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"Magic Mike Is The Bandit"
5 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "“Logan Lucky” marks the first time that Steven Soderbergh has directed a feature film since announcing his “retirement” in 2013 following the release of “Side Effects.” Now four years may not seem like that long of a “retirement”—there are people with active careers who take that much time between projects—but for someone who had been averaging a film or two a year for more than a decade or so prior to his departure, there must have been some concern on his part about getting back into the groove again that not even the extensive work he did for cable television during that time (which included directing the acclaimed film “Behind the Candelabra” and every episode of “The Knick” as well as producing a number of series that included an adaptation of his film “The Girlfriend Experience”) could completely alleviate. As it turns out, those worries were for nothing because within just a few minutes, it becomes clear that not only is Soderbergh back, he has returned in peak form with an utterly delightful riff on the caper film, a genre that he has had great success with in the past with the “Ocean’s Eleven” trilogy, that is one of the most sheerly entertaining works of his career to date." (more)
"A.K.A. Two Guys, A Girl And A Really Shitty Movie"
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "I have always had a sneaking suspicion that if you took the films that Samuel L. Jackson has made throughout his career and counted up the number of times that he says fuck” in each one, you would find that in most cases, the higher the “fuck” count, the lower the overall quality. Granted, this isn’t always the case—Lord knows he drops one F-bomb after another in his various collaborations with Quentin Tarantino and those films are all pretty much aces as far as I am concerned. In the case of the Tarantino films, however, the scripts also contain interesting storylines, creative narrative approaches, fully fleshed-out characters and the kind of dialogue that is so wonderfully phrased and delivered that you want to savor every word, even those of the four-letter variety. Most of the time, however, these films tend to be dregs because they are utterly lacking any redeeming or memorable qualities to speak of and the filmmakers, with nothing left to offer, simply opt to have Jackson act like a Tourette’s victim in order to score cheap laughs from those in the audience who still find vulgar language to be inherently funny. A good case in point—though not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination—is his latest vehicle, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.” a painfully wretched, gruesomely violent and artlessly vulgar action-comedy that is so devoid of genuine entertainment value that anyone not harboring a bizarre sense of nostalgia for the Brett Ratner oeuvre will find themselves wondering how it could have possibly gotten made in the first place, let alone attracted a number of excellent actors to deliver some of the most nondescript performances of their careers." (more)
"Two takes on one idea trying to come together."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2017 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Replace" has a creepy, au courant premise for a horror movie about a woman afraid of losing her looks to the aging process - in fact it's got two, and that may be its biggest issue - though the two attack the same idea, they do so from decidedly opposite directions, and combining the two, as necessary as it seems for the plot, often has the movie feeling like it's at cross-purposes, and not in a way that creates interesting moral ambiguity." (more)
"A beautiful, if sometimes silly, fairy-tale romance."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "The trouble with reviewing something like "Once Upon a Time" on a platform that is pretty much all words is that sometimes a movie's story can be utterly ridiculous and its dialogue (at least in subtitle form) inartful at best, and it's easy to point that out, whereas the argument for the movie is "just LOOK at this thing!" It's a fantasy romance of rare visual splendor, maybe just enough to overcome all of the other very real problems it has." (more)
"Because you've got to get to the important moments and back."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""A Taxi Driver" ends with the traditional footage of a real-life person portrayed in the movie from many years later, and though it's a bit of a cliche, it also acknowledges that while the story may at times seem a little too good to be true, there's apparently enough to it to be worth buying into. There may be liberties taken in the making of this film, but there's more than a bit genuine at its core, and it's a quality film as well as an important true story." (more)
"Title is accurate, even if it looks like it should be grim."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2017 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Whether the Safdie Brothers explicitly intended to make something that feels like 1970s cinema right down to the dirtier, more desperate side of New York taking the fore or whether the just got there naturally from starting from the same place with the same goals, "Good Time" manages the neat trick of seeming like a throwback to that era without ever coming across as an imitation. It's got a vitality to it that comes from not being so obviously controlled, but never gets so shaggy that it's not moving forward." (more)
"Rent-a-cops versus vampire clowns seems like it has potential."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2017 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: It's telling that this movie isn't named "Vampire Clowns", because if you're going to tell your friends about the crazy horror comedy you saw the other night, the vampire clowns are what they're going to pick up on even if you purposefully don't lead with that. It's certainly a bigger hook than night watchmen, but ultimately the name is honest, because this movie does wind up being more about the wacky antics between the inept security guards than the actual vampires trying to suck their blood." (more)
"A crime story that keeps things rolling."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2017 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: One can look at "Kills on Wheels" as extremely high-concept or just simply a film about an extremely-underserved audience, and a great deal of its success is in how it moves from being the first to the second: Someone can come in based on the pitch of wheelchair-bound hitmen and come out quite fond of the characters as people and not hugely concerned with their missions. The combination makes some generic crime material fresh and adds excitement to what could be very self-serious and earnest." (more)
"Murdering French millennials with a smile."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2017 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: How did we, as Americans, let France and/or Belgium go full raunchy comedy with their "Scream" knock-offs before we did? Hollywood probably hasn't completely overlooked this opportunity, but I'm having trouble thinking of something like "Le Manoir" ("The Mansion") that works as well as it does. It's a bonkers slasher movie with even more comedy than those going for arch irony tend to have, but it doesn't quite play as a spoof. The blend of broad laughs and plentiful blood may not play for everyone, but the often-mean French sense of humor goes fairly well with a killing spree." (more)
"Wu Jing is getting better at the whole action star thing."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""Wolf Warrior 2" may not exactly be a great action movie, but it's bigger and better than its predecessor in just about every way possible aside from the villain, and the deficiency there is more a matter of hand-to-hand combat skills than screen presence. Like the first, this is some clear, unvarnished Chinese nationalism, but it's at least creative enough in its action to be enjoyable if that's not your particular form of patriotism." (more)

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