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Stale and formulaic “Bohemian Rhapsody” fails to engage

Produced by Bryan Singer, Robert De Niro and Graham King
Rami Malek, Ben Hardy and Mike Myers
Directed by Bryan Singer

Other film critics have been remarkably kind to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the biopic about Freddie Mercury, frontman for Queen, for whom the word legendary would have had to be invented if it didn’t exist already. Why the Bryan Singer film hardly deserves praise: 1. It’s a by-the-book biopic, hitting all the predictable spots, erasing any point of contention or lingering on possible painful or ... more >

No magic this time! “BlacKKKlansman” is a botched job

Spike Lee misses out on an opportunity
John David Washington, Adam Driver and Laura Harrier
Directed by Spike Lee

Much praise has been heaped on "BlacKkKlansman" the new Spike Lee feature based on a daring tale as told in the book by the same name by author Ron Stallworth. The action takes place in the seventies, in the heady times of Vietnam War protests, desegregation and black power movements. These last, as we now know, went nowhere. The lucky African-Americans fill prisons, the less lucky ones are ... more >

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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 >