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Movies: ‘Knock Knock’

Awhile back I picked up one of those “50 Incredibly Lousy Flicks” DVD box sets, and it included a Sondra Locke movie called “Death Game,” directed by the immortal Peter S. Traynor and released to drive-ins everywhere in 1977.

In an apparent attempt to prove that nothing, no matter how crummy, cannot be remade, Eli Roth has reworked “Death Game” as “Knock Knock,” which is playing at a theater nowhere near you — and streaming on Amazon for $6.99. 

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Ideas That Changed the World

Movies: ‘Steve Jobs’

Alan Turing, World War II German code breaker and inventor of the computer, killed himself with cyanide in 1954, a half-eaten apple by his bed. Is that why Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) chose Apple as the name of the computer company he founded, and an apple, with a missing bite, as his logo?

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Halloween Schlockfest

Movies

If you are an Amazon Prime member, there is a nice selection of Grade Z horror movies available for your Halloween viewing pleasure.
Starting with “Blood of Dracula’s Castle” (1969),Glen is a fashion photographer who spends a lot of time shooting his girlfriend Liz, often next to seals. And he was ahead of his time, too, because he uses an Instamatic or a Polaroid the whole time. No fancy single lens reflex for this fellow, no sirree!

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A Spy Drama, Superb and Hopeful

Movies: ‘Bridge of Spies’

No one makes movies like Steven Spielberg. With old-fashioned craftsmanship, Spielberg, the master storyteller, takes a true story that some of us will remember and infuses it with both earnestness and optimism. It’s the story of an early 1960s cold war spy-swap, the kind that John LeCarré would have cloaked in gloom and darkness, shifting morality and, ultimately, futile gamesmanship. 

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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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