Movie Review Archive K-P


Movie Reviews For People Who've Lived A Little

lReviews A-E    Reviews F-J    Reviews Q-Z

Keep the Change (2018) ****
Writer/director Rachel Israel's first feature checks off all the boxes for a classic romantic comedy — but her story about two New York people with autism finding love touches on heartstrings you didn't know you had. (FULL REVIEW)

The King of Jazz (1930) ****
The movies had only been talking for two years, and Technicolor was in its infancy, but Universal combined both elements for this lavish musical, the likes of which audiences had never seen. It's just a glorified vaudeville show, but what a show it is: Paul Whiteman conducts "Rhapsody in Blue" and a big-eared youngster named Bing Crosby croons like a rosy-cheeked schoolboy. 

Kong: Skull Island (2017) ***
Everybody's favorite big ape is back and ape-ier than ever in the umpteenth reboot of the classic monster franchise. As you'd expect, computer imagery has advanced to the point where it can detail every hair on Kong's body, which this time is preposterously huge, even bigger than Dino De Laurentis' 1976 version. But because this edition focuses only on the first half of the original story — an overblown elaboration on the discovery of Kong on his cloud-shrouded South Pacific island — we never get to the part that even DeLaurentis knew was the ultimate payoff: "When the monkey die, people gonna cry." 

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) **  The performances by stars Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman are first-rate, but unfortunately they're in the service of an off-the-wall story by director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster) that involves a troubled young man (Barry Keoghan) forcing a heart surgeon (Farrell) to choose which member of his own family to kill. The roles are played with the same bloodless detachment Farrell evoked in Lanthimos' Lobster, leaving us with little empathy for the main characters and lots of misgivings about the film's narrative, which is best described as Sophie's Choice played for laughs. (FULL REVIEW)

La La Land (2016) ****
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone channel Fred and Ginger (FULL REVIEW)

Lady Bird (2017) *****

Writer/director Greta Gerwig's flawless study of a teenager (Saoirse Ronan) and her mother (Laurie Metcalf) strikes one true note after another. For a parent, it's like Gerwig has been hiding in your hall closet for 10 years. 

Lady MacBeth (2017) ****
At first you're totally in the corner of young Katherine (Florence Pugh), a Victorian-girl given in a loveless marriage. Even when her plucky sense of rebellion eventually turns murderous, you want to give her the benefit of the doubt. By the time she's sunken to the level of unspeakable violence, it's too late: you're an accomplice. Director WIlliam Oldroyd masterfully guides us down the film's slippery slope

The Last Word (2017)  ***  
Shirley MacLaine saves the day as a retired businesswoman who hires a newspaper reporter (Amanda Seyfried) to write her obituary (FULL REVIEW)

Last Year At Marienbad (1961) *****

Proudly flaunting all the oddball conventions of French art films—the incongruous dialogue, the lingering takes, the hyper-composed shots—Alain Resnais tells the story of a couple who reunite for a tryst at a chateau, one year after they first met. Or maybe they’ve never met before. Or maybe someone got killed. They wander the mirrored halls and lavish gardens debating it all, under the suspicious eye of a tall thin man who may be her husband, or perhaps her lover, or maybe her murderer. You'll never understand what it's about — even Resnais isn't sure — but if this is a waking dream, you never want to wake up. The film has been available on Blu-ray for years, but seize this chance to see it on the big screen, in all its black-and-white glory.

The Laundromat (2019) ****  

Steven Soderbergh sometimes dabbles in complex caper films (the Ocean’s Eleven series, Logan Lucky) and often helms dramas that explore ripped-from-the-headlines social issues (Contagion, Erin Brockovich). In The Landromat he jumps into both genres with two feet, working for the better part of two hours to explain to us the nasty, soul-crushing nuances of international finance. Our guides for this tutorial are a pair of smooth-talking money men (Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas), who explain the rules of money, all of which can be reduced to, “You are getting screwed.” Our entré  to the story is Ellen, a Maine housewife (Meryl Streep) who, in a harrowing early scene, loses her husband in a freak pleasure boat accident. It’s when she tries to collect an insurance settlement that she begins to realize the entire financial establishment is aligned to prevent her from getting anything. Of course, the feisty woman won’t give up easily, and she follows the no-money trail all the way to a financial services office in Panama City. But screenwriter Scott Z. Burns (The Bourne Ultimatum and the upcoming 007 film No Time to Die) doesn’t linger on Ellen’s quest for long — the script soon begins bouncing us among any number of stories about any number of everyday folks who are getting cheated by the moneyed establishment. Some are more sympathetic than others — like a pair of clueless tourists (Will Forte and Chris Parnell) who run into a Mexican drug lord with very bad results. It all gets distractingly episodic, but happily we are eventually brought back to Ellen, whose persistence pays off unexpectedly and gives rise to the sort of supremely satisfying surprise ending that only the great Streep could pull off.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013) ***
The title might have worked better as Forest Whitaker Is the Butler, or maybe Oprah Winfrey Is the Wife of the Butler. No matter; audiences flocked to see Whitaker as White House butler Cecil Gaines, Robin Williams as President Eisenhower, and Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan.  

The Leisure Seeker (2018) ***

There are modest pleasures aplenty in this road trip flick, following a long-married couple (Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland) as they take one last drive to Florida in their beloved but dilapidated motor home. He's slipping into dementia, she's in the grip of serious illness. Still, the film is not about the ravages of age, but the ultimate and inevitable triumph of marital devotion. (FULL REVIEW)

Life Itself  (2018) ***

A central character gets flattened by a bus in the opening minutes of this sprawling family saga from This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman — but that hardly qualifies as a spoiler since the entire endeavor curdles from the start. Fogelman, who has mastered the art of manipulative episodic TV, tries to cram a season's worth of twists and teardrops into two hours, and the result is not so much exhausting as numbing. Still, he's got a game cast — including Oscar Isaac, Annette Bening, Olivia Wild and Mandy Patinkin — who do their best  to tow this Titanic into port.  

Life of the Party (2018) ***
If Melissa McCarthy makes you laugh, then see it. If you don't mind that she and screenwriter/hubby Ben Falcone are lazily recycling the same story (Loudmouth With a Heart of Gold Finally Fits In) then be our guest. The woman would make an obit page hilarious; we just wish she'd find something better to do with her talents. 

