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Movie Review

This Is Not a War Story Review: The Talia Lugacy Drama

This Is Not a War Story is lying right from the title card, and that’s okay. It is most definitely a war story, even if all of its stories of war take place off screen and in the past through occasional remanences. But if This Is Not a War Story is low on pyrotechnics, it’s …

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Nobody Review: The Bob Odenkirk Action Thriller

If ten years ago I had made a list of sentences I would never write in a review, surely ”enjoying a Bob Odenkirk action movie” would have to have been one of them. And yet that reality has come to pass and mostly successfully if somehow both broad and shallow. Odenkirk’s reinvention as a solid …

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Raya and the Last Dragon Review

Raya and the last Dragon is a gorgeous piece of modern animation from the studio that still does it better than anyone. And it’s also finely tuned family entertainment from the studio that does that better than anyone. Putting those two things together, however, frequently results in surface-oriented fun with little beneath that surface because …

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Land Review: Robin Wright’s Directorial Debut

Beautiful, sad and distant, Land is like the mountainous horizon would-be woodswoman Edee (Robin Wright) spends much of her time gazing at: a picture-perfect artifice which may be full of significance but is just as likely a mere empty view. On the surface it is an elegantly-paced tone poem of reflection, juxtaposing the uncaring beauty …

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The Marksman Review: The New Liam Neeson Action Thriller

It would be very easy to write The Marksman off as an empty action thriller playing around with evil émigré tropes like a child with a hand grenade, because that’s mostly what it is. A low-key chase film built on the personal salvation of a child in trouble, it plays with stereotypes in a way …

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Soul Review: The New Pixar Film Coming to Disney+

Pixar films at their best are wildly imaginative, speaking to children and adults alike. On paper, most Pixar films have basic scenarios with complex themes – toys that come to life or the monsters under the bed become surrogates for parenthood; a family of superheroes gives way to themes of isolation, self-worth, and our place …

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Greenland Review: The Disaster Film Starring Butler and Baccarin

If Hollywood be our guide, great natural disasters have no greater purpose than to focus a long-standing interpersonal conflict (usually a married couple) and give the participants one big chance to clear it up. Mother Nature isn’t just the personification of our system of physical laws making sure the world works the way it needs …

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Freaky Review: The New Body-Swap Horror Comedy

Millie doesn’t have a lot going for her. She’s unpopular at school. She’s bullied by other girls as well as her teacher. Her mother is an alcoholic. And as the school mascot, even the football players pick on her. Her only comforts are her friends Nyla and Josh. As if things weren’t bad enough, there’s a serial …

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Honest Thief Review: The New Liam Neeson Action Thriller

Honest Thief is not honest at all. It sells itself as the latest in the modern line of post-Taken Liam Neeson action vehicles. The ones that trade on his gravitas and high octane set pieces in lieu of coherent plots or strong dialogue. Honest Thief only has half of that, with a budget and production …

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Rebecca Review: The Thriller Starring Lily James and Armie Hammer

Adapting a classic, with a classic reputation, is always tricky. Almost as tricky as a director with a settled style stretching himself into new directions. Both are treacherous, filled with pitfalls and observers eager to point out how the earlier stuff was better. And there’s a lot of risk, too, because there’s a lot of …

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The Trial of the Chicago 7 Review

Aaron Sorkin is a writer’s writer. That doesn’t mean he routinely writes excellent dialogue (though he often does) or complexly crafted characters (though he sometimes does) or even that his work is accoladed or influential to other writers (though some of it is). It means he does what all writer’s do, only more so. Sorkin …

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Bill and Ted Face the Music Review

It is perhaps fitting that, like the rest of us right now living through (gesticulating wildly) All This, Bill S. Preston, Esquire (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) in Bill and Ted Face the Music are pining for simpler, happier times. After all, their greatest moments were 25 years ago, when they saw …

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Unhinged Review: Russell Crowe Can Happen to Anyone

Unhinged is unapologetic trash. That’s not a bad thing. Good trash can be great. But there’s not much worse than bad trash. Unhinged is not good trash. Its story is rote, and its characters are one-dimensional given the briefest of lip service to their inner motivations in order to get them in place for its …

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The Secret Garden Review: The Adaptation Is a Delight

Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 novel The Secret Garden (check price at Amazon) has been adapted before. It’s been on the big screen a number of times, on television and on the stage, including a Tony Award-winning musical. There has always been something lovely about it, but sort of standoffish. In the story, the main character …

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Irresistible Review: Jon Stewart’s New Political Comedy

Sketch comedy is hard. Really all comedy is hard, but sketch comedy is really hard – getting long in and out in a (hopefully) short period without losing any part of build or punchline. And while there is no reason old sketch comedy writers shouldn’t also be good comedy film writers, the reality is it’s …

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