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'Book Club': Can Be Judged From Its Cover

Now, you know full well that one-by-one, each of our damsels in fretfulness is destined to wind up in at least a better place, if not perfectly fulfilled, by the closing credits. Don't be angry with me. Giving away the conclusion of "Sleeping Beauty" or any other fable wouldn't draw your ire.

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'Life of the Party': Celebrates the Joys of Mediocrity

Light, frothy confections that specialized in proving that one can indeed turn lemons into lemonade, they featured silly but likeable characters who, through some unseen benevolent power or just sheer luck, were able to navigate a series of farcical and convoluted perplexions.

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'Tully': The Helping Hand that Rocks the Cradle

Enters the nursery, Tully: part Mary Poppins, part Mother Theresa and part Kahlil Gibran in a 23-year-old, neo-hippie personage. Played with vivacious allure and no small amount of mystery by Mackenzie Davis, she is a dream come true.

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'Avengers: Infinity War': Goldberger's Complaint

But the fact is, your blockbuster enrapturing of what seems to be almost everyone but myself is proving a challenge to my individualism. Hustling out of the theater with a pal eager to discuss how much he absolutely loved every pixel of your spectacle, I begged off, suddenly remembering I had a late-night dental appointment.

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'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.

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'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.

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'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.

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'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.

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'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.

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'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.

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'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.

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'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.

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'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.

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'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.

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'LBJ': Offers Hope From the Past

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'Suburbicon': Where Seldom Is Heard a Tolerant Word

Here, in a rare departure of form, though co-writing and producing, they've chosen George Clooney to direct what nonetheless bears their unique signature. While I've dubbed the crime story "Fargo Light," it's far from their best effort.

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'Victoria and Abdul': The Queen and I

In this sweet, nicely filmed tale based on the actual relationship England's Queen Victoria had late in life with her Muslim Indian servant, Abdul Karim, oodles of feel-good charm temporarily anoint an egalitarian salve to a sense of fairness long abraded by social Darwinism.

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'Professor Marston and the Wonder Women': La Différence to the Rescue

What immediately came to mind as the fascinating biopic unreeled, beginning with Dr. William Moulton Marston's days as a heralded psychology professor, was how many second-tier, illustrious people there are: folks who did something major, but who are now all but forgotten.

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'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.

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'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.

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'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.

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'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.

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'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

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'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.

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'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.

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