Movie Reviews

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Starring: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Albert Brooks, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Steve Coogan

The Secret Life of Pets

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The Story: A devoted terrier named Max finds his worldview challenged when his owner adopts a new dog. The Lowdown: While it lacks the polish of Pixar, Illumination Entertainment and Universal Studios’ fifth collaboration is a predictably inoffensive crowd-pleaser. It may not end up on any best-of lists for the year, but it’s entertaining, succinct and far less…
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Starring: Yo-Yo Ma, Kayhan Kalhor, Wu Man, Cristina Pato

The Music of Strangers

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The Story: An examination of life and art through cellist Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble. The Lowdown: A good-hearted and well-meaning documentary that feels a little stiff and flimsy considering its subject matter.
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Starring: Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Sugar Lyn Beard

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

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The Story: Two goofy brothers with a penchant for destruction-causing high jinks are forced into finding dates to their sister's wedding, only to be fooled into taking two hard-partying friends. The Lowdown: A loud, unoriginal comedy that's a forgettable hodgepodge of equally bad movies.
Les Cowboys #4-IMdB
Starring: François Damiens, Finnegan Oldfield, Agathe Dronne, John C. Reilly

Les Cowboys

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The Story: When a young French girl disappears, her father and brother risk everything to find her. The Lowdown: Very loosely based on John Ford’s The Searchers, Les Cowboys explores deep and decidedly timely topics while maintaining a thematic resonance with its source material.
Tickled #1-IMdB
Starring: David Farrier, Dylan Reeve, David Starr, Hal Karp, David D’Amato

Tickled

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The Story: An investigative journalist stumbles across a series of fetishistic internet videos depicting an alleged sport known as “competitive endurance tickling.” As he pursues the story, what he finds is more disturbing and bizarre than could possibly have been expected. The Lowdown: Don’t let the deceptive premise or trailer fool you, Tickled is a…
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Starring: John Stuart, Judy Kelly, Edgar Norfolk, Richard Cooper, Drusilla Wills

The Black Abbot

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A somewhat uninspired comedic take on the standard “old dark house” mystery thriller, The Black Abbot (1934) was produced on the cheap and it shows. Director George A. Cooper attempts to hide his hastily slapped-together sets through creative staging, and tuxedos from the wardrobe department make the cast look like there on their way to…

Friday the Thirteenth

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This is probably not the Friday the Thirteenth you’re thinking of. Victor Saville's 1933 drama offers an ensemble cast in a polished Brit melodrama with a clever premise, in which 12 people cross paths on a doomed bus. The events that lead to their fate unravel in flashbacks following the accident. Director Seville exhibits his…
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Starring: Lizbeth Scott, Don DeFore, Dan Duryea, Arthur Kennedy

Too Late For Tears

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Perhaps better known for his work in science fiction, including the 1953 War of the Worlds and 1964 cult classic Robinson Crusoe on Mars, director Byron Haskins was also responsible for 1949’s Too Late for Tears.  This often overlooked film noir may not have the name recognition of something like Double Indemnity or Out of…
El Chivo #1
Starring: Will Harlan

El Chivo

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A stirring documentary about accomplished “Ultra Runner” Will Harlan, El Chivo explores the motivations and psychology behind long-distance running while providing a compelling character study of a notable local. By capturing candid glimpses of Harlan’s life on his bucolic Barnardsville farm, local filmmaker Rod Murphy goes beyond Harlan’s headline-grabbing victory in the grueling 50-mile Caballo…

Man Bites Dog

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A biting satire, this 1992 Franco-Belgian Cannes darling may have been too dark for mass appeal. That said, it’s humor is undeniable, and its commitment to its low-budget pseudo-verite aesthetic is commendable. A serial killer waxes philosophic about his work while the film crew following his exploits becomes increasingly complicit in his crimes. Hijinks ensue.…
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Starring: Peter Ustinov, Maggie Smith, James Mason, Diana Rigg, Sylvia Miles, Roddy McDowell

