HAL – Review by Brandy McDonnell

With her fascinating cinematic portrait, Amy Scott effectively contends that Hal Ashby should be elevated among the pantheon of 1970s filmmakers. With “Hal,” which premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Documentary Grand Jury Prize, Scott makes her argument by focusing on the seven lauded and influential films Ashby released between 1970 and 1979.

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CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? — Review by Cate Marquis

Melissa McCarthy gives a commanding performance in a rare dramatic role based on the true story of Lee Israel, a one-time New York Times bestselling biographer in the ’70s and ’80s, who has fallen on hard times and turns to a life of crime as a forger of letters from literary greats such as Noel Coward and Dorothy Parker.

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ALL ABOUT NINA – Review by Diane Carson

All About Nina is indeed all about Nina, a dysfunctional, damaged, crude, aggressive stand-up comedienne. Nina clearly overcompensates for her vulnerability and victimization earlier in life, not an unusual reaction for traumatized women or men. The film accurately interprets Nina’s psychological coping mechanisms. Nevertheless, there’s too little analytical insight beyond this narrative’s superficial, emotional staging.

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CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

The arrival of Can You Ever Forgive Me? is more than enough evidence that McCarthy is the real deal as she closes off her usual buoyant avenues of emoting for a darker, morose and complex persona – one paved in frustration and failed opportunity that is uniquely female in nature. Her usual brassy bravado is tucked away beneath a frumpy veneer of bitterness, disappointment and deeply seated resentment over anyone else’s success.

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CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? – Review by Anne Brodie

Melissa McCarthy’s extraordinary performance as Lee Israel, the literary swindler and forger, is inspired, complete and unforgettable. Her portrayal of the Hollywood biographer turned criminal is touched with genius. She’s not sympathetic and she certainly doesn’t become sympathetic, but McCarthy’s touching hardass earns our attention as a wounded person with no idea how to reign herself in.

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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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