Movie Reviews

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Starring: Steven Yeun, Keegan-Michael Key, Gina Rodriguez, Zachary Levi, Tracy Morgan, Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey

The Star

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The Story: Bo, a recently escaped mill donkey dreaming of a better life, is adopted by the biblical Mary and Joseph and accompanies them — along with his other animal friends and enemies — to the birth of their son, Jesus. The Lowdown: A weird and off-putting story conceit that doesn't add anything new to…
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Starring: Enrique Rivero, Pauline Carton, Feral Benga, Jean Desbordes, Lee Miller

The Blood of a Poet (Le Sange d’un Poete)

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In Brief: The first of French Avant-garde director Jean Cocteau's films, Le Sange d'un Poete (1932) may not carry the same level of esteem as his later works such as La Belle et la Bête (1946), but it's a fascinating artifact nonetheless. Yes, it may be a little rough around the edges, but Cocteau's literary sensibilities and Surrealist tendencies are…
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Starring: Josef Köstlinger, Irma Urrila, Håkan Hagegård, Elisabeth Erikson

The Magic Flute

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In Brief: You can probably bump Ingmar Bergman’s 1975 film up a half star if you happen to like the opera by Mozart. I have to admit that I’m not fond of it, and that prevents me from fully enjoying this unquestionably brilliant version of the work. It does not prevent me from admiring Bergman’s handling…
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Starring: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

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In Brief: As someone who grew under the shadow of Cold War brinksmanship, I was really hoping that the concerns raised in Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) could be relegated to the trash heap of cultural artifacts alongside bellbottoms and disco. Sadly, this was not to…
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Starring: Millicent Simmonds, Oakes Fegley, Jaden Michael, Julianne Moore, James Urbaniak, Tom Noonan, Michelle Williams

Wonderstruck

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The Story: In 1927 New York, Rose runs away from home to see her favorite movie star on Broadway, while in 1977, Ben searches the city for details about his long-lost father.  The Lowdown: An underrated master delivers one of the best films of the year.
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Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Kelly Macdonald, Alex Lawther, Stephen Campbell Moore, Vicki Pepperdine, Richard McCabe, Geraldine Somerville, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Will Tilston

Goodbye Christopher Robin

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The Story: Author A.A. Milne creates a cherished series of stories based on his son's toys in an attempt to cope with his own trauma. The Lowdown: Often treacly and superficial but seldom overtly objectionable.
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Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Marwan Kenzari, Olivia Colman, Lucy Boynton, Manuel Garcia Rulfo, Sergei Polunin, Tom Bateman

Murder on the Orient Express

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The Story: World-renowned Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is confronted with a challenging mystery when a man turns up dead on a train with a dozen compelling suspects. The Lowdown: If you like the original novel or the Sydney Lumet version from the '70s, chances are you'll find this acceptable — if somewhat pointless.
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Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, John Lithgow, John Cena

Daddy’s Home 2

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The Story: Two dads try and navigate the holidays when their fathers (both of whom carry wholly different personalities) come to visit. The Lowdown: What should simply be a dumb, forgettable comedy is instead one imbued with the unfortunate task of trying to soften Mel Gibson's image, something that makes the endeavor feel a bit unseemly.
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Starring: Michele Caucheteux, Jean-Claude Donda, Mari-Lou Gauthier, Michel Robin

The Triplets of Belleville

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In Brief: The specters of Max Fleischer, Tex Avery, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Jacques Tati hang heavily over Triplets (there’s even a poster for Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday on the wall of an apartment); it’s the mixing of these elements that’s unique, and clearly Chomet’s vision. The director doesn’t merely copy his inspirations; he creates his own takes…
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Starring: David Strathairn, George Clooney, Jeff Daniels, Frank Langella, Robert Downey Jr.

