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  • 'Buena Vista Social Club: Adios' returns Cuban musicians to spotlight

    'Buena Vista Social Club: Adios' returns Cuban musicians to spotlight

    The 1997 “Buena Vista Social Club” album and Wim Wenders’ accompanying 1999 tour documentary re-introduced the world to the long-forgotten yet infectious Cuban sound of son. Lucy Walker’s follow-up, “Buena Vista Social Club: Adios,” is both prequel and sequel to Wenders’ film. This vital documentary...

  • Bryan Cranston retreats and observes in literary drama 'Wakefield'

    Bryan Cranston retreats and observes in literary drama 'Wakefield'

    The film “Wakefield,” adapted from an E.L. Doctorow short story originally published in the New Yorker about a disgruntled family man’s retreat into hermit-like introspection, has been lovingly traced over by writer-director Robin Swicord (“The Jane Austen Book Club”) into a neat movie package...

  • A long 'Long Strange Trip' about the Grateful Dead is ultimately worth the journey

    A long 'Long Strange Trip' about the Grateful Dead is ultimately worth the journey

    There was a moment in rock history when the future Velvet Underground and the future Grateful Dead, bands that could hardly be more stylistically different, had at least one thing in common: They both called themselves the Warlocks. However small the Venn-diagram overlap between their fan bases,...

  • Stirring doc 'Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower' captures emergence of a young leader

    Stirring doc 'Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower' captures emergence of a young leader

    Hong Kong high school student Joshua Wong certainly doesn’t look like the type of person who could pull hundreds of thousands of teenagers away from their electronics and get them to rally behind a formidable resistance movement. But that’s the compelling point of entry for the skillfully immersive...

  • Sci-fi drama '96 Souls' is straight-faced silly

    Sci-fi drama '96 Souls' is straight-faced silly

    In “96 Souls,” writer-director Stanley Jacobs undertakes the difficult task of executing a completely nutty premise with absolute sincerity. It’s the tale of a scientist, Dr. Jack Sutree (Grinnell Morris), who has been working on a “Smell-o-Vision” of sorts — a breakthrough that would enable one...

  • Patience is rewarded in suspenseful 'Berlin Syndrome'

    Patience is rewarded in suspenseful 'Berlin Syndrome'

    Director Cate Shortland and screenwriter Shaun Grant are often too reserved in adapting Melanie Joosten’s 2011 suspense novel, “Berlin Syndrome,” but when it counts, they deliver the necessary nail-biting anxiety. Telling the story of a psychopath and his sex-slave, the film balances the clinical...

  • Thriller 'Drone' embodies its title and not in a good way

    Thriller 'Drone' embodies its title and not in a good way

    Utterly dull thriller “Drone” tries to raise ethical and moral questions about modern warfare, but the audience can only dwell on the illogical plot and unsympathetic characters — if they can engage at all. The otherwise talented cast and the controversial issue itself deserve far better treatment...

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