STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER – Review by Diane Carson

Director/co-writer J.J. Abrams reports intense apprehension about taking on the ninth (and last) chapter in the latest Star Wars trilogy. At the helm, Abrams and the hundreds who contributed their talents to this much-anticipated endeavor present a worthy addition to the saga. Flawless editing flashes through breathtaking action sequences with zing and flair, animating skirmishes while enjoyably increasing most fans’ blood pressure.

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MARRIAGE STORY – Review by Brandy McDonnell

It’s also one of those films that never lets you forget you’re watching a film, with a stagy quality that feels like you’ve been invited to see Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta and Alan Alda one-up each other in an exclusive acting workshop with Baumbach providing slightly outlandish material liberally sourced from his own life.

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MARRIAGE STORY – Review by Susan Granger

You know the feeling when you have a very painful scab on your knee and you keep picking at it? That’s what writer/director Noah Baumbach has created in this bitter, corrosive tale about the dissolution of a marriage. Beginning as ‘cinema verite,’ recalling the 1960s French film movement which featured natural actions and authentic dialogue, it inexplicably then morphs into near-farce and melodic metaphors.

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MARRIAGE STORY – Review by Diane Carson

Writer/director Noah Baumbach tackles one of everyone’s most difficult experiences in Marriage Story, that is, the dissolution of an intimate relationship that also includes a cherished, young son. Adam Driver as husband Charlie and Scarlett Johansson as wife Nicole delve deep into painful emotional territory in a narrative alternately sweet, even amusing, tender, and, ultimately, agonizing.

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THE REPORT – Review by Brandy McDonnell

Jones spent five years compiling his 6,700-page report, and unfortunately, the movie feels at least this long, with the paper shuffling and screen scrolling occasionally broken up by flashbacks to the CIA black ops sites where the torture is happening. These scenes are understandably hard to watch, and Burns just keeps coming back to them.

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THE REPORT – Review by Diane Carson

Following the tragedy and trauma of 9/11, California Senator Dianne Feinstein charges staff assistant Daniel J. Jones to investigate and verify, or refute, information regarding the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. Jones becomes obsessed with his task as high-level operatives and officials dissemble and misrepresent, flat out lie and withhold information.

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Telluride Film Fest 2019: It’s a Wrap – Diane Carson reports

That no competitive awards are presented makes Telluride Film Festival a pure celebration of film as the aesthetic treasure it is. The festival’s 46th edition maintained its reputation for outstanding film selection, though more foreign films and more offerings directed by and starring women would have been welcome addition to the roster. Yet, the brilliant and varied program made for a great cinematic experience at Telluride 2019. It’s a good time to be a film lover.

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THE DEAD DON’T DIE – Review by Brandy McDonnell

Between the nifty way the zombies collapse into piles of ash when beheaded and the committed performances by Tilda Swinton, playing a Scottish mortician and samurai warrior, and Tom Waits, as a cantankerous hermit determined to stay out of the carnage, “The Dead Don’t Die” offers just barely enough deadpan humor and quirky characters to keep it interesting until the credits roll.

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BLACKkKLANSMAN – Review by Martha P. Nochimson

In Blackkklansman, a movie with a title that makes it sound like it’s a Mel Brooks high concept farce from the 1970’s, Spike Lee Has dipped back into historical events that began in 1978 to hold the mirror up to the dangerous racial chaos of America in 2018. And it’s no farce. At the same time, both Lee’s film and the book of the same name on which it is based, a memoir by a black undercover police detective, Ron Stallworth, working in Colorado Springs, do create cognitive dissonance. A black man in the Klan? How?

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BLACKKKLANSMAN — Review by Brandy McDonnell

Based on an outrageous true story, Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” veers wildly between hilarious and harrowing, thrilling and appalling, smart and stylish. Most importantly, the two-time Oscar nominee’s latest “joint,” as Lee calls his films, is undeniably relevant, even though most of the events it chronicles happened 40 years ago.

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