Movie Reviews

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Starring: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Dylan McKiernan, Briana Shann, Kate Rutter, Sharon Percy, Kema Sikazwe

I, Daniel Blake

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The Story: An aging British carpenter must navigate a never-ending maze of ludicrous obstruction when a heart attack forces him to turn to his nation's failing social safety net for survival. The Lowdown: A tragi-comic humanist parable that aptly demonstrates director Ken Loach's continuing capacity to devastate audiences with a smile on his face.
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Starring: Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Chloë Sevigny, Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker, David Warshofsky, John Early

Beatriz at Dinner

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The Story: A sensitive massage therapist confronts racism, class warfare and a man who represents the imperialistic capitalism that destroyed her native Mexican village when she's stranded at a client's business dinner. The Lowdown: Despite a bleak worldview and half-baked climax, Salma Hayek's performance alone deserves your attention.
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Starring: (voices) Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Nathan Fillion, Larry the Cable Guy

Cars 3

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The Story: While quickly being pushed out of racing by a younger, faster generation of cars, Lightning McQueen looks for one last shot at glory. The Lowdown: A serviceable animated film that gets some things right but is never the type of movie to get excited about.
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Starring: Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay, Sarah Silverman, Dean Norris, Lee Pace, Maddie Ziegler, Tonya Pinkins, Bobby Moynihan

The Book of Henry

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The Story: A gifted 11-year-old struggles to support his single mother and younger brother until the discovery of a classmate's abuse at the hands of her stepfather gives him a larger problem to solve. The Lowdown: It's the brilliant-tween-dramedy-cancer-molestation-murder-thriller you never knew you needed (because you probably don't).
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Starring: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine

47 Meters Down

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The Story: Two sisters vacationing in Mexico get trapped on the ocean floor, where they struggle to keep calm, conserve oxygen and fend off the sharks they thought would make for some cool photo souvenirs. The Lowdown: A decent little indie thriller with some tense moments, good scares and appropriately claustrophobic cinematography that make it…
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Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, Kate McKinnon, Zoë Kravitz, Paul W. Downs, Ryan Cooper, Ty Burrell, Demi Moore

Rough Night

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The Story: A political candidate attends an ill-advised bachelorette party at the behest of her college BFFs, but things go predictably awry. The Lowdown: A great cast is hamstrung by a weak script and derivative premise, and the jokes that land never make up for the film's lack unwillingness to take risks.
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Starring: Diane Lane, Arnaud Viard, Alec Baldwin, Elise Tielrooy

Paris Can Wait

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The Story: The underappreciated wife of a busy movie producer takes an impromptu road trip with a decadent Frenchman. The Lowdown: A generally pointless, meandering attempt at an adult romantic drama, with no romance, no chemistry and no real plot.
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Starring: Demetrius Shipp Jr., Danai Gurira, Kat Graham, Hill Harper, Jamal Woolard, Dominic L. Santana

All Eyez On Me

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The Story: The life of slain gangsta rapper Tupac Shakur, from his early days in Brooklyn and Oakland to his meteoric rise and eventual murder. The Lowdown: A worst-case scenario of a biopic, the film tells us almost nothing about its subject, showing us what happened without ever giving us a reason to care.
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Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel, Michel Piccoli, Genevieve Page, Pierre Clementi

Belle de Jour

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In Brief: That most playful of surrealists Luis Buñuel had one of his greatest successes with his 1967 essay in erotica Belle de Jour — in part, I suspect, because it is one of his least overtly surreal works (which may make it all the more surreal). But more, it was — and is — promoted…
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Starring: Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Trevor Morgan, Ellary Potterfield

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

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In Brief: One of the more perplexing mysteries of modern studio practices is just why Dreamworks Pictures abandoned The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, a 2005 release that played on a mere handful of screens to mixed (though often glowing) reviews. It boasted a box-office draw in both star Julianne Moore and its popular literary source…
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Starring: Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbra Bel Gedes, Tom Helmore

