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  • Annihilation

    Annihilation

    ★★★★

    Alex Garland’s follow-up to his critically-acclaimed debut, Ex Machina, does not disappoint.  Methodically paced, if not a bit too slow at times, and loaded with visual detail, Annihilation is a riveting blend of storytelling and cinematic craftsmanship.  Natalie Portman plays a soldier turned biology professor at Johns Hopkins, whose husband (played by Oscar Isaac) is a soldier who she believes to be dead.  To her surprise, he returns home, but seems inexplicably altered.  She comes to realize he has suffered…

  • The House

    The House

    ★★★

    Enjoyable enough if a bit formulaic comedy is directorial debut for writer of the two Neighbors movies.  Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler play a middle class couple who were relying on a scholarship earned by their daughter to pay for her tuition at Bucknell, the college of her dreams.  When the scholarship is taken away by town councilman Nick Kroll, ostensibly to fund the construction of a luxurious new town pool, the two are forced to open an underground casino…

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  • Dancing with Crime

    Dancing with Crime

    ★★★★½

    This is by far one of the best noirs I’ve ever seen.  It never lost momentum from the moment it started.  Excellent screenplay, impressive cinematography and art direction, concise editing, and classic score.  Also really great acting from almost everyone in the cast.  Two soldiers come home from WWII — Ted (played by Richard Attenborough) makes an honest living as a cab driver; Dave has gotten involved with a crime syndicate which works out of a nightclub he frequents.  The…

  • The Night of the Hunter

    The Night of the Hunter

    ★★★★★

    The only film Charles Laughton directed, but it stands out as being one of the greatest achievements in cinematic history.  Shot on a relatively low budget by cinematographer Stanley Cortez (who shot such masterpieces as The Magnificent Ambersons, Shock Corridor, and The Naked Kiss), it is visually stunning.  
           Based on the novel by Davis Grubb, and adapted to the screen by James Agee (a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist in his own right, although he received that award posthumously --- in fact,…