Good Night, and Good Luck

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In Brief: Good Night, and Good Luck marked George Clooney's second time as a director — and taken in connection with his first film, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002) — it seemed to firmly establish Clooney as a major filmmaker. Then came Leatherheads (2008), The Ides of March (2011) and this year's The Monuments…
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Starring: Dennis Hopper, Linda Lawson, Gavin Muir, Luana Anders, Marjorie Cameron

Night Tide

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In Brief: Curtis Harrington is one of the most overlooked talents of the mid-century cinema, and Night Tide (1961) may well be his masterpiece of movie marginalia. And though it has been marginalized, it’s far from trivial — this evocative mood piece carries the mantle of producer Val Lewton more justifiably than almost any other modern…
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Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic, Alicia Silverstone, Bill Camp

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

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The Story: A heart surgeon's placid existence is upended by an unexpected threat to his family. The Lowdown: Equal parts compelling and confounding, director Yorgos Lanthimos continues to codify his idiosyncratic auteurial signature with this disturbing tragedy of psychological suspense.
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Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe, Valeria Cotto, Christopher Rivera, Caleb Landry ones, Macon Blair, Karren Karagulian, Sandy Kane

The Florida Project

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The Story: A girl spends an eventful summer living with her impoverished young mother in an Orlando motel. The Lowdown: Like a modern-day De Sica with a DSLR, Sean Baker continues to mine the margins of society for compelling human stories that give the Neorealist cinematic inclination a decidedly American update.
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Starring: Jane Goodall, Hugo Van Lawick

Jane

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The Story: Lost footage of Jane Goodall's early work with chimpanzees in Tanzania reveals new insight into her public and private lives during a pivotal period. The Lowdown: A thoughtful and well-executed biographical documentary that should prove to be a real crowd-pleaser.
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Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, Taika Waititi, Rachel House, Clancy Brown, Tadanobu Asano, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Sam Neill

Thor: Ragnarok

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The Story: Thor finds himself uncharacteristically behind the proverbial eight ball when a looming cataclysm and an encounter with his sister Hela, goddess of death, leave him stranded on an alien world fighting for his life in a gladiatorial arena. The Lowdown: Director Taika Waititi crafts one one of the best Marvel movies to date by subverting genre…
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Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Richard Jenkins, Bill Pullman, Jeffrey Donovan

LBJ

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The Story: A recounting of Lyndon B. Johnson's rise to the presidency and the passing of the Civil Rights Act. The Lowdown: A perfectly OK movie that has notions of being something more meaningful, but without the talent behind the camera to accomplish such a thing.
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Starring: Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Cheryl Hines, Susan Sarandon, Christine Baranski

A Bad Moms Christmas

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The Story: The bad moms (and grandmoms) are back for another round of raucous mayhem, this time while learning how to create the perfect Christmas season for their families. The Lowdown: Every time a cash register rings, a studio executive gets his wings.
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Starring: Ake Gronberg, Harriet Andersson, Hasse Ekman, Anders Ek, Gudrun Brost

Sawdust and Tinsel

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In Brief: This early Ingmar Bergman film is, as the title suggests, a circus story, but it's every inch a Bergman circus story, which is to say it's hardly a jolly time under the big top. Instead, Sawdust and Tinsel is a drama about sex, betrayal and humiliation. Although Bergman had been directing since 1946,…
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Starring: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Elle Fanning, Alan Tudyk, Louis C.K., John Goodman, Michael Stuhlbarg

Trumbo

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In Brief: Jay Roach’s Trumbo is something of a miracle — in part because it’s from Jay Roach, a man whose directing career previously peaked with the Austin Powers movies. At the very least, there’s nothing in his filmography that suggests he’d be suitable for this. Toss in the fact that, on the surface, it bites…
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Starring: Nanook, Nyla, Cunayou, Alle, Allegoo

Nanook of the North

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In Brief: While Nanook of the North (1922) has been criticized for filmmaker Robert J. Flaherty's interference with his subjects and admitted staging of scenes, there can be no doubt that the film remains a cornerstone of the documentary genre. Much of what we take for granted in modern nature docs was relatively revolutionary at the time, and Flaherty's…
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Starring: Agnes Varda, JR

Faces Places (Visages villages)

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The Story: Octogenarian auteur Agnes Varda joins up-and-coming street artist JR on a road trip photographing distinctive faces throughout the French countryside. The Lowdown: A surprisingly moving and enjoyable documentary that only confirms my suspicion the Agnes Varda may be the most charming person on the planet.