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  • The Great Wall

    The Great Wall

    ★★★½

    Once you grant the film its fundamentally ridiculous premise, it becomes so much more enjoyable than some artful, respectable epic. It’s a B-movie – a mega-budgeted, multi-national Roger Corman production. And it’s got all the inherent attributes of one: pricy yet somehow chintzy-looking effects, goofy and overdone 3D whammys (they don’t just give you arrows, blades, and axes flying directly from the screen, like it’s Comin’ At Ya or something; there’s a moment of 3D back-clop dirt under a horse’s…

  • Arrival

    Arrival

    ★★★★½

    Director Denis Villeneuve and screenwriter Eric Heisserer (adapting Ted Chiang’s short story “Story of Your Life”) took the most common and tired of 'Independence Day' sci-fi/action movie premises – the arrival on our planet of alien life forms – and instead created a film of ideas, a searching and occasionally mournful examination of exactly what we would want to find out from such visitors, and how we would go about it. Amy Adams is superb as the linguist charged with…

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  • Mistress America

    Mistress America

    ★★★★½

    “In one instant, her behaviors turned from charming to borderline psychotic.” So notes Tracy (Kirke) of Brooke (Gerwig), the title character of Noah Baumbach’s latest chronicle of the bohemian facades and generational navigation in New York City. Free of much of the cynicism but none of the bite of last spring’s 'While We’re Young,' Baumbach and co-writer Gerwig’s screwball treat beautifully captures the way a slightly older, seemingly together mentor-type figure can first seem to be everything you hope to…

  • Under the Skin

    Under the Skin

    ★★★★

    A beautiful, bizarre, and occasionally troubling bit of abstract art-house sci-fi in the Beyond the Black Rainbow vein from director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth). Scarlett Johansson (who appears in just about every frame) plays a well-disguised alien creature who picks up men and devours them; some have dismissed the picture as an indie riff on Species, but if the narrative is derivative and a tad monotonous, there’s something intoxicating about the fluidity of Glazer’s striking images and the mood he manages to sustain throughout the peculiar tale.

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