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“The Children Act,” unequal, at times awkward, clamors for well-deserved attention

Film is based on the eponymous 2014 novel by Ian McEwan
Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci and Fionn Whitehead
Directed by Richard Eyre

For better or for worse, Ian McEwan doesn't see much virtue in religious beliefs or faith. To him, they are a hindrance at best, an absurdity at worst. Founders and practitioners of various religions and cults come up with a logic completely devoid of reason, one that’s meant only to establish their power on the sheep that follow them. Not mincing words, he makes the point in “The Children Act,” ... more >

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#THEMTOO: the case of Hedy Lamarr, bombshell scientist, in the age of the #metoo movement

Where does a woman's intellectual competency begin, and her attractiveness end?

For a woman, surely, there can't be many life experiences as dreadful as rape. Even so- called "consensual" sex can be hard to bear when, for work-related or other reasons a woman has to give in to a man in whom she has no interest, in the best of cases, or by whom she is repulsed, in the worse. Think creepy, porcine Weinstein. But rape, sexual harassment, abuse, pay inequality, when pay there ... more >

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Vittorio Taviani, one half of brother directors duet, dead at 88

He shot about fifteen feature-length films with his brother

Those of us film lovers lucky enough to have known the cornucopia of the seventies and eighties remember that in the midst of films by great auteurs (who, for some, had started their career way earlier) Pasolini, Fellini, Scola, Bergman, Herzog, Wender, Fassbinder, Resnais, Rivette, Von Trotta, Wajda and so many others in an unending list of quasi-geniuses, anything by the Taviani brothers was the ... more >

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READY PLAYER ONE: a skeptic’s approach

Deconstructing the myth
Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke and Ben Mendelsohn
Directed by Steven Spielberg

Such is Spielberg’s draw that even film lovers with little interest in dystopia or sci-fi hesitate only a couple of days before dutifully making their way to the nearest movie theater. So, does it deserve the praise? Not really. Special CGI-enhanced effects, spectacular as they are, pall after a while and become repetitive although to the end there are lovely surprising images such as the disco ... more >

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DRAMA/MYSTERY: “Murder on the Orient Express

With a bit of British restraint
Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe and Judi Dench

By now, film adaptations based on the oeuvre of the two most prolific British writers of crime fiction, Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, form a respectable body. Of the latter, probably the best-known work remains “Murder on the Orient Express.” Today comes a new version by the, himself now almost venerable, Brit actor, Kenneth Branagh. From the get-go in this iteration, the ... more >

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NEW RELEASE: Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House

The story behind the story
Liam Neeson, Diane Lane and Marton Csokas
Directed by Peter Landesman

Do sleeping dogs lie forever? The question can be asked about Peter Landesman’s biopic of Mark Felt, the FBI agent who leaked drop after drop of damning information regarding the Watergate burglary to Bod Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post, until they turned into a flood that drowned Nixon and acolytes in 1974. If one relies on the story as it is told here, the dogs will indeed ... more >

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LETTER FROM PARIS – The culture feast

"Le Redoutable," "Young Karl Marx" and "Loving Vincent"
All of the above-mentioned films are in theaters in France now

Were I ever tempted to leave Paris and pitch my tent in a warmer city, a city where it doesn’t rain as often, where skies are bluer and inhabitants smile, I only need to look back on this last week to realize that I could never live elsewhere (but I already know that.) So how did that week go? I saw three films: “Le Redoutable,” about New Wave cinema founder Jean-Luc Godard, “Young Karl Marx,” ... more >