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LATEST REVIEWS
MONSTERZ
"Rhymes with 'Haunters', but doesn't capture it."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: 2011's "Haunters" was an excellent Korean movie that established a simple premise - two people with opposite superpowers (mind control and rapid healing) on a collision course - and delivered with entertaining action pieces, a likable cast of characters, and style to complement its straight-ahead drive. I figured it for a US remake, but Japan got there first, and sort of screwed it up." (more)
EJECTA
"Two half-movies that almost add up."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: In the Q&A after the movie, the filmmakers described how "Ejecta" sort of came together as a sort of chimera, with its two distinct tracks being shot well apart and stitched together like a Frankenstein's monster. It's not necessarily a bad idea - I don't really think I'd like to see either stretched to a full ninety minutes, even if each has something worth watching - but it doesn't quite come together as a greater whole." (more)
DESERT, THE
"If you were the last man on Earth... Well, it would be less complicated."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: There's a lot to like about Christoph Behl's post-apocalyptic love triangle, and the fact that it can be described as such without coming across as an annoying genre mismatch is just the start. It's a neat little entry into the canon of small stories that take place during the end of the world, albeit one that sacrifices most of the immediate physical damage to do it." (more)
MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT
"Not quite magic, but it'll do."
3 stars
Daniel Kelly says... "In a career spanning almost 50 directorial efforts, it is perhaps unsurprising that one must travel back to 1981 before they find a year which doesn’t have a Woody Allen picture to call its own. The film-maker’s uneven track record is a regular topic of conversation among cinephiles, and not one I’ve ever been particularly interested in continuing. The man generates product at an almost incomparable clip, and so, one must not be appalled to find some of the work falling below par. What is genuinely remarkable to observe is that at the age of 78, Allen can still create great cinema, exemplified wonderfully by last year’s lively and challenging “Blue Jasmine”. “Jasmine” had Allen working at his best; a stunning compilation of hard truths, savage drama and sparkling dialogue complete with career best work from a gifted muse. “Magic in the Moonlight” is certainly a cut below, although it packs enough old-timey chutzpah to carry the period larks tolerably for 97 minutes. Allen lets his stars and the gorgeous French scenery do the talking, allowing for a mild but fabulously produced helping of cinematic sorbet." (more)
BUT ALWAYS
"But, no."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Is it cynical of me to start counting shots between a "New York 2001" caption and the first glimpse of the World Trade Center, or of writer/director Snow Zou for putting the audience in that position? That's not the worst thing about "But Always", though; which takes an inoffensive but enjoyable romance and finds ways to make it uncomfortable when a little bit of thought is applied." (more)
FINDING FANNY
"Fanny's fairly funny, if kind of weird."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "After a year or so of going to the Indian movies at the local multiplex, one gets a certain idea of what to expect, generally a musical masala picture that's odd by conventional Hollywood standards. Sometimes, though, you get something like "Finding Fanny", which is an entirely different sort of weird: A quirky indie-style comedy that's okay when cute but better when the claws come out." (more)
REAL
"Psychological sci-fi premise #31, done well enough to be interesting."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Kiyoshi Kurosawa has gotten even more interesting in the past few years, after stepping away from horror to do 2008's drama "Tokyo Sonata", then immersing himself in teaching before doing a television series, a short feature that's probably as much record promo as stand-alone project, and this bit of science fiction. The interesting thing here is that this is still very much the work of a guy who knows how to scare you, making a pretty straight line between slick futurism and a contemporary world becoming more and more strange." (more)
HUNTER X HUNTER: THE LAST MISSION
"Hunters gotta keep hunting."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: As near as I can tell, there were fifty weekly TV episodes between the two "Hunter X Hunter" films released in Japan last year, so it's not exactly surprising that "The Last Mission" does not exactly pick up right where "Phantom Rouge" left off - and despite this film's title, the weekly anime and manga adventure has rolled on through 2014, meaning another film is not unlikely. And they may as well keep on going; the fans are still there and this is a good time even for those going in relatively cold." (more)
PIRATES, THE (2014)
"A thoroughly entertaining Korean swashbuckler."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "That they can be given names as generic as "Pirates of the Caribbean" or, in this case, just "The Pirates", without fear of confusion means just one thing: There are not enough pirate movies being made these days. This one is occasionally on the silly side, but it's packed full of quality swashbuckling, and not nearly enough trips to the theater deliver that." (more)
NAKED AMBITION 3D
"More ambitious than the average sex comedy."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: I wonder how many of the critics who regularly make sure to include something along the lines of "don't pay the extra for 3D, there's nothing that merits it" for seemingly every movie released in the format will pause when considering Anri Okita's L-cups in "3D Naked Ambition". After all, even someone who usually likes the format such as myself can find this to be a bit of a long hour-forty-five with glasses on despite the movie being quite funny, although it's hard to overlook things that make an impression." (more)

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