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‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ – A Timely Exploration of Human Dignity and the Futility of Violence

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 –By Sam Hendrian– This article contains Spoilers “We all have it coming, kid.” These legendary words from Clint Eastwood’s classic film Unforgiven also form the thematic core of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a feature-length anthology of Western short films from directors Joel and Ethan Coen. Recently released to Netflix, it masterfully employs both dark humor and haunting imagery to …

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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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An Uncommon Veteran: What Mr. Rogers Teaches Us About Winning the War Against Worrying

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–By Sam Hendrian– It’s you I like/It’s not the things you wear/It’s not the way you do your hair/But it’s you I like. These simple yet profound song lyrics help summarize the heroic mission of Fred Rogers, the legendary children’s television host who is profiled in the acclaimed 2018 documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? A quiet man with a …

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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 …

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The Pressures of a Confined Protector in ‘The Guilty’

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(2018—Director: Gustav Möller) — by Renard N. Bansale — High ★★★½ (out of 5 stars)  “No one is going to kill your mom, okay?” “Do you promise?” “I promise.” — Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren) and Mathilde Østergård (voiced by Katinka Evers-Jahnsen)  “Was it snakes?” “Yes…Yes, it was snakes.” — Iben Østergård (voiced by Jessica Dinnage) and Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren) …

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Niederpruem’s ‘Little Women’: Have Critics Misjudged a Hidden Gem?

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– By Maria Andress – This recent modern adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women might be a film on very few radars. Directed by Clare Niederpruem and distributed by Pure Flix Entertainment and Pinnacle Peak, it made just over $1 million in the 12 days following its limited release. Reviews on Little Women from mainstream Hollywood such as those …