Movie Reviews

Movie Reviews

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Girls Trip

B- | R | July 21, 2017
The raunchy, heartfelt "Girls Trip" takes the "Hangover"/"Bridesmaids" formula -- four college friends, now in their early 40s, reunite in New Orleans to get their individual and collective grooves back -- and gives it some black flavor. Directed by ...
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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

B- | PG-13 | July 21, 2017
It was while making "The Fifth Element" that vibrant French madman Luc Besson realized his real calling was to adapt the futuristic "Valerian and Laureline" comic book he'd read as a child, but it took another 20 years for technology to catch up to h...
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Dunkirk

| PG-13 | July 21, 2017
With "Dunkirk," writer-director Christopher Nolan, most famous for his Batman trilogy but even better at mind-benders like "Memento" and "Inception," applies his cerebral skillset to another familiar genre: the World War II movie. Rather than turn th...
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Wish Upon

C | PG-13 | July 14, 2017
"Wish Upon" is a dumb, silly teen-horror flick about an entitled brat who enters into a monkey's paw situation with a wish-granting music box, leading to consequences that only a sensible person who gave it a moment's thought could have foreseen. But...
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War for the Planet of the Apes

B+ | PG-13 | July 14, 2017
There isn't much battle action in "War for the Planet of the Apes," but it still feels like a war movie -- a World War II movie, specifically, set largely in a wintry prison camp, with some captives collaborating with the enemy in the vain hope of po...
Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming

B+ | PG-13 | July 7, 2017
Some superhero movies have subtitles referring to the dramatic events or villains featured therein: "Apocalypse," "The Age of Ultron," "Civil War," "The Last Stand." Then there's "Spider-Man: Homecoming," which refers to a dance at Peter Parker's hig...
The House

The House

C+ | R | June 30, 2017
When I tell you that a film with Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler isn't very good, keep in mind that I find them both very, very funny and am predisposed to liking pretty much anything they do. So if I'm sorta down on "The House," you have to figure that...
Despicable Me 3

Despicable Me 3

C | PG | June 30, 2017
With "Despicable Me 3," I finally put my finger on what it is about these movies that keeps them from working. The premise, as you and your children know, is that a super-villain named Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) adopted three orphan girls, got dome...
Baby Driver

Baby Driver

B+ | R | June 28, 2017
Admittedly, "Baby Driver" employs a gimmick. Written and directed by the impossibly clever Edgar Wright ("Hot Fuzz," "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"), the film's main character is a getaway driver who times his crew's bank robberies to be in sync with ...
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The Beguiled

B | R | June 23, 2017
Sofia Coppola's "The Beguiled" is a remake of one of the two films directed by Don Siegel and starring Clint Eastwood that were released in 1971 -- the other was "Dirty Harry" -- but Coppola makes it her own by giving it the female perspective it nee...
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Transformers: The Last Knight

D | PG-13 | June 21, 2017
Much of what you hear about "Transformers: The Last Knight" makes it sound more watchable than it is. Stanley Tucci hamming it up as Merlin the wizard? Marky Mark employing a small robot pterodactyl to bring him bottles of Bud Light®? A World War II ...
Maudie

Maudie

B | PG-13 | June 16, 2017
Folk-art buffs and extremely patriotic Canadians may already know the story of Maud Lewis, an arthritic Nova Scotian who sold her simple but charming paintings out of the tiny house she shared with her fishmonger husband in the middle decades of the ...
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Rough Night

D | R | June 16, 2017
"Rough Night" comes from two of the writers and directors of Comedy Central's very funny "Broad City," Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs, and features one of its stars, Ilana Glazer. The dark, zealously silly plot -- five bachelorette-partiers accident...
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The Book of Henry

D | PG-13 | June 16, 2017
"The Book of Henry" is such a mushy, misguided disaster that even its irrelevant subplots are inexplicable. The baffling wrong-headedness permeates every scene in such a way that you'd swear it was done on purpose. Directed with Hallmark-movie sup...
Cars 3

