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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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Marvel’s Cage Match: Netflix’s ‘Luke Cage’ Review

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— By Carly Twehous — In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years or in case you’re one of the four remaining American citizens without a Netflix account, Marvel has been creating an empire for the small screen, starring everyone’s favorite vigilantes of Hell’s Kitchen. Luke Cage and the preceding …

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A Wounded Soldier Enters the Lionesses’ Den in ‘The Beguiled’

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(2017—Director: Sofia Coppola) High ★★★ 1/2 (out of 5 stars) Sofia Coppola, daughter of the Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now director Francis Ford Coppola, continues to be a formidable female voice in modern cinema. With her adaptation of Thomas P. Cullinan’s 1966 novel, she boldly and brilliantly stripped the Southern Gothic story down to an …

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Sin, Not Tragedies: Review of History Channels’ ‘Vikings’

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— By Carly Twehous — [The following review contains major spoilers for Seasons 1-3.] Everyone had that favorite time period and culture in history class. You know the one. It’s the subject that inspired enough genuine curiosity that it would rouse you from your regularly scheduled third period nap and give you the inexplicable superhuman …

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Ace in the Hole: Netflix’s ‘House of Cards’ Review

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— By Carly Twehous — If you’re not sick of the constant news coverage from the most recent election cycle—the scandals, the Russian hacking, the debate whether or not our current president is a reincarnated prophet or the antichrist—or if you prefer to drown yourself in fiction and ignore all of life’s infinite problems, yet …

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Heartfelt Performances Wasted in ‘The Book of Henry’

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(2017—Director: Colin Trevorrow) High ★★ (out of 5 stars) Back in 2012, I stumbled upon an indie sci-fi rom-com called Safety Not Guaranteed, the narrative film debut of writer-director Colin Trevorrow (the 2004 documentary Reality Show). Though not a perfect package, Safety was the type of film that makes its viewers watch the director’s next …