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LATEST REVIEWS
PROMARE
"Fantastically overheated anime."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: There are some films that lean into their genres' tropes so hard that they verge on self-parody, and then there's "Promare", which punches clear out the other side. The filmmakers are well aware of every single form of excess that this sort of anime sci-fi adventure is prone to, but they're also aware that those things are what make said movies and shows awesome, and are fully committed to making their movie that sort of thrillingly crazy as well." (more)
TOKYO GHOUL "S"
"Still eating people, still want to be friends."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Tokyo Ghoul S" is a "more of that" sequel; it doesn't expand the mythology very much or have its characters grow and change that much, but delivers audiences another serving of what they enjoyed about the first. Folks who liked the live-action "Tokyo Ghoul" movie that came out a couple of years ago will likely have fun with this one, and those who missed it won't be overwhelmed. It's not the most ambitious franchise entry, but it doesn't send the series off the rails." (more)
BRIGHTBURN
"Superbad Superboy."
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "“I never said, ‘The superman exists, and he’s American.’ What I said was, ‘God exists, and he’s American.’” – A character in Alan Moore’s Watchmen" (more)
BOOKSMART
"Pure of heart. Let's see more like it."
5 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "The good-hearted, often hilarious coming-of-age comedy 'Booksmart' deserves to be to Gen-Z girls what 'Clueless' was and is to millennials." (more)
DEAD DON'T DIE, THE
"Jarmusch + zombies = something most peculiar."
5 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "“The dead just don’t wanna die today,” growls Hermit Bob (Tom Waits, of course) near the end of Jim Jarmusch’s deadpan zombie doodle 'The Dead Don’t Die.' The movie may seem like lightweight, lesser Jarmusch, but I have a feeling it’ll grow in stature in memory." (more)
FAGARA
"A tasty stew made with ingredients from around the East."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""Fagara" is the sort of small family drama whose story has been told more than a few times - who hasn't discovered their father had a secret life after he passed away - but is just better enough at it on most counts that it actually winds up fairly impressive. It's so well put together that director Heiward Mak Hei-Yan can dispense with much of what other movies would use to prop it up." (more)
REZO
"Fairly unique even among animated documentaries."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "I'm not sure I've ever before seen a biographical documentary where at the end, I wasn't entirely sure what the subject was famous for. But that's where "Rezo" leaves me, as Revan Gabriadze spends almost no time discussing his life's work, nor the personal life that happened alongside it. The film, directed by his son Levan, has him telling stories of the father's youth and a philosophical moment or two as he returns home an old man, apparently presuming that anyone watching this film knows the rest or will look it up. It's an odd but not unpleasant sensation." (more)
DEPRAVED
"Frankenstein & Fessenden make a great match."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Depraved" is "Larry Fessenden's "Frankenstein"" and he knows it, announcing his intentions from the start, when artsy colors and a do-it-yourself laboratory are punctuated by a bolt of lightning. That may not necessarily appeal to a large audience - as both producer and director of fright flicks, Fessenden has always leaned toward New York art-house stuff rather than buying blood by the barrel or Jason Blum's canny commercial instincts - but it makes even his take on one of the genre's foundational tales feel like something new." (more)
LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE
"Feels Like Home"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Seen from a purely cinematic perspective, the new documentary “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice” is not that big of a deal. It does not exactly reinvent the wheel from a formal perspective, it doesn’t offer any big reveals or especially profound insights and it oddly shies away from some elements to the story that practically cry out for further exploration. Now if a film about a musical performer that I personally did not have much interest in going into it had these flaws, I would right a review that would note the stumbling blocks and then mot likely wrap things up with a shrug and a mention that it is a film best enjoyed by those who are already fans of the subject at hand. And yet, while watching the film, I recognized all these problems but found myself ignoring virtually all of them because I was too busy relishing the opportunity to watch a big-screen celebration of an artist that I have been a passionate fan of since childhood. In other words, I adored practically every frame of the film but considering that I would cheerfully get behind virtually anything arguing for the greatness of Ronstadt, I might suggest that many of you may want to take this particular review with a few more grains of salt than usual." (more)
GOLDFINCH, THE
"Extra-Ordinary People"
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "I suppose I should begin this piece with a point of order—actually a point of mild embarrassment for the longest time—that I need to get off of my chest. I have to confess that I never read Donna Tartt’s 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Goldfinch.” Now this admission in itself may not be that astounding—there are many books out there that I have not read and the fact that I didn’t crack this one before it made it to the big screen is not that extraordinary (I was not exactly brushing up on the “Twilight” books before sitting through those films.) The reason that I am making any note of this at all is the fact that I have been planning to read it for years now but something has always kept me from doing so. This is unusual because I loved Tartt’s 1994 best-selling debut “The Secret History”—one of those rare books that turned out to be both a cultural phenomenon and a startlingly well-written work—and when “The Goldfinch” was published, i downloaded it onto my iPad with the full intention of getting to it before too long. And yet, despite the rave reviews it received in some (though famously not all) quarters and the Pulitzer and the best-seller status, something about it just seemed so oppressive and ponderously literary that every time I tried to get into it, I found myself putting it aside in favor of something else, though always with the intention of getting back to it one day and completing the task at hand." (more)

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