Cars 3

C- | G | June 16, 2017
Pixar's first bad movie, "Cars 2," erred in making Mater the tow truck the main character and in emphasizing a tired espionage caper over jokes. Pixar's second bad movie, "Cars 3," fixes those mistakes and replaces them with different ones. This time...
The Mummy

The Mummy

C- | PG-13 | June 9, 2017
The primary objective of "The Mummy," Universal's latest reboot of its 85-year-old horror property, is to establish an Avengers-style "shared universe" with the other monsters the studio owns. The secondary objective seems to be an experiment: will a...
It Comes at Night

It Comes at Night

B+ | R | June 9, 2017
"It Comes at Night" opens on the lesioned face of a dying old man surrounded by tearful loved ones wearing gloves and gas masks. He has a fatal and highly contagious disease that has decimated the population. He's euthanized by the end of the next sc...
My Cousin Rachel

My Cousin Rachel

B | PG-13 | June 9, 2017
"My Cousin Rachel" stars Rachel Weisz in the part she was born to play: a person named Rachel! Based on Daphne du Maurier's 1951 novel, it's a gothic romantic mystery set on an English estate around the turn of the last century. It involves beautiful...
Band Aid

Band Aid

B+ | Not-Rated | June 2, 2017
"What if we turned all our fights into songs?" That's the idea hatched by a creatively and maritally frustrated L.A. couple in "Band Aid," a very funny -- and then deeply emotional -- comedy written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones (from TV's "Life i...
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Wonder Woman

B+ | PG-13 | June 2, 2017
You don't want to read too much into these things, but after DC Comics' bleak creative stumbles in establishing a shared movie world -- the so-so "Man of Steel," the bad "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," and the awful "Suicide Squad" -- it turns ...
Prates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

C- | PG-13 | May 26, 2017
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" is the fifth chapter in the apparently immortal franchise, and like most of us, it pretends part four ("On Stranger Tides") never happened. But that isn't enough to pull the series out of its tailspi...
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Baywatch

D | R | May 25, 2017
The movie version of "Baywatch" is similar to the ubiquitous '90s TV show it's based on, in that both are not very funny. The problem, of course, is that the TV show wasn't supposed to be. The movie, carelessly directed by Seth Gordon ("Horrible Boss...
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Alien: Covenant

C | R | May 19, 2017
To watch the "Alien" prequels -- "Prometheus" (2012) and now "Alien: Covenant" -- is to marvel at the changes in astronaut-hiring practices that must have been implemented between the earlier chapters and the later ones. The characters in Ridley Scot...
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Everything, Everything

C+ | PG-13 | May 19, 2017
If you don't know anything, anything about "Everything, Everything," it's based on a novel for young adults by Nicola Yoon. As a female-written YA novel, it must involve either a post-apocalyptic dystopia (preferably part of a trilogy) or a doomed ro...
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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

D+ | PG | May 19, 2017
Having seen two of the four "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" movies and disliked them both to a great degree, I have diagnosed their problem: they are live-action movies about human beings in the real world when they should be cartoons about talking animals wh...
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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

B | PG-13 | May 12, 2017
English dude-bro Guy Ritchie, having made his mark on the Sherlock Holmes mythos, turns his attention now to a famous Brit who probably actually existed. "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword," which Ritchie co-wrote with Joby Harold and Lionel Wigram, a...
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Snatched

B | R | May 12, 2017
Why aren't there more zany comedies about blond women being kidnapped by human traffickers while vacationing in South America? Seems like a goldmine. Anyway, "Snatched" is here to remedy that lack, to provide Amy Schumer with a follow-up to her break...
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The Lovers

B+ | R | May 5, 2017
Don't let the comparison oversell it, but "The Lovers" is like a Shakespearean comedy soaked in mid-career Woody Allen: urbane, well-acted, and slightly problematic. A sunny farce, albeit one with three-dimensional characters, it tells a story that e...
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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

