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"Aja does minimalism well."
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "If "Oxygen," which started principal photography in July 2020, isn’t the ultimate quarantine film, I don’t know what is." (more)
"Where Are The Raiders Kids When You Need Them?"
1 stars
Erik Childress says... "While distribution and profit may still elude artists, movies have never been easier to make. At this point “everyone’s a critic” is being gained on in numbers from the “anyone can be a filmmaker” demographic. Steven Soderbergh is shooting on iPhones. TikTok is quickly becoming a new form of short film. All you need is a camera, time and commitment and you too can create something that you can call a movie. Take Sean Kenealy and Eric Silvera. They are together in nearly every frame of their movie, In Action. There is not a whole lot of motion to this picture and if it is not on screen, the duo will find a way to explain what is happening. But just because it meets the minimal standards for what constitutes a feature-length running time does not mean it satisfies the basic ones for what passes as entertainment." (more)
SPIRAL (2021)
"Bring The Pain"
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "When it was announced in 2019 that a new “Saw” movie was going to be coming, it may not have been that much of a surprise—familiar horror franchises have a tendency to get revived even after they appear to have run their course—but there were two aspects to the announcement that did raise a few eyebrows. The first was that the news was coming less than two years after “Jigsaw,” the 2017 attempt to revive the franchise that was cheap enough to be profitable but did not suggest any driving interest in continuing the saga with a ninth installment. The second, and by far odder, thing was that the film was going to be based on a story pitched by none other than Chris Rock, who would also star in it as well. The presence of Rock, along with co-star Samuel L. Jackson, will no doubt earn “Spiral: From the Book of Saw” more attention than one might normally expect from the ninth entry in a horror franchise that peaked with approximately ten minutes to go in the first installment and then plummeted sharply from that point on. However, whatever magic Rock was able to conjure up during his pitch clearly did not make it to the screen because while this may not necessarily be the worst of the “Saw” films, it may prove to be the most disappointing of the bunch thanks to its absolute inability to live up to its avowed ambitions to take the tired-and-true formula and do something new, interesting and provocative with it." (more)
"Well That Was Worth The Wait. . ."
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "With the exception of “The New Mutants,” I cannot recall another recent film that has had such a tangled and tormented path to its release than “The Woman in the Window,” the adaptation of the best-selling thriller by A.J. Finn. Shot in 2018, it was originally meant to be released in 2019 but suffered a delay of nearly three years brought on by unsuccessful test screenings that resulted in reshoots, Disney’s purchase of Fox, who had produced it, the COVID pandemic and other hiccups. With a history like that, one might rightfully expect the final product that is now premiering on Netflix to be some unholy mess. As it turns out, the only real mystery surrounding the film is how much of a nothing it is—how could something this flat and predictable possibly inspire so much behind-the-scenes agita?" (more)
"Secondhand Smoke"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "If I had been forced to guess the type of project that Angelina Jolie would select for her first (not counting her turn in her directorial effort “By the Sea”) outing before the cameras in a non-family film enterprise in more than a decade, I am not certain exactly how I would have answered. That said, I am pretty sure that I would not have tagged her to sign on for a project that looks like the kind of thing that Howie Long might have turned down during his brief attempt at big screen stardom. And yet, that is exactly what she has chosen to do with the portentously-titled “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” a slab of unrelenting mediocrity that appears to have been taken from a recently unearthed pile of rejected action screenplays from the mid-90s and brought to something that never quite manages to approximate life." (more)
"How you get to a crisis."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED VIA INDPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2021: Though many people are touched directly enough by what is often called "the opioid crisis" or "the opioid epidemic" for it not to be abstract, some are lucky enough for it to not be directly affected and others, quite naturally, are concerned enough about the immediate ill effects that they don't tend to think about the other end of the supply chain. "The Oxy Kingpins" does a fair job of remedying that; it may not have a proper ending, but the filmmakers do yeoman's work explaining how so many pills got into the wrong hands, and maybe what can be done about it." (more)
"The town's ready to ignite."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED VIA INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2021: Early on in "The Dry", there's a subtitle specifying that it's been 324 days since the last rain in the town of Kiewarra, and I wonder whether that was the inspiration for the story or just something the filmmakers couldn't avoid, given how bad the drought and heat waves have been in Australia in recent years. Either way, it's a way to add some color to a somewhat dour mystery." (more)
"Basic, quality kids' fare."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""The Water Man" is a movie of charmingly modest ambitions, an adventure for kids that doesn't slip in anything that's just for the parents or aim to be the start of a larger series. It's pretty good little movie that will hopefully get a few people to come to matinees before disappearing into the vague "family" category online." (more)
"Likely won't change opinions, but may intensify them in the right direction"
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED VIA INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL 2021: There's a segment early on in "Who We Are" when Jeffery Robinson tries to have a conversation with a man standing in front of a Confederate statue with a matching flag, and it goes about as well as it can: There's no profanity or violence, but also no visible movement. It's not exactly the film in miniature, but it does make one worry about how much two hours of even the most earnest, well- crafted talk on the subject can be." (more)
"Quiet wonderment."
5 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... ""It is the common fatigue." That’s what my ears thought they heard during a scene in Roy Andersson’s typically deadpan "About Endlessness."" (more)

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