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LATEST REVIEWS
TUNNEL
"Fine disaster & rescue, with a great Korean cast."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "A lot of things are graded on a sliding scale, but foreign films are often on one that slides both ways - there's a crowd that treats "mainstream" as a dirty word and one that asks why they should bother dealing with subtitles if it doesn't have something really special and unique. Both those groups may wind up unfairly dismissing "Tunnel" rather than enjoying it for the well-executed, occasionally clever rescue thriller that it is." (more)
I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
"But then, what would make me one?"
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2016 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: How to describe "I Am Not a Serial Killer", a film that often seems to have the wrong lurid title for the story is actually telling to an extent that it almost seems like misdirection? You almost have to double something together, saying is the familiar story of a kid who discovers something no adult will believe in his neighborhood filtered through the likes of "Let the Right One In", with just enough modern parental paranoia thrown in for good measure. And then, once those parts are put together, the title may not describe them or the whole, but it certainly speaks about the stitching." (more)
MECHANIC: RESURRECTION
"Broken down."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "That "Mechanic: Resurrection" was a sketchy idea was obvious to begin with; Jason Statham's first go-around with this character was not exactly a hit or considered the sort of mid-level of action movie that executes better than the bigger-budget ones (and the best element of that movie, Ben Foster as Statham's protege, wasn't returning). Still, when Michelle Yeoh's character asks Statham's to beat up just ONE obnoxious goon... Well, geez, that's not great use of resources on display." (more)
BLOOD FATHER
"Rehabilitate your image, Gibson, so you can do better than this."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2016 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: It is very easy to read too much into how Mel Gibson's character in "Blood Father" is introduced by stating that he is an alcoholic at an AA meeting, talking about what a mess he made of his life and how he's trying to avoid habits, but even if that is meant as a joke, it's one made with some purpose. Gibson's off-screen failings are many and well-known, and maybe a grudge should be held against him, but even if that's the case, it's still something of a waste to see his talent and screen presence as an actor just being used to make video-on-demand filler like this into something a bit more watchable." (more)
SLAYGROUND
"Imperfect but Colorful Crime Tale"
4 stars
Jack Sommersby says... "Released on only 62 screens, its box-office take was a measly $154,469. Obviously, the studio had absolutely no faith in it, which is a shame because it, despite some missteps, it delivers the goods." (more)
PETE'S DRAGON (2016)
"Fantastic things in these woods."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "A few years ago, a friend argued that a certain movie was not as good as it could be because it let the audience see its creatures right away rather than hiding them for a big reveal later, even though it wasn't about discovery. I was reminded of that when this new version of "Pete's Dragon" showed the dragon in the second or third scene, thinking that the kids that this movie was made for wouldn't have internalized those expectations based upon what used to be prohibitively expensive. That thought soon fled my mind, though - while the modern ability to put something fantastic on screen with relatively little restriction is a big part of what makes this film a delight, its big heart and the filmmakers' steady hands do even more to make this one of the best family films to come out in a year that has had plenty." (more)
TIME RAIDERS
"Keep searching for Chinese treasure."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Treasure-hunting stories are currently pretty big in China, and though it's tempting to see something about a nation with a very specific present and targeted future reconciling with a long, very different past, we don't do that with Indiana Jones. Those movies are just extremely well-built adventures. "Time Raiders" isn't quite so well-built - it's a jumble of things found in cliffhanging adventure stories that takes their awesomeness for granted rather than building something greater than the sun of their individual joys - but when you're in the middle of a tomb raider craze, this can scratch the itch." (more)
LINE WALKER
"Ah, looks like there was one more undercover agent."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "It's not exactly fair, but you say "Hong Kong crime movie with lost undercover cops", and my head's going to go to "Infernal Affairs", which, as an all-time classic, is setting the bar pretty high, when it's probably enough just to be a decent enough cops and crooks movie. "Line Walker: The Movie", is no "Infernal Affairs"; for all I know, it's not even up to the standard of the TV series that launched it. On the other hand, there ain't no shootout like a Hong Kong shootout, and this does deliver the crime-movie goods quite nicely when it gets down to it." (more)
SPACEMAN (2016)
"Southpaws are odd ones, though that's not always enough."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Say this for writer/director Brett Rapkin - not a lot of folks have made a documentary feature and then been able to return to the subject for a narrative one. Off the top of my head, that puts him on a short list with Werner Herzog and a few others. Not at the top of the list or anywhere near it, since this year's "Spaceman", at least, is just an average sports bio, but there's a little something to be said for both practice and for doing movies about things that hold one's attention over a long period." (more)
KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
"Forget The Cute Quote--Go And See This"
5 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "As has been noted before, this past summer was not exactly a particularly robust one for moviegoers, especially those looking for something that might entertain the entire family. Sure, “Finding Dory” was quite good but it inevitably lacked the uniqueness of the original. Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg’s wildly overhyped “The BFG” was a tonal mess that never quite came together while the likes of “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Ice Age 5” were dispiriting drags that failed to work on any level, though the box office failure of the latter suggests that even little kids starved for entertainment have their limits. And yet, in the dog days of August—a time when families are more focused on returning to school than in hitting the multiplex—two of the very best family films in recent years have appeared in as many weeks. Last week, you will recall, saw the release of “Pete’s Dragon,” a remake of the lumbering 1977 Disney behemoth that turned out to be a funny, touching and exciting work that was everything that “The BFG” wished that it was. As good as that film is, this week’s “Kubo and the Two Strings” might actually be even better—a visually stunning and dramatically exciting fantasy epic for all ages that puts most of the bombastic would-be blockbusters of the last few months to shame." (more)

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