Deja vu."
3 stars
Brett Gallman says... "In its relentless pursuit to reboot everything with a grim and gritty sensibility, Hollywood has come around to resurrecting “The Equalizer,” a relatively short-lived but popular television series centered on a man’s quest for vigilante justice. Such an approach feels passé and exhausting at this point, yet that’s really the least of the film’s problems. More disconcerting is its refusal to actually commit to this mode, as it instead wears it like an accessory that adds a sense of faux-profundity to a film that’s mostly about one guy’s quest to just kill and blow up everything in his path." (more)
I AM HERE (2014/II)
"An impressive look at serious instability."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT FANTASTIC FEST 2014: "I Am Here" is heart-and-gut-wrenching in its first act, taking horrific events and making them hurt more with things that would at first glance have the opposite effect. It's not quite so sure-handed when it starts to actually tell a story around the situation it has set up, but is built on such a strong base that this hardly matters." (more)

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