B- | PG-13 | May 5, 2017
In this week's episode of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, entitled "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," the ragtag group of space-rogues led by self-described "Star-Lord" Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) meets a new friend: Peter's father, played by Special Gue...
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Unforgettable

C- | R | April 21, 2017
Giving a formulaic thriller a title like "Unforgettable" is an act of wishful thinking, but as middlebrow trash goes, this latest entry in the "psycho ex from hell" sub-genre isn't bad. Or maybe it's more accurate to say it's no worse than it's suppo...
THE PROMISE

The Promise

B- | PG-13 | April 21, 2017
Stipulated: The Armenian genocide, in which some 1.5 million Armenians were murdered by the Ottoman government (we call it Turkey now) between 1915 and 1922, is underrepresented in history books and in popular culture. Among 20th-century holocausts, ...
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The Fate of the Furious

C | PG-13 | April 14, 2017
The most prominent theme in the "Fast and the Furious" movies isn't family (they didn't come up with that until a few sequels in) but conciliation. Enemies who aren't killed often become friends in the next chapter, their former misdeeds evidently fo...
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Going in Style

D+ | PG-13 | April 7, 2017
What kind of lazy, lowest-common-denominator movie is "Going in Style"? The kind where the one F-word in the script is delivered gratuitously by an old lady who has no other lines, and it's supposed to be hilarious because she's an old lady. An old l...
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Smurfs: The Lost Village

C- | PG | April 7, 2017
The lesson learned at the end of "Smurfs: The Lost Village" is that Smurfette can be anything she wants to be -- a great message for girls! -- while the boy Smurfs will continue to be defined strictly by their one dominant personality trait, which th...
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Gifted

B- | PG-13 | April 7, 2017
"Gifted" is a simple, pleasant drama that engages the emotions without manhandling them. It depicts a child-custody battle yet avoids cheap melodrama and doesn't paint anyone as a villain. It has the glistening falseness of a Nicholas Sparks weepy th...
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The Boss Baby

B | PG | March 31, 2017
"The Boss Baby," starring Alec Baldwin as the voice of a suit-wearing infant sent to an unsuspecting family to fulfill a secret mission on behalf of BabyCorp -- that's the heaven-based company in charge of the world's babies, which are treated like a...
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The Zookeeper’s Wife

C | PG-13 | March 31, 2017
One silver lining to the current political situation is that at least in a few years we'll have some new stories to tell about fighting Nazis. Without diminishing the importance of remembering the Holocaust, I respectfully submit that the films on th...
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Ghost in the Shell

C+ | PG-13 | March 31, 2017
Futuristic cyber-thriller "Ghost in the Shell" is loaded with advanced technology, but it's in the service of a disappointingly basic plot with few surprises. Add to that the bafflingly tone-deaf treatment of racial and cultural issues and you've rea...
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Life

B | R | March 24, 2017
Scientists talk of distant planets that could almost, but not quite, sustain life, lacking some small but essential condition. "Life" (the movie, not the cereal) is a bit like that, an effective sci-fi thriller that would be truly outstanding if it h...
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Power Rangers

C | PG-13 | March 24, 2017
"Power Rangers" is the "Batman Begins" of its franchise, the gritty reboot that tells our heroes' improbably lengthy and self-serious origin story and introduces them to a whole new generation (by which I mean the same generation as before, only 20 y...
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CHIPS

B- | R | March 24, 2017
There's a really funny R-rated buddy-cop movie starring Michael Peña as a reckless law-enforcement officer. It's called "War on Everyone," and it co-stars Alexander Skarsgard. You should see it! There's also "CHIPS," a significantly less funny tho...
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

C | PG | March 17, 2017
The only way Disney's live-action remake of its own "Beauty and the Beast" works is if you don't compare it to the 1991 animated masterpiece. This is hard to do, though, because 1) you have seen the 1991 animated masterpiece, possibly many times, and...
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The Belko Experiment

D | R | March 17, 2017
As a movie, "The Belko Experiment" prompts the same questions that the experiment it depicts would. What was the purpose here? What were you trying to prove? Do you maybe just enjoy torturing and killing people and wanted to cover your bloodlust with...
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T2 Trainspotting

