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"Brains! Braaains!...Somebody took Jim Jarmusch's braaaains!"
2 stars
alejandroariera says... "The idea of a Jim Jarmusch zombie movie raises a whole lot of expectations, not to mention that it draws a bemused smile. Jarmusch, after all, is no stranger to genre fare; he brought his distinctive, sometimes ironic, laidback touch to such genre exercises as the hired killer film (“The Limits of Control” and “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai”), the vampire film (“Only Lovers Left Alive”) and the Western (“Dead Man,” still his masterpiece). How would he handle a genre that’s been shot in the head countless times by movies, comics and TV series alike? What new ideas could Jarmusch bring to the table? Turns out that none, actually. There is nothing Jarmusch does in “The Dead Don’t Die” that hasn’t already been done better by the likes of the genre’s (as we know it) grandfather George Romero and by the likes of Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead”) and Alejandro Brugués (“Juan of the Dead,” itself a riff on Wright’s film). “The Dead Don’t Die’ may have been conceived as a lark, an alumni reunion for the actors who have worked with Jarmusch in the past. And the film is amusing…for awhile. But it soon wears out its welcome." (more)
"a.k.a. Coffee and Cigarettes and Brains"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "There have been so many zombie-related films and television shows that have come along in recent years that I could probably go the rest of my life without seeing another one of them and not feel as if I have missed anything, especially since George Romero, who kickstarted the genre with such classics as “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead,” is no longer around to make them. That said, when I first heard of the existence of “The Dead Don’t Die,” I could not wait to see it for myself. Yes, it is a zombie horror-comedy, an offshoot almost as tiresome these days as more straightforward takes, but it is one from the mind of writer-director Jim Jarmusch, who has proven himself to be one of the most consistently intriguing and unique American independent filmmakers since making his big breakthrough with the 1984 low-budget classic “Stranger Than Paradise.” In addition, it also contains one of the most eyebrow-raising casts to appear in any sort of film in a long time, including the likes of Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny, Danny Glover, Steve Buscemi, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Selena Gomez, Rosie Perez and, perhaps inevitably, Tilda Swinton. You would think that any film bringing together a collection of talents of that caliber would have to be interesting by default—I would personally pay a great deal of money to see a documentary of this group sitting down to have lunch one day during the shoot—but despite the amount of unique personalities at its disposal, the film never quite manages to generate one of its own. It isn’t a disaster by any means and it does contain a number of laughs and good individual moments but it never quite gets around to pulling them together in an interesting way that might make it seem like something more than a hipster version of “The Cannonball Run.”" (more)
SHAFT (2019)
"Seriously, Shut Your Mouth!"
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "At one point during “Shaft,” the fifth big-screen adventure centered around the quintessential blaxploitation hero (and the third of the bunch to be called “Shaft”), a character refers to the titular hero, bad-ass detective John Shaft, as being “the black James Bond.” If this is true—and there was a time when I for one would not have argued that particular notion—then this film finds him trapped in the equivalent of one of those lesser Roger Moore vehicles that told lame, unfocused and creatively bankrupt stories that leaned way too heavily on the kind of forced humor that tried to plant its tongue in its cheek but ended up landing it somewhere lower. I suspect that most people coming into this film with at least some working knowledge of the history of the franchise will probably have certain expectations regarding what they hope to find—most of them presumably revolving around Shaft swooping in at any given moment to shoot a lot of bad guys in the face while the unmistakable voice of Isaac Hayes goes on at supremely funky length extolling his virtues both as a detective and as a ladies man par excellence. What they are probably not expecting to see are endless scenes featuring Shaft as a grumpy ol’ gun-toting man constantly complaining about those darn millennials with their WiFi and their Ubers and coconut water. And yet, that is the aspect that ends up dominating the proceedings and transforms what was once a genuinely revolutionary and transgressive action franchise into little more than an extended episode of “The Cosby Show” with a higher body count than usual." (more)
"Where The Aliens Arrive From The Other Side Of The Galaxy"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "When the original “Men in Black” film came out in 1997, the combination of a cheerfully goofball screenplay inspired by the lighter side of deep conspiracy theories, elaborate special effects and the strikingly effective teaming of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones transformed that film into that rarest of beast—a wildly expensive blockbuster that still managed to maintain noticeable levels of wit, charm and originality. Just how rare of a beast it was would become evident with the arrivals of “Men in Black II” (2002) and “Men in Black 3” (2012), two astonishingly clunky followups that preferred to simply copy the stuff that worked the first time around instead of trying to find a new twist or angle to the material and whose basic entertainment value was somewhat diminished by the fact that it was apparent that neither of its stars seemed particularly excited with the notion of returning to the fold. “Men in Black: International” is an attempt to restart the lucrative franchise with new people on both sides of the camera attempting to revive the spirit of the original one. Although the end result may be slightly better than such current dreadful cinematic brand extensions as “Dark Phoenix” and “Shaft,” the level of improvement is negligible at best and it still never comes close to justifying its existence." (more)

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