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"Like father, like daughter - so watch from a distance."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT FANTASTIC FEST 2014: The latest from Tetsuya Nakashima is not quite so sublime as his mid-aughts peak ("Kamikaze Girls" and "Memories of Matsuko" is a heck of a one-two punch), and it kind of stretches out too long, padded by some increasingly ugly violence. On the plus side, though, it is energetic as all heck, propelling the audience through the underworld with a protagonist that they're not supposed to like, but who makes it hard to look away." (more)
TOMMY (2014)
"Not just the wife."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT FANTASTIC FEST 2014: "Tommy" starts out looking like it might be a certain type of movie - you know, the one where the underestimated woman at the center is eventually revealed to always be three steps ahead of everyone around her (or if not quite that far ahead, still the smartest person in the room) - with a certain type of twist - seeing it all from her perspective. I'd like to see that movie someday, but this one is more about a gamble, which some may not find quite so satisfying. I dig it, though." (more)
"A franchise taking flight"
4 stars
Daniel Kelly says... "It worked for Harry Potter and Twilight, so why not the continuing adventures of Katniss Everdeen? I'm of course alluding to the “Part 1” disclaimer that follows the title of the latest “Hunger Games” outing “Mockingjay”. It's become the done thing that the defining chapter in any popular adaptation should be divided into two, maybe to accommodate purists clamouring for unblemished reverence, but more likely as a means to ensure everybody involved makes an extra buck; except for the audience. By slicing the material with such obvious capitalist intent, movies suffering the symptom incur innate wrath from the consumer, decreasing their odds of making a favourable impression. Nobody likes to feel ripped-off, and this new Hollywood tactic carries a definite whiff of wheeler-dealer salesmanship. It's with some pleasure then that “Mockingjay: Part 1” actually provides a fulfilling cinematic experience, a slower feature than its immediate predecessor (and one would assume next year's continuation), but filled with intelligent ideas and action beats, that whilst sparse, form very real stakes. The political underbelly of author Suzanne Collin's universe is finally bearing narrative fruit, leading to a sobering but intense extension of her dystopian myth." (more)
"Revolution Blues"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Under normal circumstances, it would be so easy to be annoyed with the very existence of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1." For starters, it is yet another adaptation of a YA best-seller positing a future dystopia featuring good-looking youngsters who discover that they have the power to change things forever and female elders who appear to have been issued Edgar Winter's hair. More specifically, it is the third film in the "Hunger Games" franchise to appear in as many years and that rate of output can get a little tiresome after a while. It stars Jennifer Lawrence and as delightful as she can be, her ubiquitous presence at the multiplex, award shows and Internet hacking scandals is almost at the point where some form of backlash is almost inevitable. Then there is the fact that, following in the hallowed footsteps of the last entries in the "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" sagas, the final books have been split into two parts in order to give their sprawling narratives room to breathe and, more importantly, inspire audiences to essentially pay two separate admissions to see one complete story. And yet, despite the over-exposure and over-familiarity of the material and its participants, "Mockingjay, Part 1" is a real movie and not simply an excuse for its producers to print money. This is smart and ambitious filmmaking that contains so many good and surprising things, even at this stage of the game, that most viewers will not only easily forgive its occasional hiccups but wonder why other films of this sort don't even attempt to hit the heights that this one does." (more)

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