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"They really are out to get you...."
3 stars
Greg Ursic says... "Hero. Whistleblower. Traitor. Regardless how you view the actions of Edward Snowden, his revelations of the extent of the government’s domestic spying programs were enough to make everyone want to don an aluminum helmet. Unlike most documentaries which feature after-the-fact examinations of past events, documentarian Loira Poitra provides viewers with a front row seat to pre-game show, which makes Citizenfour all the more unsettling." (more)
"Might be more clever than it initially appears to be."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""Women Who Flirt" (or, to use its full Chinese name, "Women Who Know How to Flirt Are the Luckiest") teeters on the edge of being the sort of romantic comedy that doesn't respect its primary target audience of women much at all, depicting them as all about landing a man via manipulation, even when theoretically trying to say the opposite. Even when "two girls fight over a guy" mostly works, as it does here, a more progressive or individual story might be nice." (more)
"A thing of beauty."
5 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "The morosely spectacular "Snowpiercer" shouldn’t be taken literally." (more)
"Not as urgent on film as in real life."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "I want more from "Rosewater", but I'm not exactly sure what I want more of. More obvious suffering and torment on the part of its protagonist would certainly drive the point home better, but demanding that seems callous and sadistic. A more traditional narrative that reduces real-life events to an early digestible story would do the people and events depicted a disservice. A broader perspective might lose the point entirely. And yet, it's hard to shake the feeling that this fairly well-made movie should make a viewer feel more, whether that more be anger, fear, or hope." (more)
"Like father, like daughter - so watch from a distance."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT FANTASTIC FEST 2014: The latest from Tetsuya Nakashima is not quite so sublime as his mid-aughts peak ("Kamikaze Girls" and "Memories of Matsuko" is a heck of a one-two punch), and it kind of stretches out too long, padded by some increasingly ugly violence. On the plus side, though, it is energetic as all heck, propelling the audience through the underworld with a protagonist that they're not supposed to like, but who makes it hard to look away." (more)
TOMMY (2014)
"Not just the wife."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT FANTASTIC FEST 2014: "Tommy" starts out looking like it might be a certain type of movie - you know, the one where the underestimated woman at the center is eventually revealed to always be three steps ahead of everyone around her (or if not quite that far ahead, still the smartest person in the room) - with a certain type of twist - seeing it all from her perspective. I'd like to see that movie someday, but this one is more about a gamble, which some may not find quite so satisfying. I dig it, though." (more)
"A franchise taking flight"
4 stars
Daniel Kelly says... "It worked for Harry Potter and Twilight, so why not the continuing adventures of Katniss Everdeen? I'm of course alluding to the “Part 1” disclaimer that follows the title of the latest “Hunger Games” outing “Mockingjay”. It's become the done thing that the defining chapter in any popular adaptation should be divided into two, maybe to accommodate purists clamouring for unblemished reverence, but more likely as a means to ensure everybody involved makes an extra buck; except for the audience. By slicing the material with such obvious capitalist intent, movies suffering the symptom incur innate wrath from the consumer, decreasing their odds of making a favourable impression. Nobody likes to feel ripped-off, and this new Hollywood tactic carries a definite whiff of wheeler-dealer salesmanship. It's with some pleasure then that “Mockingjay: Part 1” actually provides a fulfilling cinematic experience, a slower feature than its immediate predecessor (and one would assume next year's continuation), but filled with intelligent ideas and action beats, that whilst sparse, form very real stakes. The political underbelly of author Suzanne Collin's universe is finally bearing narrative fruit, leading to a sobering but intense extension of her dystopian myth." (more)
"Much visual language, little narrative."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "My second impulse where Jean-Luc Godard's "Goodbye to Language" is concerned is to write nothing at all about it. That's in large part because my first is to cry that the emperor has no clothes, but I think I've got just enough awareness of what I know and what he's done that recognize that I'm in no position to make such a sweeping accusation. Still, he's made a film that seems to offer very little to those who do not look at cinema as a primarily academic pursuit." (more)
"Unapologetically good action."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "A couple years ago, French director Fred Cavayé garnered some attention from international action-movie fans with "Point Blank", a fast-paced thriller that didn't break any new ground but did everything better than expected, adding up to a great little movie. His follow-up "Mea Culpa" is along the same lines - basic story, impressive action, a satisfying hour and a half." (more)
"And You Thought "A Million Way To Die In The Old West" Was Depressing. . ."
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Yes, "The Homesman," the second directorial effort from beloved actor/sourpuss emeritus Tommy Lee Jones, is a western but do not be fooled for a second by the mistaken belief that this is a film filled with either the usual excitement and heroics of the classics of the genre or the more ambiguous takes of the revisionist efforts that took their place as the genre as a whole was fading from popularity in the 1970's. This is, in fact, one of the bleakest and most despairing films of any sort to hit theaters this year and while this is not necessarily a problem per se, it is so painful and wounding to observe that even those with a fondness for darker narratives may be surprised by just how grim things get. Put it this way--Jones' previous directorial effort, "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" was a modern-day western involving digging up a corpse and carrying it across the border into Mexico for a proper burial and that was a breezy walk through the park when compared to this one." (more)

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