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LATEST REVIEWS
PENGUIN HIGHWAY
"Crushes, science, and cute flightless birds."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2018 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: For a movie about penguins just showing out of nowhere in a precocious kid's hometown, and that being the tip of the iceberg as far as weirdness gets, "Penguin Highway" can be kind of dry. There's an angle from which that's kind of nifty - the film and its hero don't just love science as a reference book that contains interesting facts, but as a rigorous process that allows them to expand their knowledge - but that does cut down on the goofy antics, and the strangeness gets kind of straight-faced at times. It's got a bunch of fun scenes when things do get silly, but its whimsy and focus do sometimes work at cross purposes." (more)
LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, THE
"Its greatness is inseparable from its goofy bits."
5 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "Enough, I think, was written about the controversy over 'The Last Temptation of Christ' when it opened thirty years ago. If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather skip all that, except to say that the outrage showed a thunderous lack of understanding of context and of literary inquiry." (more)
MADELINE'S MADELINE
"Intriguing, if not quite a "masterpiece.""
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "Those of you whose craving for experimental actors flailing around wasn’t quite sated by 'Who’s Crazy' might want to discover 'Madeline’s Madeline.'" (more)
DEADPOOL 2
"More trashy fun."
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "The Deadpool movies are more or less the only superhero films I’ll sit still for these days." (more)
EUROPE RAIDERS
"Hong Kong heroics on the road isn't what it once was."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Released 18 years ago, "Tokyo Raiders" wasn't a great movie, which goes double for 2005 sequel "Seoul Raiders", but they're fair examples of early-aughts Hong Kong movies - relatively-low budget, scripts that aren't great, a bit of brain-drain going on as some of the big names were heading to Hollywood or China, but nevertheless kind of fun because you could still put together a heck of a cast and nobody in the world did action better. "Europe Raiders", meanwhile, is a fair look at what movies have in many cases become almost two decades later - some of the same people are involved, but the result feels more processed, with less to be impressed by." (more)
SPY GONE NORTH, THE
"The unglamorous, corrupt, but often fascinating side of espionage."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "A funny thing happened on the way to "The Spy Gone North"; I looked over my previous reviews of director Yoon Jong-bin's films and realized that, despite the good reputations attached to their names, I'd thought they were just okay at the time rather than particularly great movies, and it soon seemed that this one was settling into the same space - interesting material, clear and methodical telling, not-quite-dry results. It takes an interesting turn toward the end, though, in the same way that something begun with one intention can often take on a life of its own." (more)
CRAZY RICH ASIANS
"Good For Everyone"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Under normal circumstances, the appearance of a film along the lines of “Crazy Rich Asian” would hardly raise an eyebrow. The adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s best-selling novel is a fusion of comedy, romance and soap opera that is not especially original but has been put together in such an undeniably entertaining manner, fueled in no small part by a highly engaging cast, that you don’t mind the basic predictability of the narrative. However, as the title itself subtly indicate, these are not normal circumstances and “Crazy Rich Asians,” as insane as it may sound, is actually the first time that a major Hollywood studio has produced a film with an exclusively Asian cast since the release of “The Joy Luck Club” a full quarter-century earlier. As a result, for members of the Asian community, the existence of the film will doubtlessly hold a place of import that someone like myself, who sees representations of himself on the screen virtually every time he sits down at the multiplex, could not possibly begin to understand. However, what is most impressive about the movie is that it tells a high-spirited and deliciously entertaining film that can be embraced by all cultures while remaining a distinctive and often fascinating representation of its own." (more)
MEG, THE
"A fair movie about a huge shark."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Folks have been trying to make Steve Alten's novel "Meg" into a movie since it came out twenty years ago, and you kind of have to wonder what took so long, because it doesn't seem that complicated - there's no piece of it that doesn't come from basically every B-movie about a sea monster ever made, and it's not like you've got to create a whole new monster. Every special effects house probably already has a shark model in their files, after all. That "The Meg" is kind of an assembly-line monster movie is okay - it's fun to apply the latest technology to these old standards every few years - but what exactly got this stuck in development hell?" (more)
ISLAND, THE (2018)
"'Lost' on an island with the co-workers."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "I am not sure where, exactly, the urge to label films as either comedy or drama comes from, but it certainly doesn't do Huang Bo's "The Island" any favors - that perspective makes it seem like a high-concept comedy that gets too grim or an apocalyptic take on "Lord of the Flies" that has too much slapstick. Seen as a whole, it's still kind of shaggy, but that's not necessarily a bad tradeoff for a movie this offbeat and oddly ambitious to make." (more)
SUMMER OF '84
"Better than usual 80s throwback thriller."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2018 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Give the Roadkill Superstar team their due: This is the second time in a row where I've gone into one of their video-store-inspired movies skeptical but had them win me over. The initially clumsy nostalgia and self-seriousness builds to a genuinely suspenseful back half, making the movie a bit better than the stylish but empty throwback it could have been." (more)

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