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LATEST REVIEWS
YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT
"Panic Rooms"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Back in 1999, writer-director David Koepp and actor Kevin Bacon teamed up to make “Stir of Echoes,” a modest-but-effective adaptation of Richard Matheson’s supernatural thriller about an ordinary man who finds himself plagued by inexplicable and increasingly haunting visions that seem prepared to harm him and his family. Twenty-one years later, the two have reunited to make “You Should Have Left,” an adaptation of Daniel Kehlmann’s supernatural thriller about an ordinary man who finds himself plagued by inexplicable and increasingly haunting visions that seem prepared to harm him and his family. Perhaps they should have limited their reunion to recording a new commentary track for a special edition Blu-Ray of “Stir of Echoes” because their new collaboration is a handsomely mounted but dramatically film that not even their combined professionalism can boost to the level of being mildly interesting." (more)
WHY DON'T YOU JUST DIE!
"Bloody black comedy."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: This pitch-black comedy may be the most action-packed film of the festival, a bloody mess of a movie that maintains a breakneck pace for much longer than one might expect and manages the neat trick of having several of its characters doing corrupt, violent things while still maintaining some level of sympathy, which is kind of the only way this sort of free-for-all works. "Why Don't You Just Die!" is as darkly comic and violent as you'd expect from the title, but occasionally shows that it knows where the line is between that sort of darkness and outright nihilism." (more)
MISS & MRS. COPS
"Almost the buddy-cop movie it's trying to be."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: This movie opens with an entertaining bit of action and then, immediately, informs the audience that it's not going to be getting any more of that for a while, and I'm not going to lie, that's pretty disappointing. It's also got a different sense of where the line between hostile and abrasive is than American buddy-cop movies, and while it should - it is South Korean, after all - It's got trouble maintaining a tone that works in other ways. The mean streak you often find in even Korean crime comedies doesn't serve this one very well, especially when it's trying to be very silly and very solemn at the same time." (more)
DA 5 BLOODS
"Time Has Come Today"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "For about its first hour, Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods,” his first feature since winning his long-overdue competitive Oscar for “BlacKkKlansman,” is a spellbinding stretch of filmmaking as good as anything that he has ever done before in his career—it puts a new and audacious spin on some familiar cinematic tropes, it gathers together a number of strong and compelling performances and it is presented in a stylistically dynamic manner that reminds you that you are in the hands of a master filmmaker who is not afraid to try new things even at a point when they could comfortably rest on their laurels and no one would take any issue. The trouble is that the film runs for 155 minutes and it is at about this point that it starts becoming very uneven as moments of great emotional power and angry social commentary rub shoulders uneasily with far more conventional and far less interesting B-movie thrills and histrionics. The end result is a film is not a great Lee film on the order of “Do the Right Thing,” “Bamboozled” and “BlacKkKlansman” but the combination of the stuff that does work and Lee’s uncanny ability to make a movie whose ideas and concerns feel absolutely in sync with this particular moment in time, even though it was obviously made months ago, gives it the kind of spark that hasn’t been seen in a major film since “Parasite.”" (more)
G AFFAIRS
"G for, at least, Good."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: My first thought upon seeing this was "well, that's kind of g-ross", but awful g-related puns aside, there's an impressive race between outrageous events and striking style at the start of this movie that almost blunts them both, taking a while to find some sort of equilibrium. Once it does, the story kind of cruises for a while, jumping back and forth to let the environment sink in. The filmmakers never settle things down once that's happened, but that's generally enough to cover for any weaknesses in the plot." (more)
YOU DON'T NOMI
"Turns Out It Doesn't Suck"
3 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "When Paul Verhoeven’s “Showgirls” detonated in theaters a quarter-century ago, it was considered to be an epic study in campy sleaze that brought new meaning to the word “overwrought”—and this was from the few brave souls at the time who dared to admit that they liked it on some level. Most, however, dismissed it as vile, sexist trash that could be appreciated only as a supremely gonzo example of the kind of movie that is so outrageously awful that it can only be considered as the type of film that is so awful in so many ways that its sheer badness exerts a certain grandeur. However, what if “Showgirls” is not merely an exercise in camp excess but is actually a smartly made and deliberately provocative work that continues to challenge viewers expecting some kind of brainless exercise in gratuitous T&A?" (more)
KING OF STATEN ISLAND, THE
"a.k.a. C.H.A.D."
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "“The King of Staten Island” is a film that asks audiences to spend 136 minutes inside the psyche of Pete Davidson—the gangly and heavily tattooed performer on “Saturday Night Live” who is probably more famous for his backstory (as a child growing up in Staten Island, he lost his firefighter father on 9/11) and his current dating history than his punchlines—in order to speculate on how he might have turned out if he hadn’t turned to comedy to bring some sort of focus to his life. The resulting film is not strictly biographical but then again, it isn’t much of a movie either—it feels more like an elaborate therapy session than anything else. Clearly director/co-writer Judd Apatow was hoping that making another film based on the talents and perspective of a unique comedic talent outside of his usual group of colleagues would yield results as strong as his last movie, the genuinely hilarious and heartfelt “Trainwreck.” With that film, of course, he had the good fortune to work with Amy Schumer, someone who actually had something new and intriguing to say with her comedy and the acting chops that allowed her to deliver a performance that showed her capable of doing more than just delivering jokes. This time around, Apatow is not so lucky and while the film does have some nice moments and a couple of big laughs here and there, it is largely an unfocused and lightly excruciating work that eventually feels more like “Good Will Hunting” with fewer laughs and even less in the way of dramatic resolution." (more)
LOST TRANSMISSIONS
"You know what they say about good intentions."
2 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "Whenever I get too exercised about how the Disney/Marvel/Star Wars axis will crush all other art and entertainment under their jackboots, along comes a tiny, well-meaning but terrible indie drama to reassure me that such things, however dreary and rare, still exist." (more)
FOR MADMEN ONLY: THE STORIES OF DEL CLOSE
"The Dungeonmaster."
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "The current situation being what it is, I have no idea when you’ll get to see 'For Madmen Only: The Stories of Del Close' — it was supposed to premiere at the cancelled SXSW festival — but you should keep an eye out for it. It’s as worthy of its subject as any movie that isn’t completely shambolic and unconventional can be." (more)
MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL
"Still crazy after all these years."
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "For all the talk about 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' being the Python troupe’s first “proper” movie — with a narrative and everything, unlike their previous film, the sketch assortment 'And Now for Something Completely Different' — it is still, in large part, a sketch assortment." (more)

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