The Lion King *** (2019)
The trouble with Disney's live-action remakes of its classic animated films has always been a simple one: Each has lacked, through no fault of its creators, the initial spark of genius that infused the original works. There's a unique energy that is born of audacity, and it's evident in every frame of  films like Dumbo, The Little Mermaid, and, yes, The Lion King: a cartoon that combined elements of Shakespeare's Hamlet with a particularly violent episode of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. On the heels of Disney's recent Dumbo debacle, the studio had nowhere to go but up with its Lion King remake, and this new version of the 1994 movie offers an undeniably lush vision. But technological wonders only get you so far, and the film ends up not so much a re-imagining of the first take as a lavish hack job. I'm happy to report James Earl Jones is back to lend his rolling tones to the voice of Mufasa — but as much as I like Billy Eichner, this update gets nothing but raspberries for failing to bring back the great Nathan Lane as Timon. 

Literally, Right Before Aaron (2017) ***
In the latest coming-of-age film to take its marching orders from The Graduate, Adam (Justin Long) is another unfocused young man who turns up at the wedding of his ex-galpal (Cobie Smulders) and proceeds to sabotage it. Walking a comedic tightrope, writer/director Ryan Eggold (he’s the guy who plays Tom Keen on TV’s The Blacklist) pulls off a neat trick: Even though Adam is a hopeless narcissist, we grow reluctantly fond of him because as difficult as it is to endure him, we can see it’s a lot harder to be him.  

The Letters (2015) ***

Juliet Stevenson's performance as a young Mother Theresa is heavenly, but the hagiographic script is hellish (FULL REVIEW)

Life Itself  (2018) ***

A central character gets flattened by a bus in the opening minutes of this sprawling family saga from This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman — but that hardly qualifies as a spoiler since the entire endeavor curdles from the start. Fogelman, who has mastered the art of manipulative episodic TV, tries to cram a season's worth of twists and teardrops into two hours, and the result is not so much exhausting as numbing. Still, he's got a game cast — including Oscar Isaac, Annette Bening, Olivia Wild and Mandy Patinkin — who do their best  to tow this Titanic into port.  

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (2019) ****

For 35 precious years, the world reveled in the lilt of Linda Ronstadt’s voice — and then it was gone. This tuneful, sometimes melancholy documentary is packed with classic performances, adoring testimonies, and intimate home movie moments, but you can’t walk away without the sense that although Ronstadt’s career ended too soon, no amount of success would have given the infinitely insecure singer peace of mind.

Logan (2017) ****
The most thoughtful superhero flick in memory. Marvel mutant Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), facing old age and extinction of the X-Men, finds a young girl who might have special powers of her own. 

Logan Lucky (2017) ****
Director Steven Soderberg may have a new Ocean's 11 franchise on his hands — albeit one that mixes the ingredients of a classic heist flick with a Cohen Brothers movie. For this breezy heist movie set at a NASCAR race track, he's assembled a dream cast including Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes and, best of all, 007 star Daniel Craig as a good-old-boy safecracker named Joe Bang. (FULL REVIEW)

The Lost City of Z (2017) ****

Writer/director James Gray drinks lustily from the cup of master epic-maker David Lean in his sweeping true story of Percy Fawcett, the British explorer who made multiple trips to the Amazon in the early 1900s seeking what he called The Lost City of Z. Charlie Hunnan brings a Peter O'Toole-like obsession to the role, but his long-suffering wife, played by Sienna Miller, remains a cipher. Which goes to show, from a man's perspective, that compared to the complexities of women it is easier to explain why a guy would spend three years at a time fighting off piranha and picking leaches from his legs   (FULL REVIEW) 

Love and Friendship *** (2016)
Chloe Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale star in this fast-paced version of a Jane Austen novella (FULL REVIEW)

Love, Gilda (2018) ****
If you fell in love with the Gilda Radner of TV and film in the 1970s and '80s, you'll be enraptured by the real-life Gilda revealed in this hilarious, heartbreaking documentary from Lisa D'Apolito. Besides clips from Gilda's Saturday Night Live heyday, the film draws from  the comedian's own home movies as well as hours of audio recordings she made while working on her autobiography. Gilda is a breezy tour guide to her life story; if not fearless to the end, then at least infinitely human.  

Love the Coopers ** (2015)
Diane Keaton and John Goodman unwrap a very unmerry Christmas gift (FULL REVIEW)

Loveless (2017) ****
On its surface, Loveless follows a bitterly feuding soon-to-be-divorced couple, Zhenya and Boris (Maryana Spivak and Aleksey Rozin) who are so consumed by hatred for each other (and burning lust for their lovers) that they fail to notice that their young son Alyosha (Matvey Novikov) has been missing for an entire day. But the pair’s circular pursuit of the immediate at the expense of what really matters is for Zvyaginstev a microcosm of the relentless cycles of self-destruction that consume not only people, but also nations.(FULL REVIEW)

The Lovers (2017) ****
Debra Winger and Tracy Letts spring one deilghtful surprise after another as a long-married couple headed for divorce...until they fall in lust with each other. (FULL REVIEW)

Loving (2016) ****

Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga star in the human story of a landmark court case  (FULL REVIEW)

Loving Vincent (2017) *****  
One of the most extraordinary animated films ever made utilizes 65,000 oil paintings to illuminate the last days of Vincent Van Gogh. Directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman reference numerous famous Van Gogh images, but every frame is infused with the spark and danger of the painter's genius. It takes about five minutes to get used to this singular experience; after that you are utterly along for the ride. 

Maiden (2019) **** 

Through sheer determination — often of the most reckless kind — 24-year-old Tracy Edward in 1989 became skipper of the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round The World Race (now known as the Volvo Ocean Race). Through old home movies, director Alex Holmes introduces us to Edwards as a surly, rebellious teenager who escaped a troubled home life by becoming a cook on private yachts. An aimless existence seemed guaranteed for her until, inspired by a chance meeting with King Hussein of Jordan, Edwards became obsessed with the notion of showing the male-dominated world of yacht racing that women could do a lot more than rustle up grub for macho sailor men. The rampant sexism of the era is reflected in news clips (“How will they avoid cat fights?”) and in the dismissive comments of male counterparts. That condescending tone barely softens even after the crew survives a harrowing passage near Antarctica, but the women mostly refuse to take the bait: They plug along, eyes on the horizon, through seas both smooth and scary. Edwards and her cohorts, interviewed for the film and looking ready to set sail again on a moment’s notice, provide the film’s heartfelt narration.

