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Brooding, PTSD-Fueled Brutality in ‘You Were Never Really Here’

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(2018—Director: Lynne Ramsay) — by Renard N. Bansale — High ★★★★ (out of 5 stars)  “McCleary said you were brutal.” (beat) “I can be.” — Sen. Albert Votto (Alex Manette) and Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) Potential spoilers below In the opening for my review for The Beguiled last summer, I described writer-director Sofia Coppola as one of modern cinema’s formidable female …

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Convoluted and Unengaging Stakes Inhabit a Watered-Down Middle Eastern Hive in ‘Beirut’

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(2018—Director: Brad Anderson) — by Renard N. Bansale — Low ★★1/2 (out of 5 stars)  “Right now, we’re not ruling out anyone. Everything’s in play.” “What is it you want me to do?” “You’re an experienced negotiator. Negotiate.” — Gary Ruzak (Shea Whigham) and Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm)  Potential spoilers below One would think, in a medium that requires an …

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Succumbing to a Family Legacy’s Shadow in ‘Chappaquiddick’

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(2018—Director: John Curran) — by Renard N. Bansale — High ★★★1/2 (out of 5 stars)  “President Kennedy cast a very long shadow, and he still does. I’m walking in it every day.” “What’s it like walking in that shadow?” — Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy (Jason Clarke) and ABC Reporter (Gary Tanguay), Interview recorded July 17, 1969  “Sometimes the path you’re …

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Pop Culture References Crowd a Basic Sci-Fi Adventure in ‘Ready Player One’

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(2018—Director: Steven Spielberg) —by Renard N. Bansale — Low ★★★1/2 (out of 5 stars) “A real Gunter would risk everything to save the Oasis from I.O.I.” “Who said that?” “Me.” — Samantha “Art3mis” Cook (Olivia Cooke) and Wade “Parzival” Watts (Tye Sheridan) Potential spoilers below Between late 1992 and 1993, two vastly different film projects stretched the creative limits of director …

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Claire Foy Holds Together a Faulty Soderbergh Experiment in ‘Unsane’

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(2018—Director: Steven Soderbergh) —by Renard N. Bansale — ★★1/2 (out of 5 stars) “There’s some more forms you need to fill out; it’s just routine.” — Highland Creek Counselor (Myra Lucretia Taylor) to Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy)  Potential spoilers below August 2017’s Logan Lucky marked the return of Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh after a four-year hiatus. At first it underwhelmed that …

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‘Tomb Raider’: Lara Croft’s Lackluster Return to the Big Screen

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(2018—Director: Roar Uthaug) — by Renard N. Bansale — Low ★★½ (out of 5 stars) “Come on, it’ll be an adventure.” “Death is not an adventure.” — Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) and Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) Potential spoilers below Since its debut in 1996, the Tomb Raider franchise has become a mainstay in action adventure gaming, selling 63 million copies …

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Renard’s Top 10 Scenes of 2017 in Cinema

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— by Renard N. Bansale — Definite spoilers below One of my go-to film websites is the B+ Movie Blog, and he has an annual tradition I greatly appreciate: On the Saturday before the annual Academy Awards, he writes articles on his five favorite moments in each Best Picture nominee. I love that tradition because it cuts through all the awards …

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Chaos & Creation on an Ecological Level in ‘Annihilation’

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(2018—Director: Alex Garland) — by Renard N. Bansale — High ★★★★ (out of 5 stars) “Almost none of us commit suicide, and almost all of us self-destruct.” — Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to Lena (Natalie Portman) Potential spoilers below Few writers have demonstrated versatility with regards to artistic medium like Alex Garland. The English writer had three novels and …