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A Bold Finale Tops Off the Adequate Bulk of ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

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(2018—Directors: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo) — by Renard N. Bansale — ★★★½ (with reservations) (out of 5 stars)  “Did you do it?” “Yes.” “What did it cost?” “Everything.” Potential spoilers below (including spoilers for Thor: Ragnarök, Aliens, and Alien 3) Few can deny that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (hereafter shortened to MCU) has altered how studios approach storytelling and …

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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 — ★★★★ (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 voices. …

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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 — ★★★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 on …

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‘Isle of Dogs’: An Impressive, Charming Aesthetic Masks an Underwhelming Story

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– By Ben Escobar – I love dogs. Who doesn’t? Wes Anderson definitely does, and it shines throughout his latest film, cleverly titled, Isle of Dogs. Known for his signature style that replicates that of a quirky perfectionist telling a story around a campfire, Wes Anderson’s latest film is no exception to that reputation. While I found the film to be …

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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 …