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LATEST REVIEWS
RAJA NATWARLAL
"For a Bollywood con artist movie, it's not outrageous enough."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "If you're inclined to see Indian movies as "a Bollywood take on X", then "Raja Natwarlal" is starting in a pretty good place, because "a Bollywood take on 'The Sting'" sounds like a lot of fun. Of course, "The Sting" doesn't exactly have a monopoly on this basic storyline, and this is still a serviceable enough take." (more)
SEARCH FOR WENG WENG, THE
"Sometimes small actors have big stories."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Going in, I half-thought that I had seen "The Search for Weng Weng" before, what with IMDB showing a date of 2007 on it and there being at least some time spent on the 2'9" Filipino action hero in "Machete Maidens Unleashed", another Aussie doc about the Philippine movie industry. If there was a 2007 version, though, director Andrew Leavold has added a great deal to it to make something quite memorable in its latest incarnation." (more)
CREEP (2014)
"Fiendishly funny found footage."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: My only issues with "Creep" have nothing whatsoever to do with the movie itself. First, there's the generic title - it's only been ten years since the movie by that name with Franka Potente - and word that two sequels are already planned. I don't know how that works. But look at the movie itself, and it's a work of minimalist near-perfection, tremendously funny and with just enough edge to be a legitimate thriller." (more)
KUNDO: AGE OF THE RAMPANT
"Okay once it gets started, but it's almost all getting started."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Sometimes, a movie spends so long introducing itself that it barely has time to do anything, which feels like the case for "Kundo: Age of the Rampant". I think it's because this movie wants so badly to be a Western, but while it takes place in the right era, the place isn't right, and trying to force it means the filmmakers have to explain a lot in a genre that is, at its best, almost instinctive." (more)
GUARDIAN (2014)
"Keep your eye on the stars, but it's a shame about the rest."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Keep your eyes on Dominique Agisca Diyose, action fans of the world. She's a looker from Indonesia, a good enough actress for the sort of material she's given here, and she certainly looks like she can throw down when the movie gives her a clear shot. Hook her up with a better movie and maybe a better director - maybe the next one from "The Raid"'s team - and she can be a real star." (more)
AS ABOVE, SO BELOW
"The back door into the kingdom of the dead."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "A few minutes into "As Above, So Below", I was snickering a bit as the heroine smashed an unspeakably old wall because she thought there might be something behind it, because that is some ridiculous Indiana Jones-style archaeology. This is immediately followed by the thought that mocking a movie for calling to mind some of one's favorites is pretty silly. This movie is kind of silly, too, but with a more enjoyably pulpy sensibility than the typical found-footage movie." (more)
NOVEMBER MAN, THE
"Pierce Brosnan finds the spy role he's meant to play."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""The November Man" is, at times, an impressively taut spy thriller, clearly owing a debt to James Bond even if you put star Pierce Brosnan aside, though it plays up the murky, cynical aspects much better. But while it's pretty good, it's also a movie where the title can seem unclear even after someone has a line that starts with "we called you 'the November man' because". The filmmakers tends to use ambiguity for good more often than bad, and that's the line between an enjoyably nasty thriller and a potential classic of the genre." (more)
HANA-DAMA: THE ORIGINS
"Yuck."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Have you ever felt yourself gradually turn on a movie? It's something that can often be sense in an audience, as each member reaches a different point that ticks them off, and the feeling of the group shifts. The mounting feeling that "Hana-Dama" is getting further and further from good is something different, and can make it seem even more disappointing than a movie that sinks from the start." (more)
CREEPING GARDEN, THE
"Best slime mold documentary you'll see this year. Or most years, really."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: I take a certain amount of pride in seeing/reviewing movies like this at festivals, and I half think it's why some issue me press passes - a lot of folks will be trying to get into the big Marvel movie, but he is down for the slime mold documentary! And you know what? These movies are often some of the most fascinating wherever they play, especially when they've got a level of polish and style to go along with their intriguing subject matter, as is the case with "The Creeping Garden"." (more)
SEVENTH CODE
"One hour, one pretty good caper."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "The Seventh Code" is the sort of movie that can easily get lost in a career like like Kiyoshi Kurosawa's: It's a short thing produced alongside two large projects that sure looks like a promotional tool for its pop-star lead actress. If it is that sort of work-for-hire gig, then at least Kurosawa is using it as a chance to try some new things, shooting a lighter Hitchcockian caper outside of Japan." (more)

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