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“You and I travel to the beat of a diff’rent drum...” If those lyrics sound familiar, then you might also know it was 18-year-old Linda Ronstadt’s singing debut with a group called The Stone Ponys in 1967. She soon went out on her own and proceeded to sell more than 100 million records over …

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“Ready or Not” is a hoot. Funny, macabre, violent but in a silly way, well acted and written, a Grand Guignol of a modern-day take on Gothic horror stories. I went to see it without knowing anything about it, and I’d like to not give any of it away, except to say it involves a wealthy family…

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It may be the times we live in, but we seem to be awash in stories about the children of immigrants who choose a different road from their parents’ culture and the tension it causes (“Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Big Sick”). Or just children who are different enough from their birth family so as…

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A week spent with the grandchildren meant age-appropriate films. Today I will talk about those films, but stick around—at the end, there will be a review of a decidedly inappropriate-for-kids film. Let’s do “The Lion King” first, because it just opened in very, very wide release. “Screen sat…

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I was housebound for a couple of weeks, so I got to watch a lot of new and returning shows on the streaming channels. Here are my thoughts:

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If you’re going to do a comedy about a woman running for president that is even remotely based on reality, then you need to cover a lot of territory and deal with deep-rooted prejudice against a woman being in charge, old white guys running everything, backroom deals, sexual harassment, how …

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Malibu resident Jo Giese is an award-winning radio journalist, author, teacher and former TV reporter. To that impressive list, let’s add: an insatiable world-traveler who dresses with an exuberant color palette, a fabulous hostess, adoring wife, community activist, loyal friend and last, bu…

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Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman, so good in “The Killing” on TV from 2011-14, are together again in a highly suspenseful eight-part series named “Hanna” on Amazon Prime. It opens in Romania, where a man named Erik (Kinnaman) and a woman steal an infant from what looks like a state-run medica…

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“Us” informs us, right at the start, that there are tunnels and caves deeply buried beneath the surface of the U.S., most of which have never been explored. Then, it opens on a scene of a little girl getting lost at an amusement park and wandering into an eerie house of horror peopled by not…

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It’s looking like female superheroes can actually carry a film and Brie Larson does a fine job as Carol Danvers-who-will-become “Captain Marvel.” The tone of the film is lighter than most of the Marvel releases, and little bits of the origin story are revealed throughout, instead of the usua…

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It was with some disgruntlement that I went to see the Oscar-winning “Free Solo” this past weekend. Not only is rock climbing not my thing, I had been rooting for “RBG.” I’ll confess that my before-the-fact disapproval was totally off-base. No, I’m not about to take up rock climbing—the thou…

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I don’t usually take an entire column to discuss the Oscars, and if you’ve been reading me for the past few years, you also know that I don’t think it’s possible to designate anything as “The Best” unless the competitors have created similar works—more suited to genre books or timed athletic…

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January and February are considered the “dump months” for movie releases: the ones the studios don’t expect to garner great reviews or box office proceeds. Also, by the time the Oscar race starts later in the year, these won’t have a chance to be remembered, unless there is a PR push for the…

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Early in 2018, we were treated to “RBG,” an excellent documentary about celebrated Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which introduced a couple of generations to some important not-too-recent history: the legal battle for equality for both sexes and Justice Ginsburg’s huge role in fu…

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“A Simple Favor” is a clever film, filled with lots of twists and turns—perhaps one or two too many?—and enhanced by two fine actresses, Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively. The movie, which takes place in an upscale Connecticut town, is about an unlikely friendship between Stephanie and Emily, t…

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There is an art to crafting a successful nail-biter, especially one where we already know the ending because it’s based on something that actually happened. Think of “All the President’s Men” and “Munich” and how we could hardly catch our breath from the tension on the screen. Alas, “Operati…

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I desperately needed to stay away from politics and too much world sadness this week, so I decided to begin my viewing with a romance. The formula for romance is: Boy meets girl, sparks fly. Alas, there is an insurmountable obstacle (referred to henceforth as I.O.) to their love (the conflic…

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“Mission Impossible: Fallout” is one of the best installments so far in the MI franchise. An alternate title might be “See Tom Run,” not to mention “Jump and Parachute and Freefall and Hang from an Airborne Helicopter.” Yes, Tom Cruise does all his own stunts; the man, at age 55, is in great…

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It’s been a stellar few months for documentaries: “RBG,” “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” “Whitney,” the HBO film on Robin Williams. “Three Identical Strangers” belongs on the list but I need to warn you that the less you know about the film before seeing it, the better. I won’t go into it much …

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The target audience for “Book Club” is female and past middle age, and while I am certainly both female and age-appropriate, I found the film somewhat silly and often condescending. Granted, it does touch on some pertinent points about aging—marriages grown stale, retirees facing empty days …

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“Safe” is an eight-part British mystery now streaming on Netflix. Its pedigree couldn’t be better: American mystery writer Harlan Coben created it, gifted American actor Michael C. Hall stars and the British have a true gift for producing great TV detective shows. However, the melding of the…

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When “RBG” was over, I wanted to applaud and hoot my approval. I did not give in to the impulse, but I tell you about it now because it’s that kind of film. Or, to be specific, it’s that kind of film if you admire an agile brain and fearless attitude in a woman in her eighties; if you wince …

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“A Quiet Place” is an unexpectedly rich film about a society that is run on silence. Why? Monsters that are blind but react to sound by destroying the source of that sound have taken over. There is no real story or plot, only the day-to-day increasing menace to one particular family and how …

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There is an exciting, fingernail-biting film (or films or 10-part Netflix series) to be made from Jason Matthews’ best selling trilogy about the spy game between Russia and the U.S. Unfortunately, the recently released “Red Sparrow,” adapted from the first of the books, falls far short of wh…

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Last year, I wrote that I don’t like rankings like “The Best” anything because I genuinely don’t think the playing field is even, at least when it comes to the arts. I can’t compare a massive historical drama like “Dunkirk” with a small personal gem like “Lady Bird;” nor can I compare a subt…

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The usual December glut of new releases in time for awards season—and the fact that I only write two columns a month—means I need to play a bit of catch-up with reviewing. Here we go.

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It’s interesting how small films that open to good reviews but quickly head toward oblivion can be rescued by word-of-mouth about an amazing performance. That is the case with “Darkest Hour” and its star, Gary Oldman. In this year’s many films and TV shows about World War II, the persona of …

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There exists an adoring cult around an abysmal 2003 film called “The Room.” It was written by, directed by, financed by and starred Tommy Wiseau, a millionaire about whom no one really knew anything, as he seemed a complete fabrication from the get-go. “The Disaster Artist,” directed by and …

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There seemed to be an unusual fascination with World War II, well-represented by several excellent films: Who can forget the body-strewn beaches and frighteningly realistic depiction of the terror of battle in “Dunkirk”? Or an intimate glimpse into the story of a female English propaganda wr…

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Right now on HBO, there is a fine documentary called “The Newspaper Man.” It’s about Ben Bradlee, the famous former editor of The Washington Post, during the 1960s and 1970s, one of the most tumultuous times in United States history. I invite you to watch that and then, as of Dec. 22, when i…

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In between watching the World Series this week, you might want to sneak out to see two smaller, well-done films as relief from the tension. “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected),” is the latest offering from writer/director Noah Baumbach. His films of dysfunctional or unhappy families o…

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It’s been a great summer for films based on historical facts, three of them dealing with British history, including my previous reviews of “Dunkirk” and “Viceroy’s House.” Now we have “Victoria and Abdul,” starring Judi Dench as the long-serving Queen Victoria (much of the 19th century) and …

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