Movie Reviews

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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…
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Starring: Sonny Chiba, Gerald Yamada, Doris Nakajima, Tony Cetera

The Street Fighter

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In Brief: There's a good reason that Quentin Tarantino has continually referenced this 1975 karate classic throughout his career — in spite of (or perhaps, because of) its trash-cinema tropes and exploitationally gratuitous gore, The Street Fighter is a pretty damned entertaining film. Few screen presences have ever rivaled the demented dynamism of Shin'ichi "Sonny" Chiba, and The Street Fighter is…
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Starring: Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Heath, McCoy Tyner, John Densmore, Bill Clinton, Wynton Marsalis, Cornel West, Common, Ravi Coltrane, Antonia Andrews, Lewis Porter, Ben Ratliff

Chasing Trane

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The Story: A biographical documentary that delves into the life of possibly the greatest jazz saxophonist in history. The Lowdown: You don't have to be a John Coltrane fan to enjoy this film — but if you aren't, you most likely will be before it's over.
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Starring: Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, John Slattery, Ella Purnell, Julian Wadham, Richard Durden, James Purefoy

Churchill

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The Story: Winston Churchill struggles with grave misgiving in the days prior to the Allied invasion of France in World War II. The Lowdown: A character study that finds its footing in an outstanding performance from Brian Cox but falls short in the catharsis department.
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Starring: Debra Winger, Tracy Letts, Melora Walters, Aidan Gillen, Tyler Ross, Jessica Sula

The Lovers

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The Story: As a middle-aged married couple gears up to admit they've each cheated on the other, they unexpectedly find their romantic and familial priorities shifting. The Lowdown: The new comedic drama struggles to say something new about love and marriage, never really finding its voice.
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Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Paul McCartney.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

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The Story: Captain Jack Sparrow's at it again, this time with new sidekicks in tow for another round of swashbuckling inanity about ghosts or something. The Lowdown: Dead men tell no tales, and neither should directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg and the army of writers responsible for wasting 2 1/2 hours of my life.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach

Baywatch

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The Story: A group of lifeguards must stop a drug trafficker from taking over their beach. The Lowdown: A dumb, pointless and needlessly macho attempt at both an action comedy and a reboot of the old TV show of the same name.
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Starring: Joseph Cotten, Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee, Wilfrid Hyde White

The Third Man

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In Brief: Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949) is  that rarest of movies in that it’s a filmmaker favorite (I’ve yet to meet the director who didn’t treasure it), a film buff’s delight and immediately accessible to the more casual moviegoer all at once. Why? Because it works on so many levels simultaneously and is positively breathless in…
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Starring: Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Celeste Holm, Louis Armstrong, John Lund

High Society

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In Brief: No, this musical version of The Philadelphia Story is not a great film by any means. Charles Walters' direction is at best workmanlike, at worst pedestrian. It has the air of canned theater in many scenes, along with that typical 1950s overlit look of most MGM musicals. But it does combine the talents…
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Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Lee Patrick, Sydney Greenstreet, Elisha Cook Jr., Jerome Cowan

The Maltese Falcon

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In Brief: Following two earlier adaptations of Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade source novel, John Huston's The Maltese Falcon (1941) proves that occasionally the third time is the charm. A cornerstone of Film Noir, the film that catapulted Humphrey Bogart to stardom, the first pairing of Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre (out of nine!), the list of groundbreaking firsts goes on…
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Starring: Karl Malden, James Franciscus, Catherine Spaak, Pier Paolo Capponi

The Cat o’ Nine Tails

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In Brief: An early Dario Argento film (his second), The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971) is more mystery than outright horror — and its PG (originally GP) rating should clue you in on the fact that it doesn't really qualify as a giallo. In fact, it's closer to a German krimi than anything. But that…
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Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz, Nathaniel Dean, Alexander England, Uli Latukefu, Tess Haubrich

Alien: Covenant

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The Story: An intergalactic colonization mission is derailed when the crew intercepts a human transmission from an uncharted planet, and what they find at its source is predictably lethal. The Lowdown: A film thematically rooted in questions of creation that bears precious little creativity of its own.
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Starring: Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle, Duncan Duff, Keith Carradine, Jodhi May

A Quiet Passion

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The Story: The troubled life, both personally and artistically, of poet Emily Dickinson. The Lowdown: Told in the driest terms possible, A Quiet Passion is a slog through a swamp of mediocre performances and listless drama.
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Starring: Richard Gere, Lior Ashkenazi, Michael Sheen, Steve Buscemi, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Dan Stevens, Hank Azaria

Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer

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The Story: A minor player in New York's Jewish political and financial scene ingratiates himself to a man who becomes the prime minister of Israel, but their friendship becomes central to a significant international incident. The Lowdown: Neither Norman — the film nor its eponymous protagonist — are as clever as they think they are.
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Starring: Jean-Pierre Cargol, François Truffaut, Jean Dasté, Françoise Seigner, Paul Ville, Claude Miler

The Wild Child

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In Brief:  While not generally as well known as films like The 400 Blows, François Truffaut's loose adaptation of a true story of a feral child struggling to reintegrate into eighteenth century French society after growing up in the woods bears all the hallmarks of the director's best works. Themes of challenging adolescence and the social isolation…
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Starring: Douglas Fairbanks, Léon Bary, Tiny Sandford, Gino Corrado, Belle Bennett, Marguerite De La Motte, Dorothy Revier, Nigel De Brulier

The Iron Mask

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In Brief: Douglas Fairbanks' final silent film, a follow-up to his highly successful The Three Musketeers (1921), is everything you'd expect — a fun, light-hearted adventure film with plenty of swashbuckling action and a solid performance from one of the silent cinema's biggest stars. Frequent Fairbanks collaborator Allan Dwan, a ridiculously prolific director with 125 films to his credit, knew…