Vertigo

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In Brief: I'm going to make a potentially controversial statement here, but before you jump in the comment pool to argue with me, be forewarned that I'm prepared to defend this assertion: Vertigo is the best film Alfred Hitchcock ever made. As I was programming this month's AFS Big Screen Budget presentation, I was shocked to find that…
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Starring: Bruce Weber, William McDonald, Margalit Fox, William Grimes, Jack Kadden

Obit

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The Story: A look inside the world of The New York Times obituary writers. The Lowdown: An interesting behind-the-scenes view into a fascinating, complicated aspect of journalism that's often ignored.
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Starring: Kate Mara, Ramón Rodríguez, Tom Felton, Bradley Whitford, Will Patton, Sam Keeley, Common, Edie Falco

Megan Leavey

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The Story: A shiftless shirker joins the Marines and finds her calling as a trainer working with explosive detection dogs, but her attempts to adopt the dog that saved her life are met with callous disregard and bureaucratic ineptitude. The Lowdown: A heartwarming true story tragically underserved by a fatally flawed script.
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Starring: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Russell Crowe, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Simon Atherton, Stephen Thompson

The Mummy

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The Story: An Egyptian tomb unearthed by looters in Mesopotamia unleashes a 5,000-year-old mummified princess hellbent on revenge. The Lowdown: Naysayers not withstanding, The Mummy" is a serviceable slice of summer schlock spectacle.
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Starring: Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Holliday Grainger, Iain Glen

My Cousin Rachel

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The Story: An heir to a family fortune seeks revenge against the woman who may have killed the man who raised him, but falling in love with her makes it all the more complicated. The Lowdown: Rachel Weisz does her best to bring some life to the proceedings, but the material, sadly, is no match…
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Starring: Anna Karina, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Claude Brialy, Suzanne, Jeanne Moreau, Ernest Menzer

A Woman is a Woman (Une Femme est une Femme)

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In Brief: Godard's second feature is definitely second-tier, failing to live up to its predecessor, 1960's Breathless, but not entirely devoid of appeal. Although billed as the director's love letter to Hollywood musicals, the film is not a musical at all, and its connections to the genre are tenuous at best. Most of the stylistic quirks and…
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Starring: Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes, Adolphe Menjou, Mary Philips, Jack LaRue, Blanche Frederici

A Farewell to Arms

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In Brief: I've never had much luck with director Frank Borzage's particular brand of melodrama, so it's a bit surprising that I like his 1932 adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's 1929 novel A Farewell to Arms as much as I do. Hemingway himself was notoriously disdainful of cinematic adaptations of his work (Arms was no exception), and he was just…
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Starring: Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Christopher Abbott, Riley Keough

It Comes at Night

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The Story: A father struggles to protect his family in the wake of a mysterious plague that seems to have decimated humanity. The Lowdown: A thinking man's survivalist thriller that, despite its B-movie genre trappings, is more Cormac McCarthy than Roger Corman.
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Starring: Kevin Hart, Thomas Middleditch, Ed Helms, Nick Kroll, Jordan Peele, Kristen Schaal

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

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The Story: Dav Pilkey's book series gets its first big-screen adaptation as a pair of elementary school friends hypnotize their principal, turning him into their very own superhero, Captain Underpants. The Lowdown: This Dreamworks Animation production is mercifully aimed only at the kids in the audience and revels in its own universe of scatological stupidity.
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Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, Ewen Bremner, Lucy Davis, Saïd Taghmaoui, Eugene Brave Rock, Lilly Aspell

Wonder Woman

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The Story: A princess from a race of mythical warrior women must kill the god of war to bring an end to World War I. The Lowdown: The long-awaited advent of the female-driven superhero movie is finally here, and it's the best thing to come out of the DCU thus far — but a heavily padded running…
Quiz Show (1994)Directed by Robert RedfordShown: Ralph Fiennes
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, John Turturro, Rob Morrow, Paul Scofield, Mira Sorvino, Hank Azaria

Quiz Show

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In Brief: In the age of Russian election tampering and WikiLeaks, the quiz show corruption at the heart of Robert Redford's 1994 Best Picture nominee seems almost quaint. At the time, Quiz Show was a scathing indictment of the dark underbelly of the entertainment industry, a valid proxy for 1950s American capitalism writ large. While excellent performances from John…