Movie Reviews

Indignation
Starring: Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, Tracy Letts, Linda Edmond, Danny Burstein, Ben Rosenfield, Philip Ettinger, Ben Rosenfield, Sue Dahlman

Indignation

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The Story: A gifted young Jewish student from Newark attends a small liberal arts college in Ohio to escape both his overbearing parents and the Korean War, until the attentions of a beautiful but troubled young woman compromise his plans. The Lowdown: An adaptation of Philip Roth's 2008 novel of the same name, Indignation marks a spotty, but ultimately…
Starring: Oakes Fegley, Bryce Dallas Howard, Oona Laurence, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban

Pete’s Dragon

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The Story: After a car crash kills his parents, a young boy is taken in by a dragon who lives in the wilderness. The Lowdown: A gentle, sweet, family-centric movie that has some small points of interest, but one that's not very exciting as a whole.
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Starring: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Edward Norton, Salma Hayek

Sausage Party

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The Story: An anthropomorphic sausage questions his worldview when evidence emerges that things are not what they seem beyond the supermarket doors. The Lowdown: A passable raunch-com attack on modern kids' films that falls short of full-on hilarity.
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Starring: Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse

Les Diaboliques

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In Brief: Henri-Georges Clouzot is noted as France’s answer to Hitchcock,  but the argument could be made that he was, at times, even better. Along with Wages of Fear and The Inferno, Clouzot’s mastery of morbidity is at least on par with Hitchcock’s darkest corners. Possibly the director’s best known work, Les Diaboliques (1955) is a gripping…
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Starring: Maria Schell, Marcello Mastroianni, Jean Marais

White Nights (La Notte Bianche)

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In Brief: One of Visconti’s best, and historically most underrated films, White Nights marks a turning point in the director’s career. This film can be seen as the transitional point at which the director begins to abandon the constraints of neorealism for a more operatic stylization, and the results are truly remarkable. As well as representing…
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Starring: William Holden, David Niven, Maggie McNamara

The Moon is Blue

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In Brief: More historically notable than actually good, The Moon Is Blue (1953) may be the best evidence in support of the argument that Otto Preminger should have stayed away from romantic comedies. One of the first films to challenge Hollywood’s self-imposed Production Code, The Moon Is Blue was banned by the Legion of Decency on…
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Starring: Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Charles Smith, Glen Cavender

The General

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In Brief: A highlight of Buster Keaton’s canon, The General (1926) is one of the purest examples of what made him such a noteworthy cinematic force. This film has it all, from Keaton’s death-defying stunts to some of the best physical comedy he ever committed to celluloid. This film is Keaton in his maturity as…
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Starring: Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin, Yaphet Kotto, John Ashton, Dennis Farina

Midnight Run

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One of the better — yet probably least remembered — action comedies of the 1980s, Midnight Run (1988) is notable more for the chemistry of its two stars than for its actual script or Martin Brest’s so-so direction. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. Quite a few films are worthwhile for the performance of one…
Girl, you thought he was a man, but he was a Zappa: Frank Zappa speaks from beyond the grave in Eat That Question
Starring: Frank Zappa

Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words

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The Story: Frank Zappa in his own words (as the title would imply), this collection of interviews and performance footage elucidates the musician and composer's thoughts over the course of his 30-year career. The Lowdown: Of interest to more than just die-hard Zappa fanatics, this movie presents a fascinating portrait of an iconoclastic genius.
Starring: Izia Higelin, Cecile De France, Noemie Lvovsky, Kevin Azais, Benjamin Bellecour

Summertime

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The Story: A romance between two women in 1970s Paris is transferred to the French countryside, where the stresses of loyalty and lifestyle take hold. The Lowdown: An intelligent, beautifully acted and scripted story of love and its difficulties.
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Starring: Will Allen, Dimitrius Pulido, Phillipe Coquet, Amy Allen, Cristala Allen, Gina Allen

Holy Hell

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The Story: A young man documents the rise and fall of a cult from the inside. The Lowdown: A difficult film to watch but an important one to see, Holy Hell might not change your views on cults, but it will affect the way you see those that fall under their spell.
Starring: WIll Smith, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jared Leto