The Magnificent Seven (2016) **

Chris Pratte, Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington do a walk-through remake of the classic western (FULL REVIEW)

Mama Mia! Here We Go Again  (2018) ***
I don't recall seeing any petitions begging for a sequel to the 2008 big-screen ABBA musical, and yet here it is. Those who care to will recall the original dealt with a young bride (Amanda Seyfried) trying to figure out which of the three long-ago suitors who romanced her free-spirited mother (Meryl Streep) was her biological father. Now, 10 years later, she wants to know the story of how Mom met the Three Lustketeers (played again by Piece Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard). The convoluted prequel/sequel setup doesn't help, and neither does that fact that most of the songs are decidedly B-side ABBA. And while the addition of Cher as Meryl's mom is a campy coup, it's hard to shake the nagging mathematical reality that she must have given birth to Meryl at age 3.

Mame  (1974) ***
Lucille Ball's big screen return in Jerry Herman's musical was doomed from the start: There was no way musical comedy fans were ever going to accept her in the role that made Angela Lansbury a household name. It didn't help that director Gene Saks, who'd made his name bringing Neil Simon comedies to the screen, mounted a plodding production that seemed much longer than its 2-hour, 10-minute run time. But Lucy is still Lucy, and even though she pretty much croaks out the songs that Lansbury belted out so memorably, she commands the screen as few others could. Robert Preston is great fun as Mame's Southern gentleman husband; too bad his character doesn't stick around much longer than the halfway point, when he gets to belt out that memorable title song. 

Man of Steel (2013) ***

Well-made, but the fight scenes last longer than the half-life of Kryptonite (FULL REVIEW)

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote  (2019) ***

Terry Gilliam spent 25 years trying to realize his vision of a modern-day Don Quixote still fighting windmills across the rugged landscape of Spain. The final product is, if not a masterpiece on a par with his earlier classics (Brazil, Time Bandits), it’s a story well-told by a superb cast. Adam Driver stars as a TV commercial director named Toby who, through a series of mishaps, finds himself in the company of an old man (Jonathan Pryce) who is convinced he is the legendary Don Quixote. There’s much adventure and misunderstanding, and a few spectacular set pieces that recall Gilliam’s glory days as Hollywood’s most visionary director. 

The Man Who Laughs (1928) ****
Fresh from the success of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Universal Pictures turned to another Victor Hugo classic, The Man Who Laughs — the dark, at times nightmarish tale of a man (Conrad Veidt) cursed with a permanent, grotesque grin after being hideously disfigured as a child. Veidt is heartbreaking as the man in question; Mary Philbin transcends the histrionic conventions of silent screen acting to create a touching portrait of the blind woman who loves him. German director Paul Leni creates the last great Expressionistic film with angles, lighting, and dreamlike camera movement crisply  preserved in this Flicker Alley restoration. The original film score, added for a 1928 release, is offered as a bonus, but the new music from the Berklee School of Music orchestra brings a fresh vibrance to the 92-year-old film. 

Manchester By the Sea (2016) *****
Casey Affleck is brilliant as a troubled man forced to take custody of his feisty nephew (FULL REVIEW)


Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013) ****
In any other year, Idris Elba’s towering performance as Nelson Mandela would land him on anyone’s Best Actor Oscar shortlist. Alas, the dance card is probably already full this time around, but that’s no reason to miss Elba tracing the life of the South African legend from young adulthood through his 27-year imprisonment. Naomie Harris is at times chillingly intense as his wife Winnie, and director Justin Chadwick (The First Grader) continues his love affair with inspiring, true African stories.

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House  (2017) ***
Liam Neeson stars as the lifetime FBI bureaucrat who became "Deep Throat," the unnamed source who helped The Washington Post nail Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal. The movie over-explains and feels unnecessarily dark, but Neeson creates a compelling character who must decide if betrayal can ever equal loyalty.  (FULL REVIEW)

Marshall (2017) ****

Chadwick Boseman captures the quiet dignity and subtle legal genius of Thurgood Marshall, playing the future Supreme Court justice as a young lawyer, defending a Black man in a racist 1940s courtroom, and once more manages to find the soul of a complex character. Josh Gadd is a delight as Marshall's very Jewish colleague. As the tale unfolds in ultra-conservative Connecticut, the two stars give this conventional courtroom drama an unexpected buddy picture vibe

Mary Poppins Returns  (2018) *****
Remember at the end of Mary Poppins, when Bert the Chimneysweep gazes into the windy London sky and says, "Goodbye, Mary Poppins! Don't stay away too long!" For 9-year-old me, that line started the clock ticking for what I considered the inevitable sequel to Walt Disney's instant 1964 classic. That wait proved to be longer than I expected, but happily, Mary Poppins Returns is well worth the wait; every bit as good as the original and in some ways better. As Ms. Poppins, Emily Blunt lacks Julie Andrews' soaring voice, but she makes up for it in embodying the smoky mystery that surrounds the magical nanny. With her chin tucked down, her eyes peering out mischievously from under her wide-brimmed hat, Blunt's Poppins is a lilting invitation to embrace the unexpected. We're told early on that her old pal Bert — played by Dick Van Dyke lo those many years ago — is off on a world tour. But we thoroughly enjoy the company of his great-nephew, a lamplighter named Jack (played with back-row-reaching enthusiasm by Hamilton creator/star Lin-Manuel Miranda). The film closely follows the template of the original, with a fantastical leap into a bubble bath sea and a visit to a comically quirky relative (Meryl Streep, singing her little heart out). Master musical director Rob Marshall (Chicago) lends this film a masterful continuity that the original Poppins lacked, but he never loses sight of the film's essential mission: To entertain all ages while splashing happily in the puddles of childhood fantasy. (FULL REVIEW)

Mary Shelley (2018) ****
Elle Fanning continues to emerge as one of our most versatile screen actors in this biopic of the woman who defied gender roles to write Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus. (FULL REVIEW)

Matinee ***** (1993)  

Joe Dante's warm-hearted comedy about a boy (Simon Fenton) living in Key West at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis is at once a disarming time capsule and a love letter to the B-movie horror flicks that flourished in the early nuclear age. John Goodman plays a schlock producer/director who's premiering his latest atrocity in Key West — and who sees the nation's nuke mania as the ultimate marketing tool. Chuckling in the face of Armageddon, Goodman's character embraces horror in a great big bear hug, while helping the boy face the equally daunting terrors of the teen years. .

