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'1917': Mistaken Destiny

Shock and marvel combine in our appreciation of the award-worthy art direction, phenomenal cinematography and special effects that provide a near seamless, non-stop chronicle of the death-defying mission the two young soldiers undertake.

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'Little Women': The Halberstadter Excuse

What could this Philistine of a male know about the trials and tribulations of the intrepid March sisters — Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy — and about sisterhood, feminism, devotion to family and the desire to have an identifying career in a stultifying society that believed a woman's place was in the home? In short, while I know, my genes dictate that I don't really know.

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'Uncut Gems': Frenetic: [fruh-net-ik] Filled With Excitement, Activity, or Confusion: Wild or Frantic

What is this aberration, this bizarre concoction of what the human experience can turn into when internal wires cross and hormones contraindicate? There is no propriety, no adhesion to accepted rules of society except under duress or threat of death.

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'Richard Jewell': All That Sparkles …

"Richard Jewell," director Clint Eastwood's skillfully told account of how a hero was turned into a scapegoat following the murderous bombing at the 1996 Olympics, stokes that greatest fear upon which our judicial system is based: that an innocent soul might be convicted of a crime.

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'Dark Waters': 'They Were All My Sons'

Fact is, we've been poisoning humankind's well since first we learned how to make a profit out of it while concomitantly rationalizing, if bothering at all, that we'll worry about it later. Well, it's later.

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'The Irishman': At 3 Hours & 29 Minutes, it all Depends

The organized mobster rationalizes that the above-ground world is a con and weighted against his ilk. Whereas, in the agency of the Mafia, the playing field is evened.

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'A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood': What This World Needs Now

We can't help but wonder what great spiritual providence has created this humanitarian. Yet, the more we marvel, the more we're convinced he is the real deal. Whatever the genesis, he is here to help.

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'Ford v Ferrari': Or, Goliath v David

The red-blooded American portion of me, the part that in my youth soaked up John Wayne movies, was gratified by the spirit of director James Mangold's studiously executed "Ford v Ferrari." Rah, rah and all that good stuff.

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'Parasite': For Richer or Poorer

Expect no answer to the problem in this film but just a good old college try courtesy of Joon-ho Bong who, with co-writer Han Jin Won, astutely delves into the complex tapestry of the relationship between the landed and the impoverished.

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'Motherless Brooklyn': Yes, Collusion

If you're that particularly obnoxious sort who has to let everyone in the theater know your uncanny skill at guessing the plot, shh! But for my kindred spirits who, like me, can't figure these things out for the proverbial million dollars, you have to decide whether or not to trust that the director will ultimately tie things up in a manner that will win your satisfaction. I voted in the affirmative.

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'Judy': As Illustrated by Renée

Just as a picture says a thousand words, when it's done right the emotive belting out of a song opens a window into the soul of the artist. And Zellweger does it right.

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'Pain & Glory': Regret & Joy

In self-imposed hiatus and exile from his storied career when we meet him, Mallo is an anxious confluence of nostalgia, regret, uncertainty and just a little glimmer of hope that might just be our wishful thinking.

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'Joker': Doesn't Kid Around

And while there is some judiciously placed gallows humor to somewhat mitigate the mind-blowing stream of anxiety, unease and straight up terror, "Joker" is never a laughing matter.

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'Ad Astra': Stellar Search for Self

But while the movie's crystal ball-inspired doodads, gewgaws and thingamajigs are perhaps sublimated to suggest the deal with the Devil they insinuate, the profoundness of what might come to be is spookily evoked in Pitt's performance. His embodiment of the hero it'd take to navigate the Big Brother-inspired anxieties of this prophesied world is sublimely perceptive.

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'Downton Abbey': King of the Soap Operas

It is a soap opera on steroids, here polished to a buff equaling the shine of the Grantham silverware which, by the way, becomes a minor issue.

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'Hustlers': The Tacky Laps of Luxury

We are reminded yet again how little we've evolved since first we rose from the primordial mud. But methinks there's more to the deplorable modus operandi of the moneyed bigwigs who make like smalltime Caligulas at the uptown strip joints.

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'Before You Know It': Wherein the Critic Bemoans ...

Utt's anatomy of a family builds slowly, carefully and lovingly, its emotionally absorbing contemplations sure to win you over "Before You Know It."

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'Luce': Enlightening

Director Julius Onah, who co-wrote the screenplay with J.C. Lee, puts the tension level to the metal, intriguingly casting aspersions like so many crumbs upon the water, and in the process testing our ability to separate cogent facts from those that have been artfully manipulated.

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'The Peanut Butter Falcon': Wrestling With Bigotry

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this feature-length film speaks educational volumes about the disorder that is ostensibly its cause-célèbre.

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'Blinded by the Light': Guidance From Asbury Park

Yep, it's all packed in there: a feel-good saga of a likable young man fashioning his own great expectations, a swell score populated with The Boss' hits, and a humanistic message there for your illumination, provided you don't allow yourself to be "Blinded by the Light."

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'The Art of Racing in the Rain': Tearjerker & Tail-Wagger

This isn't a great motion picture by any stretch of the imagination. It's a 2 & 1/2. Yet man does not live by "Citizen Kane" (1941) alone. The films we really, really like often say more about us than the subject matter into which they delve.

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'The Farewell': And a Fond One at That

Personally affecting, "The Farewell" is a little movie with a big heart. And, because it's PG and suggested for the whole family, this is a perfect opportunity to make sure that spoiled little grandchild in your clan doesn't become the only freshman at Princeton who hasn't seen a subtitled movie.

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'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood': The Golden Age, Tarnished

The provocative and quirkily philosophical work is thoroughly entertaining proof that he is one of America's most accomplished, living directors.

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'The Lion King': Reigns On

Although most of the world is by now familiar with the saga, the combination of resplendent landscapes and superb voicing of the magnificently imaged players breathes a reinvigorating spirit into the franchise.

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'Yesterday': All Over Again

Like the cavemen in "Quest for Fire" (1981) who are committed to literally keeping the flame of life burning, Jack sees himself as the emissary from a time lost — the sole repository of the poetic genius that was The Beatles.

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