Suicide Squad

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The Story: An expendable group of bad guys is gathered by the government as the world's final defense against catastrophe. The Lowdown: A mismatched, cobbled-together superhero movie crippled by a poor script, forced levity and, worst of all, nothing new to add to the superhero genre.
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Starring: Jamie Dornan, Cillian Murphy, Charlotte Le Bon, Anna Geislerová, Toby Jones

Anthropoid

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The Story: Based on the true story of Operation Anthropoid, the assassination of high-ranking Nazi Reinhard Heydrich by Czechoslovakian resistance fighters. The Lowdown: Flawed but worthwhile, Anthropoid is a compelling take on an important subject.
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Starring: Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner, Robbie Amell, Chrisopher Walken, Mark Consuelos, Malina Weissman.

Nine Lives

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The Story: A CEO consumed by his ego and a project to build North America’s tallest skyscraper finds his consciousness trapped in the body of his daughter’s new pet cat. The Lowdown: Nine Lives smartly avoids the easy cat-centric puns, blandly entertaining with actors trading in prestige for quick cash, but the result is not as bad…
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Starring: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson, Nina Arianda

Florence Foster Jenkins

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The Story: Based on the final year in the life of Florence Foster Jenkins, a wealthy heiress and New York socialite widely regarded as one of the worst singers on record. The Lowdown: A light and exceptionally gentle piece of summer counterprogramming, Stephen Frears’ fingerprints find their way onto every frame of film and standout…
Starring: Steve Gleason, Michel Varisco-Gleason, Mike Gleason, Rivers Gleason

Gleason

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The Story: A former NFL player is diagnosed with ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's disease) just before discovering his wife is pregnant with their first child. The Lowdown: An emotionally open picture of a family dealing with a debilitating disease that will be of most interest to people curious about the fight against ALS.
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Starring: Constance Towers, Michael Dante, Anthony Eisley, Virginia Grey

The Naked Kiss

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In Brief: Sam Fuller’s stylish noir masterpiece on the big screen is an opportunity not to be missed. This is one of Fuller’s most brutally cynical films, and that’s saying something, because Fuller has never been known as an optimistic filmmaker.  If the opening sequence in which Constance Towers roughs up her pimp doesn’t hook…
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Starring: William Campbell, Luana Anders, Patrick Magee, Bart Patton, Mary Mitchell

Dementia 13

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In Brief: Francis Ford Coppola’s feature directing debut, Dementia 13 may not be perfect, but it is essential viewing for the horror completist. Cowritten by Coppola with preeminent schlockmeister Jack Hill (Spider Baby, Foxy Brown) and produced by the venerable Roger Corman, this film is arguably the genesis of the slasher sub-genre. Sure, it’s got its problems,…
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Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Cindy Williams, Harrison Ford, Mackenzie Phillips

American Graffiti

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In Brief: I’ve never particularly cared for American Graffiti and have been unable to join in the nostalgic navel-gazing of a generation to which I don’t belong — but I have always at least found American Graffiti a noteworthy member of the pantheon of American cinematic classics. This movie immediately precedes Star Wars in George Lucas’…
LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST, Natascha McElhone, Kenneth Branagh, 2000, (c) Miramax
Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Alicia Silverstone, Natasha McElhone, Matthew Lillard, Nathan Lane

Love’s Labours Lost

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For my money, this is possibly the worst of Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespeare adaptations, which I usually like. This one shifts the setting to the late '30s, because it was 2000 and recontextualizing Shakespeare was the style at the time. This adaptation also trumpeted what passed for an ensemble cast of young actors in those days,…
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Starring: Tim Streeter, Doug Cooeyate, Ray Monge, Nyla McCarthy

Mala Noche

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In Brief: Though not being a general fan of Gus Van Sant, I find this film, Van Sant’s low-budget feature debut, slightly less objectionable than some of his later output, if only for its DIY aesthetic and pseudo-noir feel. At the very least, the director’s frank depiction of homosexuality was certainly ahead of its time,…