Maudie (2017) ****
Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke steal your heart as severely arthritic, barely educated Canadian painter Maud Adams and her fishmonger husband (FULL REVIEW)

Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)  *

The final installment in this teen sci-fi trilogy gave me one reason to rejoice: I never saw the first two. Set in a dystopian future (is there any other kind?), the story of a ragtag group of kids raining hell on a city occupied by corrupt overlords is pretty much a series of set pieces inspired by other, better movies. Here's hoping Patricia Clarkson got paid handsomely for taking a job that, for a lesser talent, could well have been a career killer. 

Me Before You (2015) *** 

Everyone suffers beautifully in this classy weepie (FULL REVIEW)

The Meddler (2016) ****
Susan Sarandon and J.K. Simmons make  a cozy couple in this tale of a mom (Sarandon) still clinging to her grown daugher (Rose Byrne) (FULL REVIEW)

Meeting Gorbachev (2019)  ****

You know ‘80s nostalgia has really kicked in when you find yourself at a documentary about the Soviet Union’s last president — and sort of longing for the good old days of the Evil Empire. Warner Herzog is an amiable interviewer, sitting down with the then 85-year-old Mikhail Gorbachev, who has lost none of the jovial bonhomme that endeared him to his countrymen as well as his geopolitical rival Ronald Reagan. Most striking is footage of the “young” 53-year-old Gorbachev taking his place on the Politboro, a human dynamo compared to the decrepit old men flanking him. It soon becomes clear he will be elevated to the top spot if only because he probably won’t die in the next year or two. 

The Meg (2018) ***

Name your classic shark movie trope and you’ll find it in this by-the-numbers  shark thriller. Panic on the beach? Check.  Helpless diver in a shark cage? Check. Need a bigger boat? Check! But when you consider this movie was co-produced by a Chinese company ( nearly half the cast is Chinese) , you have to remember that there are probably a few billion people in China who’ve never seen Jaws, so it's all new to them.  In any case, the Chinese cast is easier to understand than British star Jason Statham, who often sounds like he’s got a mouth full of fish and chips.

Megan Leavey (2017) ****  
You won't have to be a dog lover to be reduced to tears by the true tale of a U.S. Marine (Kate Mara) and her devotion to the bomb-sniffing dog who saved her life in Afghanistan. (FULL REVIEW)

Menashe **** (2017)  
The heartbreaking story of an orthodox Jewish father (Menashe Lustig) in Brooklyn trying to balance his faith with his desire to raise his son is virtually all in Yiddish, yet you don't even need the subtitles to be utterly absorbed. Director Joshua Z. Weinstein's film provides an often perplexing look at a little-seen sliver of American society.

Men In Black: International  (2019)  **  Nothing to see here — at least nothing that you haven't seen before. The creators of this cops-and-aliens sequel mistakenly feel the franchise is built on flashy weapons and grotesque CGI spacemen. The real appeal was the chemistry between hip Will Smith and his hangdog, world-weary partner Tommy Lee Jones. Stars Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth are appealing, but they, like us, seem somewhat numbed by the clamitous freak show surrounding them.


Metallica Through the Never (2013) ***
A rockapalooza with the quintessential ’80s Heavy Metal band, who will? Go for the music, stay for Kirk Hammett’s hair.

Mike Wallace Is Here (2019) **** 

For more than four decades, few things struck fear into the hearts of corrupt politicians and greedy businessmen more than the words, “Mike Wallace Is Here.” That’s the name of this eye-opening new documentary from director Avi Belkin, who goes way, way back into the archives of early TV to create this sometimes stark, sometimes heartbreaking portrait of the man who invented the hard-hitting TV interview. There's a wealth of striking footage from 60 Minutes, the newsmagazine he launched with cohost Harry Reasoner in 1968 and which, he candidly recalls, "No one thought would last." And vintage footage from his gritty 1950s New York City interview show reveal he was honing his interviewing skills long before that. But perhaps most striking are clips of Wallace as a  a cheery, chatty 1950s game show host, happily handing out prize money to delighted contestants — or chirpily pitching everything from cigarettes to refrigerated pie crusts. It's at those moments we realize Wallace at some point sat down and, through sheer calculation and determination, invented the steely-eyed reporter that defined his career. 

Miles Ahead (2016) ***

Don Cheadle and Ewan McGregor drink and drug their way through the story of MIles Davis. Cheadle gives the performance of a lifetime (FULL REVIEW)

Missing Link (2019) ****  

An unqualified delight, this stop-action animated film (from the studio that created the splendid Kubo and the Two Strings and Coraline) packs endless surprises into its brisk hour-and-a-half, a raucous high adventure buddy comedy about a Victorian era explorer (stuffily voiced by Hugh Jackman) who befriends Bigfoot. There are grownup delights aplenty, from the glorious color palate to the refreshingly angular character design. Best of all is the sparkling voice work of Zach Galifianakis, who breathes humor and innocence into Mr. Link. Writer/director Chris Butler paces his story perfectly, allowing Frost and Link plenty of room to develop a sweet if sometimes combative friendship. (FULL REVIEW)

Mission: Impossible Fallout (2018) ***
Take a James Bond highlight reel and superimpose Tom Cruise's head on it and you've pretty much got the latest in the star's 22-years-and-counting action series. By the time he's done clinging to helicopters, dangling from cliffs, racing Doomsday countdown clocks or battling bad guys to the death in a bathroom, we half-expect Cruise's Ethan Hunt to order a martini shaken, not stirred. Then again, that would require the use of dialogue, which here is even less evident than the laws of physics. (FULL REVIEW)

Mr. Holmes (2015) ****
Ian McKellan mesmerizes as 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes, obsessed with his one unsolved case (FULL REVIEW)

