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LATEST REVIEWS
COLD CASE HAMMARSKJOLD
"That it's not the movie it looks like is perhaps the point."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2019: In "Cold Case Hammarskjöld", satirical documentarian Mads Brügger does a convincing imitation of a dog who has finally caught the tail he's been chasing and realizes he's got no idea of what comes next. It doesn't quite become a repudiation of Brügger's life's work, and that of the thriving industry that uses comedy to help people process what is often an insane world, but it runs hard into the limits of that approach. I half-suspect that the film still has the form it does both because reshaping it would have felt less honest and because hitting those limits wound up fascinating him." (more)
BE NATURAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ALICE GUY-BLACHE
"Silent no more."
5 stars
Lybarger says... "If you can imagine a discussion of the Sistine Chapel without mentioning Michelangelo, then you know what it’s like to talk about the dawn of the movies without bringing up French writer-producer-director Alice Guy-Blaché, who made her first movie in 1896. She actually predates people like D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and other people who turned a photographic novelty into an art form, a multi-billion business and a cultural force." (more)
ONE CHILD NATION (AKA BORN IN CHINA)
"A very close look at a very large question."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2019: China's "One Child Per Family" policy was launched in 1979, made an official part of their constitution in 1987, and officially ended in 2015, and the rest of the world often took it for granted, looking at the country's ten-figure population and figuring that yes, this is draconian, but something needed to change. As filmmaker Wang Nanfu points out, this message took hold with even more force in China itself, except that ignoring the implications of it there was an active (but seemingly necessary) choice. This film's close-up view leaves some questions unasked and unanswered, but also makes it impossible to simply view it as an abstraction." (more)
KINGDOM (2019)
"A fun Japanese take on China's Warring Kingdoms."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: I wonder how often non-fans encountering manga, anime, and their adaptations find themselves tripped up over how the protagonists will have earnest enthusiasm, loyalty, and commitment as their best qualities, valuable traits to be sure but not as important in American stories as figuring things out. The main character of "Kingdom", for instance, is a guy who kind of blows past having wound up ignorant through no fault of is own by having grown up a slave to being kind of dumb generally, but he's the one we're supposed to identify with and root for." (more)
CHAINED FOR LIFE
"No pity allowed."
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "A little while back, Scarlett Johansson took some heat for wanting to play a transgender character. The controversy came on the heels of earlier heat attached to Johansson playing a formerly Japanese character in 'Ghost in the Shell.'" (more)
READY OR NOT
"Runaway Bride"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "The history of cinema is filled with weddings that have not gone exactly to plan but I cannot immediate recall one that has gone as gruesomely sideways as the one that kicks off “Ready or Not.” If you can imagine a combination of “Clue,” “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Get Out” that has been further spiced up with equal amounts of grisly violence and jet-black humor, you will have at least some idea of what to expect from this wild and frequently entertaining horror-comedy. Those going into it expecting something along the lines of an typical romantic fairy tale will no doubt be appalled by it all (though at least it won’t take too long for them to discover their mistake) but those in the mood for some late-summer weirdo fun of the bloodiest kind after three months dominated by retreads, remakes and sequels are likely to kick a kick out f it." (more)
NIGHTINGALE, THE
"Keenly honed rage lifts it above the usual revenge thriller."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "The nine-screen multiplex where I saw "The Nightingale" had a sign warning potential customers about the violence by the box office, and I spent a few moments wondering why it was the sole film to get this treatment recently. It's not a bad thing for the theater to have done that - it's a harsh film that could certainly dredge up traumatic experiences - it's curiosity at the application. Writer/director Jennifer Kent appears to have crossed a line that others tend to shy away from, but I don't know that I'd have it otherwise." (more)
LINE WALKER 2: INVISIBLE SPY
"From Rubik's Cubes to running with the bulls, more goring than boring."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "This only covers what's been released in North America, but "Line Walker 2" is Louis Koo's third movie in as many months to be numbered like the second in the series without actually being a sequel, which is an impressively productive year but also very confusing, considering that the first "Line Walker" movie was explicitly a continuation of a TV series. Truth be told, I didn't realize this one wasn't connected until I got home and re-read my review from 2016, and now I'm wondering if maybe I wouldn't have enjoyed it more if I'd been treating it as its own crazy thing rather than trying to reconcile it with the previous story." (more)
DEATH OF DICK LONG, THE
"More clever than its title and eventually even cruder."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2019: Just enough time passed between my seeing "The Death of Dick Long" and getting around to fleshing my notes out into a full review that it took me a while moment to remember exactly what about it made it stand out among "dumb person crime" movies, and I'm not entirely sure whether that speaks well of it or not. One the one hand, it's an entertaining dark comedy even without the twist, but on the other, I've got to wonder what it says that the filmmakers couldn't get THAT image lodged in my brain. Of course, maybe it says something about me." (more)
BLINDED BY THE LIGHT
"Luton Rock City"
5 stars
Lybarger says... "When Bruce Springsteen screams, “It’s a town full of losers, but I’m pulling out of here to win” at the end of “Thunder Road,” you don’t have to be New Jersey car enthusiast to relate. The Boss’ lyrics can mean something to you, no matter where you might be on the globe." (more)

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