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“Dramastic” Measures in ‘Logan Lucky’

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(2017—Director: Steven Soderbergh) Low ★★★★ (out of 5 stars) “Is it twenty or is it thirty? We are dealin’ with science here!” — Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) towards Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), who is unsure of the distance to the bank vault. Potential spoilers below Around the start of the 2017 summer blockbuster season, I saw a trailer that caught …

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Tumultuous Upbringings in ‘The Glass Castle’

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(2017—Director: Destin Daniel Cretton) Low ★★★½ (out of 5 stars) “I swear, there are times I think that you’re the only one around who still has any faith in me.” — Rex Walls (Woody Harrelson) to his pre-teen daughter Jeannette Walls (Ella Anderson) Potential spoilers below Writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton burst onto the film scene with his 2013 sophomore feature …

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Deadly Motel Misunderstandings in ‘Detroit’

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(2017—Director: Kathryn Bigelow) Low ★★★½ (out of 5 stars) “I’m just going to assume you’re all criminals.” — Officer Philip Krauss (Will Poulter) to those held at the Algiers Motel  Potential spoilers below It has been five years since producer-director Kathryn Bigelow’s last film, Zero Dark Thirty. Despite that film’s critical acclaim, the controversy surrounding the film’s portrayal of waterboarding …

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‘Wonder Woman’ Resuscitates the DC Extended Universe

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(2017—Director: Patty Jenkins) ★★★ 1/2 (out of 5 stars) In 2016, Warner Bros. released Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (BVS) and Suicide Squad to get the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) underway. An intense storm of division between audiences and critics followed both films. Great pressure began to precede the next DCEU installment—the solo debut of Wonder Woman on the …

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The Times They Are A-Changin’ in ‘Cars 3’

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(2017—Director: Brian Fee) ★★★ 1/2 (out of 5 stars) Pixar released the first Cars in 2006. While it achieved financial success, many noted the subdued critical reception and suspected that the film served only to sell toys. In those same minds, the film’s 2011 sequel Cars 2 confirmed that suspicion. Since then, Pixar and their films have faced backlash and …

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War & Animal Companionship in ‘Megan Leavey’

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(2017—Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite) High ★★★ (out of 5 stars) At first glance, combining the friendship of a human and a dog with the harsh realities of war end up manipulating the emotions in an unnatural way. Fortunately, the true story of Megan Leavey and her war dog Rex steers clear of sentimental overload. Their chemistry matches the impressive and restrained war …

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‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’—A Rough But Overall Positive U-Turn for the Franchise

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(2017—Directors: Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg) Low ★★★ (out of 5 stars) Six years removed from the last installment of Pirates of the Caribbean and with another directorial shift (this time to the directorial team behind the 2012 Oscar-nominated historical drama Kon-Tiki), Disney, Johnny Depp, and company return for the fifth time to this fantasy swashbuckling world. The resulting installment is …

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‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’—Legend Meets Excessive Style

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(2017—Director: Guy Ritchie) ★★ 1/2 (out of 5 stars) Director Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) tends to emphasize style over substance in his films. This remains the case with his latest work—Warner Bros.’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Ritchie tries to combine the classical nature of Arthurian legends with his trademark montages and quick cuts. The …

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Mid-Year Report on Cinema in 2017

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2017’s summer movie season has begun to wind down as the cinema world prepares for the expected annual onslaught of Oscar contenders that seek to attract awards voters throughout autumn and winter. While they do that, I would like to take a moment and consider cinema in 2017 so far—the highs, the lows, and the green. Around the start of …

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Defeat and Victory Synchronize in ‘Dunkirk’

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(2017—Director: Christopher Nolan) ★★★★ (out of 5 stars) “He’s shell-shocked, George. He’s not himself. He may never be himself again.” — Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) on Shivering Soldier (Cillian Murphy) Potential spoilers below Since the start of this millennium, few filmmakers have earned the widespread critical praise and commercial success as British-American writer, producer, and director Christopher Nolan. He elevated Batman …