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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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Gaga & Cooper Bring the Grit & the Pipes in ‘A Star Is Born’

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(2018—Director: Bradley Cooper) — by Renard N. Bansale — ★★★★ (out of 5 stars)  “Hey.” “What?” “I just wanted to take another look at you.” — Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) and Ally (Lady Gaga) Potential spoilers below A Star Is Born—the story of a crossroads romance between a fading and alcoholic male star and a woman whose stardom lies just …

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A Kid-Friendly Tug of War Between Reality & Myth in ‘Smallfoot’

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(2018—Directors: Karey Kirkpatrick) — by Renard N. Bansale — High ★★★ (out of 5 stars)  “The only thing stronger than fear is curiosity.” — The Stonekeeper (Common), rapping to Migo (Channing Tatum) in the song “Let It Lie”  Potential spoilers below Despite the presence of two current animated occupants in my yearly top ten films list, 2018 in cinema has …

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The Ambitious ‘White Boy Rick’ Bites Off More Than It Can Chew

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(2018—Director: Yann Demange) — by Renard N. Bansale — Low ★★★½ (out of 5 stars)  “It was good, wasn’t it? When we were kids, for a little while?” “You still are a kid, Ricky.” — Brother Richard “White Boy Rick” Wershe, Jr. (Richie Merritt) and sister Dawn Wershe (Bel Powley) Potential spoilers below Time once again for me to invest …

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Glenn Close Reaches Her “Nobel” Limit in ‘The Wife’

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(2018—Director: Björn L. Runge) — by Renard N. Bansale — High ★★★½ (out of 5 stars)  “Please don’t paint me as a victim; I am much more interesting than that.” — Joan Castleman (Glenn Close) to Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater) Potential spoilers below While the cinematic medium honors its origins in photography twenty-four times per second, it also takes much …

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‘Searching’: The Best Film the Screen POV Gimmick Will Ever Produce

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(2018—Director: Aneesh Chaganty) — by Renard N. Bansale — Low ★★★★ (out of 5 stars)  “I didn’t know her. I didn’t know my daughter.” — David Kim (John Cho) to Det. Sgt. Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) “As a parent myself, I can only imagine what you’re feeling.” — Det. Sgt. Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) to David Kim (John Cho) Potential …

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The Wonders of Human Connection in ‘The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl’

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(2018—Director: Masaaki Yuasa) — by Renard N. Bansale — Low ★★★★½ (out of 5 stars)  “Senpai, what a coincidence!” “By chance, I was passing by.” — “The Girl With Black Hair” (Kana Hanazawa) and “Senpai” (Gen Hoshino) “Why do you drink?” “I was led by those I was fated to meet.” — Rihaku-san (Mugihito) and “The Girl With Black Hair” …

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Coarse & Condensed Action Thrills in ‘Mile 22’

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(2018—Director: Peter Berg) — by Renard N. Bansale — High ★★½ (out of 5 stars)  “A battlefield could be a room with two people in it. That’s chaos. That’s fog.” — Overwatch Agent James Silva (Mark Wahlberg) to an unknown journalist Potential spoilers below In the crowded last third of the 2016 movie season, audiences had the opportunity to experience …

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Undercover Shenanigans to Combat Racism in ‘BlacKkKlansman’

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(2018—Director: Spike Lee) — by Renard N. Bansale — Low ★★★★ (out of 5 stars)  “With the right white man, we can do anything.” — Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) to Chief Bridges (Robert John Burke) Potential spoilers below The piano and wails of the late musician Prince in his 1983 cover of “Mary Don’t You Weep” play over the …