ELVIS – Review by Susan Kamyab

You know his songs, but how well do you the man behind the music? Elvis Presley changed the world of rock and roll, and in Baz Luhrman’s new film, Elvis we get a deeper look at what inspired his sound and moves. Visually, Elvis is breathtaking and with bedazzling effects, but story wise, the film drags. the film is way too long, there were many unnecessary scenes that could have easily been cut to pick up the pace.

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THE SWIMMERS – Review by Lois Alter Mark

At a time when the governors of Texas and Florida are callously using refugees as political pawns, The Swimmers is a must-watch movie that puts individual human faces to the staggering number of people escaping war-torn countries to find a safe place to live. Almost seven million Syrians have become refugees since 2011 when civil war broke out, and The Swimmers, which is based on a true story, solidly focuses on two of them while never losing sight of the rest.

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WHITNEY HOUSTON: I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY – Review by T.J. Callahan

As special a voice as Houston had, I Wanna Dance With Somebody is your typical homogenized PG 13 bio pic to appeal to the masses. Domineering parents, talent discovered, fast rise to fame, breakneck touring schedule, unraveling relationships, a fall from grace, rehab, a failed comeback and a sentimental conclusion.

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BLONDE – Review by Diane Carson

Blonde offers a dismal, pitiful representation of Marilyn Monroe. Producing a film on an iconic individual, much less a movie star, presents a problematic, controversial endeavor. The public has an image of the person, often accompanied with an emotional investment in their representation. That’s the daunting challenge embraced by director Andrew Dominik in Blonde, his adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ freewheeling book on Marilyn Monroe.

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ELVIS – Review by T.J. Callahan

Elvis is a sensational spectacle meant for the big screen. Even with a runtime of 2 1/2 hours, Luhrmann flashes Presley’s life before our eyes. He keeps things moving as fast as Elvis’ pelvis. Elvis Aaron Presley was unique and irreplaceable and this film shows us why, warts and all. It’s not always good to be The King.

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ELVIS – Review by Diane Carson

We Elvis fans know the story, so the challenge becomes how to avoid merely following this Tupelo native to Memphis and on to iconic status with his early death in 1977 at 42. Wisely, Baz Luhrmann anchors the story in Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’ clever, entrepreneurial manager whose voiceover narration guides and comments on their relationship and Elvis’ affect on audiences, telling their story in flashbacks. In opening scenes, Parker asserts, “Without me, there would be no Elvis Presley” and “Some people make me out to be the villain.” Indeed, ample evidence for both claims accumulates.

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BENEDICTION – Review by Diane Carson

Benediction profiles WWI poet Siegfried Sassoon with an overdue tribute. Early in Benediction, British writer/director Terence Davies introduces archival WWI footage, grim images that punctuate the entire narrative. Sobering scenes reveal war’s horrors and set the stage for Siegfried Sassoon’s deeply personal objections, through his poetry and his in-person protests to political and military authorities, who reject his critiques. Sassoon knows whereof he speaks, with experience on the Western Front.

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EIFFEL – Review by Martha K Baker

You have to see Eiffel to decide if the film is corny fiction or a romantic narrative feature. Watching it is not difficult, given the seductive scenes of heaving bosoms and rising monuments. It’s just that “Eiffel” can be seen as a partial biography of a great engineer or as gooey romance made up to fill out a science story.

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FATHER STU – Review by T. J. Callahan

Mark Wahlberg isn’t proselytizing, but he’s trying to reach a higher level through a Higher Power in Father Stu, a foul-mouthed, faith-based feature starring Wahlberg as a pugilistic priest from the wrong side of the tracks, who redeems himself as he delivers others from sin. Father Stu is based on the true story of Stuart Long, who grew up in a dysfunctional family in Montana. When he was passed his prime as a boxer, Stu moved to Los Angeles to be an actor, but after he had a near fatal motorcycle accident, he found the Lord and his calling as a priest.

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