Mr. Roosevelt (2017) ****
Noël Wells writes, directs, and stars in this breakthrough comedy about a struggling young LA comic (Wells) who returns to her native Austin, Texas, to deal with a family emergency...and comes face-to-face with the myriad was life has gone on without her. The premise is frothy, but the film is brimming with smart and sneakily soulful observations of how we are all, at one time or another, on the outside looking in. (FULL REVIEW)

Missing Link ****  

An unqualified delight, this stop-action animated film (from the studio that created the splendid Kubo and the Two Strings and Coraline) packs endless surprises into its brisk hour-and-a-half,  a raucous high adventure buddy comedy. Victorian-era British explorer Sir Lionel Frost (stuffily voiced by Hugh Jackman) travels to the Pacific Northwest to find Sasquatch, also known as Bigfoot — but soon they team up to unite the hulking but charming creature with his distant cousins, the Yeti, who populate a hidden city in the Himalaya. What follows is a boats, trains, and stagecoach odyssey, made more urgent by the threat of a gun-toting hitman hired by a rival explorer to keep Sir Frost from succeeding. The presence of that gun, which makes more than one appearance, plus some Disneyesque falling deaths toward the end, may argue against bringing young children to see the film. But there are grownup delights aplenty in Missing Link, from its glorious color palate to the refreshingly angular character design (except for that of Mr. Frost’s love interest, voiced by Zoe Saldana, who seems unsettlingly like a throwback to those Rankin/Bass stop-motion TV quickies of the 1960s). Best of all is the sparkling voice work of Zach Galifianakis, who breathes humor and innocence into Mr. Link. Writer/director Chris Butler paces his story perfectly, allowing Frost and Link plenty of room to develop a sweet if sometimes combative friendship. (FULL REVIEW)

Molly's Game (2017) *** 

Oscar-winning writer Aaron Sorkin (Moneyball, Steve Jobs) directs his own script for the first time, and surprisingly he does a better job than the other guys of pacing his machine gun dialogue. Still, his telling of the true story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), a former Olympic skier who ran one of America's most exclusive (and illegal) card games, is oddly soulless. Despite heartfelt scenes with her lawyer (Idris Elba) and dad (Kevin Costner), we never really learn enough about Molly to truly care about her. (FULL REVIEW)

Mom & Dad (2018) ****
Writer/director Brian Taylor is really onto something in this whip-smart horror fable, set on the day when, for reasons only hinted at, parents across the country become obsessed with a desire to murder their children. On one level, the plot gives Nicolas Cage license to unleash his full-frontal madman as he chases his two kids with a reciprocating electric saw, screaming, "Sawzall! It really saws all!" On the other, the film mines the deep veins of distrust and resentment that trace beneath the surface of even the most well-adjusted family. It's not quite as artful, but still a worthy second feature to the similarly subversive Get Out. 

A Monster Calls (2016) **** Sigourney Weaver costars as the grandmother of a troubled young boy in a dark fantasy/psychological thriller fueled by childhood fears (FULL REVIEW)

Monuments Men (2014) ***

George Clooney's buddy adventure about U.S. soldiers trying to recover stolen art is more fun than a barrel of Monets (FULL REVIEW)

Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements ****

Oscar-nominated documentary maker Irene Taylor Brodsky (The Final Inch) turns her compassionate cinematic vision to her own son, who lost his hearing as a young child due to a genetic condition that had rendered both of her parents deaf, as well. Fitted with an implant that enables him to hear once more, the child takes up piano and decides to learn Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata — the piece Beethoven wrote when the same year he suddenly lost his hearing.  Brodsky skillfully and sensitively intertwines her son's story with that of Beethoven — and with that of her now-aging parents. Music and deafness would seem to be odd bedfellows for a film, but Brodsky masterfully weds them in this uncommonly beautiful personal portrait. 

More Art Upstairs (2018) ****
What if there were an American Idol for visual artists, like painters and sculptors? That’s the idea behind this delightful and inspiring documentary. Each year, the entire city of Grand Rapids, Michigan turns out to judge works by major artists, then votes on who will win a half-million-dollars in prizes —  the largest cash award in the art world. Director Jody Hassett Sanchez introduces us to a handful of the contestants, then keeps them — and us — on pins and needles until the winners are announced.

mother! (2017) **

Something is clearly wrong with the remote house occupied by Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence: The walls bleed, as do the floors, and the place makes ungodly noises. But the real problem here is writer/director Darren Aronofsky's ambition to infuse his dark tale with Biblical allusions reaching from Genesis to Revelation, yet somehow forget to provide a meaningful context. (FULL REVIEW)

Mother's Day * (2016)
A truly awful attempt at sentimental comedy results in a film not even a mother could love (FULL REVIEW)

The Mountain Between Us (2017) ***
It's hard to go wrong watching Kate Winslet and Idris Elba for a couple of hours, but the gimmicky, cloying script about two people stranded in the mountains does its best to squander their talents. 

Mouthpiece (2019) ****  

Two actresses — Amy Nostbakken and Nora Savada — share the role Cassandra, a 30-year-old woman who has just lost her mother. They play two sides of Cassandra's psyche, which are often at odds with each other. It’s a terrific conceit that starts out a little gimmicky, but by the end the performances become seamless, exploring the daily dialogues we have with ourselves. Director Patricia Rozema masterfully spins a web of plausibility around an outrageous premise.  

The Mummy (2017) ***
Tom Cruise gets wrapped up in an ancient Egyptian princess' plot to conquer the world via supernatural powers and zombies. He runs a lot.

Murder Mystery (2019) ***  
It appears someone invited Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler to spend a few weeks in Monaco and Italy, and all they had to do in return was step in front of some cameras once in awhile and pretend to be a working class New York couple who get caught up in an implausible jet-set murder case. And that's not a bad trade-off, because the two are clearly having a ball in Murder Mystery. The film's creators clearly put as much thought into the title as they did the plot, which wants to evoke Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express when it's really a lot closer to Neil Simon's Murder By Death.  Still, there is enormous fun to be had in the company of two engaging stars, and the backgrounds are to die for.

