DUMPLIN’ – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

Dumplin’ is far from perfect, but it’s lovely — kinda like its heroine! — a movie that warmly embraces a wide(ish) range of girls-and-women-as-people, one that doesn’t reduce its large heroine to nothing more than her size: she’s simply a cool, funny, confused, perplexed, messed-up human being who still has a lot of growing up to do.

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COLD WAR – Review by Erica Abeel

This visually stunning, formally immaculate, and darkly romantic film, Pawel Pawlikowski (Academy award-winner “Ida“) sets a story of star-crossed lovers against the turmoil of post-war Europe. Like other auteurs this season — think Alfonso Cuaron and “Roma” — Pawlikowski lends an epic grandeur to an intimate tale inspired by the lives of his parents. With awards time upon us, Cold War will surely be in the conversation.

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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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YOU MIGHT BE THE KILLER – Review by Liz Whittemore

Fran Kranz and Alyson Hannigan are two of my, what I refer to as The Whedonverse, crushes. If you don’t already know what that means, the new film You Might Be The Killer may not be tailor-made for you. If you’re picking up on my lingo, this film’s tongue-in-cheek structure is sheer perfection.

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RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET – Review by Brandy McDonnell

Unlike most follow-ups, the successor to the Disney’s 2012 animated hit does more than just upgrade the visuals and the action sequences, although those get a zippy makeover. The sequel, which has topped the box office for three straight weekends, also advances the storytelling, characters and humor in clever but profound ways.

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MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS – Review by Diane Carson

Mary Queen of Scots makes palace conflict and betrayal captivating. Mary Queen of Scots unfolds like an engrossing chess match between the determined, Catholic Mary Stuart of Scotland and her indomitable cousin, Protestant Elizabeth I of England. Wise and wily, both queens know the personal and political hazards and sacrifices that come with being women sovereigns in a world of palace intrigue and, occasionally, murder.

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ROMA – Review by Susan Granger

Netflix is enticing Oscar voters by releasing this immersive, black-and-white, semi-autobiographical film from Alfonso Cuaron in a few theaters in addition to streaming on December 14th. Set in 1971 in Mexico City’s Colonia Roma district, the opening scene is an optical illusion: the camera reveals the floor of a courtyard which turns into a mirror of an airplane in the sky above when soapy water flows across it.

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BETWEEN WORLDS – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

With critics and audiences barely able to catch their breath after Mandy – the intoxicating delight that was Panos Cosmatos’s spectacular exercise in woman-centred world-building – Maria Pulera’s Between Worlds has shown that when it comes to the oft-cited Nicolas Cage renaissance, the actor has only just begun.

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COLD WAR – Review by Martha K. Baker

Cold War is blurbed as a romance, but the title refers as much to the plot as to the political and temporal setting of Pawel Pawlikovski‘s haunting film. It begins in 1949, two years after a communist government came to power in the Polish People’s Republic. Ethnomusicologists are roaming the land, auditioning for people’s choruses to celebrate Poland.

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MOWGLI – Review by Diane Carson

Mowgli reinterprets The Jungle Book for today’s world. Since 1942, there have been numerous film and television adaptations of Rudyard Kipling’s beloved 1894 magazine stories collected as The Jungle Book, including translation into over thirty-six languages. It’s no wonder since the array of imaginative, appealing and frightening animals offers a rich metaphor for human behavior, with man-cub Mowgli our surrogate in this lawful but unforgiving world.

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