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Melissa Leo dominates ‘Novitiate,’ a sensitive and revealing portrayal of young women’s faith
BaltimoreSun.com / Thu, 26 Oct 2017 11:45:00 PDT

They're not made very often, and audiences don't always applaud (Audrey Hepburn in "The Nun's Story" is the notable exception) but films dealing with what goes on behind convent or monastery walls have what it takes to involve.

As those who've seen Michael Powell's classic "Black Narcissus" or...

‘Star’ review: Story of Jesus’ birth doesn’t shine quite bright enough
BaltimoreSun.com / Fri, 17 Nov 2017 04:00:00 PST

An animated fable about the first Christmas, "The Star" reimagines the Nativity story from the perspective of an animal — actually, an entire menagerie of comical Holy Land critters, led by a miniature donkey, who become key supporting players in the tale.

Among the production companies involved...

‘Mudbound’ review: Gripping tale of 2 families in WWII-era Mississippi
BaltimoreSun.com / Thu, 16 Nov 2017 06:00:00 PST

“Mudbound” compacts a lot of story, handed off between no fewer than six narrators, into a little over two hours. So much of it works, with an unusually deft balance between its African-American and white characters, that you wish co-writer and director Dee Rees could stretch it out to a full three-...

‘Last Flag Flying’ review: Carell, Cranston and Fishburne don’t march in tune
BaltimoreSun.com / Thu, 9 Nov 2017 07:31:00 PST

In this era of rampant sequelizing, has any filmmaker more playfully inverted the standard more-of-the-same monotony than Richard Linklater?

His Oscar-nominated "Boyhood" was, if nothing else, a compendium of life's chapters, filmed — and lived — year after year. His "Before" trilogy reteamed Julie...

‘Lady Bird’ review: Saoirse Ronan in enchanting coming-of-age tale
BaltimoreSun.com / Mon, 6 Nov 2017 09:15:00 PST

Already, writer-director Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” is contending with praise it can’t possibly live up to, and it’s a disservice to mislead anybody about its particular, disarming interplay of comedy and drama, which does not go for the throat.

But it’s not too strong a word: Most people who’ve...

‘Wonder’ has an earnest message about kindness that helps offset its After School Special flaws
BaltimoreSun.com / Wed, 15 Nov 2017 08:00:00 PST

Popular mythology notwithstanding, childhood is difficult for almost everyone. But especially so for 10-year-old August Pullman.

"I know I'm not an ordinary kid," Auggie Pullman explains in the opening paragraph of the young adult novel "Wonder." Yes, he does ordinary things, "but I know ordinary...

‘Justice League’ review: Superheroes? More like super zeroes
BaltimoreSun.com / Tue, 14 Nov 2017 22:00:00 PST

It's been a long, hard road to "Justice League." Director Zack Snyder, who helmed the latest iterations of Batman and Superman in "Man of Steel" and "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," stepped away for personal reasons during post-production. "The Avengers" director Joss Whedon came in to finish...

An American romantic goner in Paris and the perverse pleasures of ‘Thirst Street’s’ comic madness
BaltimoreSun.com / Thu, 28 Sep 2017 12:20:00 PDT

In the fractured fairy tale “Thirst Street,” micro-indie writer-director Nathan Silver (“Stinking Heaven”) turns a flight attendant’s Parisian fling into a psychodramatic peep show for the Polanski/Chabrol crowd.

American Gina (Lindsay Burdge, from “A Teacher”) has baggage, as narrator Anjelica...

‘Bugs’ documentary explores insect-eating as a cure for world hunger
BaltimoreSun.com / Thu, 12 Oct 2017 11:25:00 PDT

If a diet that includes maggots, locusts, termites and buffalo worms doesn’t entirely repel you, then the documentary “Bugs” might prove an intriguing look at the potential future of protein-rich nutrition sources for an expanding world. However, when it comes to food porn, “Babette’s Feast” it...

Michael Fassbender won’t melt your heart in the dreadfully incoherent thriller ‘The Snowman’
BaltimoreSun.com / Thu, 19 Oct 2017 12:20:00 PDT

In “The Snowman,” a wretched waste of time and talent from the Swedish director Tomas Alfredson (“Let the Right One In”), two detectives track a serial killer who likes to hack up women’s bodies and then scatter the pieces all over: a head here, a limb there. The movie, perhaps subscribing to the...

‘Breathe’ review: Andrew Garfield portrays disability advocate with grace
BaltimoreSun.com / Thu, 19 Oct 2017 07:53:00 PDT

"Breathe" is meant, no doubt, as a sincere homage to the late disability advocate Robin Cavendish, who died, after living with polio for 36 years, in 1994.

Commissioned by his son, producer Jonathan Cavendish — who plays a minor role in the film — and directed by Jonathan Cavendish's business partner,...

‘Only the Brave’ review: Josh Brolin leads elite team into wildfires
BaltimoreSun.com / Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:50:00 PDT

The title “Only the Brave” sounds like Hollywood fraudulence. Certainly there are moments in director Joseph Kosinksi’s film, an adaptation of Sean Flynn’s vivid 2013 GQ article about the fatal Arizona wildfires and the elite Granite Mountain firefighters who took them on, when the characters don’t...

Sean Baker’s ‘The Florida Project’ is a magnificent portrait of a joyous, troubled childhood
BaltimoreSun.com / Thu, 5 Oct 2017 13:25:00 PDT

All childhoods must come to an end, few of them as piercingly as the one in “The Florida Project,” Sean Baker’s raw, exuberant and utterly captivating new movie. The child in question is a wild and irrepressible 6-year-old girl named Moonee, played by a startling discovery named Brooklynn Kimberly...

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