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  • Call Me by Your Name

    Call Me by Your Name

    ★★★★★

    To tell a love story without the expected words, phrases, and gestures meant to communicate specific thoughts, feelings, and private longings is particularly challenging to pull off, awkward and off-putting when executed even with the slightest hint of self-consciousness, but Luca Guadagnino’s surprisingly disarming “Call Me by Your Name,” based on the novel by André Aciman, makes it look like most graceful dance, so natural, delicate, and free of chains that prevent so many coming-of-age pictures from reaching their maximum…

  • Zodiac

    Zodiac

    ★★★★½

    A deliberate sidestepping of overt action is the strategy director David Fincher employs in “Zodiac,” a true crime thriller surrounding the hunt for the Zodiac killer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area from 1969 to 1971. Highly intelligent, meticulous, and efficient, at times the picture embodies the texture of a documentary in the way it dares to break away from the expected plot and dramatic parabola. What matters is information, how it is presented, and what conclusions, if any,…

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  • In The Heights

    In The Heights

    ★★★★

    Jon. M. Chu’s “In the Heights” stands out because it is uncommon for a musical in which it is readily apparent that music is the very fabric of the story being told. We are thrusted into Washington Heights, Manhattan, and we are immediately given an appreciation of a working class Latin community: struggling businessmen, salon ladies, bodega clerks, shaved ice and ice cream sellers, artists looking for the next inspiration, a self-appointed abuela of an entire block. The every day…

  • The Social Dilemma

    The Social Dilemma

    ★★★

    Although Jeff Orlowski’s “The Social Dilemma” broaches an urgent existential crisis that is relevant to anyone who partakes in social media, it remains somewhat of a struggle to sit through. It should not be this way considering that those being interviewed have worked for tech giants like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Each of them has something valuable to say, from how such “free” platforms actually make money and how artificial intelligence keeps its users “engaged” (read: addicted) to…

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  • The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

    The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

    ★★½

    Perhaps the portentous title was meant to be an excuse should viewers end up being unhappy following the decision that the mainline “Conjuring” franchise ought to continue without writer-director James Wan at the helm. Clearly the weakest out of the three released to date, I found the picture to be lacking in any sort of innovation, even a semblance of it, as it slowly lumbers toward a finale that underscores the power of love. At that point, I felt my…

  • Godzilla vs. Kong

    Godzilla vs. Kong

    ★★

    Here is yet another example of what is wrong with blockbusters these days: characters having more in common with stick figures than breathing, thinking, caring people; dialogue so dead that halfway through it comes across as though the picture has given up on words and so poorly executed reaction shots are allowed to run rampant; and there is no intrigue to be had or cherished. What it offers is flashing lights and a barrage of senseless noise; go to a…