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Bounty Hunter

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Well Go USA

MOVIE REVIEW
I Did It My Way (2024)

The heavy hand of the Chinese censors is painfully obvious throughout “I Did It My Way,” which does its best to tell its violent story within these exhausting restrictions. There’s a sequence showing Hong Kong schoolgirls in uniform who are so high one thinks she can fly and the other doesn’t notice as her friend falls to her death. Brain-on-drugs messaging was passé in American movies by the 1980s; and it’s depressing to see how it’s forced into what should have been a cracking tale of a good man going bad alongside a bad man going evil.

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Web of Sin

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Courtesy photo

MOVIE REVIEW
The Goldfinger (2023)

Art imitates life; life imitates art; and sometimes art imitates art in ways which take decades to pay out. The new Hong Kong movie “The Goldfinger” does all of this and then some. The title is a reference both to James Bond and the myth of King Midas, the actors are referencing their previous movie together, 2002’s excellent “Infernal Affairs,” which was adapted into “The Departed” by Martin Scorsese, whose “The Wolf of Wall Street” was a clear inspiration for writer-director Felix Chong.

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One Man Army

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Courtesy photo

MOVIE REVIEW
Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire (2023)

At one point the warring tribes of a criminal, off-the-map Indian territory called Khansaar decide they need more manpower, and various factions hire mercenary armies which are specifically from the following nations: Afghanistan, Austria (whose fighters are all women, as anyone who’s attempted to flirt in a Viennese nightclub can attest), Serbia, South Sudan, Russia, and Ukraine. But one of the leaders of the one of the tribes, Vardha (Prithviraj Sukumaran) goes off to hire exactly one guy. He is Deva (Prabhas), and his absolutely terrifying reputation is well-earned. For large parts of “Salaar: Part One – Ceasefire” he’s so thoroughly soaked in blood he’s like greased lightning. He’s so hard core that his day job is as a blacksmith, and during one battle he takes a break from the fighting to get an enormous tattoo. It’s exactly as awesome as it sounds.

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On the Borderline

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Courtesy photo

MOVIE REVIEW
Dunki (2023)

There is no star in Western cinema comparable to Shah Rukh Khan. He is an action hero who can sing and dance; he can laugh at himself (which is even rarer than having a sense of humor); his movies are blatantly political while also being jolly entertainments; and most surprisingly of all, he is willing to be vulnerable on screen. He even cries without a drop of the horrible no-homo attitude so pervasive in American cinema when men express any feelings at all. In “Dunki” he goes even further, in playing a man making a visa-free journey from India to Britain, showing the hellish indignities of the awful trip; and it’s done with a sense of respect that is simply unimaginable in Western cinema. “Dunki” – a slang word meaning the journey illegal immigrants take – is a cheerful yet vicious attack on international borders generally and British immigration policy specifically. The fact that it got a British release is testament to Mr. Khan’s power.

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The Prancing Horse Unbridled

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Lorenzo Sisti/Elevation Pictures

MOVIE REVIEW
Ferrari (2023)

Somehow Michael Mann has made a biopic of Enzo Ferrari (Adam Driver) that nonironically hits many of the biopic tropes parodied in “Walk Hard” – a parent bitter the wrong kid died, an unhappy marriage, the main enemy of the subject’s success being the subject himself. But in “Ferrari” none of this is funny; and the way in which the movie ends, which is broadly true to life, is so disturbing it’s almost impossible to fathom. Proponents of the philosophies of Ayn Rand are going to love this, which is not really a compliment. We know things will work out for Enzo because the movie exists, as does the Ferrari organization, but it’s unusually disturbing to realize that its story is about how a man achieved his success as the expense of many, many lives.

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I See Dead People

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Parisa Taghizadeh/Searchlight Pictures

MOVIE REVIEW
All of Us Strangers (2023)

It’s human nature to want to be loved, but it is unfortunately also human nature to reject that which seems repulsive to you. This can make life very hard for us homosexuals, who are often rejected by our birth families simply because of who we are. The greatest achievement of Western culture in this critic’s lifetime is seeing gay people be allowed to move from the margins into a blasé part of mainstream society, so average and ordinary that it’s often beneath comment. But that’s not to say this tolerance, which is not the same thing as acceptance, is consistent. And it’s also very important to remember this can’t be applied retrospectively. Older relatives are famous for not being understanding of the younger members of their families regardless of their sexuality, and as an adult you can spend a long time down a rabbit hole wondering if the relatives you loved and lost as a child would have loved you now.

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Bad Moon Uprising

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Clay Enos/Netflix

MOVIE REVIEW
Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire (2023)

Is there anything more terrifying in a film’s title than the words “Part One?” Here it’s a serious threat. “A Child of Fire” is so bad it’s created a new level of awfulness. Thanks to some excellent C.G.I. it’s gorgeous to look at, but so empty of interest that the false beauty is meaningless. In the opening-night public screening this critic attended the only time the audience reacted to anything – anything – was Charlie Hunnam’s appalling Northern Irish accent. It is difficult to understand how a movie so carefully and expertly made could be so devoid of feeling. It’s like 134 minutes of trying to touch a fish by putting your hand to the aquarium glass, only not nearly as much fun.

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Family Feud

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MOVIE REVIEW
Animal (2023)

Even by Bollywood standards, “Animal” is bonkers. Just as an example, our hero Vijay (“Superstar” Ranbir Kapoor) and Geetanjali (Rashmika Mandanna), whom he had just smooth-talked into breaking off with her fiancé at their outdoor engagement celebration after luring her inside with a rendition of their old school anthem, both exit the cockpit of Vijay’s airborne private jet, leaving the plane on autopilot while they repair to the cabin for some sexy time. As they rouse themselves following the afterglow, the jet nearly crashes into a mountaintop. But that’s not all.

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Apocalypse Now

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TIFF

MOVIE REVIEW
The End We Start From (2023)

“The End We Start From,” which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, is a postapocalyptic thriller that begins as catastrophic weather and flooding ravage London and force people to evacuate. Although nature has emerged as a credible villain these days amid growing concerns of global warming, what the story, adapted from Megan Hunter’s novel, does with the premise isn’t exactly unique. In more ways than one, the film comes off like “A Quiet Place Part II” without the scary creatures.

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Moonlighting

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Brian Roedel/Netflix

MOVIE REVIEW
Hit Man (2024)

In all my years of moviegoing I have never seen anything like “Hit Man.” I remember the choked surprise echoing around the cinema on sight of Catherine Zeta-Jones’s arse in “Entrapment.” Once a douche-bro military guy reduced himself to tears describing Emily Watson in “Breaking the Waves” to me. I’ve seen people hump publicity photos torn from magazines or write love notes to themselves from an actor to hang on their walls. The only other time I’ve experienced a cinema audience clapping a movie scene was for Jennifer Hudson in “Dreamgirls,” but even that was nothing like this. Within “Hit Man” there’s a sequence where Glen Powell is so hot that the audience spontaneously burst into applause. We actually clapped because of how sexually attractive this man is. And we clapped after a scene – keeping in mind Mr. Powell cowrote and coproduced “Hit Man” with director Richard Linklater – in which two of his colleagues (Sanjay Rao and Retta) discussed how badly they want to fuck him. And – I cannot believe I am saying this because of how inappropriate it makes this review sound, but I also cannot tell a lie – even that fails to convey just how unbelievably attractive Mr. Powell is in this movie.

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