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) ****
Drinking heartily from the font of Sidney Lumet's lush 1974 version, director/star Kenneth Branagh guides us through Agatha Christie's most famous mystery with a deft and knowing hand. Sporting a moustache that deserves its own billing, Branagh plays detective Hercule Poirot with delightful eccentricity while providing lots of star-type turns for his stellar cast of suspects, including Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr., Penelope Cruz, Derek Jacobi, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench and Willem Dafoe. It's no spoiler that Johnny Depp plays the victim, and to his credit he makes us good and glad he's dead. 

My Blue Heaven (1990) ***
The Blu-ray release of this offbeat buddy comedy about an effusive gangster (Steve Martin) and the federal agent assigned to protect him (Rick Moranis) won't make the top of anyone's list of achievements by the stars or writer Norah Ephron or director Herbert Ross. But it does serve to remind us how very much we miss Moranis, who hasn't made a movie in 20 years. 

My Cousin Rachel (2017) ***

Rachel Weisz is hypnotic as the mysterious woman who may or may not be responsible for the death of a 19th Century British nobleman. The deceased's brother (Sam Claflin) is determined to prove her guilt even as he falls hopelessly in love with her. Daphne Du Maurier's novel has already been a movie (with Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton) and a TV miniseries (with Geraldine Chaplin); this time around director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) heaps on the incriminating evidence like a Mississippi prosecutor. When he finally raises a shadow of a doubt, right near the end, we feel like a jury that's been lied to. 

My Dinner With Herve (2018) ***  
Before there was the indispensable Peter Dinklage, the world's most famous actor of similar physical stature was Herve Villechaize, the diminutive sidekick of Ricardo Montalban on TV's Fantasy Island.  Now here's Dinklage playing Herve in his last days, boozing, partying, and relating his life story to a reporter (Fifty Shades of Grey's Jamie Dornan) who is hating every minute of this assignment. Director Sacha Gervasi (Hitchcock) — drawing upon his personal experience interviewing Villechaize shortly before his 1993 suicide — paints a tragic portrait of the troubled actor. But with his usual elan, Dinklage brings a troubled sort of dignity to the man who couldn't go anywhere without people insisting he point to the sky and exclaim, "De plane!"

My Favorite Year (1982) ****  

Here's a movie that drifts into my mind with remarkable frequency; Richard Benjamin's fond tribute to 1950s TV. Peter O'Toole stars as a booze-soaked faded matinee idol (read Errol Flynn) making a last-ditch attempt at relevance by appearing on a live variety show hosted by a comic named King Kaiser (read Sid Caesar). A studio gofer (Mark Linn-Baker) is put in charge of keeping the fallen star sober. Hilarity of the best sort ensues. 

My Name is Emily (2017) ****
A young Irish girl (Evanna Lynch) talks a schoolmate (George Webster) into driving her across the country to see her eccentric dad in this remarkably insightful coming-of-age comedy from quadriplegic director Simon FItzmaurice (FULL REVIEW)


Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase **** 

Captain Marvel may be the most powerful superhero in the Marvelverse, but this screen incarnation of America’s favorite teenaged detective gives us permission to celebrate a world where the only superpowers anyone needs are intelligence, curiosity, compassion and kindness. Nancy is played with homespun good humor by Sophia Lillis, cute as a button as she sets about    solving the mystery of a seemingly haunted house, owned by an eccentric but lovable former burlesque dancer (Linda Lavin, who we can never get enough of).   (FULL REVIEW)

Nebraska (2013) ****
In a career-defining performance, Bruce Dern is a slightly befuddled fellow who’s convinced he’s won $1 million in a sweepstakes. Will Forte is the good son who offers to drive him from Montana to Nebraska to claim the dubious prize. Amazing performances all around, directed by Alexander Payne (The Descendants, About Schmidt).  

Night of the Living Dead (1968) ****

Maybe it's because George Romero used borrowed equipment from a Pittsburgh news station and enlisted much of his cast off the street, but there's something uncannily visceral about his low-budget zombie masterpiece. Watch it once, and you'll never view a distant figure walking through a graveyard the same way. 

Norman (2017) ****

Richard Gere has found he role of a lifetime in the understated portrait of an enigmatic New York "fixer," a guy who spends his days making seemingly random personal connections with influential people in hopes of someday matching them up in arcane business deals. But the more time we spend with Norman, the more mysterious becomes. In the end, we know only what Norman wants us to  (FULL REVIEW) 

Novitiate  (2017) ****

The film's focus is on a 17-year-old girl (Margaret Qualley) who enters a super-strict convent just as Vatican II begins to loosen things up in the Catholic Church. But the movie's lightning rod is Melissa Leo as the Mother Superior, a terse dictator whose entire identity is wrapped up in tradition, and who is not about to kick the old habits. Alternately infuriated  and exhausted by her hopeless battle against Catholic authorities, Leo also conveys the heartbreak of one who believes her one true love, God Himself, has let her down. 


The  Old Man And The Gun (2018) ****

The aging bank robber at the center of writer/director David Lowery’s film is defined by his easy charm, his winning smile — and a unique genius for his chosen profession. You could say precisely the same thing about the man who plays him, Robert Redford. Based on a New Yorker piece by David Gramm, this funny and thrilling caper flick also boasts Sissy Spacek, melting every heart in sight as Tucker’s sweet and trusting girlfriend, and Casey Affleck as the cop hot on Tucker’s trail. Affleck manages to get us rooting for him, despite our growing affection for his prey.  


On Chesil Beach (2018) ****

Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle star in a soul-searching and sad story of mismatched love. Ian McEwan wrote the screenplay based on his novel about a naïve couple on their honeymoon. It’s a moody masterpiece, capped by haunting performances. What begins as charming awkwardness descends into blind panic, and soon we’re learning just how incompatible this adorable but doomed pair is.   

On the Basis of Sex (2018) ***
What a tease! This movie isn't sexy at all — it's about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's first court case, a 1970s sex discrimination suit. Felicity Jones is suitably adorable as Ginsberg, displaying the whip-smart impishness that has endeared the real thing to millions. As her adoring and endlessly supportive hubby, Armie Hammer has every woman in the audience poking at her man's ribs and whispering "Why can't you be more like him?" And Kathy Bates has a nice cameo as a groundbreaking civil rights lawyer, the woman who inspired the woman who today inspires millions of women. Performances and timeliness aside, On The Basis of Sex is clumsily scripted, with characters often stopping  in their tracks to deliver impromptu speeches about inequality or, more egregiously, utter impossibly prescient observations that speak directly and awkwardly  to the country's current political environment. First-time screenwriter Daniel Stiepleman's script sounds like a first draft from Aaron Sorkin, but at least Sorkin, an over-writer of the first rank, has an ear for the poetry of language.  

