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Movie Reviews
'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.

'Ghost in the Shell': Machine Politics
They have been duped into thinking that things will be better for them in their demagogue's phony world, and enthusiastically bear false witness to obfuscate the quest for honesty. Such is what is sown out of fear and in search of pie-in-the-sky solutions. It is much easier to believe in ideology than to face the hard facts of reality. It's not for nothing that the great philosopher assured that truth is beauty.

'Life': No Bowl of Cherries
Sure to be shocked, the viewer is left wondering why Espinosa, working from a script by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, would paint such a depressing conclusion. You mean that's it? That's where we're headed? Well then, let me kill myself now. Even Schopenhauer, the granddaddy of pessimism, would be depressed.

'Beauty and the Beast': The Fairy Tale as Civics Lesson
Folkloric treatises like "Beauty and the Beast," our pre-constitutional primers in fairness, are among the very earliest of a child's civics lessons. Too bad ardent followup has lost favor in our homes and schools.

'Kong: Skull Island': Serious Monkey Business
To quote an eloquent teen in the theater lobby who ruminated it afterward with his pals, "That was a most satisfying movie experience." The 14-year-old in me agrees; the curmudgeon has reservations.

'Logan': Makes Some Sharp Points
No longer is there is simply black, white and gray, but rather, an acknowledgment of something more complicated. For example, Logan is good not just by what humanitarian instincts he might exhibit, but by his angst over the killing he's done to preserve life and knife-sprouting upper limbs.

 
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