Movie Reviews

Starring: Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Jörgen Thorsson, Ann Petren, Sten Ljunggren

Border (Gräns)

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The Story: A border guard with an unusual talent for literally sniffing out people's secrets encounters a strange man who forces her to question her identity. The Lowdown: An often grotesque little film that bites off more than it can chew thematically, but one that bears a strange sense of metaphorical resonance and sly capacity to challenge assumptions.
Starring: Maria Callas, Joyce DiDonato, Fanny Ardant

Maria by Callas

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The Story: A biographical sketch of esteemed opera singer Maria Callas, told entirely through her own perspective. The Lowdown: Reverential but seldom revelatory, director Tom Volf's doting doc showcases Callas' prodigious talent while skimping on context.
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Ed Oxenbould, Bill Camp, Jake Gyllenhaal

Wildlife

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The Story: A teen in 1960 Montana is forced into maturity far too soon when his father loses his job, leaving the boy and his mother to an uncertain fate. The Lowdown: Uncompromising emotional realism bolstered by a strong central cast lends Paul Dano's directorial debut a level of dramatic weight uncommon in small films about big themes.
Starring: Shay Mitchell, Grey Damon, Kirby Johnson, Stana Katic, Max McNamara, Nick Thune, Louis Herthum, Jacob Ming-Trent

The Possession of Hannah Grace

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The Story: When an ex-cop with PTSD takes on the night shift at the local morgue, she gets more than she bargained for in the form of a demonically possessed corpse. The Lowdown: A trash exploitation film with no grace in its possession. But hey, at least it's not a Christmas movie.
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Sebastian Maniscalco, Dimiter D. Marinov

Green Book

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The Story: A black, homosexual pianist from New York hires a racist Italian-American enforcer to safeguard him on a concert tour through the ’60s segregation-era South. The Lowdown: A surprisingly affective drama from comedic director Peter Farrelly that, despite its best intentions, still manages to elide much of the ugliness of its subject matter.
Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill

Ralph Breaks the Internet

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The Story: When a player breaks the steering wheel on the "Sugar Rush" arcade cabinet, video game bffs Wreck-it Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz set out through a newly installed Wi-Fi router to find a replacement on the internet. The Lowdown: Eye candy that's roughly as good for you as its mouth-candy equivalent.
Starring: Michel B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Wood Harris, Florian Munteanu, Dolph Lundgren

Creed II

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The Story: Newly minted heavyweight boxing champ Adonis Creed accepts a grudge match against the son of the man who beat his father to death in the ring, which ends disastrously until it very predictably doesn't. The Lowdown: A tepid sequel to an interesting reboot that sets a franchise on course to repeat the sins of its fathers.
Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Eve Hewson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jamie Dornan

Robin Hood

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The Story: Robin of Loxley returns from the Crusades to find his home destroyed and his wife gone, which sends him down the road of becoming the legendary thief Robin Hood. The Lowdown: An occasionally curious and ambitious take on Robin Hood that's unfortunately silly and overblown.
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, Mamoudou Athie, J.K. Simmons, Sara Paxton

The Front Runner

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The Story: Gary Hart's bid for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination is undone by a sex scandal. The Lowdown: Not an exposé,  political statement or even really a biopic, it's a film with nothing to say about a man who didn't want to be known.
Starring: Aamir Khan, Darsheel Safary, Vipin Sharma, Tisca Chopra

Like Stars on Earth (Taare Zameen Par)

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In Brief: Bollywood-star-turned-director Aamir Khan and writer Amole Gupte may not exactly be household names in Western North Carolina, and while Khan's debut behind the camera for Like Stars on Earth (2007) may not be likely to remedy that state of affairs, there's still plenty about this teacher/student musical that should appeal to local audiences. A…
Starring: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Joel Edgerton, Xavier Dolan

Boy Erased

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The Story: A young man is entered into gay conversion therapy by his religious parents. The Lowdown: A morally nuanced and gently humane film with an expert cast.
Starring: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell

Widows

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The Story: When their husbands rob the wrong people and wind up dead, their widows bands together to pull off a daring heist. The Lowdown: A compellingly gritty thriller that tweaks genre conventions in some interesting ways, even as it finds itself weighed down by extraneous plot threads.
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Jamie Dornan, Tom Hollander, Stanley Tucci, Faye Marsay, Nikki Amuka-Bird

A Private War

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The Story: Globetrotting war correspondent Marie Colvin risks her life, time and again, to report on the world's most dangerous conflicts. The Lowdown: An uneven film about an extraordinary subject, elevated by a dynamic performance from star Rosamund Pike.
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner, Gustavo Quiroz, Julianna Gamiz

Instant Family

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The Story: A couple become foster parents to a trio of siblings, broadening their understanding of what it takes to be a family. The Lowdown: A kindhearted but thoughtless film that contains some troubling metaphors and doubles as a huge PR stunt for National CASA, an organization that would have been better served by simply throwing…
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoë Kravitz, Jude Law, Johnny Depp

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

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The Story: Newt Scamander returns, confronted by a new threat to the Wizarding World in the form of Hitlerian magus Gellert Grindelwald. The Lowdown: A tepid sequel to an unnecessary prequel that accomplishes nothing more than keeping the Harry Potter money press running for another cycle.
Starring: Yves Montand, Irene Pappas, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Jacques Perrin, Charles Denner

Z

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In Brief: Costa-Gavras’ Z (1969) was undoubtedly the first overtly political film I ever saw, and I’m sure that at the age of 15, I actually understood very little of it. What I did understand and respond to was the film’s in-your-face attitude — daring to announce its leftist political agenda with a special credit, “Any similarity…
Starring: Bradford Dillman, Dolores Hart, Stuart Whitman, Pedro Armendáriz, Finlay Currie

Francis of Assisi

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In Brief: Director Michael Curtiz has 178 titles to his credit (according to IMDb), so he can be forgiven if some of them are less impressive than others. While 1961's Francis of Assisi certainly falls into the category of lesser Curtiz, it's not exactly bad so much as it is uninspired. This biopic covering the life of Francis…
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells, Jane Curtin, Anna Deavere Smith, Stephen Spinella, Ben Falcone

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

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The Story: Based on the true story of Lee Israel, a washed-up boozehound of an author in 1980s New York who turned to forging letters from literary notables when her latest book failed to attract a publisher. The Lowdown: For a story all about lies, this is a film with an exceptional degree of emotional honesty.
Starring: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Pilou Asbaek, Mathilde Ollivier, John Magaro, Iain De Caestecker, Gianny Taufer

Overlord

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The Story: Trapped behind enemy lines hours before the D-Day invasion, a small unit of American soldiers tasked with a dangerous mission stumbles onto a nefarious Nazi plot in a small French village. The Lowdown: Old-school horror that makes the most of its minuscule budget.
Starring: Steve Carell, Timothee Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan, Stefanie Scott

Beautiful Boy

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The Story: A father struggles with his son's unexpected addiction to drugs and a seemingly impossible recovery. The Lowdown: While there are some interesting stylistic flourishes here, a lack of an emotional linchpin, uneventful performances and a narrow view of addiction keep the movie from being something more impressive.
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Pharrell Williams, Cameron Seely

The Grinch

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The Story: The Grinch who stole Christmas is back on the scene, prowling and scowling on big silver screens. The Lowdown: While it's beautiful, bouncy and bright, the book or the short are your best bets tonight.