Movie Reviews

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Starring: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Tadanobu Asano, Ciarán Hinds, Issey Ogata, Shinya Tsukamoto, Yoshi Oida, Yosukey Kubozuka, Liam Neeson.

Silence

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The Story: A pair of Jesuit priests seek out their mentor, a missionary who has gone missing amidst the persecution of Christians in 17th century Japan. The Lowdown: Scorsese's passion project, nearly 25 years in the making, strikes a delicate balance between faith and doubt that will resonate with believers and skeptics alike.
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Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Anne Consigny, Charles Berling, Judith Magre

Elle

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The Story: The head of a video game company is raped by a masked assailant, only to develop a bizarre relationship with her attacker in her quest to uncover his identity. The Lowdown: Paul Verhoeven delivers a blend of black satire and twisted sexual psychology that will leave audiences head-scratching long after the credits roll — but everyone will…
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Starring: Ben Affleck, Zoë Saldana, Chris Messina, Elle Fanning, Matthew Maher, Brendan Gleeson, Sienna Miller, Chris Cooper, Anthony Michael Hall

Live by Night

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The Story: A holdup man leaves Boston for greener pastures and a shot at revenge in prohibition-era Florida, but things don't go according to plan. The Lowdown: Ben Affleck's latest efforts as writer-director-producer-star yield interesting results that don't quite live up to their potential but also don't justify the critical derision they've thus far received.
Starring: Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Barry Pepper, Thomas Lennon, Rob Lowe

Monster Trucks

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The Story: A teenager comes across a new species of animal — one that drinks oil and can hide inside the body of a truck and power it — and the duo sets off to stop an evil oil company. The Lowdown: A fun, likable little movie in spite of (or maybe because of) its ridiculous premise.
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Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Beach, Christopher O'Shea, Rachel Brosnahan, Jake Picking, Themo Melikidze, Alex Wolff, Melissa Benoist

Patriot’s Day

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The Story: When improvised explosives were detonated at the 2013 Boston Marathon, the people of the city banded together in a valiant effort to apprehend those responsible and reclaim their city from the shadow of terrorism. The Lowdown: An exploitative exercise in emotional manipulation that occludes an important and uplifting story with unnecessary genre cliches.
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Starring: Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, T.I., Dermot Mulroney, Gabrielle Union, Scoot McNairy,

Sleepless

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The Story: A cop entangled in departmental corruption must rescue his teenage son from gangsters after a drug theft goes south. The Lowdown: A mindless diversion that packs every mob-movie cliche possible into 90 minutes, Sleepless isn't great — but I doubt it was ever meant to be.
Starring: Douglas Smith, Cressida Bonas, Lucien Laviscount, Doug Jones, Michael Trucco

The Bye Bye Man

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The Story: A college student accidentally awakens a forgotten evil, one that wants to play tricks with its victims' minds. The Lowdown: A boring, unoriginal horror concept that can't overcome its amateurish cast, lack of budget or total lack of verve.
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Starring: Michael Greer, Marianna Hill, Joy Bang, Anitra Ford, Royal Dano, Elisha Cook Jr.

Messiah of Evil

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In Brief: Have you ever wondered what would happen if the husband-and-wife screenwriting team that penned the scripts for American Graffiti, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Howard the Duck decided to co-write, produce and direct a movie about cannibalistic ghoul vampires inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and George Romero? Well they did, and the THPS…
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Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Kyoko Kagawa, Tatsuya Mihashi, Isao Kimura

High and Low

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In Brief: For his 1963 suspense film High and Low, Akira Kurosawa seems to have been actually trying to draw the wrath of those who find his work too “Western” by choosing the Ed McBain novel King’s Ransom for his source material. What could possibly be more Western — indeed, more downright American — than a…
FAREWELL, MY LOVELY, Robert Mitchum, 1975. ©Avco Embassy/courtesy Everett Collection
Starring: Robert Mitchum, Charlotte Rampling, John Ireland, Sylvia Miles, Jack O'Halloran, Anthony Zerbe

Farewell, My Lovely

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In Brief: One of my favorite Robert Mitchum performances and one of the best ever portrayals of Raymond Chandler's character Philip Marlowe, Dick Richards' 1973 Farewell, My Lovely holds its own against the best nostalgia noir of the '70s, Chinatown included. Marlowe is the role Mitchum was born to play, and even in his late fifties he fits…
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Starring: René Clair, Francis Picabia, Erik Satie, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Jean Borlin, Georges Auric

