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The complicated, ugly legacy of the 1915 'Birth of a Nation'

D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation” plays as a strange and troubling artifact, a grainy, flickering work of artistic brilliance whose images are at once breathtaking and repugnant. With sweeping shots and intimate close-ups, the 1915 silent film heralded the future of cinema, but its abhorrent...

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  • 'Amanda Knox' doc explores the salacious Italian murder case with laser-like precision

    'Amanda Knox' doc explores the salacious Italian murder case with laser-like precision

    Did she or didn't she? That is the question "Amanda Knox" explores with laser-like precision. Different viewers will come to different conclusions, but without doubt this strong documentary sheds a powerful light on this particular case while emphasizing the ultimate unknowability of absolute truth....

  • Tim Roth is superb in quietly powerful drama 'Chronic'

    Tim Roth is superb in quietly powerful drama 'Chronic'

    For a drama that’s as quiet and circumspect as “Chronic,” it’s a decidedly bold film, one that pulls few punches as it slowly peels away the emotional layers of its complex protagonist. It also features an ending that’s as devastating as it is shocking. Tim Roth superbly disappears into his role...

  • Music producer returns home in indie drama 'Mommy's Box'

    Music producer returns home in indie drama 'Mommy's Box'

    Writer-director-producer-actor Johnny Greenlaw fills his shaggy homecoming melodrama, “Mommy’s Box,” with minor characters and subplots, as though unsure where his story really lies. Though it’s mildly enjoyable throughout, the movie is ultimately just a loose collection of nice little scenes,...

  • Niall Horan is the next member of One Direction to go solo with release of 'This Town'

    Niall Horan is the next member of One Direction to go solo with release of 'This Town'

    And the next member of One Direction to go solo is Niall Horan.  Horan surprised fans Thursday morning by releasing his debut single, “This Town,” to streaming platforms and confirming a solo deal with Capitol Records.   Produced by hit-maker Greg Kurstin, the guitar ballad is a tender, swoon-worthy...

  • 'Loserville' is an unsatisfying blend of teen comedy and bullying drama

    'Loserville' is an unsatisfying blend of teen comedy and bullying drama

    The teen comedy “Loserville” from freshman filmmaker Lovell Holder offers its audience a SparkNotes version of high school: It skims over relevant details and lacks deep insight when it comes to plot and character. Though there are a few genuine LOL moments, there’s little specificity in the world...

  • Matthew Rhys provides only real glimmer in WWII drama 'Come What May'

    Matthew Rhys provides only real glimmer in WWII drama 'Come What May'

    In “Come What May,” director Christian Carion dramatizes the other side of the World War II front line — the civilians fleeing invading troops. The images of uprooted, desperate travelers can’t help but remind one of contemporary refugee crises. Yet with its old-fashioned gloss, the incident-packed...

  • 'The Last Film Festival' is not a fitting tribute to Dennis Hopper

    'The Last Film Festival' is not a fitting tribute to Dennis Hopper

    The late Dennis Hopper’s IMDB acting credits are 200-strong, but any qualitative ranking of those titles would put his last completed movie, “The Last Film Festival,” somewhere at the bottom. A thoroughly amateurish un-comedy about show business, it was filmed in 2009, but its notions of Hollywood...

  • Boyd Holbrook and Elisabeth Moss lend weight to the drama 'The Free World'

    Boyd Holbrook and Elisabeth Moss lend weight to the drama 'The Free World'

    The concept of freedom proves elusive for an ex-convict attempting to rebuild his life on the outside in “The Free World,” an initially compelling but uneven drama elevated by two centered performances. Struggling to bury a violent past in prison, where he was incarcerated for a heinous crime he...

  • Bros grow up in comedy 'Flock of Dudes'

    Bros grow up in comedy 'Flock of Dudes'

    A tribe of man-children has to break up to grow up in the friendship flick “Flock of Dudes,” directed by Bob Castrone, written by Castrone, Brian Levin and Jason Zumwalt. The cast is stocked with some of comedy’s best actors, which elevates the rather pedestrian material — a belated coming-of-age...

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