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Unique, a Near Masterpiece

Movie: ‘Embrace of the Serpent’

The first image we see in Ciro Guerra’s spellbinding film, “Embrace of the Serpent,” is a human animal — Karamakate, played with stunning conviction by nonprofessional, 30-year-old actor Nibio Torres. Graceful and muscular, Karamakate is a shaman watching over his native habitat; but there is nothing romantic about him. He knows man is only a part of a nature he can destroy but never control.

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E for Effort, But …

Movies: ‘Deadpool’

Tim Miller’s “Deadpool” is supposed to be the comic-book movie for people who don’t like comic-book movies, which includes me.

And I’ll admit, I thought the flick was promising at first.

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Maggie Smith Rules

Movie: ‘The Lady in the Van’

There are many pleasures in “The Lady in the Van.” It is like an eccentric majolica teapot wrapped in a warm cozy, so English it could come from no other country. You can almost smell, but thankfully not, the odor of sherbet lemons, latrine and Yardley’s lavender talc that playwright Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) says emanates from Miss Shepherd (Maggie Smith), the strange and difficult old woman who lives in a rusting yellow van in Bennett’s driveway.

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Sophisticated Humor For Grownups, At Last

Movies: ‘Hail, Caesar!’

The Coen Brothers’ “Hail, Caesar!” is what might happen if you mixed the genes of Mel Brooks and Philip Roth (with a little Budd Schulberg and Chuck Jones for seasoning) and gave the result a decent budget and carte blanche.
(There — now you know I actually read something besides the Racing Form and Fly Fisherman.)
Josh Brolin is Eddie Mannix, studio boss, fixer, family man and Roman Catholic.

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For Grownups: A Brilliant Study

Movies: '45 Years'
leong@lakevillejournal.com

Now is the season when movie distributors give us adult films, the ones that play to small, appreciative audiences of, shall we say, older people. “45 Years” is a devastating study of jealousy, a melancholy, brilliantly acted movie about the rhythms of a couple who have lived as one for decades.

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There’s Bad, And Then There’s Intolerable

Movies: ‘Dirty Grandpa’

love bad movies. I admit it. A giant man-eating shark/octopus hybrid that terrorizes a Mexican beach resort for no particular reason? Sign me up.

A sword and sorcery flick, made for about $11 and featuring the worst sword fight in cinematic history, plus an evil warlock dressed up like Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard”? I’ll buy the 30th anniversary DVD.

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An Empty Return

Movies: ‘The Revenant’

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A Serious Matter Needing Better Treatment

Movie: ‘Concussion’
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

Just in time for the pro football playoffs comes Peter Landesman’s “Concussion,” starring Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a pathologist who identified what is now known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy in National Football League players.

Omalu, a Nigerian, has an uphill battle with his coworkers and colleagues, with the immensely powerful NFL and with resentful fans.

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A Hilarious, Appalling Look At Finance

Movie: ‘The Big Short’

This film, “The Big Short,” is a comedy that masks a growing anger, one you may share. Director Adam McKay has transformed Michael Lewis's bestseller, a dense book about the 2008 economic collapse and the people who profited from it, into a fast-paced film like his movies with Will Ferrell. 

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Fun, Long, With Spectacular Effects

Movies: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

There was an honest-to-God hubbub at The Moviehouse in Millerton, Thursday, Dec. 17, for the opening of the latest Star Wars film, J.J. Abrams’ “The Force Awakens.” Moviegoers lined up in the lobby of the upstairs theater, and chattered excitedly as they filed in and found their seats. I headed for the back of the house, as is my custom, and was comfortably set up, on the aisle, and as far away from the Nerd Zone as possible.

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