Entr’acte/Man With a Movie Camera

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In Brief: Those who enjoyed the AFS' Surrealist triple-feature are in for a real treat this week when we show two of the greatest experimental films ever made. First up, we have René Clair's 1924 classic celebration of Dada and dance, Entr'acte — featuring the dancers of the Ballets Suédois, music composed by Erik Satie and cameos from Satie, Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp.…
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Starring: Thomas Meighan, Doris Kenyon

Conquest of Canaan

In Brief: For more information about Conquest of Canaan read this week's cover story. The Grail Moviehouse will screen Conquest of Canaan on Sunday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available now for $15 at the Grail's website.
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Starring: Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver,Toby Kebbell, Ben Moor, James Melville, Oliver Steer, Dominic Boyle, Jennifer Lim, Geraldine Chaplin

A Monster Calls

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The Story: A young boy learns to confront the fear and anger inspired by his mother's illness with the help of a magical tree monster. The Lowdown: A deeply meaningful film that will struggle to find an audience due to its weighty subject matter, its bold aesthetic and narrative conceits warrant consideration in spite of its difficult themes.
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Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Mahershala Ali, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Kimberly Quinn.

Hidden Figures

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The Story: Three African-American women working at NASA in the sixties make an indelible contribution to the space race in spite of overwhelming institutional opposition. The Lowdown: Uncomplicated and uplifting while avoiding divisive social commentary, Hidden Figures plays things safe to generally favorable results.
Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Andre Marcon, Roman Kolinka, Edith Scob

Things to Come

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The Story: A philosophy teacher suddenly finds herself amidst a slew of life changes. The Lowdown: Though propped up by a strong Isabelle Huppert performance, the film doesn't offer more than character study.
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Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Tobias Menzies, Lara Pulver, Charles Dance, James Faulkner, Peter Andersson, Clementine Nicholson, Bradley James, Daisy Head, Oliver Stark

Underworld: Blood Wars

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The Story: A long-running war between vampires and werewolves continues, as a high-ranking vampiric hit-woman finds her estranged daughter at the heart of the conflict. The Lowdown: The Underworld saga continues — despite being a bit long in the tooth — with this tepid and uninspired fifth installment.
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Starring: Lon Chaney Jr., Carol Ohmart, Quinn K. Redeker, Beverly Washburn, Jill Banner, Sid Haig

Spider Baby, or the Maddest Story Ever Told

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In Brief: Despite its full title, Spider Baby (1968) probably isn't the maddest story ever told, but it's in the running — at least as schlock exploitation film is concerned. Enjoyably trashy and occasionally downright amateurish, it's the fairly silly story of a house full of folks suffering from some inexplicable form of mental degeneration that turns…
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Starring: Charles Aznavour, Marie Dubois, Nicole Berger, Michèle Mercier, Serge Davri

Shoot the Piano Player

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In Brief: François Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player (1960) is one of those celebrated films that I had somehow just never seen till this weekend. Oh, I’d seen clips and knew a little about it — and I’d suspected that the phony gangster-movie opening of Ken Russell’s 1966 TV film on composer Georges Delerue, Don’t…
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Starring: Stéphane Audran, Bodil Kjer, Birgitte Federspiel, Jarl Kulle, Jean-Philippe Lafont, Achille Papin,Bibi Andersson

Babette’s Feast

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In Brief: While it's not exactly to my taste (pun intended), I can certainly appreciate why Danish writer-director Gabriel Axel's Babette's Feast took home the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1988. Axel's adaptation of, Isak Dinesen's story (Dinesen being a pseudonym for Karen Blixen) of a French refugee confronted with the Puritanical strictures of her involuntarily adopted Danish community is replete with…
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Starring: Carole Lombard, Fredric March, Walter Connolly, Charles Winninger, Sig Ruman

Nothing Sacred

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In Brief: William A. Wellman’s very aptly titled Nothing Sacred (1937) begins with a series of titles informing us, “This is New York, skyscraper champion of world, where the slickers and know-it-alls peddle gold bricks to each other, and where truth, crushed to earth, rises again more phony than a glass eye.” That effectively captures the…
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Starring: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, Nicole Kidman, Abhishek Bharate, Divian Ladwa, Priyanka Bose, Deepti Naval, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sunny Pawar.

Lion

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The Story: A young Indian man raised in Australia uses the internet to track down the family he lost early in his youth. The Lowdown: A proficient — if occasionally underwhelming — story of one man's triumph over adversity, with an uplifting ending that narrowly avoids cloying sentimentality.