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LATEST REVIEWS
JOKER
"Why couldn’t it have been The Smoker or The Midnight Toker?"
2 stars
Lybarger says... "From watching his latest movie, I can tell that Todd Philips loves the movies Martin Scorsese made in the 1970s and 80s as much as I do. As much as I’d like to sit back with him and down a beer or two discussing those films, it’s disheartening that his own, dark gritty film makes me want to run back to my DVDs of the good stuff." (more)
BUNUEL IN THE LABYRINTH OF THE TURTLES
"Seldom quite so provocative or surreal as its subject."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "There seems to have been an uptick in biographical graphic novels in recent years, and the idea of films taking the same sort of approach to biographies is tantalizing. Animation has the unique ability to recreate a subject's appearance and movement without seeming like an imitation, and is able to emphasize and exaggerate in ways that may seem phony in live-action. Filmmaker Salvador Simo Busom's film about Luis Buñuel getting one of his own movies made had the right idea, even if the actual picture can use some refinement." (more)
ABOMINABLE (2019)
"A charmer with an outright inaccurate title."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "You never really know whether an animated DreamWorks movie is going to be trying too hard to be cool or genuinely charming from the trailer, but it falls solidly in the better category. It's got an extremely likable set of young heroes, a creature just goofy enough that you want to take care of it even when it's big and powerful, and enough sense to groan at any terrible pop-culture references it takes great pains to set up." (more)
LUCY IN THE SKY
"My God, It’s Full Of S&#@!"
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "There are, I suppose, any number of approaches that one could use in making a movie inspired by the story of Lisa Nowak, the one-time NASA astronaut who landed in tabloid infamy when she became involved in a romantic triangle that eventually ended in an attempted kidnapping that found her so determined to reach her target in time that (and this was the bit that made headlines around the world) she allegedly wore adult diapers during the trip to avoid having to make stops along the way. It could be told as a straightforward drama of obsession and madness that strove to understand her mind and what drove her to do what she did. It could be an oddball Coen Brothes-type film that relegated the admittedly strange story with weirdo humor and irony. It could be a straight-up exploitation movie that reveled in the lurid details that might have left viewers feeling both entertained and unclean. There are many, many problems with “Lucy in the Sky,” a film very loosely inspired by the Nowak story, but the biggest one by far is that I could never figure out what it was trying to say at any given point. Presumably launched into production the moment that “I, Tonya,” another film touching upon a tabloid-friendly scandal, became a critical and commercial hit, this is a real mess of a film that never finds the right tone at any given point (despite going through a number of them) or demonstrates any particular reason for its existence. The end result may not necessarily go down as the worst film of 2019—though it is certainly in the running—but it will almost certainly be ranked as perhaps the most utterly baffling of the bunch." (more)
LAUNDROMAT, THE
"A Little Short"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Steven Soderbergh is, of course, one of the most insanely prolific filmmakers of our time and what has proven to be even more impressive than the sheer quantity of the work has been the quality—between the eclectic material that he has chosen to present and the equally audacious ways in which he has chosen to present said material, this is an artist who is not willing to simply rest on his well-deserved laurels and who continues to challenge himself by taking artistic risks at every turn. Granted, not all of these risks have paid off but even on the rare occasions when he has stumbled, those at least had the good grace to be ambitious failures where one could at least grasp what he was trying to accomplish, even if he ended up falling short of the goal. The problem with his latest film, “The Laundromat,” is that while I suppose I can understand why he wanted to tell this particular story, I have no real explanation as to why he elected to tell it in the manner that he has employed here, an approach that rings so falsely so often you can practically hear the entire film groaning under the combined weight of its unearned sense of self-satisfaction and a series of narrative decisions that could most politely be described as deeply dubious." (more)
JOKER
"I Have Given A Name To My Pain And It Is Todd Phillips."
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "To get right to the point, the answer is no, I do not think that “Joker,” Todd Phillips’s super-dark and brutal take on the most iconic villain of the “Batman” universe, is going to serve as a rallying call for incels and other aggrieved young men to take the character’s psychotic form of anarchy to heart and violently rise up against a society that they feel has disregarded them, especially a female population that won’t just sleep with them at the drop of a hat. For a movie to accomplish something along those lines, it would need to contain, for lack of a better term, a philosophy—some kind of train of thought that those viewers could latch onto and bring cohesion to the insidious thoughts already percolating in their minds. On that basis, “Joker” is not at all the threat that some have perceived it to be, often sight unseen, because, quite frankly, it is too fucking stupid to suggest, let alone sustain, anything that might be considered a philosophy in even the loosest definition of the word. In actuality, “Joker” is a film that is about as threatening as a T-shirt that a 13-year-old kid might buy at Spenser’s Gifts in order to shock the fuddy-duddies of the world with its highly commodified brand of chaos. And like one of those shirts, it is likely that once the easily shockable people have had their buttons pushed in the most superficial manner imaginable, people will realize just how threadbare it really is and toss it into the back of the vast cultural closet where it belongs." (more)
CLIMBERS, THE
"Not exactly the apex of mountaineering movies."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "As much as I watch movies about mountain-climbing adventure because I love seeing amazing landscapes and terrifying chasms on the big screen, buy this point I must admit that some part of me must also enjoy the urge to yell "you arrogant idiot!" at the people involved. "The Climbers" offers a lot of chances to do that, probably more than it offers eye-popping visuals or even shoehorned-in attempts to play to action-movie star Wu Jing's strengths. It is far too sincere and patriotic to be much fun." (more)
DAY SHALL COME, THE
"Don't feel bad about laughing at horrible Feds."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""The Day Shall Come" seems like it would be a lot more fun in a packed house of folks who are into it, but where are you going to scare up that sort of crowd for a dark comedy about the FBI trying to bust a mentally ill man for terrorism? It's not quite weird or star-powered enough for the sort of buzz that "Sorry to Bother You" could get, for instance, even if it is thinking along the same lines. So it screens for three of us, and we laugh, but without the reinforcement that would have the laughter filling the room." (more)
JUDY
"That Louis B. Mayer Is SO Cancelled"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Judy Garland was—hell, still is—one of the most astonishingly prodigious talents to ever emerge from the entertainment industry. Technically, her gifts were beyond measure—she was virtually unmatchable as a singer, a better-than-average dancer and, when given the chance to prove it in films like “A Star is Born” (1954), a powerhouse of an actress to boot. What made her so special is the humanity and emotion that she brought to every performance, whether in front of a camera or on the stage in front of an audience, that made her performances all the more convincing. No matter what the circumstances, you always got the sense that she was putting everything that she had into each and every performance and it was that sense of vulnerability intertwined with her performer’s precision that caused audiences to respond to her so strongly. Unfortunately, she found herself in an industry that left her constantly surrounded by people who would ruthlessly exploit both her talents and those vulnerabilities by any means necessary for as long as they possibly could. When she finally passed away in 1969 at the age of 47, the shock of her death wasn’t so much that she died far too young as it was that she somehow managed to hold out for as long as she did." (more)
IN FABRIC
"An entertaining entry from one of cinema's more notable eccentrics."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2019: I had not realized that the new Peter Strickland movie was produced by Ben Wheatley's Rook Films, but, wow, is "In Fabric" ever that movie. It's as eccentric and fetishistic as the rest of Strickland's work, but also as bizarrely funny as the best of the producers' material, and probably more accessible for all that than many of its predecessors. The movie may still be something of an acquired taste, but it's weird more than outright baffling." (more)

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