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A Small, Quiet Film Triumphs

Movies

Diane, the eponymous title character, who appears in every scene of documentary director Kent Jones’ first dramatic feature, helps people. Played with unsentimental sympathy by the singularly talented Mary Kay Place, 70ish Diane plays gin rummy with her cousin Donna (Deirdre O’Connell), who is dying of cervical cancer, brings a casserole to a friend with a sick husband and feeds poor people in a soup kitchen. Mostly, she tries to help her ungrateful, drug addicted son, Brian (Jake Lacy), bringing food and fresh laundry to his filthy, run-down house.   

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Why See The ‘Avengers: Endgame’?

Movies

At a quarter to six last Thursday, while standing in a popcorn line long enough to weave in a comically serpentine stretch around the packed lobby of my local arthouse theater, I composed a text to my friends. “I’m about to see the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ premiere and every middle schooler in town seems to be here, too.”
The reply I got back was a curt one. A friend wrote, “Why are you seeing that movie?”

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Isle of Wight Girl Problems

Movies: ‘Teen Spirit’

Have you ever been on a date with someone who likes all the same things you like, understands your references and remembers the songs you used to dance alone to — but there’s no spark?
That’s how I feel about Max Minghella, the 33 year old son of the late Academy Award winning director Anthony Minghella (whose repertoire includes some of my all-time favorites like “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “The English Patient.”) Going to see Max’s directorial debut, “Teen Spirit,” was a bit like a first date. 

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A Superhero Movie For Everyone

Movies: ‘Shazam!’

If you are a comic book movie person, if you care about the difference between the DC and Marvel Universe, you’ve already decided whether or not you are going to see “Shazam!”. But if you are like me, someone who just wants to know if you should take your kids to see it, or, like me, your eyes glaze over a little bit in the final third of superhero movies when everybody is zooming around zapping each other and the CGI takes over from the actors, well, I am here to tell you that “Shazam!” is a ton of fun, brimming with heart and absolutely worth seeing.

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Lonely Gloria Meets Weird Arnold — Then What?

Movies: ‘Gloria Bell’

Julianne Moore is radiant as Gloria, a complex, passive, passionate and lonely divorced mother of two grown children with an unfulfilling job in an insurance agency and a penchant for dancing in Los Angeles clubs. The film is a remake of a 2013 Spanish language film made by Sebastian Lelio written by Lelio and Gonzalo Maza. The new film also directed by Lelio attempts to Americanize the story.

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Rethinking Horror

Movies: ‘Us’

Jordan Peele’s movies belong to a class of horror films that invite analytical interpretations; part of seeing them includes, for better or for worse, mulling over what they mean. 

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Bikinis, Space, Chainsaws, Pigs And Leather

Television: Tubi TV

Recently, as I browsed through the “bad cinema” section of Amazon Prime, I panicked a bit. I had seen all the movies. Some I had seen twice. Was the well of horrible flicks finally running dry?
Then I found a free streaming service called Tubi TV. It doesn’t cost anything to use, but the movies and TV shows are interrupted at fairly large and logical intervals for, at most, a minute of ads. 

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The Scoop On Joseph Pulitzer

Movies: ‘Joseph Pulitzer, Voice of The People’

Joseph Pulitzer made extraordinary newspapers: as broad as a fellow’s arms could reach, full of great stories about thirsty men on Mars, body parts in a river, lists of tax dodgers, enormous cartoons in joyous color,  tales of corruptors, swindlers, killers, divorcees, and any other miscreants inside government and out.

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Addictive New Netflix Series

Television: ‘Russian Doll’

I sat down to watch the pilot of “Russian Doll,” a new Netflix series produced by Amy Poehler and Natasha Lyonne, without knowing anything about it. Approximately 72 hours later, I emerged from my apartment, blinking in the sunlight, having finished one of the best shows of 2019. 

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Sparking Joy On Television

Television: ‘Tidying Up With Marie Kondo’

Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up,” published in English in 2014, captured the attention of U.S. cultural enthusiasts and skeptics alike; the ideas behind the book filtered into the collective consciousness even for those who hadn’t read it. Netflix’s new special, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” has revitalized this intrigue, quickly becoming a show people watch for not only the vicarious catharsis of watching others organize their homes, but for inspiration to do it themselves.

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