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LATEST REVIEWS
KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER
"'Fargo' seems to be inspiring filmmakers (and their characters) these days."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: As much as people lauded "Fargo" when it came out, it was a singular, stand-alone picture that did okay at the box office as opposed to a blockbuster, so two different spin-offs of sorts appearing nearly twenty years later has to be considered kind of peculiar. Even more so: Both this movie by the Zellner brothers and Noah Hawlsey's semi-sequel television series leave the original more or less alone and are excellent besides." (more)
AND SO IT GOES
"Shit Sandwich"
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "What the hell happened to Rob Reiner? I have asked this question several times before and I fear that I will have opportunity to ask it again several times in the future but it is one that bears repeating. This is the guy who shifted from a successful acting career into directing and immediately launched one of the most incredible hot streaks of any filmmaker of our time. "This is Spinal Tap," "The Sure Thing," "Stand By Me," "The Princess Bride," "When Harry Met Sally," "Misery," "A Few Good Men"--these were smartly conceived and wonderfully executed films that were brimming with humor, drama, interesting characters and any number of memorable scenes. Any one of these films would be the feather in the cap of most normal filmographies and to see him just pump them out one after another was an astonishment to behold. Even when he stumbled, as he did with the notorious "North," it was with a film that, for all of its numerous sins, was certainly never boring--the sheer weirdness of the entire enterprise made it a curiosity." (more)
HUNTRESSES, THE
"Girl power, seventheeth-century Korean style."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: When I was a bit younger, I absolutely ate things like "The Huntresses" up, and why not? It's a bright, colorful adventure starring three pretty girls who are quite capable of fighting their way out of their own jams using whimsical gadgets and weaponry. The bar is a bit higher today, not always to my benefit, but I still like this sort of thing when it's done well, and this one is good enough that I'd show it to my nieces if they were a bit older." (more)
FATAL ENCOUNTER, THE
"If you've ever wondered what '24' would be like in Joseon-era Korea..."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Palace intrigue stories, no matter what the culture, tend to develop over time, playing out in subtle ways requiring either inner monologues or exposition that doesn't necessarily fit well into a movie. There are good ones, but it's a little curious that more don't take the tack that writer Choi Sung-hyun and director Lee Jae-kyu take with "The Fatal Encounter": It dramatizes what could be the final day in a young king's reign, as all the plans are coming to a head." (more)
NO TEARS FOR THE DEAD
"Big action that doesn't pull any of its punches."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Lee Jeong-beom's last film as director was "The Man from Nowhere", an action thriller spectacular enough that I've spotted people who usually don't like their movies with subtitles telling other folks that they've got to see it. Lee stays on that same path in "No Tears for the Dead", another movie that combines spectacular action with a brutal story to fine effect, and which should also find fans among those who don't necessarily pay much attention to what comes out of South Korea." (more)
IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE
"Revenge as deadpan comedy."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Where is the exact line between a movie being a darkly funny revenge story and a full-on, pitch-black dark comedy? In the case of "In Order of Disappearance", I think it is crossed early on in a gag that will recur throughout the movie, although it may seem to waver back and forth as the story unfolds. By the time it's over, though, this reunion of the team behind "A Somewhat Gentle Man" has produced something that is both darker and funnier than that impressive movie." (more)
CHEATIN'
"Another good reason for Bill Plympton fans to remain loyal to the man."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Cheatin'" is the new Bill Plympton movie, his first feature since 2008's "Idiots and Angels", and it's a fine demonstration that over thirty years as an independent animator, he hasn't dulled his edge much while carving out his niche. It's funny, strange past the point of eccentric, and has a style that is unmistakable for anyone else. Longtime fans should be pleased; and it wouldn't be a particular surprise if showing it to friends created new fans." (more)
WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD
"Does many things well but leaves me cold."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: I saw "White Bird in a Blizzard" referred to as a coming of age movie, and I don't necessarily think that designation fits. Not every drama where the characters haven't graduated from high school yet needs that label; sometimes bad things just happen when teenagers are around. That's sort of what happens here, and it's why a movie that's very strong in some ways, but is oddly hands-off enough in others that it's not quite as good as the surface suggests it should be." (more)
HWAYI: A MONSTER BOY
"Training a stolen kid to follow in your footsteps is asking for trouble."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: A little over ten years ago, director Jang Joon-hwan made a good-sized splash with a film by the name of "Save the Green Planet", but after that, barely a peep. He certainly seems to have come back to the Korean movie scene in style with "Hwayi: A Monster Boy", which shows a little rust - but not when the time for action comes." (more)
BUTTER ON THE LATCH
"I did not want the main characters to be eaten by bears. That's something."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Butter on the Latch" was listed in the program as playing before director Josephine Decker's prior film, "Thou Wast Mild and Lovely", as if it was a short film rather than a 63-minute feature. The programmers and projectionists mercifully flipped the order; I can only imagine how the audience might have revolted if this had played first. The properties that make it not a very good movie would have made it even more of an endurance test if the audience was sitting through the whole thing to get to the film whose name actually appears on the ticket." (more)

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