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Movie Reviews

THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY

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The more you know about legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday the more trouble you’re likely to have digesting Lee Daniels’s punishing new biopic. While it is less fictitious than the glossy 1972 Diana Ross movie Lady Sings the Blues, it remains…

NOMADLAND: WORTH WAITING FOR

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Filmmaker Chloé Zhao opens Nomadland on a tight closeup of Fern’s face—a woman we might chance to meet any day of the week.  Because she is played by Frances McDormand there is no better way to establish a connection between her…

‘MINARI’ IS AN ARTISTIC TRIUMPH

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To have won both the Grand Jury prize and the Audience Award at last year’s Sundance Film Festival indicates, correctly, that Minari is an artistic triumph as well as a crowd-pleaser. Clearly a passion project for writer-director Lee Isaac Chung, inspired…

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

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Judas and the Black Messiah is a provocative movie title and the film that bears it lives up to the expectations it generates. Director Shaka King plunges us into action in the opening scene, where a little-remembered figure named Bill…

LAND: AN IMPRESSIVE DEBUT FILM FROM ROBIN WRIGHT

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It shouldn’t come as a surprise that any feature-length film that has earned Robin Wright’s complete commitment—as actress and director—would be worthwhile. But Wright’s film is more than merely competent: her bywords seem to have been simplicity and honesty.…

‘LITTLE FISH’ EXPLORES A DARING IDEA

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I’m not sure when Aja Gabel wrote the story that became Little Fish, but I don’t think it was during the pandemic that has seized the world. In the near-future depicted here it’s a different kind of malady that overtakes…

TWO OF US: A SENSATIONAL SLEEPER

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There’s nothing more exciting to me than making a discovery. I wasn’t at the Toronto International Film Festival when Two of Us made its debut in the fall of 2019. It has played other prestigious festivals, including Los Angeles’ Outfest.…but I…

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