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Movie Reviews
'Menashe': The Child is Father of the Man
While director Joshua Z. Weinstein's "Menashe" is on first blush a touching look into a child custody battle being waged by Menashe, a Hasidic grocery clerk in Borough Park, Brooklyn, further reflection reveals a much larger, equal opportunity meditation about the human condition.

'The Dark Tower': Fighting Horror with Horror
The film is clearly about the war between good and evil, albeit related only coincidentally to the nightmarish battle between those forces now commanding our national stage. Whereas our real fight waits for afeared and hesitant patriots to awaken, the movie provides a quick fix of honesty and justice.

'A Ghost Story': Lacks Spirit
But while I was mostly bored during its screening, forced to contemplate loose ends that ultimately were never tied to my satisfaction, I haven't really stopped thinking about it.

'The Big Sick': Has a Healthy Outlook
It's all well and good for starters ... ain't love grand? etc., etc. But the getting-to-know-you portions of this budding affaire de coeur, at first rollickingly humorous as Emily and Kumail embrace their cultural differences, eventually runs into reality.

'Baby Driver': Runs on Hi-Test
Wright offers samples of utter venality in lazy-Susan style. And admittedly the shamelessly belligerent soliloquies and one-upmanship in praise of anti-social behavior are a bit wearing on the soul. But that's the message, to mirror in microcosm the raw exhibition of corruption in this second decade of the 21st century, when the real-life effort to subvert truth, decorum and ethics barely attempts to hide its nefarious aims.

'Beatriz at Dinner': Manifesto Under Glass
Expect diagnosis, but alas, no cure. You see, beneath the dramatic layers, both disingenuously polite and blatantly hateful, it's about the money. As my rich big sister Ann says, "It's always about the money, especially if they say it's not about the money."

'My Cousin Rachel': Relatively Mysterious
The screenplay, adapted by Michell from Daphne du Maurier's novel, includes a slew of the author's slyly injected metaphors ... thoughts about the human condition you'll either agree with or disavow. On an objective note, viewers of a literary bent may venture a thought or two about the genre of fiction du Maurier chose to explore our behavior, decorum and proclivities

'Wonder Woman': You Go Girl
Harking back to the original, uplifting purpose of superheroes, Jenkins' superbly directed meld of adventure, social conscience and eye-filling visuals should deservedly attract those filmgoers who otherwise wouldn't think twice of considering such fare. But there has been much buzz about its humanitarian notions regarding gender equality, civil rights and other sacred values our better instincts attempt to find in art whenever dark forces threaten to cloud them in reality.

'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales': Many Asleep in the Deep
My defense in the dark of the theater, neither friend nor foe to the franchise, is to try to relax and not let it get to me. But then add that indecipherability of speech to a simpleton plot made painfully convoluted in the futile attempt to seem complex, and this fifth installment of the series becomes cinema's answer to watching paint dry. On and on each unfolding part of the saga is delivered in a miasma of confounding confusion.

'Alien: Covenant': All's Lousy That Ends Lousy
If the raison d'etre for such a bleak vision was to stir the optimist in our national psyche into a resisting action, I might understand it. But that's the pie-in-the-sky, former hippie in me looking to see the bright side of something that is resolutely dark.

'A Quiet Passion': Rhyme and Reason
And, because she is a woman nearly a century before suffrage is enacted, and slavery is still very much the law of the land among her Southern neighbors, these and other grave political matters can't hide from her condemnation, wittily slipped into the poet's politely acerbic commentary.

'The Circle': The Shape of Things to Come?
Thus, while "The Circle" isn't enjoyable in the usually accepted definition of the term, the not so blurry mirror it holds up proves the cinema version of the horrific traffic accident from which we can't divert our eyes. It's too close to reality.

'Born in China': Animal Magnetism
One of the key joys of seeing "Born in China," a splendidly picturesque documentary about snow leopard Dawa and her two cubs; Tao Tao, a young snub-nosed monkey; and a giant panda

'Gifted': The Long and Short of It
Mckenna Grace's superb, empathic depiction of the wunderkind, a modern, younger variation of the reflective, knowledge-hungry Francie portrayed by Peggy Ann Garner in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (1945), is delightfully hopeful.

'Going in Style': Bank Heist Steals Your Heart
A convivial give-and-take alternates between the sad economic facts about senior citizens in the richest country in the world having to choose between medicine and food, and the wacky, near burlesque, devil-may-care antics of these three indomitable regalers of life's pageant. And, just to pepper things with a little romance, when pretty Ann-Margret's Annie sets her cap for Albert, we cheer the ideal that love, like hope, springs eternal.

 
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