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LATEST REVIEWS
GENTLEMEN, THE
"Laddie Come Home."
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Although it is almost embarrassing to admit today, there was once a time when I might have referred to Guy Ritchie as an exciting filmmaker whose works I looked forward to with some degree of genuine anticipation. His 1998 debut “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” was a cheeky and audacious take on the modern British crime film that was clearly indebted to Tarantino, as was virtually every crime film from a new filmmaker at that time, but stood apart from most of those thanks to its cheeky humor of his screenplay, his undeniably striking visual style and, although perhaps not given its due at the time, the work of charismatic newcomer Jason Statham. His follow-up film, “Snatch” (2000), was basically a rehash of his previous worker, albeit on a scale large enough to bring in Brad Pitt for a supporting turn, but it was still entertaining enough to make you wonder what he might have to offer when he decided to spread his artistic wings and try something different. That, alas, was a misbegotten 2002 remake of “Swept Away” that saw him and then-wife Madonna making absolute hash of the Lina Wertmuller’s admittedly dubious take on what used to be called the battle of the sexes. As bad as that was on every conceivable level, it almost seemed plausible when compared to his next two films, “Revolver” (2005) and “Rocknrolla” (2008), increasingly convoluted attempts to return to his crime film glories (with the former throwing in bits of Kabbalah mysticism for good measure) that pleased absolutely no one. For the next decade or so, Ritchie elected to switch gears and become the guy behind a series of increasingly anonymous blockbusters that had little on their mind other than making tons of money while essentially narcotizing viewers in the process, eventually culminating in a live-action remake of “Aladdin” that made a ton of money (and, truth be told, was perhaps the least bad of the recent Disney remakes of their animated classics) but which is so far removed from having anything resembling a personal touch, even a cloddish one, that it might as well have been made by a computer." (more)
CHIWAWA
"Live fast, die young, figure out why later."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Chiwawa" is structured kind of like a murder mystery, but it's 50/50 as to whether that's the direction it's going to go at any point, and that's fine. After all, it seems like the other way they could have gone with it is faux documentary, which probably would have seemed more like middle-aged folks trying to make a movie about youth, despite actually having been made by a filmmaker relatively close to his characters in age. As someone who has never been a Japanese person in their early twenties, I can 't exactly say how well the film represents that group, but it nevertheless paints an interesting portrait." (more)
JOKER
"Beautiful crap."
2 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "Watching "Joker" belatedly, I understood quite clearly why it got so many Oscar nominations. For what it is, it’s gorgeously assembled, with a ragged jewel of a performance by Joaquin Phoenix at its center. The problem is, well, what it is." (more)
DREAMLAND (2019)
"More daydream than nightmare."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: The opening stretch of Bruce McDonald's "Dreamland" introduces a bunch of visually striking characters against a moody environment, has then open their mouths to begin a story, and then summarily has the all shot them in the head. The rest of the film isn't quite that nihilistic, but it is fairly pointedly eccentric and detached, the sort of thing that needs the idea that anything can happen in the audience's head lest they get frustrated with how little is happening right now. McDonald is going for a specific idea of cool here above all else, where it's more important to be stylish than tense." (more)
HIT-AND-RUN SQUAD
"Needs to get into the fast lane."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: How does a movie about Seoul's car-crash investigators, on the tail of a Formula 1-driving criminal mastermind, have so little in the way of automotive action? For crying out loud, when a person buys a ticket for a movie named "Hit-and-Run Squad", they've got expectations, so get to the car chases already! This thing is 133 minutes long and really only has a couple of worthy bits of stunt driving." (more)
SHOOT TO KILL
"Takes Aim and Nails Its Target"
4 stars
Jack Sommersby says... "While not the box-office smash hoped for, it did reasonably well financially and garnered some good notices." (more)
DAY OF THE JACKAL, THE
"As Arid as the Saharan Desert"
1 stars
Jack Sommersby says... "Hopelessly inept from start to finish." (more)
WEATHERING WITH YOU
"Animation's best keeps it going after a surprise blockbuster."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""Weathering with You" was quite possibly the most anticipated film to come out of Japan in 2019, director Makoto Shinkai's first film after "Your Name" was a somewhat unexpected (and deserved) smash. It's tricky to talk about what comes next after such a result, especially if the effusive praise you've given to Shinkai's previous films is a click away and your verdict is that "Weathering with You" is "only" almost as good as what it follows. Even if he can't quite surprise audiences with greatness any more, he's still made a heck of a fine movie." (more)
WONDERLAND, THE
"I suspect every kid has their own wonderland by now."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "The Wonderland" (aka "Birthday Wonderland") has all the surface elements of big, respectable anime - a decent coming-of-age story, absolutely beautiful animation, certain specific character types, a traditional life/environmental message - and does each of them well enough that it plays really well from minute to minute. The trouble is that the whole doesn't fit together in a way that does those pieces justice. It's kind of about moving forward but also accepting destiny and how modern life isn't good for the soul but also shopping… It's all over the place." (more)
CRYPTO
"A Small-Scale Curio Worth a Look-See"
3 stars
Jack Sommersby says... "Don't be fooled by the cheesy DVD cover art that looks to have been designed by a third-grader." (more)

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