A STAR IS BORN – Review by Susan Granger

The Oscar race is officially on with the release of this contemporary version of the enduring Hollywood classic. Bradley Cooper stars as charming Jackson Maine, a country rock star, plagued by alcohol/drug addiction, coupled with hearing loss. One night, in need of a drink after leaving a gig, Jackson stumbles into a drag bar, where he watches Ally (Lady Gaga), a wannabe-but-insecure singer/songwriter, warbling Edit Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose.”

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LITTLE WOMEN – Review by Susan Granger

Given a contemporary setting, Alcott’s astute observation of female identity in the late 1860s loses its context and authenticity, as the girls Skype-chat with their Army medic dad (Bart Johnson) in Afghanistan. This “Little Women” is artificial and stiltedly foolish, leaving audiences anticipating Greta Gerwig’s upcoming version with Saoise Ronan as her leading lady.

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THE HOUSE WITH THE CLOCK IN ITS WALLS – Review by Susan Granger

Eli Roth’s adaptation of John Bellairs’ 1973 young adult novel begins in 1955, as shyly precocious 10 year-old Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) arrives in (fictional) New Zebedee, Michigan, to live in a Victorian haunted house, surrounded by a spikey wrought-iron fence, with his estranged, eccentric Uncle Jonathan (Jack Black), who has assumed custody after Lewis’ parents died in a car crash.

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FAHRENHEIT 11/9 – Review by Susan Granger

Documentarian Michael Moore has been called a muckraker, prankster and populist prophet for his political propaganda films (“Roger & Me,” “Bowling for Columbine,” “Where to Invade Next”), designed to elicit an emotional response. “Fahrenheit 11/9” references the date on which Donald Trump became 45th President of the United States.

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LIZZIE – Review by Susan Granger

The New England legend of Lizzie Borden has inspired books, movies, even an opera. On August 4, 1892, in Fall River, Massachusetts, 32 year-old Lizzie and her sister Emma lived under the control of their oppressive father. When Lizzie was acquitted of murdering him and her step-mother, it ignited many scenarios attempting to explain what actually happened.

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LIFE ITSELF – Review by Susan Granger

Many years ago, silent film star Lillian Gish observed: “Hollywood is an emotional Detroit, where you buy a catharsis instead of a car.” So we know movies are emotionally manipulative, but the much lauded TV writer/director Dan Fogelman (creator of “This Is Us”) pushes the sentimentality envelope too far in this mawkish, multigenerational melodrama.

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THE PREDATOR — Review by Susan Granger

As this sci-fi franchise continues, Shane Black, who acted in John McTiernan’s 1987 “Predator,” has become its director. The story begins as a former Army Ranger sniper-turned-mercenary spots a UFO crashing into the Mexican jungle. Aboard the alien space ship, McKenna finds a Predator helmet and gauntlet – but not before the creature has annihilated the rest of his troop.

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