B | R | March 17, 2017
"Trainspotting," a cult favorite since the moment it arrived 21 years ago, was Danny Boyle's second movie and most of the world's first exposure to Ewan McGregor. Boyle has directed nine more films since then, and McGregor has exposed himself countle...
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The Sense of an Ending

C+ | PG-13 | March 10, 2017
It's nice to see Jim Broadbent in a starring role -- he's been a supporting actor in all but a few of the 90 films he's made -- and his warm presence is a boon to the wispy, high-minded "The Sense of an Ending." But our favorite befuddled British dad...
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Raw (French)

B+ | R | March 10, 2017
It’s fitting that “Raw” begins with a car crash since it, too, is sometimes sickening to watch but impossible to look away from, and you'll be telling people about it long after you saw it. The feature debut by French writer-director Julia Ducourn...
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Kong: Skull Island

B | PG-13 | March 10, 2017
"Kong: Skull Island" is about people barging into a place they've never been before, dropping bombs to see how solid the land is, then acting indignant when the local wildlife responds defensively. It's about humans punishing nature for being nature,...
TABLE 19

Table 19

B | PG-13 | March 3, 2017
In "Table 19," the title piece of furniture is at the back of a wedding reception, past the tables reserved for guests who matter. The outcasts back here are the people who were invited out of obligation on the assumption they wouldn't actually come....
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The Last Word

D+ | R | March 3, 2017
Newspapers, radio stations, relationships -- these are just a few of the things that "The Last Word" focuses on despite not understanding how they work. It's bold to write about things you're unfamiliar with, but that's what first-(and-probably-last)...
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Before I Fall

C+ | PG-13 | March 3, 2017
"Before I Fall" is what would happen if Nicholas Sparks rewrote "Groundhog Day" as a teen-angst melodrama. The same lessons are to be learned, in the same order, only instead of a funny Bill Murray learning them, it's a brooding Zoey Deutch. To be...
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Logan

B | R | March 3, 2017
"Logan" is the third standalone film for Hugh Jackman's knife-fisted X-Men maverick Wolverine, completing the weary trilogy with something fans have long waited to see: Wolverine's adamantium claws slashing through human skulls like they were piñatas...
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Get Out

B+ | R | February 24, 2017
"Get Out" is a feature-length version of the not-quite-joking sentiment among African Americans that the suburbs, with their overwhelming whiteness and cultural homogeneity, are eerie twilight zones for black people. Far from being a one-joke movie, ...
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The Girl with All the Gifts

B+ | R | February 24, 2017
With the post-apocalyptic setting of a young-adult novel and the slavering flesh-eaters of a zombie movie, “The Girl with All the Gifts” is a clever improvement on both genres, offering a rare look at what happens after society is decimated by a cann...
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Collide

B- | PG-13 | February 24, 2017
There is a certain movie formula where an ordinary man must do something illegal and dangerous (usually to save a loved one), but the task goes awry and he spends the next 24 hours running from bad guys (usually drug traffickers), becoming increasing...
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I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore

B | Not-Rated | February 24, 2017
••• A disaffected title like "I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore" could fit about 75% of Sundance films, but it's particularly apt for the one that uses it, an off-kilter, low-key comedy with violent mood swings and endearing goofball perfor...
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The Great Wall

B | PG-13 | February 17, 2017
That long wall they've got over there in China has inspired many stories, some true and some fictional. "This," says the title card at the beginning of "The Great Wall," "is one of the legends." The fantastical nature of Zhang Yimou's first English-l...
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Fist Fight

B- | R | February 17, 2017
Charlie Day has made a name for himself playing frenetic, high-pitched idiots in the "Horrible Bosses" movies and TV's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," so his performance in "Fist Fight" -- as a mild-mannered, reasonably intelligent high school E...
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XX

