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Movie Reviews

'The Founder': The Original Hamburglar
'I think my father would have enjoyed John Lee Hancock's "The Founder," an enthusiastic account of how Ray Kroc, a previously failed salesman, turned the McDonald brothers' pioneering, fast-food restaurant into a worldwide phenomenon. But while he would applaud the title character's passion and persistence, he'd
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'La La Land': On the One Hand, and Then on the Other
I already knew I was somewhat of a dreamer, but my generally warm and starry-eyed acceptance of wunderkind writer-director Damien Chazelle's "La La Land," a throwback/homage to the nascent movie musicals of the 1930s, also confirms that I am a hopeless romantic. The curious idea to have Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling play the sort of
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'Fences': Scales the Dramatic Heights
Denzel Washington's phenomenally touching, multitextured performance in August Wilson's "Fences" sings a heartrending paean to every dad who struggled to make a living, raise a family and preserve his human dignity in the face of herculean obstacles. Plying one of the most complexly realized, tragic American figures since
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'Why Him?': Why Waste Your Money?
For parents of a daughter approaching marrying age, James Franco's Laird Mayhew is your worst nightmare realized. On the positive side of the ledger, the Silicon Valley mega-billionaire would doubtless be a good provider. But topping the much longer list of negatives, he is a filthy mouthed libertine who thinks nothing of regaling you with
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'Manchester by the Sea': Set your Movie GPS
For those filmgoers who long for a movie with a beginning, middle and end, bereft of razzle-dazzle special effects and philosophy class mind benders, writer-director Kenneth Lonergan's soulfully touching "Manchester by the Sea" is just the ticket. But beware oh ye to whom such traditional fair initially appeals, as the astutely
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'Nocturnal Animals': Subspecies: Human
Imagine you are driving late at night on a desolate country road, hardly a speck of civilization in sight save for an occasional utility pole. It's spooky to begin with, but nowhere near as scary as when a car suddenly appears in your rearview mirror. You make a turn, just to see. The car follows. You make a couple more, random turns. There
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'Rules Don't Apply': The Politics of Entitlement
Maybe it's because I've recently had my fill of bragging billionaires that I was slow to build interest in director-writer-actor Warren Beatty's "Rules Don't Apply." The partially fantasized biographical sketch about the much mythologized Howard Hughes also starts off sluggishly and is a mite jagged. It isn't until
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'Moonlight': Illuminating
The DNA of everything that is wrong, sad and perplexing about race relations in the U.S. is poetically discerned and illuminated in filmmaker Barry Jenkins' Oscar-worthy "Moonlight." Jenkins ingeniously utilizes the low-budget, art house look of his sociologically profound film about a young black man's journey in ghettoized
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'Bleed for This': Middleweight Contender
To accent boxer Vinny Pazienza's close-knit family in director-writer Ben Younger's "Bleed for This," turning points in the pugilist's remarkable saga are inevitably marked by the clan crowded around the dinner table eating, with hardly room for a bread stick among them. There is a basic, anthropological purity in the
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'Arrival': Quite a Trip
You know how sometimes between sleep and consciousness you can tell the future? Well, good for you if you can; it doesn't happen to me, not anymore. I've been stuck in this reality mode since the 1960s ended. But, just in case you tune in, Dr. Leary, there's a fascinating variant of that "Twilight Zone"-like mind trip in
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