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"Very Old Adult"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "The presence of Charlize Theron in any movie is, of course, an undeniably good thing but when she turns up in an action-oriented project, her combination of genuine dramatic gifts and equally convincing physical abilities can help make an otherwise iffy film into something worth checking out (“Atomic Blonde”) and an already great film into the thing of legends (“Mad Max: Fury Road”). And yet, not even her considerable presence is enough to help save “The Old Guard,” a disappointing banal action extravaganza that takes a potentially interesting premise and then never gets around to doing much of anything with it." (more)
"Extremely Loud And Incredibly Distant"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "If you were to sit down and try to come up with the quintessential Tom Hanks movie—one that perfectly encapsulated the themes, ideas and attitudes that he has explored over and again in a career that has made him one of the most beloved cultural figures of our time—there is an excellent chance that it might wind up looking a lot like his latest effort, “Greyhound.” As with a number of his past efforts, it looks back at a particular moment in recent American history—World War II, a favorite subject of his, in this case—and tells a story that celebrate such quintessential American values as duty, honor and overcoming doubt and adversity in order to stand up and fight for the greater good and finds him playing a modest and low-key character who would never go so far as to describe himself as a hero but who nevertheless proves to be capable of heroic acts. And yet, despite all of the obvious sincerity on display, the resulting film is kind of a dead bulb that is ultimately as dull as it is noble and boy howdy, is it ever noble." (more)
"Years Of The Lepus"
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "There was once a period of time—historians may one day refer to it as “the 1990s”—when Canadian-Armenian Atom Egoyan was considered to be one of the most exciting filmmakers on the planet thanks to a series of formally and narratively inventive works that were cerebral and emotional in equal measure and filled with a number of extraordinary performances to boot. If I was to sit down and make a list of the most powerful moviegoing experiences that I had during that time, his back-to-back triumphs “Exotica” (1994) and “The Sweet Hereafter” (1997) would rank very high among them. And yet, following the release of “Felicia’s Journey” in 1999, his career undertook such an immediate dip in quality that even the most dedicated of auteurists would be hard-pressed to justify misfires like “Chloe” (2009), “Devil’s Knot” (2013) and “Remember” (2015), a film that somehow contrived to bring together modern-day Nazi hunting and Alzheimer’s into one jaw-dropping saga. And yet, even those cinematic misdeed pale in comparison to his latest, loopiest and least effort to date, “Guest of Honor.” Here is a film that in the opening scenes offers us the sight of Luke Wilson as the pastor of a Canadian church and it is not the hardest thing to swallow in it and I am not even talking about the deep-fried rabbit ears that inexplicably prove to be a key element." (more)
"An unfortunate but survivable disappointment."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "One thing that good television shows do - like, say, "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries" - is to build a basic structure that allows everyone involved to do the repetitive-but-necessary steps of telling the same kind of story every week quickly and let them focus on the parts that entertain. Ideally, that framework is invisible, or works so well that it has its own appeal. Take it for granted, and the result is often something like "Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears", a theatrical spin-off that delivers a fair amount of what the show's fans love but which doesn't have a replacement for the skeleton that held it together." (more)
"Not the right people for the job."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "There's a compelling, worthy story lurking somewhere inside "Dealer/Healer", albeit the sort of generically inspiring one that can often have a film derisively tagged as "awards bait". You can still get something out of that sort of movie; an earnest passion if nothing else, even if it's miscalculated and the result of filmmakers wanting to be seen as more than they have been. This just feels like the work of journeymen whose skills aren't a match for the material - functional, but little more." (more)
"You love what you love."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "There's a part of me that wishes the posters, packaging, and other art for "City Without Baseball" played up the sports angle, entirely so that some of the people who watch it on that basis get a genuine shock over just how much it is something else, even if it's not necessarily quite so queer as it appears from the other angle. It's a genuinely odd film in a number of ways and one which often highlights its own eccentricity so that it can have an easier time noodling around the edges of various stories." (more)
"Moss owns it."
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "Catching up: Leigh Whannell’s 'The Invisible Man,' I can’t help feeling, was robbed of its shot at becoming a word-of-mouth blockbuster thriller that makes audiences scream happily. (As it is, the film, whose release was stunted by COVID-19 and the closure of movie theaters, still managed to scare up a decent amount via streaming and at drive-ins.)" (more)
HUNT, THE (2020)
"Gilpin owns it."
3 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "Almost every character in 'The Hunt' is crap. The two exceptions are a skittish private-jet attendant and “Snowball” (Betty Gilpin), so nicknamed by the rich elites who are hunting her." (more)
"Lindo owns it."
5 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "At this point, I would sit for two hours of Delroy Lindo just monologuing into the camera, and maybe so would you after watching Spike Lee’s epic new adventure-drama 'Da 5 Bloods,' in which there are at least three such monologues." (more)
"The Living Room Where It Happens"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "It should be stressed right at the start that the film version of the extraordinarily successful Broadway musical “Hamilton” that is premiering this weekend amidst enormous hype is not a traditional, fully realized screen adaptation along the lines of “West Side Story” or, God help us, “Cats.” This is more akin to a concert video that consists of footage shot during a couple of 2016 performances featuring the celebrated original cast as well some additional footage of some of the key musical numbers shot later in an empty theater in order to accommodate more elaborate camera moves than would have been possible in front of an actual audience. Originally intended for theatrical release next year to serve as a sort of stopgap measure in anticipation of a full-fledged screen version, it was famously plucked from that berth and, as opposed to practically every other big-ticket movie of note, had its release moved ahead by more than a year as Disney Studios elected to instead debut it on their Disney+ streaming platform, just in time for the Fourth of July weekend, no less. Whether this move should be seen as a noble gesture that allows families to experience the same show that cost hundreds of dollars a ticket to seen on the stage from the comfort of their living rooms for only a few bucks in subscription fees or a hard-sell way of getting people to sign up for the streaming service now that the initial hype has passed, I will leave for you to decide." (more)

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