Once Upon a Hollywood  (2019) ****  

No one has ever before linked the term "sweet" with the films of Quentin Tarantino, but there's disarming appeal to spare in his love letter to 1969 Los Angeles — in the moments before Hollywood's glitter was forever tarnished by the Manson family's Sharon Tate  murders. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Rick Dalton, a fading TV western star who remains best friends with his old stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt, his chiseled features settling in nicely to a middle-age comfort zone). Together they ramble the lightly trafficked streets of LA, like The Green Hornet and Kato, seeking professional renaissance while living off former glory. From afar, Cliff envies his next-door neighbors, Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and Roman Polanski, wishing with all his being he were in their expensive boots. Meanwhile, Cliff becomes acquainted with one of Manson's acolytes, a free-spirited waif named Pussycat (The Leftovers' Margaret Qualley). A visit with her to the Manson Family's digs on the Spahn Movie Ranch convinces him that, as he might say, "Them people just ain't right." The film seems a tad long at 2 hours and 40 minutes, but Tarantino works hard to earn every second of our attention, lavishing the screen with period details and the soundtrack with not only vintage songs, but also plentiful AM radio station air checks that will spark vivid memories for anyone who tooled the streets of LA 50 years ago. The sprawling supporting cast plays a who's who of real-life Hollywood figures, including Dakota Fanning as Squeaky Fromme, Timothy Olyphant as James Stacy, Damian Lewis as Steve McQueen, and Mike Moh as Bruce Lee. Bruce Dern appears as ranch owner George Spahn — a role Burt Reynolds was slated to play before his sudden death (the characters of Rick and Cliff are reportedly based largely on Reynolds and his longtime pal, stuntman/director Hal Needham). Tarantino, no shrinking violet when it comes to blood and guts, shows studied restraint throughout the film, but that only serves to set the table for the film's hyperviolent, yet undeniably satisfying, finale. 

Othello (1952-55) ****   
Strapped for cash and squeezing shoots between acting gigs, Orson Welles and his cast convened over the course of three years in Morocco, Venice, Tuscany, and Rome to create this supremely cinematic version of Shakespeare's tale of bigotry and greed. Make a double feature of this and Welles' Chimes at Midnight (1965) — a brilliant and similarly patched-together blend of five Shakespeare plays — and you'll understand why enthusiasts consider Welles the Bard's premier screen adaptor. 

Out of Blue (2019) ****  

Infused with cosmic questions about black holes, parallel universes and quantum mechanics, Out of Blue clearly wants to be something more than a murder mystery. But an intriguing plot, a moody New Orleans setting, and superb performances from a cast headed by Patricia Clarkson keep tugging this excellent film noir back to Earth — and that’s all for the best.

Clarkson plays a hangdog homicide cop named MIke who's seen too many bodies and the bottoms of too many bottles of gin.  But something about the murder of an astrophysicist (Mamie Gummer) in her rooftop observatory  sets Mike on edge. The murder seems to mimic those of along-ago serial killer. Methodically, Mike begins questioning Jennifer’s colleagues — a collection of eggheads who insist on placing the astrophysicist’s death within the context of arcane scientific theories.

In earlier years, movie detectives hearing this sort of stuff would have rolled their eyes — one can imagine Dirty Harry or Sam Spade growling out some disdainful rejoinder like “The only parallel universe I see is the one where you’re frying in the electric chair, Buddy.” 

But Mike takes the notion to heart.

Clarkson is, as always, riveting as the cop. And writer/director Carol Morley has assembled a superb supporting cast including James Caan, Jacki Weaver and Toby Jones.   (FULL REVIEW)


Out of the Furnace (2013) ***
Christian Bale and Casey Affleck duke it out for acting Oscar nominations in this flint-edged story of two brothers raised in a Pennsylvania steel mill town. When a stab at backwoods boxing goes horribly wrong for one of them, the other stumbles to the rescue, encountering along the way a truly scary hillbilly, played with restrained sociopathic finesse by Woody Harrelson.


Paint It Black (2017) ***
Janet McTeer is chilling as a mother who blames her son's suicide on his grieving girlfriend (Alia Shawkat) (FULL REVIEW)


The Painted Veil (2006) ***

Edward Norton and Naomi Watts star as a mismatched British couple fighting a cholera epidemic in China. With Sally Hawkins, Toby Jones and Liev Schreiber and lush cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh (The Piano, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty)

The Paper (1994) ****
Folded somewhere between The Post and The Front Page, Ron Howard's slam-bang story of a big-city editor (Michael Keaton) trying to do an end run around his paper's penny-pinching owner (Glenn Close) sparkles with  fun nostalgia for the golden era of "Hello Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite!"  Two decades later, it's an aching reminder of a time when print journalism was the heartbeat of every town in America.

 Paranoia (2013) ***
A by-the-numbers plot ultimately foils this would-be thriller, but there’s still some fun to be had in watching Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford (in a skull-baring buzz cut!) go mano a mano as big business rivals. 

Paris Can Wait (2016) ***
Diane Lane is adorable as the wife of a much-too-busy movie producer (Alec Baldwin, sans orange hair for once!), who entrusts her to the care of a French pal (Arnaud Viard) for a one-day drive from Cannes to Paris. But this is France, so that quick hop turns into a multi-day romantic whirl as the two take in the country's most beautiful countryside and fantastic food. Directed by Eleanor Coppola, the 80-year-old wife of Francis Ford—making her first-ever feature film.


Parkland (2013) ***
This sometimes disjointed docudrama follows a slew of Dallas folks-famous and infamous-on the day JFK was shot. Marcia Gay Harden and Zac Efron play staff at Parkland Memorial Hospital, where the President was rushed; Paul Giamatti is Abraham Zapruder, creator of the most famous home movie of all time; Jacki Weaver plays the mother of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) *****
Every film school nerd has marveled at the expressionist artistry of director Carl Dreyer and the transcendant performance of Renee Falconetti in this evocative account of St. Joan's final hours. Astonishingly modern yet hauntingly Medieval, this film created an entire volume of new cinematic language. Criterion Collection's new disc includes three musical scores and a new digital restoration. 