B- | Not-Rated | February 17, 2017
"XX," named after the chromosomes, is the first horror anthology written and directed entirely by women (not counting that one of the shorts is based on a Jack Ketchum story). That's a worthy achievement, especially in a genre as male-dominated as ho...
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A Cure for Wellness

B | R | February 17, 2017
Gore Verbinski has directed three "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies and "The Lone Ranger," plus "The Ring," "Rango," and "Mousehunt," as well as under-seen gems "The Mexican" and "The Weather Man." With such a varied resume that includes remakes and ...
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The LEGO Batman Movie

B | PG | February 10, 2017
Three years ago, "The LEGO Movie" surprised everyone by being very good despite having the flimsy premise of "What if we made a movie based on a toy?" What we feared would be a cynical feature-length commercial turned out to be a joyful, self-aware c...
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John Wick: Chapter 2

B- | R | February 10, 2017
When last we saw John Wick, at the end of his out-of-nowhere 2014 cult hit, the grudgingly reactivated assassin had avenged, with extreme prejudice, the murder of his dog and the theft of his car and was ready to enjoy retirement again. Alas, it was ...
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Fifty Shades Darker

D | R | February 10, 2017
Fans of the "Fifty Shades of Grey" movie may have been nervous when they heard the sequel, nonsensically titled "Fifty Shades Darker," would have a different director. I'm kidding, of course; people who liked "Fifty Shades of Gray" don't pay attentio...
THE SPACE BETWEEN US

The Space Between Us

B- | PG-13 | February 3, 2017
As wholesome and sappy as a maple tree, "The Space Between Us" is an inoffensive teenage romantic drama, set in the near future, about a boy named Gardner (Asa Butterfield) who is the first person born on Mars, the result of a NASA astronaut's carele...
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Rings

C | PG-13 | February 3, 2017
"The Ring" was my favorite of the remakes of Asian horror films in the early aughts. I'm on the record; I'm a Ring-leader. When Samara the stringy-haired wraith comes out of the TV at the end, there's no convincing me that she can't emerge from the m...
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War on Everyone

B | R | February 3, 2017
John Michael McDonagh's first film, "The Guard," had Brendan Gleeson as a racist, drug-using, rule-ignoring Irish police officer who didn't care about smaller crimes but would put forth some effort when it came to murder. McDonagh's latest, "War on E...
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I Am Michael

B- | Not-Rated | January 27, 2017
In 2007, a prominent gay activist named Michael Glatze produced shocked gasps and not a few eye-rolls by renouncing his homosexuality, declaring himself straight, and becoming a Christian minister. "I Am Michael" covers this juicy story with sympathy...
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Call Me by Your Name

A- | Not-Rated | January 1, 1970
"Call Me by Your Name," a gay coming-of-age romance set at an Italian villa in the summertime (the best possible location for such a story), isn't sexual so much as hormonal. It's not about doin' it; it's about wanting to do it, about discovering wha...
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Split

B+ | PG-13 | January 20, 2017
"Split," a return to form for once-beloved writer-director M. Night Shyamalan, is a psychological thriller disguised as a kidnapped-girls horror movie. After stifling himself to make the found-footage exercise "The Visit," Shyamalan's distinct style ...
THE BYE BYE MAN

The Bye Bye Man

D+ | PG-13 | January 13, 2017
If "The Bye Bye Man" feels familiar, it's because you have seen movies before and your brain is capable of forming memories. Congratulations on that! You're more advanced than the people who made "The Bye Bye Man," who thought they were doing somethi...
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Underworld: Blood Wars

C | R | January 6, 2017
"Underworld: Blood Wars" is the fifth entry in the dimly lit, surprisingly resilient vampires-vs-werewolves franchise, but it's the first one where I generally understood what was happening and why. (And that's without having seen part 4!) It's still...
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Moonlight (2016)

A | R | October 21, 2016
"Who is you?" That question, phrased in the vernacular of a demographic that is often scorned, ignored, or pitied, is asked more than once in "Moonlight," a quiet, poignant movie about many things, including identity, race, sexuality, poverty, and ma...
Passengers

