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  • Ben Is Back

    Ben Is Back

    ★★★★

    As she’s gotten older, Julia Roberts has acquired a striking ability to convincingly capture people who are just barely keeping it together – and because we’ve spent so much of our moviegoing lives sympathizing with her, when she falls apart, it has real power. She’s well-cast here as the mother of an addict (Lucas Hedges, quite good) who tries to keep him from relapsing during one-day Christmas break from rehab, and writer/director Hedges impressively arranges the trickiness of all the…

  • Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace

    ★★★★½

    Back in January of 1972, an impossibly young Sydney Pollack headed up a crew that filmed, over two nights in a Los Angeles sanctuary, the recording of Aretha Franklin’s gospel album 'Amazing Grace.' It became a bestseller, but the footage was never assembled or released (for “technical reasons,” per the opening credits) – until now. The result is more a concert film than documentary, and that’s just fine, because it’s as pure a shot of sheer joy as you’re likely…

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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…

  • The Disaster Artist

    The Disaster Artist

    ★★★★

    Here’s a weird thing that happened: a sold-out SXSW audience saw a “work in progress” cut of 'The Disaster Artist', James Franco’s film adaptation of Greg Sestero’s first-person account of the making of Tommy Wiseau’s legendarily bad movie 'The Room.' And it’s a very funny film about a very weird and untalented dude, and we all had a great many laughs at the expense of this guy and his terrible film. But we were also watching it with Mr. Wiseau…