Patti Cake$ (2017) **** The latest missive from that cauldron of suburban angst, New Jersey: Danielle McDonald is a revelation as white rapper Patricia Dumbrowski, a.k.a. Killer P., a.k.a. Patti Cake$. She dreams of stardom mostly as a way to escape her humdrum hometown. The film echoes Saturday Night Fever and 8 Mile, but McDonald and writer/director Geremy Gasper (Hillsdale, NJ's favorite son) bring a fresh cadence. 

Paul, Apostle of Christ (2018) ****
First-rate performances propel this historical drama about the Apostle Paul (Game of Thrones' James Faulkner) and Gospel writer Luke (Passion of the Christ's Jim Caviezel). The two characters play off each other so effectively — discussing faith and fear within the confines of Paul's Rome prison cell — that we begin to resent the passages when co-writer/director Andrew Hyatt pulls us out into the light to show Paul's eventful life in flashback.(FULL REVIEW)  

The Perfection ****  

Director/cowriter Richard Shepard (Matador, Girls) borrows from all the right people in this mind-bending thriller about two young cello players (Allison Williams and Logan Browning) whose common bond is an unhealthy history with their musical mentor (Steven Weber). You'll hear and see echoes of Jordan Peele's Get Out, David Cronenberg's Crash, Todd Browning's Freaks and even Hitchcock's Vertigo. But mostly you'll be riveted to a Grand Guignol tale of smart, talented women who go to unhealthy — if necessary — extremes to break free of a male-dominated culture. It's #MeToo meets #You'reNext. On Netflix.

Personal Shopper (2016) ***  
There are many eerie delights in Olivier Assayas' spooky story about a young woman (Kristen Stewart) haunted by the death of her twin brother. But nothing will prepare you for the truly harrowing scene in which Stewart's character finds herself texting with a possible ghost. Try not to jump each time the phone goes "bloop!"

Philomena (2013) ****
Judi Dench gives the performance of a lifetime as the title character, a woman seeking the son she gave up as a child. Steve Coogan, who also wrote the film’s moving and disarmingly funny script, costars as the investigative reporter who helps unravel the tangle of deceit and corruption that very nearly choked off the truth behind Philomena’s quest. Based on a true story. 

Pirates of Somalia (2017) ****
Consider it Captain Phillips: The Rest of the Story. Writer/director Bryan Buckley, Oscar nominated for a short film set in Somalia, returns to that embattled nation with this true tale of a struggling writer (Evan Peters), who decides to make his own big break by heading to Somalia as a freelancer. He pursues a story about local pirates who commandeer cargo ships for ransom and discovers a human element he'd never dreamed of. Peters is extraordinary as an innocent who finds himself thrust into a lawless land where long history and current desperation mix. And Barkhad Abdi, who was nominated for an Oscar as a Somalian pirate in Captain Phillips, brings authenticity to the role of the young man's guide through this little corner of Hell. 

Poms (2019)  **

The crime here is first-time feature director Zara Hayes has assembled a dream cast of accomplished actors — including Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Rhea Perlman, and Pam Grier — and trapped them in a slapdash, shockingly unfunny comedy about residents of a senior home who start a cheerleading team. Such a premise is fraught with the danger of infantilizing its main characters and trivializing the courage it can take to grow older gracefully — and film walks into each trap with blissful disregard. 

The Post (2017) ****
Meryl Streep is Washington Post owner Katherine Graham, Tom Hanks is editor-in-chief Ben Bradlee, and Steven Spielberg is the director — and that's about all you need to know about this dynamite newspaper saga. We find Graham facing twin, intertwined crises: Her editor wants to take on the Nixon administration by excerpting the notorious Pentagon Papers right at the moment when she's trying to take the family-owned newspaper public. In the course of the ordeal, Streep's Graham transforms from an uncertain CEO bullied by her male board members into a full-voiced authoritarian who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to get some ink on her hands to make it happen. Meanwhile, Hanks' Bradlee is an ambitious but pragmatic newshound who's equally at home dealing with both extremes of his boss's personality spectrum. Best of all, Spielberg evokes the slam-bang spirit of old-time newspaper work, from the looming once-a-day deadlines to the pneumatic office tubes to the rumble of a giant press in the basement, signaling the end of one news cycle and the start of another.  (FULL REVIEW) 

Prisoners (2013) ****
This gritty crime drama stars Hugh Jackman as a distraught Georgia dad who kidnaps the guy he believes abducted his 6-year-old daughter. It’s the old vigilante dad story, all right, but get a load of the rest of the cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, and Paul Dano 

A Private War  (2018) ***

Anyone who has made the acquaintance of a dedicated foreign war correspondent will recognize the pathologies at work in A Private War, the true story of legendary Times of London reporter Marie Colvin. As played by Rosamund Pike — her voice lowered to the point where it seems to be coming from the bottom of a dry well — Colvin is addicted to the horrifying thrills of the battlefield the way so many other film characters these days  are hooked on opiates and booze. Yet long after her heart has let up pumping gallons of adrenaline to her extremities, the debilitating effects of PTSD set in, haunting her dreams both sleeping and waking. Pike's is a pulse-pounding performance. Unfortunately, it's  embedded in a film that offers no real story arc but simply takes the character from one living hell to another. Colvin hurls herself headlong into an endless series conflicts, endangering not only herself for everyone around her. When she's not dodging bullets, she's haunting hotel lobbies and hobnobbing with fellow war scribes — bedding many of them with battlefield-like fury. It's a deadly, exhausting cycle that offers little reward for the viewer other than a cavalcade of atrocities leading to an inevitable, tragic conclusion 

Puerto Ricans in Paris (2016) *** 

Luiz Guzman and Edgar Garcia don't quite translate as New York cops on the Seine (FULL REVIEW)

Pure Country, Pure Heart (2017) ***
This gentle, music-infused family drama follows two Tennessee teens (Amanda Detmer and Kaitlyn Bausch) as they try to learn family secrets about their dad, who died a hero in Afghanistan. The drama is heartfelt and  the music (by the girls and costars Ronny Cox and Willie Nelson) goes down easy

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