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LATEST REVIEWS
STORM RIDERS, THE
"Comic book movies were about to change in 1998, even in Hong Kong."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Even without watching its 2009 sequel for comparison, "The Storm Riders" has a throwback air to it, like the Hong Kong film industry long defined by knowing how to squeeze a lot out of what they had for a one-city market was playing a bit of catch-up before advances in technology and a drastic increase in their potential audience changed everything. It's a lot of things that hadn't often been put together in quite the same way before and wouldn't be since, but probably a real kick for fans of Ma Wing-Shing's comics at the time." (more)
HOT WATER (2021)
"Really (Not) Hot And Awfully (Not) Wet"
1 stars
Erik Childress says... "Trying to recreate the moment in time when the creative minds behind the National Lampoon took their anti-establishment humor into the movies is a daunting task. The style of that humor has evolved, not to mention society which funnels every archaic joke through a modern perspective that can now register as problematic. The next thankless task is to just say screw it and try to mirror the kind of softcare Hardbodies genre that would gain play from horny teenagers on late night cable. Even if the message was still the same, behavior got dumber and clothing became more optional. Cinemax does not even run those sort of movies anymore so the only thing left for filmmakers is to either copy a bygone era or satirize it. Larry Rippenkroeger’s Hot Water has all of the ingredients to pick either of those lanes but somehow is asking its horned-up, summer-lovin’ beach body wanting audience to supposed to kinda sorta take it…seriously?" (more)
DAY OF THE BEAST, THE
"25 years later, it looks a bit rough but still impresses."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "I don't know how many extra sales of their new 4K "The Day of the Beast" disc Severin got from folks who just discovered Alex de la Iglesia with "30 Coins" and wanted more in the same vein, but it's the sort of happy coincidence that many labels re-releasing cult cult classics must dream of, even if it does make it hard to view the movie from 1995 outside the context of the recent TV series. It's a very different thing, of course, and not just because it's the work of someone young and rebellious as opposed to a seasoned veteran." (more)
TRANSFERENCE: A LOVE STORY
"The Heart Wants What The Heart(less) Wants?"
3 stars
Erik Childress says... "Sex and love are so often confused in everyday courtship that any attempt to put a definition on them is usually the catalyst to neither existing in the future of a relationship. One can certainly turn into the other – from both directions – that the fantasy of such a happy ending through various definitions is what has us reaching for the simplicity of a movie romance. Raffaello Degruttola’s Transference starts off on the uneasy path between the two and does not make things much easier, but after a promising start also has trouble defining its two lovers in the high stakes world of emotional acceptance." (more)
THUNDER FORCE
"The Blah Falcone"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "My guess is that the pitch meeting for “Thunder Force” consisted entirely of writer-director Ben Falcone walking into Netflix headquarters, uttering the magic words “Melissa McCarthy is a superhero” and walked out with the requisite number of wheelbarrows filled with cash needed to bring it to fruition. As premises go, that one is not too bad but it quickly becomes apparent that nobody involved ever bothered to develop that premise in potentially interesting and funny ways, assuming that the sight of McCarthy and co-star Octavia Spencer wreaking comedic havoc with their powers to satisfy viewers. That works for a few minutes, to be charitable about it, but the whole thing just grows increasingly silly and tiresome as it goes on. To make matters even more frustrating, it does hit upon a potentially ingenious conceit—one that could have easily fueled an entire film on its own—but then kind of squanders it on only a couple of scenes (albeit the best ones) before retreating to the nonsense." (more)
VOYAGERS
"Lord Of The Lasercats"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "As “Voyagers” opens, it is the not-too-distant future and mankind has inevitably screwed the pooch, ecologically speaking, and extinction is imminent. Borrowing a page from the likes of “The Midnight Sky” and “Breach,” a plan is developed to send a group of people on a voyage to an inhabitable planet in deep space so that humanity can continue to live. Since the journey to the planet will take 86 years, the plan is to raise 30 genetically designed kids from birth in a lab setting and send them on a mission that will end up being completed by their grandchildren—the theory is that since they have never known what normal life is like, they are less likely to succumb to the loneliness and isolation of such a trip." (more)
FLAMING BROTHERS
"Maybe not 'elevated', but still a cut above."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "The Hong Kong film industry is not, I suppose, that much wilder than any other. There is high and low art wherever people make movies, and a lot of people famed for the former cut their teeth on the latter; those early movies just don't always travel like the others. Still, it's nevertheless kind of odd to see Wong Kar-Wai's name show up as the writer of something like "Flaming Brothers", the sort of bombastic "heroic bloodshed" movie that star Chow Yun-Fat is best known for but which seems to be the antithesis of the romances full of longing which made Wong an arthouse favorite around the world." (more)
FRENCH EXIT
"Michelle Pfeiffer being acerbic is as spectacular as Kong vs. Godzilla."
4 stars
Lybarger says... "There’s not much of a plotline in this new adaptation of Patrick DeWitt’s novel. You don’t need one if you have Michelle Pfeiffer expertly delivering the author’s verbal barbs." (more)
PERDITA DURANGO
"Not quite the cult classic it could have been."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "I thought I'd seen "Perdita Durango" as part of an Álex de la Iglesia series at the Brattle Theatre (or possibly their all-too-brief Boston Fantastic Film Festival), possibly under the title "Dance with the Devil", but I must have been up to something else that evening, because I surely would have remembered this bit of madness, right? Maybe not; it's well-made stream-of-consciousness madness, but maybe not quite haunting or horrifying in the way that the best movies of that variety can be." (more)
GODZILLA VS. KONG
"Now Now, You Two—Use Your Indecipherable Grunts!"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "When King Kong and Godzilla (I presume that no further introduction is required) first faced off in the 1962 film “King Kong vs. Godzilla,” the stakes were sufficiently low enough at the time—it only marked Godzilla’s first screen appearance since 1955’s “Godzilla Raids Again” and Kong had not been seen at all since his 1933 debut—that it didn’t really matter which one of the two creature features favorites triumphed since it was so obviously a one-off meeting with no discernible future. In fact, the actual outcome was of so little consequence to the film as a whole that the single most memorable thing about it beyond its title was the urban legend that sprang up around it that claimed that two different endings were filmed—U.S. audiences got the one where Kong triumphed while Japanese viewers saw their hometown hero victorious. (Although there were two different versions of the film—there was a version for the U.S. market with scenes featuring American actors cut into the proceedings a la the original “Godzilla” but both ended on the same note with Kong seemingly walking away victorious with the suggestion that Godzilla would rise again to fight another day.)" (more)

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