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LATEST REVIEWS
HOBBS & SHAW
"Like The Literary Journal “Mana,” They Are Samoa Bound"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "One of the great byproducts about last week’s release of “Once Upon a Time. . . in Hollywood” was that for one brief and shining moment, it actually got people genuinely interested and excited by a film that went far beyond the usual levels of hype for the first time in a long while. Sure, some of the discourse was inevitably on the dopey side—especially the Internet commentary that was clearly more interested in clickbait than anything else—but for the most part, when people talked and wrote about the movie, they were responding with the kind of enthusiasm and passion that films used to inspire in the days before the industry shifted to an all-blockbuster all-the-time format. Love it or hate it, it is the kind of film that does not instantly fade from memory the moment the credits roll as is the case with so many big-budget gumdrops and my guess is that people will be discussing and arguing its finer points for a long time to come." (more)
ONCE UPON A TIME ... IN HOLLYWOOD
"It was the best of Quentin, it was the worst of Quentin..."
5 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "Quentin Tarantino’s "Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood" will be described by some as his best and some as his worst, and both camps will have valid points. They may even both be right." (more)
PET SEMATARY (2019)
"Sometimes book is better."
3 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "Stephen King’s "Pet Sematary" has now had two whacks at film adaptation — one in 1989 and one this year (well, three if you count the sequel to the ’89 film). It may be that, through no fault of the respective filmmaking teams or the medium itself, King’s book is just one of those novels that resist translation." (more)
REFLECTING SKIN, THE
"One of a kind."
5 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "I have been waiting for years to talk at length about "The Reflecting Skin," one of my favorite movies few people have seen. Since it’s making its American Blu-ray debut in a couple of weeks (along with a new DVD), the time seems ripe." (more)
ONCE UPON A TIME ... IN HOLLYWOOD
"Tateville"
5 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "There has been much talk that after completing his next project, currently rumored to be, of all things, a “Star Trek” movie, Quentin Tarantino plans to retire from filmmaking altogether. While he has long spoken of stepping out of the game after making ten features, I have a sneaky suspicion that even if the “Trek” movie pans out, it may not prove to be his swan song after all. For one thing, it sounds more than a little odd that one of the most dependably unique and idiosyncratic filmmakers of our time would choose to bow out with a project not of his own design—this is not to say that a QT sci-fi joint wouldn’t be interesting, just that I would rather see one born entirely of his sensibility rather than one in which he applied said sensibility to someone else’s vision. Another reason, and one far more pertinent in the long run, is that with his ninth feature, “Once Upon a Time. . . in Hollywood,” he has created a film so daring, so audacious and so flat-out entertaining that to follow it up with a “Star Trek” film, no matter how good, would be like a musician presenting a grandly original opus as a penultimate work and following that with an album of bar-band covers—it could be entertaining but it would almost certainly seem like a bit of a comedown by comparison. And yes, “OUATIH” is just that kind of opus, a kaleidoscopic love letter to Tarantino’s beloved Hollywood set during one of its occasional periods of seismic change that may be the most daring of all his works to date and is certainly the most deeply felt." (more)
LION KING, THE (2019)
"The Imagination Sleeps Tonight"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "I don’t know if McDonald’s is doing any sort of promotional tie-in with “The Lion King,” Disney’s hugely hyped remake of their 1994 animated blockbuster but if there is a Happy Meal involved, they should make the box in the shape of an accountant’s briefcase. After all, they are the only group of people who could conceivably come out of the film feeling genuinely happy and that is simply because of the enormous sums of money that their clients will presumably reap in the wake of its almost-certain box-office success. For everyone else, it will prove to be one of the most mystifying experiences that they will have at the multiplex this summer. Here is a film that has marshaled together a number of immensely talented people, given them a budget larger than the annual GNP of entire small nations and gotten nothing in return but a half-hearted and largely lifeless retread that fails to find its own footing and instead sticks so closely to the source material that it almost feels like the family entertainment equivalent of Gus van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake of “Psycho.”" (more)
STARE
"This isn't that hard."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: I am not one to yell at the screen during any sort of movie, but I've seldom seen one that merits asking just what the heck is WRONG with these people to quite such an extent. I mean, people's eyeballs are exploding and you know what to do to make that not happen, and it just involves not doing something. This isn't a difficult choice!" (more)
DREADOUT
"Not much in this haunted apartment."
1 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "DreadOut" is based upon a survival horror video game, and while it's perhaps not the least ambitious example of adapting the action from that medium into film, it certainly does neither medium any favors, transposing the action from one onto another without doing much to take advantage of what film does better than games. It tries to make up for a thin story by being incredibly frantic, but never takes advantage of the visible potential." (more)
S HE
"Grind your heel into the oppressor!"
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: I don't know exactly what I expected of "SHe", and truth be told I'm not exactly sure what I got. It's a striking stop-motion film, the sort of abstracted, found-object stop-motion that is almost entirely confined to short subjects, only done as a feature and taking a sharp turn from the delight one might feel upon seeing colorful, imaginative stills from it almost from the get-go. You've probably never seen anything like it, and it can be fascinatingly tricky to process." (more)
WE ARE LITTLE ZOMBIES
"There really is no one way to grieve!"
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "We Are Little Zombies" is the sort of movie that needs four kids for its story but only has enough attention for a couple of them, with most of that going to the one most designed to get on a person's nerves. That's not always ideal, to be honest, but it is something that a person can get used to over a couple hours, especially when the filmmakers are committed to being the right sort of creative and energetic. Director Makoto Nagahisa attacks grief and the increasingly self-aware people trying to deal with it in a way that may be a lot for people multiple times the age of its 13-year-old heroes, but even they will likely wind up impressed." (more)

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