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Thursday, June 10, 2021

Movie Reviews: New Releases for June 9-11

In the Heights, Awake, Queen Bees, Censor and more
Awake **1/2 There’s only one major problem with this quick-and-dirty apocalyptic drama, and that’s the “quick” part. Gina Rodriguez plays Jill, a military veteran and ex-addict whose two children—teenager Noah (Lucius Hoyos) and 10-year-old Matilda (Ariana Greenblatt—are in the custody of her late husband’s mother (Frances Fisher).

Friday, June 4, 2021

Movie Reviews: New Releases for June 4

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Undine, Spirit Untamed and more
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It **1/2 It takes a Costco-size pair of cojones to make a visual nod to The Exorcist in your movie about demonic possession, as this third "official" Conjuring installment does when we get a shot from behind of a fedora-wearing priest arriving at night at a house where a child—young David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard)—is being tormented by a demon. During the ensuing ritual, Arne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor), the boyfriend of David’s sister, invites the dark spirit to take him instead, and Arne subsequently commits a murder where demonologists Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) attempt to prove that … well, it’s right there in the subtitle.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Movie Reviews: New Releases for May 27-28

Cruella, A Quiet Place Part II, American Traitor, Port Authority and more
American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally **1/2 This truly weird historical drama/biopic shouldn’t work at all, yet somehow delivers just enough slivers of interest not to be a complete mess. It’s the story of Mildred Gillars (Meadow Williams), and American singer/actress who becomes a voice for Nazi radio propaganda while living in Berlin circa 1941, then winds up on trial for treason after the end of World War II.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Movie Reviews: New Releases for May 21

Dream Horse, The Dry, Final Account and more
Dream Horse *** It would be hard to top Louise Osmond’s 2015 documentary about this same true story for both character charm and crowd-pleasing drama, but a fictionalized version could have done far worse than this one. Toni Collette plays Jan Vokes, the part-time barmaid/part-time supermarket employee in a small Welsh community who becomes the ringleader for a syndicate in which many local residents invest in a racehorse, which they name Dream Alliance.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Movie Reviews: New Releases for May 14

Army of the Dead, Spiral: From the Book of Saw and The Killing of Two Lovers
Army of the Dead **1/2 Given the personal tragedy in Zack Snyder’s life, it’s hard to ignore the poignant subtext of building his zombie action thriller around a father-daughter relationship.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Movie Reviews: New Releases for April 30

Tom Clancy's Without Remorse, Four Good Days, Separation, Street Gang and more
About Endlessness ** Over the course of 20 years, Swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson has remained committed to his stylistic gimmick—master-shot tableaux of simple situations, often building to absurdist punch lines—to the point where it’s not clear what more he might have to say within this framework. Once again, his episodic scenes aren’t really connected to any overarching narrative, though a couple of characters—including a minister despairing over his loss of faith—do recur at various points.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Movie Reviews: New Releases for April 23

Mortal Kombat, Together Together, My Wonderful Wanda
Mortal Kombat **1/2 With the benefit of hindsight, can we agree that making Mortal Kombat movies in the 1990s that were rated PG-13 was a really stupid idea?

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Movie Reviews: New Releases for April 16

Monday, Vanquish, In the Earth and more
Arlo the Alligator Boy **1/2 Old-school 2D animation is uncommon enough that you wish something with this much enthusiasm came with a matching level of narrative creativity. Writer/director Ryan Crego introduces Arlo Beauregard (former American Idol contestant Michael J. Woodard), an alligator boy raised in a bayou shack by a woman named Edmée (Annie Potts), but who learns as a teenager that he was born in New York and sent away as an infant floating in a basket.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Movie Reviews: New Releases for April 9

Thunder Force, Voyagers, Shiva Baby, Moffie and more
Africa Mia (The Mali-Cuba Connection) *** The tale of a fascinating little music-history footnote loses its footing only when the filmmaker falls into the trap of making the story about himself. Veteran music producer Richard Minier (who co-directed with Edouard Salier) chronicles his 15-year obsession with Las Maravillas de Mali—a band made up of Malian musicians who traveled to Cuba in 1964 for music education sponsored by their fellow communist country—and Minier’s various attempts to reunite the surviving members.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Movie Reviews: New Releases for March 31 - April 2

Godzilla vs. Kong, French Exit, Every Breath You Take and more
Every Breath You Take **1/2 Occasionally, after decades of watching way too many movies, it so happens that I’ll come upon a narrative where after just a few minutes, I’m 90 minutes ahead of where it’s eventually going to take me. Such was the case with this psychological thriller about Seattle psychologist Philip Clark (Casey Affleck) and his family—wife Grace (Michelle Monaghan, reuniting with her Gone Baby Gone co-star Affleck) and teenage daughter Lucy (India Eisley)—whose lives are shaken when one of Philip’s patients commits suicide, and the patient’s brother, James (Sam Claflin) becomes entangled with all of them.

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