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Movies

Fun, Exciting With Amazing Visuals

Movie: ‘Doctor Strange’

Today’s comic book movie — in fact, pretty much any fantasy or sci-fi movie in general — lives or dies by its special effects. Good effects by themselves don’t make a great movie, of course. But anyone who has seen, say, an episode of the 1977 “Spider-Man” TV series knows that cheesy effects will sink the best-intentioned project.

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Twists and Tech Make for Great TV

TV: ‘Black Mirror’

Imagine a world in which anyone you meet — a friend, a coworker, a stranger — can rate you on a scale of one to five on a social media site. Now imagine that your popularity index can have a strong effect on your quality of life.

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A World of Lies, Cruelty and Murder

Movie: “The Girl on the Train”

How peculiar Hollywood moviemakers are. Glom on to Paula Hawkins’ 2015 bestselling novel, “The Girl on the Train,” transpose it from England across the ocean to Westchester County, star the oh-so-English Emily Blunt — complete with posh London accent — as the divorced, self-pitying alcoholic Rachel, and maybe you have a hit. 

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Beatlemania, 50 Years Later

Movie: ‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week — The Touring Years’

Ron Howard’s “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week — The Touring Years” demonstrates that the Beatles ca. 1964-66 were a pretty good live rock ’n’ roll band.
The evidence has long been buried in the sonic rubble produced by 80 bazillion screaming teenage girls, but thanks to the marvels of modern technology, the band is now audible.

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This Uplifting Film Tells a Hero’s Story

With marketing genius — some would call it cynicism and crassness — Warner Bros. chose to release “Sully” two days before the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Certainly some viewers will shudder or close their eyes as “Sully’s” jetliner shrieks low by buildings. But this is the story of heroism and stoic competence, just as so much of the 9/11 story was about the courage and dedication of first responders.

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Discovering Life Lessons with an Improv Troupe

Movie: 'Don't Think Twice'

Devotees and casual watchers of late-night television know that many of the performers on shows like “Saturday Night Live” get their start in improv comedy groups like Second City and Upright Citizens Brigade. 

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The Best Film of the Year (So Far)

Movies: ‘Hell or High Water’

The camera pans across a wall of anti-bailout, anti-bank graffiti.  We get the feel of a time and a sun-bleached, dusty place on life support. Soon two masked men armed with guns storm into the branch of the Texas Midlands Bank and grab a few thousand dollars in small bills — none traceable.The only customer retrieves his own gun — the men have left it on a counter — and blasts at the escaping robbers.

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In Which the Slump is Broken

Movies: 'War Dogs'

In the manner of a baseball player who, after being mired in an 0-for-47 slump, gets a base hit because the shortstop tripped on a shoelace, I count Todd Phillips’ “War Dogs” as a successful film.

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A Gorgeous Period Piece With Humor — and Streep

Stephen Frears is a canny director. Now 75, he understands the formula for attracting an older audience, an apparently lucrative demographic group: Choose an adult subject, sign a star — preferably female — and support her with a strong cast, give your film a beautifully realized sense of time and place on a reasonably modest budget and do not stint on emotion. 

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Make Your Own Movie Title, It Will Be More Entertaining

Movie: ‘Jason Bourne’
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

Here’s a neat parlor game you can play instead of going to see “Jason Bourne,” the fifth installment of the Bourne film series.
It’s called “Robert Ludlum Titles.”
Many of the late Ludlum’s novels had titles with a name and a noun. 
Such as: “The Chancellor Manuscript.” 

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