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SHE’S JUST A SHADOW (Japanese manga meets grindhouse? Yes, please)

Tao Okamoto and Haruka Abe
Directed by Adam Sherman

“Women. No matter how human they seem... they’re just shadows. But on the other hand, aren’t we all?” From the edges of the bizarre and the extremely weird, “She’s Just A Shadow” is truly something else. The matriarch of a Tokyo prostitution empire, married to a vicious and violent pimp, leads her own gang against rival yakuza. All the while, a serial killer prey on her girls and one of her ... more >

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“Dolemite” is his name. Get used to it.

Eddie Murphy, Keegan-Michael Key and Mike Epps

“Dolemite is My Name”, the new film from the immensely-talented Craig Brewer, is a pleasant surprise and certainly one of the most entertaining and emotionally satisfying films I have seen this year. The wildly-vulgar character of Dolemite was the brainchild of struggling seventies comedian Rudy Ray Moore. Moore's material was too raw for the major record labels of those days, but the success ... more >

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Brad Pitt sets off in search of a father in mesmerizing “Ad Astra”

Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones and Ruth Negga
Directed by James Gray

“Ad astra,” the new film by James Gray, is more meditation than story. The title (one half of the latin phrase “per aspera ad astra” or “through hardships to the stars”) is apt given the amount of time travel and the fascinating hardware that allows it, though the tale meanders, causing some confusion. With various stellar transportation modes, it takes us from one distant planet to the next ... more >

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“The Lighthouse,” a mind-bending, psychologically-intense thriller

Willem Defoe, Robert Pattinson and Valeriia Karaman
Directed by Robert Eggers

A devious and creepy psychological film in the horror/thriller genre has made its way into cinemas in the form of Robert Eggers’s second feature, “The Lighthouse.” His first film “The Witch” was a masterpiece of tone and tension and staked its claim as one of the finest horror films of the past twenty-five years. Now comes Eggers’s latest film, one that is sure to shock, enthrall, and ... more >

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“FIRST LOVE” (this is why I go to the movies!)

Becky, Sakurako Konishi, Masataka Kubota and Sakurako Konishi
Directed by Takashi Miike 三池 崇史

A Takashi Miike film. Don’t be afraid. Jump into his cinematic world. While he isn’t always perfect, good or bad, his films hold unique and fascinating wonders for cinephiles. “First Love” ("Hatsukoi" in the original Japanese, is Miike’s best film since 2010’s “13 Assassins.” This is a wild ride but just wild enough. Being a Miike film, we are treated to scenes of the bizarre and macabre, but ... more >

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“Joker,” a morality-defying, two-hour drop down a man’s impaired psyche

Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz and Frances Conroy
Directed by Todd Phillips

I’m always skeptical when a film receives too much hype. With the on-again, off-again quality of American fare, I try not to set my hopes too high, especially when it comes to a film about the D.C. Comics's The Joker, by the director of “The Hangover” series. It is with great pleasure that I report that, while the film itself isn’t the cinematic masterpiece that some have christened it, Todd ... more >

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Almodovar delivers moving tribute to cinema and love with “Dolor y gloria”

And here's me breathing a sigh of relief. Almodovar has made another masterpiece, a work of art. “Dolor y Gloria" is sublime! I’d become disillusioned with the El Deseo jefe. “Broken embraces,” “La Piel que lo habito” were colorful, if shoddily-written films that lacked substance and felt saturated with fabricated emotions. Those were films, I could but only deduce, made by a filmmaker in ... more >