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TOM HANKS doesn’t make bad movies, though he has been part of so many great ones that many, like this one, are merely “good” or “worthwhile.” News of the World takes place not long after the Civil War-where a  lot of things had been disrupted, of course, and not yet returned to their proper place [Over 150 years later this remains true]. There aren’t many jobs that allow you to earn a living to avoid going home, but Hank’s character, Captain Kidd, found one. Part  performer, part civil servant, and former soldier, Kidd travels about the Middle West to read to townspeople from a collection of domestic newspapers. He has to be part diplomat, too because in every audience he is sure to have sensitive

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            SADLY, FOR THE LAST YEAR, my established ritual of “experiencing” films at the theatre was reduced to merely “watching” them on a laptop or waiting to view the next episode on the TV. Still, I managed to watch Fargo (4) and Snowpiercer (1) on TV, and then watched Midnight Sky and Mank on premium channels. Both Midnight Sky and Mank are worthy films. Mank has a shot at a Best Actor Oscar for Gary Oldman’s role as screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz. David Fincher’s black-and-white story behind the creation of Citizen Kane reveals how one of the greatest films ever made was the result of determination (Orson Welles) and perseverance (Mankiewicz) as it suggested the often unflattering experiences of a very

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    “We have to live without sympathy, don’t we? That’s impossible of course. We act it to one another, all this hardness; but we aren’t like that really, I mean…one can’t be out in the cold all the time; one has to come in from the cold…d’you see what I mean?” “I can’t talk like this, Control. What do you want me to do?” “I want you to stay out in the cold a little longer.”                                         –Control and Leamas, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold   On Sunday, my favorite author died at 89 years of age. John Le Carre’, born David

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Movies

I DON’T KNOW if it’s because I haven’t spent much time watching movies in the last six months (having been otherwise engaged in reading old books or gorging on empty-calorie news), but I was particularly impressed by Enola Holmes, a movie based on more recent fiction stories about a much younger sister of the great sleuth Sherlock of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fame. I was intrigued by the cast as it featured some heavies like Helena Bonham-Carter and Henry Cavil, but the lead actress, Millie Bobby Brown as Enola, was captivating. I expect she will do much more on the big screen. The theme follows  a burgeoning trend I began posting about many years ago, namely stories that focus on female protagonists in roles that

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      I WAS A FAN of Matthew Rhys from having watched The Americans series and then had no choice but to rave about him in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. His typically somber and introspective character is perfect for the tone of this series. The measure, for me, of the strength of a series is how deeply I pine for the next episode and I pined (silently) like a hound for the chase. This Perry Mason genesis story has all the things I like: it’s a period piece, it’s noir,  has good casting with several plot points converging. At a time in our country when Justice and Truth are struggling to take a form we can all recognize, what better way to put them into

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AS WITH THE ELECTION PRIMARIES, with the Academy Awards a lot of people pay attention to who has been “hot” with the earlier voters. Unfortunately, that can make for a boring show. For example, Best film, actress, actor, supporting actor and actress, and Best director are already strong favorites. With that in mind, for the major categories at least, identifying possible upsets will make the awards more exciting or give you a chance at winning the pool. So, here goes. Best Film 1917 but Parasite a serious upset chance. Best Actress Renee Z in Judy has won and won and won. Maybe Charlize Theron of Bombshell a longshot to play spoiler? Best Actor Joaquin Phoenix has been scooping up the awards for Joker. A shock

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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,” https://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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