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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THE NUN – Review by Susan Granger

After a brief appearance by “The Nun” in James Wan’s “The Conjuring 2” (2016), this is a franchise spinoff, a supernatural prequel, set decades before the evil spook began to haunt Connecticut’s ghost-hunter Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga). After a nun commits suicide at a cloistered abbey in Biertan, Romania, in 1952, Father Anthony Burke (Demian Bichir) is summoned to Rome. He’s dispatched by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to investigate the sacred sanctuary, accompanied by a young novitiate, Sister Irene (Vera’s real-life sister Taissa Farmiga), who has occult visions.

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JULIET, NAKED – Review by Susan Granger

Following in her late father’s footsteps, Annie (Rose Byrne) manages a municipal history museum in Sandcliff, a British seaside town, while struggling to maintain her long-term relationship with Duncan (Chris O’Dowd), who is obsessed with ‘90s alternative-pop rocker Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), now vanished into obscurity. When an unreleased Tucker Crowe demo ‘Juliet, Naked’ arrives in the mail, Duncan is ecstatic. Sensible Annie is far more critical of the motley selection of outtakes, expressing her distaste in an acerbic comment on Duncan’s website.

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THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME — Review by Susan Granger

I really enjoy supporting women writers/directors, which is perhaps why I was a bit disappointed by Susanna Fogel’s buddy-comedy caper which, unfortunately, wastes the prodigious talent of SNL’s Kate McKinnon. In the midst of a shootout at an open air market in Vilnius, Lithuania, halfway across the world in Los Angeles, Audrey (Mila Kunis) is celebrating her 30th birthday, having just been dumped – via text – by one of the gunmen, Drew (Justin Theroux). He’s a C.I.A. agent and he doesn’t want to place Audrey in danger.

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THE MEG — Review by Susan Granger

Lurking in the depths of the Pacific Ocean is something very, very scary – according to former deep-sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), who now spends his time in a drunken stupor on Thailand’s waterfront after a questionable decision cost him his career and his marriage. Summoned by billionaire Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) to a deep-sea research facility called Mana One, located 200 miles off the coast of China, Jonas discovers that his ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee) is trapped in a tiny submersible 11,000 meters down, beneath a layer of hydrogen sulfide in the Mariana Trench which, apparently, covers an even deeper canyon.

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BLACKKKLANSMAN — Review by Susan Granger

Opening with a Civil War scene from Gone With the Wind (1939) and closing with footage from the Charlottesville riots (2017), Spike Lee’s “crazy, outrageous, incredible true story” about Ron Stallworth is both historical and relevant. In the early 1970s when Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) became the first African-American detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department, he wanted to go undercover. His chance comes when he’s assigned to surreptitiously record a speech by former Black Panther leader Stokely Carmichael (Corey Hawkins), a.k.a. African nationalist Kwame Ture.

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