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‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’: An Authentic American Gem With an Endearing Lead Duo

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(2019—Directors: Tyler Nilson & Michael Schwartz) — by Renard N. Bansale — Low ★★★★ (out of 5 stars) “Rule #1: Don’t slow me down.” — Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) to Zak (Zack Gottsagen) Potential spoilers below To portray characters with disabilities and disorders accurately, actors since cinema’s dawn down to the present day have relied on makeup, visual effects as technology …

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The Lies & Subtext of Familial Affection in ‘The Farewell’

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(2019—Director: Lulu Wang) — by Renard N. Bansale — Low ★★★★ (out of 5 stars) “Chinese people have saying: ‘When people get cancer, they die.’ It’s not the cancer that kills them. It’s the fear.” — Mother Jian (Diana Lin) to daughter Billi (Awkwafina) Potential spoilers below Truth: Mind conforming to reality, grasping that what is, is, and what is …

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Disney Declares Creative Bankruptcy With ‘The Lion King’ 2019

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(2019—Director: Jon Favreau) — by Renard N. Bansale — High ★★ (out of 5 stars) “While others search for what they can take, a true king searches for what he can give.” — King Mufasa (James Earl Jones) to Prince Simba (JD McCrary) (Also, following their initial mentions, I shall distinguish between the two versions of The Lion King using …

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Spider-Man Gives MCU’s Phase 3 a Stellar Finale in ‘Far From Home’

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(2019—Director: Jon Watts) — by Renard N. Bansale — ★★★★ (out of 5 stars) “You’re not a jerk for wanting a normal life, kid.” — Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) to Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) “Aw, I love Led Zeppelin!” — Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) to Harold “Happy” Hogan (Jon Favreau) Potential spoilers below Of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) offerings …

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‘Midsommar’: More Beneath the Surefire Folk Horror Than You’d Expect

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(2019—Director: Ari Aster) — by Renard N. Bansale — High ★★★½ (with strong moral reservations) (out of 5 stars) “It’ll probably seem quite silly, but it’s like theatre.” — Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) to Dani Ardor (Florence Pugh) Potential spoilers below When writer-director Ari Aster made his feature debut last June with Hereditary, a strong majority of critics and audiences were …

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“Fab” Fantasy Gives Way to Sweet Yet Average Romance in ‘Yesterday’

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(2019—Director: Danny Boyle) — by Renard N. Bansale — ★★★ (out of 5 stars) “A world without The Beatles is a world that’s infinitely worse.” — Liz (Sarah Lancashire) to Jack Malik (Hamish Patel)  Potential spoilers below Ever since the summer of 2000, I have loved The Beatles. They were the only music I listened to up until I started …

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Pixar Finishes the Decade Strong With ‘Toy Story 4’

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(2019—Director: Josh Cooley) — by Renard N. Bansale — Low ★★★★★ (out of 5 stars) “Being there for a child is the most noble thing a toy can do.” — Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) to Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks)  Potential spoilers below 1995’s Toy Story remains both a childhood monument for a majority of the past few generations, not to …

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How to Overhaul the Oscar Categories

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— by Renard N. Bansale — “Best Popular Film” & ‘The Lion King’ Remake Debate On August 7, 2018, the Academy’s board of governors (led by Academy Pres. John Bailey) voted to introduce a new Oscar category called “Best Popular Film”. The reaction to this across entertainment journalism, social media, and the internet in general was a swift and resounding… …

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Producer-Director Friction Undermines ‘MIB: International’

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(2019—Director: F. Gary Gray) — by Renard N. Bansale — ★★½ (out of 5 stars) “Always remember, the universe has a way of leading you to where you’re supposed to be at the moment you’re supposed to be there.” — High T (Liam Neeson) to Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) Potential spoilers below Besides the behemoth that was Titanic, the blockbuster …