Passengers

C- | PG-13 | December 21, 2016
"Passengers" sets out on a course for being good, then detours and misses good's orbit before landing clumsily on bad. It's a waste of a rich premise, excellent special effects, and a charismatic cast. And it all could have been avoided with a simple...
Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures

B+ | PG | December 25, 2016
"Hidden Figures" belongs to the feel-good section of Films About Racism, the kind where racism is a problem that can be handled incrementally, with many small victories and bursts of happiness along the way. The violent confrontations and overt hatre...
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Toni Erdmann (German)

B | R | December 25, 2016
The title character in "Toni Erdmann" doesn't exist but is the alter ego of Winfried Conradi (played by Peter Simonischek), a mischievous old jokester who carries a wig and false comedy teeth with him everywhere he goes, just in case. He's a music te...
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Silence

B | R | December 23, 2016
Martin Scorsese works with two of his favorite themes in "Silence" -- Catholicism and violence -- but not in the way he's done in the past. Slowly paced and, yes, often quiet, Scorsese's adaptation of Shusaku Endo's acclaimed 1966 novel has the conte...
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Why Him?

B- | R | December 23, 2016
It's not often that Bryan Cranston and Megan Mullally are the comedic saviors of a movie, but that's 2016 for you. Their years of practice improving sitcoms ("Malcolm in the Middle" and "Will & Grace") enable them to rescue "Why Him?" from abject...
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Assassin’s Creed

D | PG-13 | December 21, 2016
In a just world, the late-December movie starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling, and Brendan Gleeson would be a lush historical epic or period drama. But since the world is garbage, it's "Assassin's Creed," an...
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La La Land

A- | PG-13 | December 9, 2016
"La La Land" is a musical from the writer-director of "Whiplash" (my favorite film of 2014), starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, set in Tinseltown, heavily influenced by "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" (one of my all-time favorite films). In other wor...
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Patriots Day

C- | R | December 21, 2016
It's hard to narrow it down, but the most damaging mistake in "Patriots Day" might be the choice to focus on a single fictional character but surrounding him with real people. Peter Berg's nakedly manipulative docudrama about the 2013 Boston Marat...
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Manchester by the Sea

B+ | R | November 18, 2016
Some movies are about people being broken by tragedy and finding a way to carry on. "Manchester by the Sea" is about someone who was broken several years ago, who is now prompted by new circumstances to finally look into the possibility of fixing him...
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Lion

B+ | PG-13 | November 25, 2016
"Lion" is the incredible true story of why you should never have children in India. Based on Saroo Brierley's memoir "A Long Way Home," the film, an inspiring drama that earns tears without jerking them, begins with 5-year-old Saroo (played by a boun...
Fences

Fences

B+ | PG-13 | December 16, 2016
As any seasoned pro will tell you, there's a difference between stage acting and movie acting. In the theater, your performance must reach every seat in the house, your physical gestures big enough to be seen from the back row. Film, with close-ups a...
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Collateral Beauty

D | PG-13 | December 16, 2016
"Collateral Beauty" is soggy garbage intended to make you cry, but it's so clumsy in its manipulations that you almost feel sorry for it, the way you would if you realized the mugger trying to take your money was holding a fake knife and was actually...
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Rogue One

B- | PG-13 | December 16, 2016
Since the "Star Wars" prequels were successful, beloved by all, and in no way a blemish to the franchise's reputation, the new owners of George Lucas' toybox figured they should make another one. "Rogue One" is Episode 3.9, taking place after "Reveng...
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Miss Sloane

B+ | R | November 25, 2016
The title character in "Miss Sloane," played by Jessica Chastain, is a Washington D.C. lobbyist known for her tactical brilliance -- "the smartest operative on the Hill," someone calls her. That's all well and good, but what's truly revealing is when...
Office Christmas Party

Office Christmas Party

C+ | R | December 9, 2016
"Office Christmas Party," like many actual office Christmas parties, is poorly organized, runs too long, and isn't as entertaining as it thinks it is. You can't say there weren't red flags, though. That generic title -- clearly a placeholder that the...
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Jackie

