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SOMETIMES, THE BEST WAY to tell one story is by telling a different story. That’s what happens in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. In 1998, the editor of Esquire asked a particularly cynical reporter to do a short piece on Fred Rogers, aka “Mr. Rogers” for a segment on heroes. The interviews with Mr. Rogers changed the writer. The short piece changed into a full-length cover story and one of the most popular magazine pieces of the year (https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a27134/can-you-say-hero-esq1198/).  Tom Hanks “became” Fred Rogers, and Jonathan Rhys (from The Americans) killed it playing Lloyd Vogel, the angry, edgy journalist. This movie made me want a “do-over” of at least a decade in my life. A lot of people are kind, but there are special

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  Bombshell is going to win movie industry awards. It would be more fitting if it won a Pulitzer. The performances were exceptional, and the story had all the ingredients of a mystery thriller. My eyes (and sometimes my mouth) were wide open as I watched Charlize Theron act herself into an Oscar nod. She played Megyn Kelly, star anchor who faced the top-down machinery of power, misogyny, and fear at Fox News—which informs the culture of many large companies and which dovetails with the male, tyrannical culture of the Trump administration. The movie is the real bombshell; it explodes the veneer and exposes the ruthlessness of power and influence inside the Western world’s most powerful media empire (and as the movie reveals, a powerful

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The Rise of Skywalker had a lot to live up to and mostly delivered. It had a powerful plot and an assuring conclusion, but it might be better appreciated for the relevant cultural themes than for the credulity; like its predecessors (and like the Marvel/DC franchises), each new episode has to ratchet-up the limits of the imagination in order to impress. For example, this one went farther with the concept of deus-ex machina (from Greek theatre when gods were brought down on stage) to resolve plot barriers: people are reincarnated, resurrected, or move between worlds more on a par with the Harry Potter series. I don’t wish to disparage the experience, however.  In a post four years ago about “The Force Awakens,” http://www.moviesmarketsandmore.com/not-long-ago-and-not-far-away/, I celebrated the

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  Midway As with Dunkirk, the film focuses on a handful of individuals and their roles and experiences in the context of that critical battle in the War in the Pacific. A well-made historical war film, the Midway story shows how (as in Imitation Game) intelligence gathering–not merely firepower–turned the tide.  The special effects were thrilling, and the experience of a lower-tech war fought with what are now mostly relics as war machines made for an engaging movie and history lesson. They did well to consider the perspective and sensibilities of the Japanese, perhaps, more than in past films on WWII.     The Irishman Martin Scorcese’s 3 1/2-hour long saga of a teamster turned mob insider stars three heavyweights of American gangster films: Robert

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At an turning point in the film Joker, Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), is assaulted on the subway.  Due to a disability that causes him to laugh randomly, some fellow riders described as “Wall Street types” decide to rough him up. Because Arthur still wore the clown outfit he used as part of his work, one of the assailants tried to sing “Send in the Clowns” as a prelude to the onslaught. That scene propels the action to the next level. Arthur Fleck, The Joker, in the corrupt and failing city of Gotham and with no intention of doing so, becomes the name and face of  what is best described as an anarchist movement [Note: The Joker, in his madness, may incline toward nihilism or absurdism

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    NOW THAT MERYL STREEP and Nicole Kidman are both starring in the second season of the TV series Big Little Lies, it’s probably safe to say that the bell is  ringing furiously to signal the end of an important socio-cultural era: the great period of feature films that began almost a century ago.  While there are still feature films and movie theaters, it seems as if most of the films are superhero fantasy or animated films. The energy, the talent, and the money is pouring out of “movies” into these TV-based series. We might have a net maintenance of creativity–perhaps even more. Maintenance of quality? Not as easy to say; the productions are very good and getting better as the market heats up. But

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  Like past comedy talents such as Robin Williams and Jim Carrey, Steve Carell continues along the path toward rebranding himself as a “serious” actor. In the brand-new film Welcome to Marwen, he gets a role and a movie that should garner some Oscar attention. The film has all the ingredients of a Best Picture nomination: it has a socially prominent issue, an innovative format, and strong and diverse female roles. Based on a true story, “Marwen” very artfully follows themes and threads woven between two worlds: the real, small-town world of a disabled man and the handful of people (mostly women) invested in his well being, and the quasi-real, delusional, fortress realm he creates and catalogues through the lens of his disease-and-drug-fueled imagination. Leslie

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There can be no question that the quality of summer films has deteriorated. It is understandable when you consider the money and talent (the talent goes where the money and the work is) has migrated in a big way toward the mini-series model. The switch-over names are getting bigger (e.g. Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Emma Stone) every season and the theater productions are increasingly less appealing.  I did manage to see a few films and so will do a quick review for each. The best movies of the year will probably be released over the next several weeks. Hunter Killer–This  Hunt for Red October ripoff has a very few moments’ worth of good action, but the idea that team of special forces could penetrate a

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With his newest film Isle of Dogs, Wes Anderson creates what has become for him a routine effect; he delivers a refreshingly unique and unpredictable story experience in film. And this time he adds a couple more items: he makes a pun out of the title while probably promoting stop-motion animation to a new level of legitimacy. That he chose a near-future Japan as his setting can only make me curious. Did anime’ influence him? Old Godzilla films? In a day and age of horror and zombie films, and movies that rely so heavily on CGI, it was a great relief to experience lower tech and  more organic storytelling— which is not to suggest that the film was simple. Perhaps it was a canine version of

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I had to go into the movie with some expectations because Steven Spielberg does not make bad movies, and the cast had Tom Hanks and Merrill Streep for starters. It’s always hard to know whether the times make the movie or the movie makes the times; culture and Art seem to take turns leading the way. In any case, I was just young enough to not understand what the Pentagon papers were in the early 70s. I distinctly remember that phrase as having been constantly in the news while I was in high school. What I didn’t know was that the events covered so well in this film blazed a trail that made it more possible for the press to act in the role of

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