Movie Reviews

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Starring: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson, Saniyya Sidney

Fences

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The Story: A bitter man tortured by thwarted ambitions and crushing responsibilities slowly alienates everyone he loves against a backdrop of the African-American experience in 1950s Pittsburgh. The Lowdown: A distinctly theatrical adaptation of the classic August Wilson play showcases Denzel Washington and Viola Davis' remarkable talents as thespians while adhering just a little too closely to its…
Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Rosemarie Dewitt, John Legend, J.K. Simmons

La La Land

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The Story: Two dreamers with goals of making it in LA become entangled, struggling to make their dreams come true on their own terms. The Lowdown: With engaging leads, the film mostly works, faltering when its main selling point (the musical numbers) are a bit of a letdown.
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Starring: James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Zoey Deutch, Megan Mullally, Griffin Gluck, Keegan-Michael Key, Adam Devine, Zack Pearlman, Casey Wilson, Cedric the Entertainer.

Why Him?

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The Story: A man with a failing printing company is appalled to learn his daughter has begun dating an oafish internet mogul while at college in California. The Lowdown: Better than it has any right to be due to the strong comedic performances from a talented cast that elevates the material it was given.
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Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Michael K. Williams

Assassin’s Creed

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The Story: A death row convict becomes ensnared in an ancient conflict between two warring factions when he is revealed to be the genetic heir to a long line of assassins whose actions over the centuries have preserved humanity's capacity for free will. The Lowdown: Not a great film by any stretch, but far better than most video…
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Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Seth MacFarlane, Tori Kelly, Taron Edgerton, Nick Kroll, John. C. Reilly

Sing

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The Story: Anthropomorphic animals voiced by various Hollywood talent compete for fortune and fame during an attempt to save a failing theater from foreclosure. The Lowdown: Bits of 45 popular songs from the 1940s to the present may make audiences smile, but there is little new or notable here.
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Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne

Passengers

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The Story: A space vessel bound for a colony planet malfunctions, waking one of its passengers from suspended animation too early. He then proceeds to make decisions that are both heroic and reprehensible. The Lowdown: Even the appeal of two generally charismatic lead actors can't redeem the tedious snoozefest and highly questionable moral compass.
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Starring: Oskar Werner, Julie Christie, Cyril Cusack, Anton Diffring, Jeremy Spenser, Bee Duffell

Fahrenheit 451

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In Brief: François Truffaut stepped significantly outside his comfort zone when he undertook this adaptation of Ray Bradbury's classic dystopian novel in 1966. It was Truffaut's first film shot in color and in a studio, first English language film and first shot outside of his native France. It was also the first of the Nouvelle Vague…
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Starring: Pili Groyne, Benoît Poelvoorde, Catherine Deneuve, Yolande Moreau, David Murgia

The Brand New Testament

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The Story: God lives in a small Brussels apartment, splitting his time between tormenting humanity with petty suffering and antagonizing his wife and daughter — until that daughter decides to follow in her brother's footsteps by taking matters into her own hands. The Lowdown: A subversive comedy, with a heart of gold, that may alienate some. But those open to…
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Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jimmy Smits, James Earl Jones, Wen Jiang, Forest Whitaker

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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The Story: The daughter of one of the Death Star's chief architects must steal its plans, allowing the Rebels a chance to destroy it, while redeeming her father in the process. The Lowdown: The bleakest Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back, Rogue One is a great film that doesn't quite ascend to perfection.
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Starring: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, Michael Peña, Naomie Harris, Jacob Latimore, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren.

Collateral Beauty

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The Story: A New York ad exec struggles to find meaning in the sudden death of his young daughter by addressing his anger in a series of letters to Love, Time and Death, while his friends try to exploit his downward spiral into psychosis for their own financial benefit. The Lowdown: Treacly, exploitative melodrama with an accomplished cast, this…
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Starring: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Andrea Martin

Black Christmas

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In Brief: Merry Christmas from the Thursday Horror Picture Show with Bob Clark’s Black Christmas (yes, the same Bob Clark who made A Christmas Story). What better way to celebrate the season than with the original “slasher” picture? Yes, Black Christmas pretty much started it all — predating Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th (1980) and…
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Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, C.J. Wilson, Heather Burns, Tate Donovan, Josh Hamilton, Anna Baryshnikov, Matthew Broderick, Gretchen Mol.

