STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER – Review by Susan Granger

After George Lucas sold the Star Wars franchise to Disney, J.J. Abrams masterminded the final three ‘origin story’ episodes, introducing desert scavenger-turned-Jedi Rey and First Order Supreme Leader Kylo Ren – a.k.a. Ben Solo – under Sith Emperor Palpatine . This installment begins a year after The Last Jedi. Stormtrooper-turned-Resistance fighter Finn and spice-smuggling ace pilot Poe Dameron have been sent to search the galaxy for potential allies.

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LITTLE WOMEN – Review by Susan Granger

Since Greta Gerwig’s Ladybird was one of my 2017 favorites, I had high hopes for her version of Louisa Mae Alcott’s classic story, but she butchers it! Rather than relate it chronologically, Gerwig shuffles, subverts and skips pivotal scenes, except for the opening Christmas letter from Father and the wryly romantic conclusion.

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WAVES – Review by Susan Granger

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” is a proverb dating back to the 11th century’s Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. That’s perhaps the best way to describe Trey Edward Shults’ saga about an upper-middle-class, African-American family in suburban South Florida in which a domineering father who thinks he’s doing all the right things to keep his volatile 18 year-old son on the right track.

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THE GOOD LIAR – Review by Susan Granger

In their first film together, Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen match wits in a clever crime caper, set in London. Widowed Betty McLeish (Mirren) is a retired Oxford professor with $3.6 million in assets and no idea how to invest her money. Tweedy, chivalrous Roy (McKellen) Courtnay is the professional con man she meets via an on-line service called Distinctive Dating.

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AT ETERNITY’S GATE – Review by Susan Granger

Julian Schnabel’s fragmentary exploration of enigmatic Dutch master Vincent van Gogh’s mind during his declining years in Arles, St.-Remy and Auvers-sur-Oise is both fascinating and frustrating. While Schnabel’s film is not a biopic, it does correct some inaccurate assumptions that people have made over the years, particularly after Kirk Douglas’ Van Gogh portrayal in Lust for Life (1956).

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HUNTER KILLER – Review by Susan Granger

Deep under the Arctic Ocean, American submarine Captain Joe Glass (Gerard Butler) is searching for a sunken U.S. sub when he hears distress sounds emanating from a nearby Russian sub that’s been sabotaged from within. After a daring mission that rescues Captain Andropov (Michael Nyqvist), Glass discovers that the destruction of both the U.S. and Russian subs was part of a coup. It’s a bid for power by the Defense Minister (Mikhail Gorevoy), who is holding Russia’s President (Alexander Dyachenko) hostage.

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FIRST MAN – Review by Susan Granger

Based on James R. Hansen’s First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong (2005), the film is adapted as a docudrama by Josh Singer and cinematographer Linus Sandgren, focusing on Apollo 11, America’s first successful manned mission to the moon, making good on Pres. John K. Kennedy’s vision for the future and “a giant leap for mankind.”

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