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‘Ma’ review: Octavia Spencer channels a broken woman hellbent on revenge
BaltimoreSun.com / 1559297401

Who knew Octavia Spencer would be the perfect actress to portray a 2019 version of Margaret White, the overbearing mother role that earned Piper Laurie an Oscar nomination for 1976's "Carrie"? Probably only Spencer herself, who turns in a brilliantly campy performance in the otherwise serviceable...

‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ review: As someone always says in movies like this, we&
BaltimoreSun.com / 1559297401

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” can be accused of overkill. Then again, there’s so much to kill! Though we don’t meet them all, we’re told that no fewer than 17 massive creatures, hidden away in Antarctic ice packs, Mexican volcanoes, oceanic bachelor pads and what have you, come a-calling in...

‘Booksmart’ review: Cutting loose with the smartest kids in class
BaltimoreSun.com / 1558606202

“Booksmart” takes a familiar blueprint and uses it to build a movie we haven’t seen often enough: an R-rated teen comedy (meaning, a comedy about teenagers) focusing on a great female friendship.

The movie’s not always as wonderful as that friendship. Some bits are hilarious yet life-like, while...

‘Aladdin’ review: A whole new same old world ... this time with Will Smith
BaltimoreSun.com / 1558606202

While quality cannot be measured by minutes, the new live-action version of Disney’s “Aladdin” runs 37 minutes longer than the animated 1992 film famous for Robin Williams’ inspired vocal riffs and the song “A Whole New World.”

And those 37 additional minutes are not high-quality minutes.

The studio...

‘The Sun is Also a Star’ review: Bad dialogue dooms affair to remember starring Yara Sha
BaltimoreSun.com / 1558260602

Teenagers need melodrama. They always have. It seems its big, sweeping emotions are somehow the only things that can match the high-stakes, hormone-enhanced teenage feelings. Director Ry Russo-Young excels at rendering those emotions with a singular sense of artfulness. In "The Sun is Also a Star,"...

‘John Wick 3’ review: Keanu Reeves burns ultraviolence candle at both ends
BaltimoreSun.com / 1558001402

The full, properly punctuated title is “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum,” and while “parabellum” comes from the Latin meaning “prepare for war,” it’s also the name of an old-timey brand of German semiautomatic pistol, also known as the Luger.

There’s a bonus word association as well. Parabellum...

‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’ review: Not that one. A different, dreamlike, Chinese one.
BaltimoreSun.com / 1557828603

If we can’t make room on our planet of avengers, and games of thrones, for a shape-shifting rumination on time and loss and memory such as Bi Gan’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” then we’re writing our own obituary for cinema and image-making as we know it.

Although, honestly: What do we know...

‘Roll Red Roll’ review: Notorious Ohio rape case exposes a town’s complicit culture
BaltimoreSun.com / 1557828603

A crime reveals so much more than the crime itself, once word gets out and a city tears itself half to pieces blaming either the perpetrators or the victims or societal forces too messy for easy analysis.

In the wrenching new documentary “Roll Red Roll” from director Nancy Schwartzman, the subject...

‘The Hustle’ review: Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson swindle the audience, unfortunately
BaltimoreSun.com / 1557828603

Con artists working the Riviera: Is there a comic premise more old-fashioned yet strangely hardy than that old thing?

Certainly it has possibilities, even in 2019, which explains “The Hustle.” It’s a remake of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (1988), with Steve Martin, Michael Caine and Glenne Headly,...

‘UglyDolls’ review: Kooky toys caught in all the movie cliches
BaltimoreSun.com / 1556878203

Hollywood loves a merchandising opportunity. And in recent years, there's been a trend of turning merchandise itself into movies, which can then spawn more opportunities for merchandising, therefore creating an infinite loop of merchandising opportunities. The latest children's toys sent into the...

‘Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile’ review: Zac Efron captures charisma of Ted Bundy
BaltimoreSun.com / 1556878203

Serial killers are the ultimate compartmentalized criminals — the fear and horror they represent isn't just there in the gruesomeness of their violence, but in the way they pass among us, impersonating normal people. Seen in that light, Ted Bundy was the ultimate compartmentalized monster. He wasn't...

‘Long Shot’ review: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen a winning ticket
BaltimoreSun.com / 1556878203

The rom-com has officially been revived, and with new releases hitting theaters and flooding Netflix, the best ones always seem to turn out to be a twist on the genre. "Long Shot," starring Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen , puts the rom into the com of Machiavellian, Washington, D.C., political...

‘Ask Dr. Ruth’ review: Documentary looks at how a Holocaust survivor blazed a trail in sex therapy
BaltimoreSun.com / 1556878203

In Ryan White's breezy documentary "Ask Dr. Ruth," the 90-year-old Ruth Westheimer asks a fair share of the questions. "Are you hungry?" "Are you sure you're not hungry?" And with her grandmotherly credentials thus verified, she's free to turn to her Alexa and ask it to find her a boyfriend. Alas,...

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