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‘Ferdinand’ review: A bull who dances to his own beat
BaltimoreSun.com / 1513422602

The beloved children's book "The Story of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf, with illustrations by Robert Lawson, was published in 1936. But the simple, pacifist story about a bull who would rather smell flowers than fight has resonated across generations. It's a natural progression that this favorite character...

‘The Shape of Water’ review: Del Toro’s fish tale is magical, romantic and dark
BaltimoreSun.com / 1513422602

“The Shape of Water” is a sexy, violent, preposterous, beautiful fantasy, co-writer and director Guillermo del Toro’s most vivid and fully formed achievement since “Pan’s Labyrinth” 11 years ago. Set in 1962, the story del Toro fleshed out with co-writer Vanessa Taylor marries “Creature from the...

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ review: Rey and the Resistance prove irresistible
BaltimoreSun.com / 1513163403

Great fun, and a reminder that unpopular political leaders mock the Resistance in other galaxies, too, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” boasts a bald-faced lie of a subtitle — sorry, folks, last Jedi, no more “Star Wars” movies! — and special guest appearances from some old, familiar faces. The oldest...

Horror-lite ‘Wish Upon’ delivers more yucks than scares
BaltimoreSun.com / 1513077003

What to make of the curious, ridiculous horror-lite “Wish Upon”? This is a spooky teen story that's not particularly heavy on the scares and over-delivers on the unintentional giggles, almost ensuring it a spot as a cult movie, like the hilariously misguided “The Room,” though “Wish Upon” sports...

‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ is a work of stunning blockbuster artistry
BaltimoreSun.com / 1513077003

A few thousand years from now, alien anthropologists sifting through the remnants of our once-proud civilization may survey Hollywood’s 21st century simian-themed blockbusters with some confusion. Based on their titles, shouldn’t “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (2014) come before “Rise of the...

German drama ‘13 Minutes’ details 1939 assassination attempt on Hitler
BaltimoreSun.com / 1513077003

A man is placing sticks of dynamite into a wall and setting a timer. Intensely focused and sweating profusely, he's under a lot of stress, and no wonder. The date is Nov. 8, 1939, the place is Munich, the target is Adolf Hitler.

Inspired by a plot against der Führer that most people have never...

Luc Besson’s ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ is a dazzling, dimwitted space opera
BaltimoreSun.com / 1513077003

In his ludicrously entertaining 2014 science-fiction thriller, “Lucy,” the French director Luc Besson gave us a chemically enhanced action heroine with the rare ability to harness 100% of her brainpower. Besson’s latest futuristic whatsit, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” seems determined...

‘Girls Trip’ review: Raunchy but heartfelt female empowerment
BaltimoreSun.com / 1513077003

Perfecting the raunchy, randy, female-driven comedy can be a tall order. "Bridesmaids" showed it could be done, though such successes can be few and far between. "Girls Trip" proves to be the heir apparent to "Bridesmaids," a film about female friendship that nails the comedy, the boldness and...

Christopher Nolan puts audiences in the middle of WWII in the intimate and epic ‘Dunkirk’
BaltimoreSun.com / 1513077003

Very much like the pivotal historical event it celebrates, "Dunkirk" confounds expectations. Both intimate and epic, as emotional as it is tension-filled, it is being ballyhooed as a departure for bravura filmmaker Christopher Nolan, but in truth the reason it succeeds so masterfully is that it...

‘A Ghost Story’ review: The shiver and beauty of life in a small, beautiful movie
BaltimoreSun.com / 1513077003

David Lowery's film "A Ghost Story" is best seen a second time, though obeying the customary rules of time and cinema, you'll have the mysterious pleasure of seeing it a first time to get there. It's not the usual haunting, though writer-director Lowery's unusually thoughtful picture concerns a...

‘Detroit’ review: Kathryn Bigelow shoots the ‘67 war at home
BaltimoreSun.com / 1513077003

Oddly in synch with the narrative strategy (though without the imposing visual panache) of "Dunkirk," the other historical drama of the moment, director Kathryn Bigelow's "Detroit," is an artfully frazzled mosaic of suffering, putting the audience through the wringer in the name of truth, injustice...

‘Radio Dreams’ review: Mockumentary explores immigrant experience
BaltimoreSun.com / 1513077003

An anticipated appearance by Metallica looms as mythically large as a visit by Beckett's Godot in Iranian-British director Babak Jalali's genre-defying "Radio Dreams."

The film charts two paths: the struggles and dysfunctions of fictional San Francisco radio station PARS-FM as it documents the...

‘Lady Macbeth’: The 19th-century postman always rings twice
BaltimoreSun.com / 1513077003

Rituals define and often confine our lives, and there's great satisfaction in watching a woman break free from everyone and everything pinning her down, consequences and bloodshed and buried bodies be damned.

"Lady Macbeth" establishes and then disrupts an entire brutal social order. It's an unusually...

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