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  • Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

    Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

    ★★★½

    Look, if you go to this movie expecting a story, you are making a mistake. What's there is but the briefest of excuses for a plot – the whole gang goes on vacation, Dracula falls in love, blah blah, etc. This movie's whole raison d'être is to show off a literal boatload of delightfully cartoony animation, and in that respect it's a proper success. Genndy Tartakovsky has always been a master of animation timing and key poses, and Hotel Transylvania…

  • Wandering Ginza Butterfly

    Wandering Ginza Butterfly

    ★★★½

    Wandering Ginza Butterfly is a rambling yakuza picture, tonally all over the place (veering between silly and dramatic), that primarily has two things going for it: Meiko Kaji in the lead role as ex-con Nami, and a ferocious, blistering finale, where the swords and squibs come out in style.

    If you want to see Kaji smile(!), this is the movie for you. If you want to see her finally get pushed too far, don a white kimono and hack down…

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  • From Up on Poppy Hill

    From Up on Poppy Hill

    ★★★★

    The world was very unkind to Goro Miyazaki when he took the unexpected leap from landscape architect and museum manager to director in 2006. Tales from Earthsea had its fair share of weaknesses and outright faults, but the yardstick by which the younger Miyazaki was measured and found lacking was downright unfair and cruel. The recent documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi contains a musing from a food critic that's strikingly relevant: 86 year old Jiro is still in charge of…

  • The Hunger Games

    The Hunger Games

    ★★★★

    Essentially Battle Royale for the Twilight crowd, The Hunger Games makes the leap from the pages to the big screen with the majority of the details intact. Sticking so closely to the source material means that the movie also shares the novel's strengths and weaknesses.

    First and foremost, Katniss remains an interesting, reluctant rebel character (Jennifer Lawrence, excellent), while the rest of the cast of characters veer more towards simple archetypes, sometimes wrapped in colorful costumes, sometimes not. The dystopic…