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More Intelligence Needed in “Snowden”

Edward Snowden is director Oliver Stone’s kind of hero: a zealous patriot who becomes disillusioned about his beloved country, publicly criticizes it, is labeled a traitor, and eventually learns a more complex definition of what it means to be patriotic. Stone has been down this road before – with the young Vietnam-era soldiers of Platoon and Born…

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A Dark Story Brought to Light in “The Innocents”

In the early decades of cinema, Catholics called the shots in Hollywood. All films were submitted to the Catholic Legion of Decency for approval, and, if they didn’t meet the agency’s standards of morality, there would be a boycott, and 20 million American Catholics would stay home. We’ve come a long way since then. In…

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“Sing Street”, or Once More With Feeling

The boy in Sing Street doesn’t seem like anything special, not at first. It’s his first day at a new school, forced to switch in the middle of the year because his parents are trying to save money. He’s already had a run-in with the school bully, and it’s easy to imagine what his future will…

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Reel Change on “Everybody”

I liked Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some!!” so much I wrote about it twice. First, there was my review in Washington City Paper. My editor challenged me to draw some connections between the film and “Born to be Blue,” a biopic of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker that was released the same day. I did my…

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I Hated, Hated, Hated “The Hateful Eight”

Quentin Tarantino is not exactly known for his subtlety, so when he opens The Hateful Eight with a close-up of a crucifix half-buried in snow, we know what he means: his is a world where salvation is dead and no god exists. Well, there is one god at least, but his name is above the…

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“Creed” is the New American Hero

You’d be forgiven if, when you heard they were rebooting the “Rocky” franchise, you groaned and rolled your eyes. I certainly did. At this point, it’s easy to be cynical about the Hollywood sequel-making machine, but when done right, a film franchise can still provide unique pleasures. “Creed” follows the lead of James Bond and…

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Confession: I Didn’t Care for “Inside Out”

Inside Out is probably the most clever film yet to come out of Pixar Animation, but in no way is that the same as being its best. The film has been universally praised by critics for its creative ingenuity, and rightly so. Its story is groundbreakingly original: Riley, an eleven-year old girl having trouble adjusting after…