Movie Reviews

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Starring: Renée Zellweger, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Gamma Jones, Jim Broadbent

Bridget Jones’ Baby

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The Story: Bridget Jones is back, and this time she's got a baby bump. But who's the dad? The Lowdown: A revisitation of the characters and ideas established 15 years ago in Bridget Jones' Diary, there's nothing particularly new here. For some viewers, this will be enough to warrant the price of admission.
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Starring: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson, Valorie Curry

Blair Witch

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The Story: The brother of one of the documentarians missing since the events of the original The Blair Witch Project recruits several friends to join him on a journey into the woods in which she disappeared. This turns out to be a predictably bad idea. The Lowdown: A pointless followup to a film with few merits beyond being first…
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Starring: Hillsong United

Hillsong: Let Hope Rise

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The Story:  Australia’s “biggest band you never heard of” prepares for a big Christian pop show at The Forum in Los Angeles. The Lowdown: If you like the music of Hillsong United, you are predisposed to enjoy this bland documentary. If not, you still get to hear about it and its ministry.
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Starring: John Krasinski, Margo Martindale, Sharlto Copley, Richard Jenkins, Charlie Day, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anna Kendrick

The Hollars

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The Story: A young man returns home to visit his estranged family when he learns his mother is gravely ill. The Lowdown: A thoroughly unexceptional Sundance wannabe, The Hollars is indicative of the self-indulgent shortcomings of far too many independent dramedies.
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Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam

Monty Python’s Life of Brian

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In Brief: At the risk of starting an argument, I have to confess that Life of Brian is my favorite Monty Python film. It's also one of the most cogent statements on religiosity ever committed to celluloid. Following the exploits of a hapless Judean mistaken for the Messiah, this film skewers the socio-political posturing rampant in first-century…
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Starring: Costa Ekman, Emil Jannings, Camilla Horn, Wilhelm Dieterle

Faust

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In Brief: F. W. Murnau's 1926 interpretation of the classic tale of a pious alchemist who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge, youth and the love of a beautiful young woman, this is possibly the most accurate recounting of the story ever filmed. Murnau draws heavily from Goethe's play, but also from older folktales…
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Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller

The Artist

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In Brief: A great deal of the appeal of The Artist is the pure novelty of the experience. It will probably be a lot of people’s first exposure to any silent film — at least as an entire feature-length movie — and in that respect, I suspect the film’s calculations are very shrewd indeed. Making it…
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Starring: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Delphine Seyrig, Claude Jade, Michel Lonsdale

Stolen Kisses

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In Brief: The third film in François Truffaut's Antoine Doinel series, Stolen Kisses (1968) is probably the best after the original, which none of the sequels topped or even equaled. It's lightweight (a curiously insubstantial affair considering the political and cultural turmoil surrounding its making) and somewhat rambling, but very appealing and still embracing something…
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Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Zachary Quinto, Nicolas Cage, Rhys Ifans, Timothy Olyphant

Snowden

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The Story: Patriotic serviceman-turned-NSA-employee Edward Snowden wrestles with the decision to leak thousands of classified documents to the press when he discovers his government is complicit in questionable cybersurveillance tactics. The Lowdown: Though Joseph Gordon-Levitt initially struggles to find his footing as the lead, he and his excellent supporting cast overcome Oliver Stone's political bent to tell…
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Starring: Gong Yoo, Kim Su-an, Jung Yu-mi, Ma Dong-seok, Kim Eui-sung, Choi Woo-sik, An So-hee

Train to Busan

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The Story: A father's plans to take his young daughter to visit her estranged mother are derailed when a zombie epidemic strikes. The Lowdown: A suspenseful thrill-ride from South Korea that breathes fresh life into the decaying zombie genre.
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Starring: Matthias Schweighöfer, David Howard Thornton, Kaya Yanar, Ilka Bessin

The Wild Life

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The Story: Based on Daniel Defoe's classic Robinson Crusoe, a cartographer is stranded on a deserted island with a motley troupe of animals as his only companions. The Lowdown: A inert, dull and cheap animated film with bad visuals, uninspired voice acting and a mess of a drawn-out plot.
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Starring: Rachel Weisz, Michael Shannon, Kathy Bates, Danny Glover

Complete Unknown

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The Story: As a man contemplates moving to a new state with his wife when an old flame (under a new identity) reenters his life at a birthday dinner party. The Lowdown: A decidedly ponderous film with an intriguing premise, it takes forever to get going and never delivers much beyond that conceit.
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Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Mike O'Malley

Sully

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The Story: An experienced airline pilot averts disaster by making an emergency water landing, only to be confronted by nefarious bureaucrats in search of a scapegoat. The Lowdown: Clint Eastwood's latest fact-based tale of derring-do doesn't disastrously disappoint.
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Starring: Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall, Jaz Sinclair, Romany Malco, Michael K. Williams

When the Bough Breaks

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The Story: A surrogate mother for a couple becomes obsessed with the soon-to-be father and threatens to upset their happy New Orleans home. The Lowdown: Very few surprises or inventive performances make this a tepid TV-movie blown up for the big screen.  
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Starring: Vincent Price Carol Ohmart Richard Long Alan Marshal Carolyn Craig Elisha Cook Jr

House on Haunted Hill

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William Castle's 1959 Vincent Price-vehicle, House on Haunted Hill, may well be my favorite of the director's pictures. It's got the right mix of Castle camp and general creepiness to satisfy the schlock-seekers that Castle catered to, but it also coheres better than many of his other films. It's well constructed, dynamically paced and thoroughly unashamed…
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Starring: Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Theodor Loos, Ellen Widmann

M

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In Brief: Yes, Fritz Lang’s first sound film, M (1931), has a few awkward moments, in which Lang hasn’t quite mastered the new medium, but this old warhorse of art cinema works more than it doesn’t, and still registers as a compelling work by one of the undisputed masters of film. And calling it an old…
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Starring: Robin Williams, Gene Hackman, Nathan Lane, Dianne Wiest, Hank Azaria, Christine Baranski, Calista Flockhart

The Birdcage

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In Brief: A faithful Americanization of La Cage Aux Folles, The Birdcage (1996) may lack some of the outlandish charm of the original, but it doesn't miss the mark by much. Written by Elaine May and directed by Mike Nichols, the reunion of this former standup comedy duo after some 30 years paid significant dividends with this film's…
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Starring: Bruce Spence, Wandjuk Marika, Roy Marika, Roy Barrett, Norman Kaye

Where the Green Ants Dream

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In Brief: Minor Werner Herzog, but make no mistake, Where the Green Ants Dream (1984) is still Herzog, and any movie by cinema's most idiosyncratic — sometimes just short of lunatic — filmmaker is worth at least one look. It's a kind of shaggy tale of the crimes against the Aborigines by the Australian government…
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Starring: Burghart Klaussner, Ronald Zehrfeld, Robert Atzorn, Lilith Stangenberg, Jörg Schüttauf

The People vs. Fritz Bauer

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The Story: German prosecutor Fritz Bauer hunts high-ranking Nazis in defiance of a government that would rather see their crimes forgotten. The Lowdown: One of the most cogent and entertaining films to deal with Nazi ratlines since 1978's The Boys from Brazil, The People vs. Fritz Bauer probably tops that movie in my estimation. Not to be missed.
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Starring: Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard, Tami Sagher

Don’t Think Twice

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The Story: A New York improv comedy troupe is thrown into turmoil when one of its members gets a shot at success. The Lowdown: A poignant take on a perennial problem, Don't Think Twice doesn't shy away from difficult issues like jealousy and existential doubt while still retaining a sly sense of humor.