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‘Wonder’ has an earnest message about kindness that helps offset its After School Special flaws
BaltimoreSun.com / 1541153402

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...

‘Smallfoot’ review: A happy-go-lucky Yeti sets out to prove that humans exist
BaltimoreSun.com / 1538820602

If it ain't broke, don't fix it, as the saying goes. That seems to be the approach taken by the screenwriters of the new animated feature "Smallfoot." The story is actually "Bigfoot," but it hinges on a clever reversal of perspective, centering on a tribe of Yetis in the Himalayas who fear the...

‘Night School’ review: Reading, writing and roughhouse with Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish
BaltimoreSun.com / 1538820602

An earlier version of this review had an incorrect name of an actor.

Am I asking too much of “Night School”? It’s no big thing, this new movie starring Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish, and nobody’s expecting a formula-, game- or life-changer. You just don’t want to leave feeling shortchanged.


‘Venom’ review: Tom Hardy’s turn as a superhero is a mess, but it’s fun
BaltimoreSun.com / 1538820602

Superhero fatigue got you down? Tired of the same old bland Marvel Cinematic Universe offerings? A dose of "Venom" could be just the right antidote. This dark, wacky MCU-associated outing combines one of the most interesting contemporary leading men with a daring director who has a hit-or-miss...

‘A Star is Born’ review: Bradley Cooper goes Gaga in directing debut
BaltimoreSun.com / 1538820602

Nobody ever lost money remaking “A Star is Born,” Hollywood’s favorite tragic romantic fable. Whether it’s any good doesn’t matter. To wit: The 1976 Barbra Streisand/ Kris Kristofferson remake wasn’t good, but you believed the archetypal show business lovers had musical talent. And they could act,...

‘A Simple Favor’ review: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively provide one-two punch in campy thriller
BaltimoreSun.com / 1537611003

Comedy director Paul Feig tries a thriller on for size with the juicy "A Simple Favor," a suburban Connecticut murder mystery that's "Gone Girl" meets "The Stepford Wives." Based on the novel by Darcey Bell, written by Jessica Sharzer, the consciously campy "A Simple Favor" is as bright and bracing...

‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ review: Michael Moore’s emotional and intellectual roller coaster
BaltimoreSun.com / 1537611003

Michael Moore wants to save us from ourselves. It's been his mission for a long time, a noble one, and it's obvious he is sincere. But as a filmmaker, Moore needs to save himself from his worst indulgences, which undercuts his good work. His new film, "Fahrenheit 11/9," showcases both the best...

‘Life Itself’ review: From ‘This Is Us’ creator, an emotional mugging
BaltimoreSun.com / 1537611003

Not to be confused with Roger Ebert’s autobiography, or anything good, actually, “Life Itself” is an emotional mugging, not a movie. Writer-director Dan Fogelman, creator of NBC-TV’s warm bath of feels “This is Us,” tells his story in five chapters and a million platitudes. When a key character...

‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ review: Weak script slows down ‘50s tale
BaltimoreSun.com / 1537611003

Witches are so 2017. Make way for warlocks, aka "boy witches," as defined by the intrepid young Lewis (Owen Vaccaro), the boy hero of "The House with a Clock in Its Walls." The adaptation of John Bellairs' 1973 young adult fantasy novel, directed by Eli Roth and written by Eric Kripke, makes a...

Review: Ben Kingsley is riveting in the uneven historical thriller ‘Operation Finale’
BaltimoreSun.com / 1536919802

"Operation Finale" is well aware — and how could it not be — that it has a singular and significant true story to tell, and it has done its best to do justice to its source.

As directed by Chris Weitz from a script by Matthew Orton, "Operation," which opens Wednesday, details Israel's storied capture...

‘Kin’ review: Two brothers, a string of bad choices and a genre-defying plot
BaltimoreSun.com / 1536919802

Release dates shouldn't necessarily be a metric for evaluating films, and yet, sometimes it's the best way to contextualize what's going on with a movie. "Kin," a dark and confounding young adult thriller, written and directed by Jonathan and Josh Baker, co-written by Daniel Casey, is best described...

‘The Wife’ review: Glenn Close rises to the occasion in rocky literary marriage
BaltimoreSun.com / 1536919802

An unusually good adaptation of an unusually good novel, “The Wife” is a wizard of strategy, building an underground arsenal of resentments, evasions and fireworks for an 11th-hour confrontation that neither comes out of the blue nor feels predictable or hackneyed. But let’s talk about Glenn Close...

Is ‘The Little Stranger’ a ghost story or an allegory about Donald Trump?
BaltimoreSun.com / 1536919802

You might think that after getting an Academy Award nomination for directing "Room," Lenny Abrahamson would be making more movies like that high-profile 2015 drama, which starred Oscar winner Brie Larson as a woman held captive by a psychopathic rapist. But the filmmaker, a 52-year-old Dubliner...

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