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Booksmart

The story is about two girls who spent their entire high school life studying and making the best grades so that they can get into the best colleges. On the day before graduation, after a scene in the bathroom, Molly realizes that she and Amy have probably missed out on an important part of high school life. They decide to go all out on their last night before graduation and have the experience they missed. What results is mostly hilarious as the two find themselves trying to find rides and finding themselves at different parties thrown by very different people …

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Shazam!

14-year-old orphan Billy is unhappily assigned to another foster home, and he is not happy. One day, he becomes the guy designated to become Shazam: A superhero who can go into and out of his role by proclaiming Shazam! He encounters Sivana, the older man version of the boy who first stumbled into the Wizard realm and was not deemed worthy to have Shazam’s power. The movie is sweet but too much so. Most of it is rather cliché; we have seen the story of the guy who doesn’t know how to harness his powers, the guy who overcomes personal …

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The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

After several years of relative calm after Bricksburg was originally saved by Lucy and Rex, a new threat comes from invaders from outer space. Lucy is captured by the invaders, and it is up to Rex find Lucy and for both of them to once again save their city. I will start by saying that I don’t think this film worked nearly as well as the first one. My daughter called it right: the movie tries way too hard for its laughs. But at a deeper level, the laughs will come to those who are very young and respond to …

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Thunder Road

This movie popped out of nowhere on a 2018 best movies list in one of my FB film groups. I had never heard of it and to my knowledge got very little if any press, although it has picked up a number of awards on the independent film circuit. Jim Cummings plays Jim, a man whose life seems to be falling apart around him while he valiantly tries to keep all of the pieces propped up. In the opening scene – which is one of the best I have seen – Jim is giving a eulogy for his mother who …

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The Upside

In this remake of the French film Intouchables (2012), Phil (Bryan Cranston) is a millionaire who was in an accident that left him a quadriplegic. During his search for a caretaker, Dell (Kevin Hart) barges into an interview being overseen by Phil’s business manager Yvonne (Nicole Kidman); he really doesn’t want the job, he just needs a signature to prove he is looking for work. Phil decides to hire Dell, which is the beginning of their friendship. This is based on the true story of a friendship of two very different men with different backgrounds. The film is okay; the …

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The Other Side of the Wind

This film is a restoration of the final film by Orson Welles, “The Other Side of the Wind”, a Hollywood satire. Jake Hannaford (played brilliantly by John Huston) is a fading director who is attempting a comeback in this final film, one that would be considered an arthouse film today. The movie has three different stories going on: The film itself in which you are the viewer, the making of the film, and the critique of the film (and a critique of the critique of the film). Each of these is interwoven into a satire-laced commentary on Hollywood and how …

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: This is the latest from Joel and Ethan Cohen is an anthology of six vignettes that relate various perspectives on the Old West in American. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, probably the funniest, tells the story of a feared gunslinger. In Near Algodones, James Franco robs a bank that sits literally in the middle of nowhere. In Meal Ticket, Liam Neeson drives a young thespian with no arms and no legs from town to town. Gold is the theme of All Gold Canyon. In The Girl Who Got Rattled, Zoe Kazan plays a young woman …

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The Favourite

This film is the newest from Yorgos Lanthimos, who is the director for the Lobster and Sacred Killing of Deer. His films are an acquired taste for many, and this is no exception. Set in the 18th century, England and France are at war. England is headed by Queen Anne (played by Olivia Colman in a masterful performance), who is sickly and rules England primarily through her friend/lover Lady Churchill (played by Rachel Weisz). One day, Abigail (Emma Stone in a brilliantly devious performance), who is Lady Churchill’s cousin, shows up and soon captures the affections of Anne. The movie …

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Ocean’s 8

Debbie Ocean (played by Sandra Bullock), sister of Danny Ocean from the other Ocean’s films, has just been released from prison. During her 5 years, she has been plotting how to pull off the heist-of-all-heists: a necklace worth 150M dollars. I found the movie to be enjoyable but uneven. It was predictable and lacked any suspense or deviousness to make the heist more tenuous and interesting. I did like that the film was a gender twist on the other Ocean’s films. Some of the characters were more interesting than others. My favorites are Anne Hathaway, who is hilarious as model …

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Juliet, Naked

Annie (Rose Byrne) lives with her boyfriend Duncan (Chris O’Dowd), an academic who is obsessed with a has-been musician Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke). One day, Annie and Duncan receive a disc containing pre-recorded versions of an older Crowe album. The lives of Crowe, Annie, and Duncan become interconnected through Duncan’s ongoing blog about Crowe. This is a light, fun film. The acting from the three main characters is solid, and the film is very funny (especially Hawke who seems to have children who keep appearing from nowhere and O’Dowd, whose obsession keeps resulting in his foot getting stuck in his …

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