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Attack of the Sixties Creatures

Movies: ‘Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of The National Lampoon’

Douglas Tirola’s documentary about the National Lampoon, “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead,” is fairly heavy on the brilliance and not so hot on the drunk-stoned-dead continuum. The magazine, started by Harvard graduates Doug Kenney, Henry Beard and Robert Hoffman, all alums of the Harvard Lampoon magazine, first published in 1970. 

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Hurrah for Science, Mars and Adventure

Movie: “The Martian”

“The Martian” is a big, old-fashioned, entertaining movie. Director Ridley Scott’s love letter to science, American determination and the unbreakable power of friendship is both cosmic in setting and intimate in feel. It is a tour de force for the 77-year-old director, his star, an Academy Award-worthy Matt Damon, and the superb supporting cast. 

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So Low, So Evil

Movies: ‘Black Mass’

If you want to read something interesting after watching Scott Cooper's “Black Mass,” a film about the life and times of Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, check out Howie Carr's Sept. 22 column in the Boston Herald. It gives the reader an idea of the reach of Bulger's Winter Hill Gang, and of the caliber of the individuals involved.

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Messages Delivered Tenderly

Movies: ‘Grandma’

“Grandma” has been marketed as a comedy. Yet this small movie, only 80 minutes long, is so much more: a bittersweet, aching meditation on aging, loss, self-knowledge and, finally, acceptance. It's also a remarkable character study and a subtle bildungsroman (a type of novel concerned with the education, development and maturing of a young protagonist) delivered with care and tenderness.

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At-Your-Throat Political Coverage

Movies: ‘Best of Enemies’

Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville’s “Best of Enemies” is a hugely entertaining look at the televised debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. during the Republican and Democratic conventions in 1968. 

In the three-network era, CBS and NBC were vying for the top spot in the national news ratings. ABC was a distant third. One person interviewed says ABC was only in third place because there were only three networks.

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Comic, Zany but Unsettling, Too

Movies: ‘Mistress America’

Noah Baumbach has changed, at least a little. The man who made the acidic but insightful “The Squid and the Whale,” who gave us “Greenberg,” a character so unlikable that we almost wanted him to fail, now gives us what, for him, passes as comedy. And to be sure, there is a mindless, zany streak running through his newest film, “Mistress America.” But there is also a palpable anxiety.

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Good Idea, Entertaining Flick

Movies: ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E’

ne way to get a 1960s vibe from a remake of a 1960s TV program is to set it in 1963. That is what Guy Ritchie and company have done with “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” which has the right clothes and hairdos and soundtrack and cars and Cold War stuff.

Well, almost the right clothes. Illya Kuryakin, the Soviet agent (played with excellent deadpan humor by Armie Hammer) passes muster with items from the Large KGB Agent clothing line popular at the time, and the supporting cast looks present and correct.

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The Pleasure Is In The Dueling

Movie: ‘The End of the Tour’

The book “Infinite Jest” is more talked about and admired than read, and, alas, so is its author, David Foster Wallace. Wallace was a wonderfully perceptive writer with a head full of information and ideas and concerns, all bursting out and landing on the pages of his most famous book. 

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Absurd, Clichéd, Highly Diverting

Movies: ‘Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation’

Here we go again with Ethan Hunt, played by Tom Cruise, and the various impossible missions he (and only he) can complete.

In Christopher McQuarrie’s “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” we get the usual features — electronic devices that always work, guns that never run out of bullets and so on.

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Streep’s Terrific, but the Rest . . .

Movies: ‘Ricki and the Flash’

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