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Movie Reviews
'Ready Player One': It's All a Game
Although the film bounces back and forth between reality and its cause célèbre, virtual reality, we are ultimately relieved when we grok that beneath all the layers of surrealism and cutting-edge chimera, it's just good vs. evil fighting it out in high-tech trappings.

'Isle of Dogs': Will Wag Your Tail
Thus the best tack to take, if you can, is to sit back, relax and enjoy this genre heir to "Animal Farm" for its quirkily infatuating surface tale, allowing your brain's tumblers to bounce, adjust and absorb the subtextual, implied and exquisitely threaded hidden meanings at your own pace.

'The Leisure Seeker': Two for the Road
Shrouded in mystery, hope, despair and every other word the poets have employed to describe the inevitable, it is, along with love, the ultimate inscrutability.

'Love, Simon': You've Got Blackmail
A telling thumbnail sketch of Americana, it is both reminiscent and profoundly contemporizing, from the cliquish cafeteria coteries, to the time-honored camaraderies you will cherish forever, to Vice Principal Worth's (Tony Hale) humorously good-natured confiscation of cellphones. I could practically taste the delicious, frosting-topped cake served in my own lunchroom, only 10 cents extra.

'A Wrinkle in Time': Folds, Spindles and Doesn't Exhilarate
Insofar as the plot itself, the screenplay adapted by Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell, though afforded all the galaxies to explore, charts a neo-"Alice in Wonderland," follow-the-dots style that, perhaps for fear of being untrue to the source material, fails to color outside the lines.

'Death Wish': What this World Doesn't Need Now
But you can't blame MGM or director Eli Roth for the untimely release of this heir apparent to what became the standard of vigilante ethos. Considering the ceaseless conveyor belt of mass shootings bloodying our landscape, there is never a good time.

'Black Panther': It's All Good
Wonderfully imaginative sets depicting the magic that is Wakanda, an advanced civilization that protects its scientific and natural resource secrets by posing as a Third World country, dramatically enhance the cultural dream at the core of the film's soul. Psst ... Wakanda is rich in vibranium, a metal of extraordinary properties, not the least of which is the source of Black Panther's superpowers. But y'know, wherever there's a secret there's a leaker. Hence, it only figures that bad guys of...

'The Art of the Oscar Picks': The Devil Is in The Details
They'd be so correct that people would be bored by them. I'm like a smart person. I went to the best schools. I make great deals. All I had to do was get a little help from the outside. It's all the rage, y'know?

'Peter Rabbit': Hop to It!
Judging by the alternate cheering and jeering in reflection of this animated adventure yarn that at its heart is a morality tale, I was gladdened by the apparently uncorrupted devotion to truth and ethics. It gave me hope for the future they might demand.

'Hostiles': Requiem for the Horse Opera
This is a very studied work, contemplative, moody, often slow and then jarringly punctuated with a brutally truthful, enigmatic and almost fatalistic violence that contradicts the glorifying horse operas that came before it, and in the bargain explains the genre's dwindling popularity.

'Phantom Thread': When Love Is In Fashion
Thus, in a sly variation of Henry Higgins' Eliza Doolittle, enters stage right ingénue Vicky Krieps as Alma, the waitress up to the task of humbling for his own good, whilst concurrently and paradoxically aggrandizing, the great man.

'The Post': The Stuff of Pulitzers
Although the film is an exciting, often heart-pounding chronicle of the Nixon-era Pentagon Papers scandal, we know full well that, just as the Korea-based "MASH" (1970) was about Vietnam, this past triumph is also crucial to the here and now.

'Darkest Hour': Saving The World 101
Digging down into the cerebraly exhilarating and deliciously funky depths of his prime minister, Gary Oldman examples the DNA of democratic ideals with both grand conviction and charming whimsy.

'The Greatest Showman': For Ladies, Gentlemen & Parentally Guided Children of All Ages
While today's biopics have essentially eschewed the over-fictionalization that used to mark the genre's offerings, director Gracey, working from a screenplay by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon, harks to the old classics not by padding the truth, but by leaving out a bit of it.

'The Shape of Water': No Ordinary Fish Tale
Writer-director del Toro's ability to beautifully weave surprise and nuance into the most obvious divulgences imbues its numerous moral maxims with refreshed veracity, telling anew why they are vital to our being. Full of essences, the film places friendship at center stage.

 
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