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‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ review: The three wise women return
BaltimoreSun.com / Wed, 1 Nov 2017 09:15:00 PDT

A movie can be unreasonably formulaic and still be reasonably diverting, and “A Bad Moms Christmas” is the proof. Some sequels take time to come together. This one took a mere 15 months to reunite Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and the extraordinarily valuable Kathryn Hahn as the suburban Chicago pals...

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ review: Marvel realm goes for the yuks
BaltimoreSun.com / Thu, 2 Nov 2017 09:25:00 PDT

As part of its generally welcome comic strategy, “Thor: Ragnarok” heckles itself for two hours and 10 minutes and lets Jeff Goldblum, skittering around as master of the death-match revels on the planet Sakaar, get away with murder. Nobody else in the known universe works on Goldblum’s wavelength....

Blind magician triumphs with the hand he’s been ‘Dealt’
BaltimoreSun.com / Wed, 25 Oct 2017 18:00:00 PDT

That signature sleight-of-hand saying, “Now you see it, now you don’t,” takes on an added layer of significance with “Dealt,” a penetrating documentary portrait of master playing-card manipulator Richard Turner, who also happens to be blind.

As demonstrated in Luke Korem’s revealing film, winner...

‘Tragedy Girls,’ when mean girls turn deadly mean ... but still look good on Instagram
BaltimoreSun.com / Thu, 19 Oct 2017 11:45:00 PDT

Pitched as a “Heathers” for the Instagram age, Tyler MacIntyre’s “Tragedy Girls” lacks the satirical bite and subversive weight of that 1988 cult classic. But the movie’s central idea and bright young cast are so good that some of its shallowness is forgivable.

Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandra...

‘The Square’ review: Ruben Ostlund skewers the art world
BaltimoreSun.com / Thu, 9 Nov 2017 08:47:00 PST

The Swedish filmmaker Ruben Ostlund possesses an exceptionally crisp, legible way of creating images. His frames are simply but elegantly composed, and he choreographs bodies within natural and built environments with superb attention to rhythms and detail.

All of those gifts were on ample display...

‘Murder on the Orient Express’ review: A mystery train, 13 suspects long
BaltimoreSun.com / Wed, 8 Nov 2017 09:30:00 PST

The new version of “Murder on the Orient Express” is a film about a mustache. This culprit boasts the fiendish ability to steal focus from whatever and whomever it’s up against, every time director and star Kenneth Branagh confronts a suspect as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. A horizontal wonder,...

‘Daddy’s Home 2’ review: At Christmastime, double the fun with dads
BaltimoreSun.com / Thu, 9 Nov 2017 08:33:00 PST

"Daddy's Home 2" just might have to meet "A Bad Moms Christmas" outside in the parking lot to rumble over this turf war. Both films are seasonal romps about intergenerational love, acceptance and different parenting styles, but "Daddy's Home 2" slightly gets the edge. The surreal and silly sequel...

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...

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