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"A samruai comedy of some interest."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "There’s a thread running through many of director Yoshihiro Nakamura’s best films that makes them leave an even better impression than they might, an often-upbeat ability to find power in community. Think of the seemingly-disconnected threads that come together in "Fish Story", or the friendships that rescue a framed fugitive in "Golden Slumbers", stories where connection is not so much the lesson that the protagonist must learn but the force which determines whether people will thrive or not. "The Magnificent Nine" is likely his most literal presentation of this idea, a friendly primer on what people can accomplish working together." (more)
"Orphaned but, happily, not alone."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "The charm in this film is appropriately low-key, as there's a clear, earnest darkness to it even before the event that has the title character shipped off to a group home. Fortunately, this doesn't make for a joyless movie; it may have moments of horror and bits of sadness that can't be escaped, but it's as much a film about resilient children rather than broken ones. And it’s a pretty terrific one." (more)
"King Kong Lives!"
5 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "The first thing that anyone planning on seeing “Kong: Skull Island” should know going into it is that it is not just another remake of the 1933 classic that is still one of the most potent and lyrical works of fantasy ever devised for the screen more than 80 years after it was released and which has already spawned two previous remakes—the 1976 version from producer Dino De Laurentiis that holds up surprisingly well today thanks to its wry sense of humor and charming performance from the then-unknown Jessica Lange and Peter Jackson’s 2005 version which is a tad overblown but which is still an entertaining homage to one of Jackson’s key cinematic influences. No, this one is closer in spirit to the oddball sequels and spinoffs that have cropped up from time to time over the years that have taken the giant ape into increasingly weirdo situations in the likes of “Son of Kong” (1933), which offered up a kid-sized take on the story, the immortal “King Kong vs. Godzilla” (1962), the slightly-less-immortal “King Kong Escapes” (1967) and the jaw-dropping “King Kong Lives” (1986), in which the big ape was brought back to life from his plunge from the World Trade Center with an artificial heart the size of a car and hooked up with a similarly-sized female ape who give birth to his child in the climax. In fact, with its crackpot merging of an old-fashioned monster mashup and, of all things, “Apocalypse Now,” it may even put the craziness of those efforts to shame and it certainly does so with far more energy, humor and invention than even the most optimistic of moviegoers could have possibly anticipated." (more)
LOGAN (2017)
"The ending this series deserves, and so much more."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "If "Logan" is not the actual end of the line for the X-Men movies that began in 2000, it probably should be, because there is not going to be a better opportunity for the cycle to end both fittingly and well than this. Twentieth Century Fox doesn’t have to make stop making stuff with Marvel’s mutant characters - just say that "Deadpool" and "Legion" are the start of a new continuity and take the lesson that they and this film offer to heart - that there is room for a lot of different styles under the X-Men umbrella, even if this finale doesn’t seem like an obvious match for the other films using the same characters and setting." (more)
LOGAN (2017)
"Requiem for an anti-hero"
4 stars
Greg Ursic says... "As superheroes go Logan aka Wolverine has always been an outsider: intense and generally unpleasant, he's not afraid to break the familiar good guy rules, giving in to rage and killing bad guys who need killing. But invulnerable or not, there’s one thing that even he can’t escape and that’s the eventual ravages of time; to paraphrase Betty Davis, “Growing old ain't for pussies.”" (more)
"Kitties in the city."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Toward the end of "Kedi", the viewer might start to see director Ceyda Torun making a broader point about modern cities in general and Istanbul in particular, and how room for the organic rather than planned and parceled-out is precious but vanishing. That may not be her intention, of course; though the human subjects of the film certainly discuss things like that at times, it’s always in a way that relates to their feline friends. If one doesn’t see it that way, it’s fine; for all I know, she was simply trying to make a sweet little documentary about the stray cats of the city, and it is thoroughly adorable even if one doesn’t buy into it having a second layer." (more)
"Simple but also mythic."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "The Studio Ghibli logo at the start of "The Red Turtle" invites a lot of commentary on its own, representing as it does Japan’s most beloved animation studio giving a boost to up and coming animators worldwide in the wake of its founders’ retirements. But while most watching the movie will have just the vaguest idea of what sort of guidance Isao Takahata gave director Michael Dudok de Wit, we can certainly appreciate the signal boost the Ghibli name gives it, as this is the sort of beautiful but unconventional animated film that might otherwise struggle to find the visibility it deserves." (more)
"A fair-enough smash-up."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Somewhere in Hollywood, the show-business equivalent of actuaries run the vital statistics of each mid-sized genre movie through a formula to determine whether something merits a theatrical release or if it goes straight to the video-on-demand services. In the case of "Collide", it would seem to be less one overwhelming variable than several having values that may not seem that great - you’d have to go a few spaces right of the decimal point to see them - but which, when added up, result in hard drives being sent to theaters rather than cable companies. There’s undeniably some fun in seeing its smash-ups on the big screen, but genre fans will probably be able to rattle off a half-dozen or so movies that deserved the spotlight more." (more)
"Not McDonagh's best, but still pretty darn good."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "John Michael McDonagh has made a couple of downright terrific films in "The Guard" and "Calvary", and "War on Everyone" simply being pretty decent is enough to get one speculating as to whether he was being propped up by Brendan Gleeson or felt lost when the setting moved from Ireland to America. That, I think, is unfair; he’s made a funny movie, even if people don’t necessarily expect this particular sort of sharp wit in an American buddy cop thing." (more)
"Less action, more drama."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Would I have necessarily had "My Beloved Bodyguard" on my radar if a site I follow hadn’t tweeted out it’s 23rd poster (roughly), which was apparently drawn by a little kid with crayons? Maybe; I have, after all, traveled to a film festival because Sammo Hung was a guest in the past, and have liked the guy ever since he had a show on CBS for a couple of years (that pre-handover period when Hong Kong stars and filmmakers were trying to stake out Hollywood careers rather than work for the Communists was kind of fun, if a bit odd in retrospect). How sticky it would have been, I don’t know. Maybe it would have fallen into the same gap some of Hung’s other recent films have." (more)

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