Movie Reviews

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Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Michael Buscemi, Harry Belafonte, Alec Baldwin

BlackKklansman

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The Story: A black detective cons his way into the good graces of the KKK with the help of a white frontman, dealing a devastating blow to the white supremacist terror organization. The Lowdown: Spike Lee's best film in years is potentially his most cogent commentary on contemporary race relations, striking both a delicate balance between comedy and drama…
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Starring: Vanessa Hudgins, Nina Dobrev, Finn Wolfhard, Adam Pally, Eva Longoria

Dog Days

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The Story: A number of people are brought together by their mutual love of dogs. The Lowdown: Well-meaning, yet fatally overlong, boundlessly cutesy and full of goofy humor that makes for a film that never meshes as a whole piece.
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Starring: Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, Annalise Basso

Slender Man

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The Story: The Slender Man, summoned from an internet video, abducts and possesses a group of high school friends, forcing them to make a sacrifice that will send him back to the internet. The Lowdown: I actually have no idea what this movie was supposed to be about, but Eighth Grade, Skate Kitchen, and BlacKkKlansman…
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Starring: Daniel Auteil, Juliette Binoche, Maurice Benjou, Annie Girardot

Caché

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In Brief: Judging by the reviews I’ve read for Caché, I am supposed to be blown away by its myriad profundities, its mastery of film, its ability to create tension and so on. I’m not. I’m also supposed to have been shocked — shocked — by a scene of brutal daring unlike anything ever encountered in…
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Starring: Marlene Dietrich, John Lodge, Sam Jaffe, Louise Dresser

The Scarlet Empress

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In Brief: Josef von Sternberg belongs in the very top ranks of any list of the greatest filmmakers of all time — and nowhere is this more apparent than in his self-described “relentless excursion into style,” The Scarlet Empress. Bearing the improbable credit that the film is “based on a diary of Catherine II” that was…
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Starring: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan, Luke Prael, Catherine Oliviere

Eighth Grade

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The Story: In her last days of eighth grade, a quiet wallflower grapples with anxiety and insecurity. The Lowdown: An impressive debut from writer/director Bo Burnham that packs a surprisingly big heart and a wickedly sardonic wit into classic adolescent cringe-comedy format.
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Starring: Ryûichi Sakamoto

Ryûichi Sakamoto: Coda

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The Story: Japanese composer and activist Ryûichi Sakamoto lives through his music even as throat cancer threatens to terminate his career prematurely. The Lowdown: Documentarian Stephen Nomura Schible presents a compelling portrait of Sakamoto that favors evocative imagery at the expense of biographical detail.
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Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Toby Jones, Peter Capaldi

Christopher Robin

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The Story: An adult Christopher Robin tries to reconnect with his wife and young daughter — as well as his inner child — with the help of his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood. The Lowdown: Either an incredibly tepid and ill-considered case of nostalgia exploitation or a fascinating glimpse into Christopher Robin's psychotic break. Probably the…
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Starring: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan, Gillian Anderson

The Spy Who Dumped Me

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The Story: Two ordinary friends find themselves entangled in a plot of dangerous, violent international espionage. The Lowdown: While offering some good lead performances and an interesting examination of female friendship, the movie as a whole is simply too mired in cliches to be memorable.
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Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Harris Dickinson, Skylan Brooks, Miya Cech

The Darkest Minds

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The Story: In the wake of a mysterious epidemic that killed most of the planet's children, the surviving teens must now hide their emerging superpowers before the government hunts them down. The Lowdown: Bare-bones X-Men facsimile combines all the worst elements of recent young adult fantasy franchises.
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Starring: (voices) Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Jason Marsden, Susan Egan, David Ogden Stiers

Spirited Away

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In Brief: I go back and forth between Spirited Away (2001) and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) as to which is my favorite Hayao Miyazaki film. At the moment, I’m leaning toward Spirited Away — perhaps because I just saw it. The film’s story line is fairly complex, especially when you figure that it’s mostly there to hang the…
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Starring: Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner, Rita Moreno, Martin Benson, Terry Saunders, Rex Thompson

The King and I

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In Brief: My disdain for musicals is well-documented, and I would count Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals particularly high on the list of my most objectionable experiences in that arena. Still, even I can't deny that The King and I (1956) is a classic. Sure, the score is overblown, Ernest Lehman's script doesn't measure up to his work on…
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Starring: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Angela Bassett

Mission: Impossible — Fallout

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The Story: Impossible Mission Force agent Ethan Hunt must recover stolen plutonium before a shadowy organization of religiously inclined terrorists use it to detonate a nuclear weapon for some reason or another. The Lowdown: Brazen spectacle for its own sake, mindless entertainment that overstays its welcome but never fully disappoints.
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Starring: Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones

Blindspotting

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The Story: A black man in his last days of probation tries to stay out of trouble with the law, even as his white ne'er-do-well best friend and a racially motivated police shooting threaten to draw him back in. The Lowdown: An impressive —  if occasionally imperfect —  film that aptly explores hot-button social issues while struggling to balance…
Film Review - Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
Starring: Scott Menville, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Greg Cipes, Hynden Walch, Will Arnett, Kristen Bell, Nicolas Cage, Halsey, Jimmy Kimmel

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

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The Story: Robin, tired of being viewed as nothing more than Batman's sidekick, enlists his fellow Teen Titans to help him prove his heroism in the hopes of landing a movie deal. The Lowdown: Alternately funny and exhausting, this musical superhero satire will appeal to bored children, die-hard fans of the titular DC comics or the shows they…
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Starring: Marina Esteve, Pol Cardona, Susana Abaitua

Compulsión

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In Brief: The winning feature from this year's 24th annual Twin Rivers Media Fest is a real showstopper, a twisty little psychological horror-thriller that grabs the audience by the throat and never lets go. Spanish writer/director Ángel González's Compulsión is a tense, tightly wound story of a woman who suspects her live-in boyfriend of cheating but discovers he's…
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Starring: Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, John Castle, Nigel Terry

The Lion in Winter

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In Brief: The Lion in Winter may not be a great movie, but as an historical romp that affords the chance of seeing two champion scene-stealers — Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn — go at each other, it's undeniably entertaining. This tale of three sons and their strong-willed mother attempting to force Henry II into…
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Starring: Bobby Shafran, David Kellman, Lawrence Wright

Three Identical Strangers

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The Story: Triplets separated at birth rediscover each other  — and unearth a shocking secret about the circumstances of their respective adoptions. The Lowdown: An absolutely astounding story that deserves a better documentary treatment than it receives.
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Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black, Udo Kier, Carrie Brownstein, Kim Gordon

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot

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The Story: An alcoholic finds sobriety and a new lease on life after a drunken car crash renders him paralyzed, leaving him to find the humor in his plight through cartooning. The Lowdown: An engaging story with strong performances, shortchanged by aesthetic and narrative missteps from writer/director Gus Van Sant.
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Starring: Colin Woodell, Stephanie Nogueras, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Betty Gabriel, Douglas Tait

Unfriended: Dark Web

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The Story: A group of friends discovers that their friend's new laptop is linked to the dark web, while a shadowy group watches their every move. The Lowdown: A lean and mean thriller that works more often than not, but nonetheless falls victim to its own conceit.