Evil Under the Sun

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In Brief: Arguably Agatha Christie’s most well-known character, Hercule Poirot is something of a known quantity in most corners. However, those primarily familiar with David Suchet’s 24-year run playing the Belgian detective, or Albert Finney’s portrayal (possibly the best Poirot ever) in Sidney Lumet’s 1974 Murder on the Orient Express, will find plenty to enjoy…
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Starring: Ruby Barnhill, Mark Rylance, Penelope Wilton, Jemaine Clement, Rebecca Hall

The BFG

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The Story: A young girl is whisked away to a magical land by a big, friendly giant. The Lowdown: A generally kindhearted and sweet-natured adventure film that could use a bit more whimsy and a shorter runtime.
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Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Christoph Waltz, Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou

The Legend of Tarzan

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The Story: Tarzan, supposed King of the Jungle turned aristocrat, returns to Africa only to find himself and his wife lured into a deadly trap. The Lowdown: A mature and stylish adventure film that suffers from being a bit too straight-faced and an inability to match its tone to its pulpy source.
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Starring: Bela Lugosi,Luana Walters, Tristram Coffin, Elizabeth Russell, Minerva Urcal, Angelo Rossitto

The Corpse Vanishes

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In Brief: Wallace Fox’s The Corpse Vanishes (1942) is the fourth of Lugosi’s Monogram Nine — and if nothing else, it’s hands down the nastiest of the lot. (It’s only competition is the same year’s Bowery at Midnight, which was also made by Mr. Fox.) Here we find Lugosi as Dr. Lorenz — mad scientist…
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Starring: Brian De Palma

De Palma

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The Story: A comprehensive retrospective of director Brian De Palma’s 50-year career in film, as recounted by De Palma himself. The Lowdown: More love letter than bio-doc, De Palma is required viewing for both devoted fans of the filmmaker’s work and anyone interested in the last half-century of film history.
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Starring: Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward Arnold, Walter Brennan, James Gleason

Meet John Doe

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The great Frank Capra’s most ambitious and disturbing film, Meet John Doe is possibly more relevant today than when it first appeared in 1941. The idea of a completely media-fabricated celebrity — raised almost to the level of deity and used as a tool for political gain — probably seemed pretty fantastic then. Of all…
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Starring: Elizabeth Mitchell, Frank Grillo, Betty Gabriel, Mykelti Williamson, Joseph Julian Soria, Edwin Hodge

The Purge: Election Year

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The Story: The premise from the first two installments of the Purge franchise — that all crime is permitted for a 12-hour period each year — remains unchanged, only the context is different. This time … it’s political! The Lowdown: Yet another disposable horror film courtesy of Blumhouse. If you enjoyed the first two films,…
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Starring: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Swiss Army Man

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The Story: A man stranded on a desert island has lost the desire to live until a corpse washes ashore and provides him with the tools he needs to survive and, most importantly, the will to do so. The Lowdown: One of the damnedest things I’ve ever seen, Swiss Army Man is a surprisingly warm-hearted and…
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Starring: Louis Hayward, Lee Bowman, Jane Wyatt, Dorothy Patrick, Ann Shoemaker, Jody Gilbert

House by the River

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In Brief: One of Fritz Lang's lesser-known films, House by the River (1950) was in fact often referred to as a "lost film." The fact seems to have been more prosaic than that. There was simply no interest in it because it was considered to be physically too dark to be watched on TV, especially…
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Starring: Glenda Jackson, Stratford Johns, Imogen Millais-Scott, Nickolas Grace, Douglas Hodge

Salome’s Last Dance

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In Brief: At an early point in Ken Russell’s Salome’s Last Dance (1988), Oscar Wilde (Nickolas Grace) is surprised to see an amateur production of his banned play Salome interrupted by a photographer taking a flash picture of the proceedings. The photographer is none other than Russell himself, who is playing a visiting dignitary in the show, prompting Wilde…
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Starring: Dick Purcell, Joan Woodbury, Mantan Moreland, Henry Victor, John Archer, Madame Sul-Te-Wan

King of the Zombies

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In Brief: The story goes that King of the Zombies was written and designed with Bela Lugosi in mind for the villainous Dr. Sangre. It certainly has all the earmarks of a Lugosi role — a creepy foreigner with a zombie-like wife (Patricia Stacey), a sinister, isolated castle, equally sinister servants and a small squad of zombies. Instead,…