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‘Into the Spider-Verse’: Dazzling Visuals Offset a Rushed Plot Full of Missed Opportunities

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(2018—Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, & Rodney Rothman) — by Renard N. Bansale — Low ★★★½ (out of 5 stars)  “No matter how many times you get hit, can you get back up?” — Gwen Stacey/Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld) to Miles Morales/Spider-Man (Shameik Moore) Potential spoilers below “All right, people, let’s do this one last time.” 2000’s X-Men may have started …

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‘Mary Poppins Returns’: Belated & Early-Peaking Yet Delightfully Gorgeous

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(2018—Director: Rob Marshall) — by Renard N. Bansale — High ★★★½ (out of 5 stars)  “Some people think a great deal too much. Of that, I’m certain.” — Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) to Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) Potential spoilers below 2018 was a banner year for Disney, who made over $7.33 billion in worldwide box office revenues. With its animation …

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‘Roma’ Finds Alfonso Cuarón at an Artistic Zenith

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(2018—Director: Alfonso Cuarón) — by Renard N. Bansale — ★★★★★ (out of 5 stars)  “We are alone. No matter what they tell you, women, we always are alone.” — Señora Sofía (Marina de Tavira) to Cleodegaria “Cleo” Gutiérrez (Yalitza Aparicio) Potential spoilers below Cinema in 2013 bolsters multiple candidates for “the most year-defining film”. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the …

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‘Mirai’ Brings to Life a Little Boy’s Household Adventure

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(2018—Director: Mamoru Hosoda) — by Renard N. Bansale — Low ★★★★ (out of 5 stars)  “Be nice to her, okay? You have to protect her.” — Okâsan/Mother (Kumiko Asô, dubbed by Rebecca Hall) to Kun (Moka Kamishiraishi, dubbed by Jaden Waldman) Potential spoilers below Among the handful of anime directors touted these past two decades as “the new Miyazaki”, it …

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Disney Overload Distracts from Recycled Wonder in ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’

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(2018—Director: Phil Johnston & Rich Moore) — by Renard N. Bansale — Low ★★★½ (out of 5 stars)  “There’s no law saying best friends have to have the same dreams.” — Shank (Gal Gadot) to Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) “What would Ralph say / If it turns out I stay / In this place called Slaughter Race?” — Vanellope …

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A Narrative Fog Weighs Down a Franchise Baby Step With ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’

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(2018—Director: David Yates) — by Renard N. Bansale — ★★½ (out of 5 stars)  “You’re too good, Newt. You never met a monster you couldn’t love.” — Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz) to Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) Potential spoilers below When pinpointing a defining pop culture staple for many kids born between the mid-1980s and the dawn of the new millennium, …

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Rosamund Pike Fearlessly Clings to the Battlefield in ‘A Private War’

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(2018—Director: Matthew Heineman) — by Renard N. Bansale — ★★★½ (out of 5 stars)  “I hate being in a warzone, but I also feel compelled…compelled to see it for myself.” … “Because you’re addicted to it.” — Marie Colvin (Rosamund Pike) and Paul Conroy (Jamie Dornan) “Of all the women in the world, I love spending time with you most. …

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Struggling Outcasts Turn to Sophisticated Crime in ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me’

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(2018—Director: Marielle Heller) — by Renard N. Bansale — ★★★½ (out of 5 stars)  “I’ll have you know, I’m a better Dorothy Parker than Dorothy Parker!” — Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) to Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant) Potential spoilers below Money—or, more specifically, the lack of it—tends to twist the lives of many. It is common to observe this phenomenon …

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‘Mid90s’: Teen Spirit Thrives in Jonah Hill’s Directorial Debut

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(2018—Director: Jonah Hill) — by Renard N. Bansale — ★★★½ (out of 5 stars)  “You literally take the hardest hits out of anybody I’ve ever seen in my life. You know you don’t have to do that, right?” — Ray (Na-kel Smith) to Stevie (Sunny Suljic) Potential spoilers below A common adage heard in every writing class is “Write what …

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Ryan Gosling Becomes America’s Reluctant Hero in ‘First Man’

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(2018—Director: Damien Chazelle) — by Renard N. Bansale — ★★★★ (out of 5 stars)  “We need to fail. We need to fail down here so we don’t fail up there.” — Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) to Manned Spaceflight Center director Bob Gilruth (Ciarán Hinds) and Astronaut Office chief Deke Slayton (Kyle Chandler) Potential spoilers below The bio found at the …