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"Fun mayhem around what might be Robert Patrick's best role."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL 21: Richard Bates Jr. makes a valiant effort to frame "Tone-Deaf" in a way where its black comedy is about something bigger than just the funny murder, although I'm not sure that it's that deep: There's more there than "get a load of those Boomers/Millennials and their messed-up priorities!", but maybe not that much. It is, at least, pretty consistently funny, with an especially entertaining turn from a guy who seldom seems to get a role this good." (more)
"You probably don't know Buddy Bolden's story, and maybe you can't."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "We don't know much about Buddy Bolden; it's generally accepted that he played a crucial part in the development of jazz, arguably inventing it, but spent the latter half of his relatively short life in a mental institution. One photograph survives, and none of the actual music. It's thin material for a biography, and that filmmaker Dan Pritzker makes acknowledging this a core part of the film is both the great strength of "Bolden" and what often makes it frustrating: The audience comes in wanting to know his story, but much of what follows involves being told that it can't." (more)
SAVAGE (2019)
"Decent Chinese noir where you can see the potential for greatness."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Cui Siwei's "Savage" opens with a clever heist but keeps cutting away from it to something that promises to be less exciting, which seems to be sort of the opposite of how the tease at the start of a movie should work. There's still what amounts to a decent thriller to come, but it's a scramble that takes advantage of its setting, not the cutting sort of noir it could be." (more)
"Something in the way of finding the one."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""Missing a person" probably doesn't have the same double meaning in Mandarin as it does in English, which may mean that whoever came up with the English-language title for this Taiwanese film may have made the most clever contribution. It's a movie that looks like a romantic comedy but seldom actually delivers on that promise, pairing a game cast and a potentially fun situation but neglecting the spark that would let it really take off." (more)
"Bedfellows Make Strange Politics"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Whether you like “Long Shot” or not will depend to a large degree on exactly how much thought you are planning to give it, either while watching it or afterwards. On the one hand, it is a breezy and brash romantic comedy and look at it simply on that level, it does work thanks to a number of very funny scenes and the offbeat chemistry generated by its two leads. On the other hand, if one sits down and analyzes the politics driving the narrative—sexual and otherwise—to any degree, large parts of it begin to come across as either willfully inane or borderline creepy. The end result is a work that contains enough charm and wit to sort of warrant a recommendation but only with the caveat that some of the elements on display are really not going to play well with some audience members." (more)
"A bit of a fixer-upper, and haunted on that."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL 21: Horror movies aren't the only place where viewers can spot big missed opportunities, but because something either scares a person or it doesn't, they can seem like bigger misjudgments there. Such is the case with "Girl on the Third Floor", where it seems like there are a few opportunities that, if they don't pull the entire film together, are still perhaps a bit more unique or less random than well-executed haunted home improvement." (more)
"That place someone else really liked to go."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL 21: "Industrial Accident" tests the limits of how far a documentary can get on large reserves of affection for its subjects, and it's no small distance, especially when the viewer shares it, or at least has the sort of overlapping fandom that can at least get them a head start. Without that, it can quickly become a string of different people asserting that they loved something more or less the same way, losing track of just exactly why it was so beloved." (more)
"Some people are always looking to recapture first love."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "From what was said after the screening of "Asako I & II" that I attended, the film Ryusuke Hamaguchi made is rather different from Tomoka Shibasaki's novel, maintaining the basic concept but apparently giving the title character a more sympathetic characterization and otherwise moving things around. To whatever extent that's true, it seems to work out well; the movie version may occasionally be frustrating but only when meant to be, and it uses its concept of two apparently identical lovers to cover a lot of romantic ground without losing a sense of intimacy." (more)
"Odd but nonetheless intriguing."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "This genuinely peculiar little movie that does its best to correct the long-held and deliberately created impression that Emily Dickinson was a reclusive spinster is not just an acquired taste but also kind of a hard sell, and filmmaker Madeleine Olnek tends to concern herself less with opening this sort of highly-targeted movie to a broad audience than with the act of setting the record straight. It sometimes makes for the sort of movie where sometimes only one person in the room is laughing at a joke, but that one person is enjoying it." (more)
"Tough going in a supposed boomtown."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""Little Woods" is the sort of decent independent film that catches your eye more for the star who has been doing bigger things lately than anything else a preview or description can hook you with, and that's while sometimes that sort of movie will surprise you, this one basically does what it says on the label. It's the kind of straightforward, probably-authentic sort of rural lament that the rest of the country could probably do with seeing a little more often, and that's okay. It never becomes an exceptionally tense thriller or knife-twisting drama, but it tells stories that don't necessarily get their due fairly well." (more)

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