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LATEST REVIEWS
FOREIGNER, THE (2017)
"Doesn't actually NEED Jackie Chan, but benefits greatly by his presence."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "That "The Foreigner" could likely function almost as well without his title character is either its main weakness or what makes it interesting: It's a fine IRA thriller with a potentially game-changing wild card, and though it does not play that card quite as often as it might, that very fact can sometimes keep the audience off-balance as much as it provides expected thrills." (more)
TOM OF FINLAND
"A fine if too staid portrait of a porn artist."
3 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "Touko Laaksonen, better known as the fetish artist Tom of Finland, liked to draw what aroused him: beefy men in uniform, or leather, or leather uniform." (more)
HAPPY DEATH DAY
"A silly slasher that knows exactly what it's doing."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "There's an old-man part of me that is inclined to grumble about how "Happy Death Day" never really spends a whole lot of time on the whys of its time-loop plot, chalking it up to kids raised on video games just taking the idea of multiple lives for granted (at least, until realizing that the people actually making the movie are a generation older and grew up playing the same Atari 2600s I did). That's the part of this particular movie the audience has to just go with, but when you put that aside, there's still a fun scary movie underneath, one that arguably hides its clever construction well enough to come off as enjoyably dumb fun." (more)
78/52: HITCHCOCK'S SHOWER SCENE
"78 set-ups, 52 cuts, 1 classic scene."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2017 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Do we really need an entire 90-minute documentary on the shower scene in "Psycho"? No, but then again, we don't need a lot of things that turn out to be pretty interesting, and "Psycho" was a pivotal moment in film history, with the shower scene one that absolutely everybody who has seen it remembers. You could spend a lot more than this time breaking it down - Hitchcock did take a full week to shoot that minute or so of film, after all, and then there was editing and music and all that, so there was thought put into it, and unpacking what seem like thought processes is usually worth doing." (more)
DEATH NOTE: LIGHT UP THE NEW WORLD
"Write this franchise's name in the book; it had a good run."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2017 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Was there really any particular demand for another spin-off of the theatrical "Death Note" series, or was the recent Japanese live-action television adaptation just a reminder to the rights-holders that there was money to be made? It doesn't particularly matter, I suppose, because this new addition coming ten years after the pretty entertaining 2006 two-parter is the worst sort of legacy sequel, picking up the convoluted mythology of the first but lacking the characters who initially got their hooks into the audience, or any particularly interesting successors." (more)
BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99
"Ouch"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "“Brawl in Cell Block 99” is a film that feels like what might have resulted if the screenplay for a violent prison potboiler written for American-International Pictures circa 1973 had somehow landed in the hands of the late Stanley Kubrick, who not only chose to direct it himself but elected to apply to it the same kind of formal precision and measured pacing that he employed on “Barry Lyndon.” Not surprisingly, the end result is pretty weird indeed as the disparate elements almost seem to be deliberately working against each other at times and even those who are able to reconcile those extremes may still be put off by its extended running time. And yet, while I am not entirely certain that I enjoyed it in any traditional sense, it does contain some undeniable points of interest and it is better than it probably has any right to be when all is said and done." (more)
ALMOST COMING, ALMOST DYING
"A lonely and embarrassing situation brings out funny and weird."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2017 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: There's likely a bit of truth in the way "Almost Coming, Almost Dying" slows down after a bizarre, titillating beginning: Recovery is not always hard in a way that obviously challenges someone, but it's often kind of boring and/or embarrassing, with a lot of waiting to see if something has healed properly or not being sure how to ask if this illness has affected something intimate. And so, after a fair amount of funny nudity and a themed "massage parlor" to open things up and get Manabu (Misoo No) into the hospital, the rest of the movie seldom strays far from his bed as he spends a month convalescing from a particularly ill-timed brain hemorrhage." (more)
BLADE RUNNER 2049
"Time to live."
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "There’s a lot to say about "Blade Runner 2049," the long-gestating sequel to the 1982 cult classic, but here’s my initial thought: see it, don’t see it, but know that something like this — a downbeat, two-hour-and-forty-four-minute, expensive (anywhere from $150 to $185 million), R-rated work of art — will not come along again any time soon. (Especially because its opening-weekend take was “only” $31 million, which is thought to be disastrous.)" (more)
CITY OF ROCK
"Good things happen when you hit the "Rock" button."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "As enjoyably goofy as I found Chengpeng "Da Peng" Dong's first film ("Jian Bing Man", aka "Pancake Man"), it didn't quite prepare me for how charmingly silly and sweet "City of Rock" would be. It's the most familiar rock & roll movie plot ever (mismatched band has to put on a show to save their inspiration from a greedy developer), but the jokes are good, the music is catchy, and the cast is awfully easy to like. You don't necessarily need to innovate if you do all that well." (more)
TOKYO NIGHT SKY IS ALWAYS THE DENSEST SHADE OF BLUE, THE
"Not the usual sort of Tokyo love story."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2017 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: It's unusual for a film to be based upon a book of poetry, even one with a title like "The Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue" which frequently allows one of its characters to narrate with a voice that is piquant in its cynicism. Seeing the credit for poet Tahi Sihate is a little more surprising given that director Yuya Ishii adapts it into a film that has a strong narrative despite appearing to be just as focused on what its characters think as what they do." (more)

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