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LATEST REVIEWS
HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING, A
"Two terrific Toms."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "The opening sequence of "A Hologram for the King" maybe isn't that clever - it's actually a pretty literal take on an on-the-nose pop song - but it hints at Tom Hanks in the sort of broadly comic performance that he mainly brings out for talk shows and the sort of energetic, unconventional filmmaking that got director Tom Tykwer international attention with "Run Lola Run". That bit doesn't last, but it pushes the film into a differently odd place that makes for a smart, charming, funny film." (more)
RECONNOITER
"A nicely done sci-fi one-man-show."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2016 BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL: A fair number of people with the name of "Rowe" appear in the credits for "Reconnoiter" multiple times each, driving home just how independent a production it was, bordering on trying to make a sort of pre-emptive defense of its smallness. There isn't much way to avoid that, although this one probably deserves more praise for what it achieves than excuses for where it falls short; it's small but intriguing, with the filmmakers getting good results from what they can do." (more)
PROJET-M
"A fine French-Canadian space program."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2016 BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL: The festival opened with a film ("400 Days") that covers a lot of the same territory - global cataclysm happens while astronauts are undergoing long-term isolation trials - and this one is easily much better, despite having a lot of the same flaws. It's not that a somewhat handmade French-Canadian film is inherently better or more sincere than something made targeting the VOD market with familiar genre faces; it's that the folks making this one seem a lot more interested in their details, even if they don't quite seem sure of what they want the sum of those details to be." (more)
HUNTSMAN, THE: WINTER'S WAR
"I Bet Kristen Stewart Is Smiling Now. . ."
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Making a sequel to a big box-office hit is usually a no-brainer, at least from a commercial standpoint, but in the case of the 2012 film “Snow White and the Huntsman,” the path to a follow-up contained more than a few seemingly insurmountable obstacles. For starters, even though the film pulled in nearly $400 million around the world, it didn’t exactly go on to become a beloved modern classic—it wasn’t even the best Snow White-related film to hit theaters the year it came out. (That honor went to “Mirror Mirror,” which was hardly a masterpiece but which at least had a snappy visual style to it that kept it from becoming too much of a drag.) Then there was the inescapable fact that Kristen Stewart, the ostensible star of the first film, was highly unlikely to return to the part following the fallout from the scandalous romance that developed between her and married director Rupert Sanders that publicly broke just as it was going into release. Finally, while Charlize Theron was the only person who came out of the project relatively unscathed with her cheerfully diabolical performance as the evil stepmother/queen, her character died at the end and while bringing her back would be easy enough in theory, it would probably cost a ton of money to get her sign on for a sequel and that is assuming that she was interested in doing such a thing in the first place." (more)
JUNGLE BOOK, THE (2016)
"Even when it's not quite amazing, just look at it."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "What folks who hasn't cleared out of the theater by the end of the credits for this version of "The Jungle Book" snickered a bit when the line "Filmed in Downtown Los Angeles" came up, though the fact that this is nearly as much an animated film as the 1967 version from which it takes a number of cues may ultimately be what's most noteworthy about it when we talk about Disney's evolution in the future. Not that the kids in that audience worry about that much now; they got an entertaining adventure that's funny and thrilling in the proper places, and what more could they want?" (more)
BLUE VELVET
"Still nothing like it."
5 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "David Lynch’s masterpiece "Blue Velvet," which is getting a limited 30th-anniversary re-release in theaters this year, has lost very little of its juice or shock in three decades." (more)
CRIMINAL (2016)
"Weird sci-fi in action-movie clothing."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "The opening narration of "Criminal" lays out its premise and appeal rather plainly: "They messed with my brain... Even I don't know what I'm going to do next." There's bigger things than that going on - there's a high-stakes storyline that wouldn't be out of place in an old-school James Bond movie - but when it works, it does so because it's genuinely fun to watch Kevin Costner play a "hero" who is so nuts that anything can happen next." (more)
NEW YORK NEW YORK (2016)
"At least tries to bring in only the best."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "I wasn't really looking forward to "New York New York"; the trailer made it look like yet another nostalgic Chinese romance, and not a particularly involving one. And yet, once it gets past its opening flash-forward, maybe even before, it gets unexpectedly interesting: The filmmakers are going for a Wong Kar-wai-style melancholy, and while not up to that level of skill, they've sized upon a story that may intrigue audiences on both sides of the Pacific." (more)
ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN (1958)
"Does not exactly tower"
1 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2016 BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL: There is the germ of a great idea in "Attack of the 50-Foot Woman" that could have let it be fun, effective satire wrapped up in trashy pulp if anybody involved had felt like making a good movie was worth the effort. But, as is too often the case with the sci-fi B movies of the 1950s, this one seems to have been slapped together for an audience that the producers figured didn't care about quality, and that it remains reasonably well-known today says more about the power of an evocative title than the film itself." (more)
DYING OF THE LIGHT, THE (2016)
"Its audience will find it interesting as much as illuminating."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the protectionist at my neighborhood theater by name when talking to a co-worker, and he took the fact that I knew him by name as a sign that maybe I spent a little too much time there. I doubt he'll see "The Dying of the Light" - documentaries about the last generation of people to regularly handle actual film in theaters are kind of the definition of a specialty production - but if he does, he'll maybe wonder if they should not have been so invisible. The picture does an admirable job of informing without wallowing in things-were-better-back-in-the-day nostalgia, enough that maybe the switch from film to digital would have been a bigger deal had audiences known these guys." (more)

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