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LATEST REVIEWS
NERVE
"Tinder Is The Night"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "If it does nothing else—and it doesn’t—at least the would-be techno-thriller “Nerve” should serve as a cautionary tale to whatever viewers it can scrounge up before disappearing from theaters about the importance of reading over the terms and conditions boilerplate of any and all software agreements for red flags hidden in the fine print. Actually, this advice can be carried over to other walks of life as well. For example, if you carefully scour the IMDb page for a movie that you are thinking of seeing—take this one, for example—and you see the names Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman in the credits, you can be pretty much assured that it, like such previous efforts as “Catfish,” the third and fourth “Paranormal Activity” movies and the current VOD disaster “Viral,” will be an aesthetic and dramatic mess filled with uninteresting characters, implausible narratives and increasingly obnoxious stylistic gambits deployed in a desperate attempt to conceal just how silly and hollow the whole thing is." (more)
ALOYS
"The tricky work of discovering yourself in middle age."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2016 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Filmmaker Tobias Nölle initially entices viewers with a version of "Aloys" that is not quite so internal, with a mystery to sole and perhaps an unnerving way of things playing out, before settling into something that better matches its withdrawn title character, and it's the mark of how well he handles the film that this never feels like a bait-and-switch; it smoothly moves into more reflective territory while still being more interesting to watch than just a man lost in self-contemplation." (more)
NERVE
"Not very daring."
2 stars
Brett Gallman says... "There’s a cruel irony to the internet: while it’s arguably mankind’s greatest achievement—a tool that has theoretically unified much of the world—it’s been the quickest, most efficient platform for people to just be completely awful to each other. Whatever useful, neat, or even revolutionary thing that’s emerged from it, chances are it’s been corrupted or coopted in some way, especially when it comes to social media, where everyone has a voice. It’s just too bad that so many of those voices belong to total assholes. Anyway, that’s the (very vague) threat behind the premise of “Nerve,” a breezy bit of techno-paranoia that really only cares about how all of this applies to high school drama. It’s maybe a few steps away from being a PSA for cyberbullying when it could be so much more." (more)
LIBRARY WARS: THE LAST MISSION
"Still fighting censorship with machine guns, less concerned about princes."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2016 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: The first live-action "Library Wars" film was a curious thing, a seemingly natural venue for sharp satire that instead focused on light romance to the exclusion of what would seem like more unique material. In some ways, its sequel over-compensates, mission-focused in nature as well as name, but it is overall a strong follow-up that expands on its premise in interesting ways while also making for an enjoyable visit with favorite characters." (more)
FOR A FEW BULLETS
"Raiders of the Lost Stamp."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "When "For a Few Bullets" ends and the main titles come up, the first one displayed is "A Film by Peter Pan", and it's okay to chuckle. Pan Anzi could have maybe chosen a Western name that didn't have it's own built-in punchline, but it fits in this case. He's made the sort of big, swashbuckling action/adventure that someone who pledged to never grow up might make, full of frantic action and plot twists that could really use some dialing back." (more)
MOMOTARO, SACRED SAILORS
"Textbook propaganda worth seeing for timing and craft."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2016 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: It is both a crying shame and entirely fitting that "Momotaro: Sacred Sailors" is Japan's first animated feature. Fitting because it immediately demonstrates the signature style and impressive quality that what later become known as "anime" often demonstrates, along with the willingness to reinvent traditional material for a new audience. It is also very much a World War II propaganda film, and as such rather uncomfortable enough to watch in North America seventy years later that it becomes little more than noteworthy." (more)
BAAGHI
"Not so rebellious, but has good action."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2016 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: With any luck, "Baaghi" will eventually look like the movies Jackie Chan did when he was at the same point in his career as present-day Tiger Shroff: Not very good overall, made from fill-in-the-blanks scripts, filled with people who can't really act, and perhaps best forgotten if not for the fact that, from the very start, this guy could fight when the camera was on. You could cut one heck of an action-oriented trailer for this one, even if there is a fair amount of other filler." (more)
LURE, THE
"A couple cute Polish mermaids gets me in the theater for something weird."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2016 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "The Lure" includes what is thus far one of my favorite moments of the festival, when a mermaid who is starting to follow the story of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" fairly closely rolls her eyes at her sister's worries about where that leads, saying it's "just a superstition". The movie's at its best when it's able to be as untethered from expectations as something described as a Polish period horror musical should be; it's less exciting when it opts to follow the template." (more)
LIGHTS OUT
"Fast, fun, and a little bit frightening."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2016 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: The more horror movies I see, the more I appreciate the ones that do not mess around with unnecessary complications but which can still use their high concept to create nifty moments. That is "Lights Out" in a nutshell - it's got a reason to be scared of the dark, some clever uses of the concept, and a quick pace that doesn't leave room for contrived conflicts when there's enough genuine suspense." (more)
THRONE, THE
"The travails of dealing with a father who is demanding, even for a king."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2016 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: There is a line in "The Throne" about how royal families are unique in that one must think of one's children as enemies far sooner than one would like. That's probably true in other circumstances as well, but it's far from the essential tragedy of this (South Korea's submission for consideration as "Best Foreign Language Film" at the last Academy Awards), where the Crown Prince's greatest weakness may be that he is incapable of being that sort of enemy." (more)

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