Manchester by the Sea

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The Story: An emotionally repressed loner in the Boston suburbs must confront a painful past when his brother's death drags him home to care for his teenage nephew. The Lowdown: An almost incomprehensibly moving portrayal of anguish and resilience that gracefully avoids maudlin contrivance, Manchester by the Sea is unquestionably among the best films of the year.
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Starring: Stephen Sondheim, Harold Prince, Lonny Price, Jim Walton, James Weissenbach, Jason Alexander, Ann Morrison, Tonya Pinkins, Abby Pogrebin, Daisy Prince, Many Patinkin, James Bonkovsky, Frank Rich

Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened

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The Story: The cast of a rare flop by Broadway royalty Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince, leaning on the benefit of 35 years of hindsight, reflect on the ups and downs of their lives leading up to and following their disastrous work with their idols. The Lowdown: A moving and well-constructed documentary that will play to fans of musical…
M3 Jessica Chastain stars in EuropaCorp's "Miss. Sloane".

Photo Credit: Kerry Hayes
© 2016 EuropaCorp Ð France 2 Cinema
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alison Pill, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jake Lacy, Sam Waterston, John Lithgow.

Miss Sloane

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The Story: A ruthless D.C. power broker picks a fight with the gun lobby over a set of ill-defined moral principles when she's asked to convince females to vote against gun control. The Lowdown: A passable political thriller that avoids the assurance of complete obscurity thanks solely to a bravura performance from Jessica Chastain.
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Starring: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, Courtney B. Vance, Jillian Bell, Rob Corddry, Vanessa Bayer, Randall Park

Office Christmas Party

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The Story: A frivolous man-child and his hypercompetent underling concoct a harebrained scheme to save their struggling corporate branch with a massive Christmas party after the boss' sister, the company's newly minted CEO, threatens them with closure. The Lowdown: A trite and predictable entry into the holiday raunch-com subgenre that fails to deliver laughs and doesn't seem to…
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Starring: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn, Dianne Hull, Joe Jamrog, Marian Vitale

Christmas Evil

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In Brief: The second installment in Thursday Horror Picture Show's three-week celebration of Santa slashers, 1980's Christmas Evil, has been described by illustrious schlockmeister John Waters as "the best Christmas film ever made." While I wouldn't go quite that far, it is a shamefully underseen cult classic. Originally titled You Better Watch Out, director Lewis Jackson's only feature was critically…
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Starring: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Daniel Boulanger, Jean-Pierre Melville

Breathless (A Bout de Souffle)

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In Brief: Breathless marks the start of French New Wave cinema, and regardless of how one feels about Jean-Luc Godard’s later, less accessible works, it would be hard to find a more audacious debut feature. The problem today's audiences have with it is that so much of what was fresh and revolutionary in 1960 has been assimilated…
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Starring: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charlotte Henry, Felix Knight, Henry Kleinbach

Babes in Toyland (March of the Wooden Soldiers)

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Babes in Toyland — which generations of children have grown up knowing only by its re-issue title, March of the Wooden Soldiers — is the second of Laurel and Hardy’s excursions into opera or operetta (no, they don’t sing), and it’s by far the most elaborate and most popular. It’s been a Christmas staple for…
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Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Ellie Bamber, Laura Linney.

Nocturnal Animals

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The Story: An L.A. art gallery owner reads a novel dedicated to her by the ex-husband she abandoned, and its violent imagery prompts her to reevaluate their relationship. The Lowdown: A twisty thriller hiding a deeper significance, Tom Ford's second film is stylish, dark and irreverent in all the right ways.
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Starring: Kika Magalhaes, Will Brill, Olivia Bond, Paul Nazak, Clara Wong, Flora Diaz, Diana Agostini. (English, Portuguese dialogue)

The Eyes of My Mother

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The Story: A young girl on an isolated farm suffers a tragic loss that will lead her to address her loneliness through decidedly unorthodox means as an adult. The Lowdown: Nicholas Pesce eschews traditional horror genre tropes while showcasing a deep knowledge of classical cinema in this exemplary debut feature.
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Starring: Aisholpan Nurgaiv, Rhys Nurgaiv, Kuksyegyen Almagul, Boshai Dalaikhan.

The Eagle Huntress

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The Story: A thirteen-year-old Kazakh girl defies cultural gender roles by excelling in eagle hunting, an avocation traditionally only engaged in by the men of her isolated mountain community. The Lowdown: An aesthetically stunning documentary that presents a powerful feminist message but falls prey to its filmmakers' influence.