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COLD WAR (2018)
"Beautiful but, well, cold."
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "Together with Paul Schrader’s 'First Reformed,' Paweł Pawlikowski’s latest work of beauty 'Cold War' reminds modern viewers how lovely and, yes, roomy a film shot in the old, squarish Academy ratio can look." (more)
"A capable if seldom-surprising little thriller."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "For a movie opening in the early-January dumping ground, "Escape Room" is surprisingly competent. That is, obviously, a bit of damning with faint praise, especially since it's only a few months before people find it on streaming services and have no expectations based upon award-season and holiday cycles. They'll just see a thriller that chews up a hundred minutes without misstepping often enough to spoil anything." (more)
"Something of a budget sequel, but still kind of fun."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "There's a certain look to the actors who replace stars when a series goes from theaters to video or television (or, in this case, gets a budget cut): A little smaller, a little more blandly good-looking, wearing someone else's costumes and hairstyles, neither of which quite suits them. Every single person in "The Worm Valley" has this look, as does the film itself, and it probably doesn't matter whether you've seen the previous "Mojin" movie or not; this one's going to feel like a lesser copy of something." (more)
"Ancient aliens, dragons, spontaneous combustion, and more!"
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Tian Xia Ba Chang's "Ghost Blows Out the Light" novels don't appear to be available in English, but I get the idea from the other movies that have been made from them that this takes a few liberties, for better or worse. Fortunately, there's no particular need to force them into any sort of single continuity, and though this particular take is less swashbuckling adventure than monster movie, it's generally a pretty good one." (more)
"Barry Jenkins continues to make extraordinary movies."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""If Beale Street Could Talk" is the sort of film that announces in the first couple of minutes that it's got a chance to be special and then never lets the audience down. Writer/director Barry Jenkins builds a warm cocoon of love around the viewers and characters, enough to make the less perfect examples shock, a bit, as well as remind one that sometimes you need that powerful love to counter pervasive hate. A character all but says as much at one point, and while that moment is not quite so polished as the rest of the film, you can't exactly fault it for having a character see what's going on." (more)
"Miyazaki turns flipping papgers into alchemy."
4 stars
Lybarger says... "Much of the reason Hayao Miyazaki’s movies have been so rewarding is that they reflect their creator. They are a type of funhouse mirror of his own life. It’s certainly helpful that he’s a fascinating guy." (more)
"Zemeckis's whole career has been leading to this, for better or worse."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "I swear, this movie is Robert Zemeckis trolling every one of us who has grumbled about the latter portion of his career and how we wish he'd do more of the sort of comedic fantasy that made him his name. Instead, "Welcome to Marwen" not only seems to be a compilation of every questionable choice he's made since "Contact", but the climax practically taunts you with the reminder that, back in the 1980s, he made a damn near perfect movie. This doesn't get close to that high-water mark, but it may also be the most memorable thing Zemeckis has done in a good long time." (more)
"You'd think the seventh remake in two years would know what works."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""Kill Mobile" arrives in theaters roughly a month and a half after "Intimate Strangers", the Korean remake of the Italian film "Perfect Strangers", and about one month before the Mexican version, with at least half a dozen other adaptations of this highly-franchisble story either already completed and released or in production around the world. I suspect, when all of them are lined up next to each other, this Chinese version will be among the lesser entries; between censorship and general timidity, it lacks what made at least the Korean version a piercing black comedy." (more)
"A bright, dark start to a promising career."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2018 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Tilman Singer's "Luz" is the sort of film that I suspect makes other filmmakers envious: How many of them, when they were students and able to be a little self-indulgent, were able to make something good enough to cause a stir at festivals? This one is a heck of a nice bit of art-house horror without that qualifier, but for the work of someone explicitly learning the ropes (beyond how everyone is always learning as they create), it's a heck of a starting point." (more)
"Both too weird and not weird enough."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "There's a dog that shows up a couple times toward the beginning of "Airpocalypse", with what seems like a kind of important job story-wise, and he just kind of wanders off when he's done without actually seeming like he's made a difference. That's kind of how the whole movie feels, except the dog is more entertaining than a lot of what actually sticks around in this fantasy full of random ideas that never really stick together." (more)

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