A- | R | December 2, 2016
The first thing we hear in "Jackie" is Mica Levi's groaning, indispensable musical score, which conveys sonically the sensation of having the ground fall out from under you. It accompanies our first sight of Natalie Portman as the newly widowed Jacki...
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Rules Don’t Apply

C | PG-13 | November 23, 2016
Warren Beatty has been thinking about making a Howard Hughes biopic for 40 years, yet somehow the creaky, lurching “Rules Don’t Apply” is what he came up with. Though rife with glossy Hollywood charm, the film is strangely disjointed and unfocused, s...
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The Edge of Seventeen

B+ | R | November 18, 2016
With painful accuracy and often hilarious insight, writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig’s “The Edge of Seventeen” explores the difficulties of being a “difficult” adolescent better than nearly any film of its type. Its authenticity makes it a Rorschach...

Bad Santa 2

C+ | R | November 23, 2016
It’s a delicate art, making a film that offends and entertains in equal measure, and “Bad Santa 2” botches it. Where its vulgar 2003 predecessor – with Billy Bob Thornton as an alcoholic, lascivious, safe-cracking department-store Santa – was an enjo...

Moana

B | PG | November 23, 2016
“Moana” is an animated Disney film about a headstrong girl in the middle of the ocean whose kingly, overprotective father fears the world beyond their realm and forbids her from engaging with it. But after singing a song about how she yearns for more...

The Eagle Huntress (documentary; Kazakh)

B+ | G | November 2, 2016
To see a heartening example of affectionate parents encouraging their daughter to develop her talents even if it flies in the face of masculine tradition, we need look no farther than Mongolia! That’s where “The Eagle Huntress,” a grin-inducing docum...

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

C+ | PG-13 | November 18, 2016
It wasn’t until I watched the Harry Potter prequel “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” that I realized what made J.K. Rowling’s books and the movies based on them work so well, something that’s missing from “FBAWTFT”: children, and a sense of d...
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Bleed for This

C | R | November 18, 2016
There’s been a lot of misinformation out there lately, and we’re starting to see the consequences. For example, it used to be common knowledge that football, baseball, basketball, and auto racing were the most popular sports in America. But someone s...

Shut In

D | PG-13 | November 11, 2016
“Shut In” has some of the right ingredients for a good thriller, but it has them in the wrong proportions. (It also has some ingredients that are just wrong.) When the story’s central mystery is explained, it comes across as ludicrous and unmotivated...
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Arrival

A | PG-13 | November 11, 2016
Dr. Louise Banks, a linguistics expert, knows how important word choice is when she tells her daughter, "I used to think this was the beginning of your story." We hear this at the beginning of "Arrival," accompanied by images of the girl's birth and ...
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Elle (French)

B+ | R | November 11, 2016
"Elle" begins at the end of a rape: Michele Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert), an intense fiftysomething businesswoman, attacked in her home by a masked assailant. Though traumatized (she replays it in her head, sometimes imagining that she successfully fou...
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Doctor Strange

B+ | PG-13 | November 4, 2016
With its trippy inter-dimensional mysticism and heady philosophy, "Doctor Strange" marks the first time in a while that a Marvel Cinematic Universe™ movie has offered anything new to look at or think about. It's yet another origin story (and similar ...
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Hacksaw Ridge

B- | R | November 4, 2016
"Hacksaw Ridge" begins with soldiers being set on fire in slow motion while someone recites Bible-y platitudes in a Southern drawl. In other words, it's a Mel Gibson film, his first opportunity since "Apocalypto," 10 years ago, to depict stoic men be...
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King Cobra

C- | Not-Rated | October 21, 2016
Despite being a true story of jealousy and murder in the world of gay porn, “King Cobra” is neither thoughtful enough to find meaning in it nor seedy enough to turn it into trashy fun. Instead, it’s a blandly watchable but ultimately pointless melodr...