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Ride Your Wave

The Japanese animated romantic-drama “Ride Your Wave” starts off as a cute love story, but quickly becomes a moving character study about accepting personal loss. We follow charming, but clumsy surfer Hinako (Rina Kawaei) as she falls in love with Minato (Ryota Katayose), the gentle, attentive firefighter who saves her life soon after she moves …

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Sonic the Hedgehog

“Sonic the Hedgehog” is the worst kind of bad movie: it’s too inoffensive to be hated and too wretched to be enjoyable. You might think that this movie’s sad limbo state has something to do with the extensive and well-publicized last-minute animation redesign that made titular woodland creature Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) look more like …

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The Traitor

It took me a moment to catch up with the dry absurdist humor in “The Traitor,” a new Italian period drama about that time when, from 1980-2000, real-life Mafia don Tommaso Buscetta (Pierfrancesco Favino) informed on a couple hundred gangsters. To be fair: “The Traitor”—the latest political drama from Italian New Wave maestro Marco Bellocchio—is …

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Zombi Child

The new French voodoo/gothic drama “Zombi Child” is mostly satisfying, but also a little frustrating because of its creators’ walking-on-shells sensitivity. Written and directed by Bertrand Bonello (“Nocturama,” “House of Tolerance”), “Zombi Child” definitely feels like the kind of movie whose creators might defend its existence by noting that “the film is thoroughly and precisely …

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Weathering with You

I can see why some animation fans revere writer/director Makoto Shinkai (“5 Centimeters Per Second,” “Garden of Words”) as the next big thing in Japanese animation. Shinkai’s 2016 body-swap fantasy “Your Name” was understandably his big international breakthrough: a cheery, engrossing, and, best of all, representative work that shows his knack for drawing viewers into …

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Darbar

Shamelessness becomes Rajinikanth, the now 69-year-old Tamil Nadu Indian leading man and self-billed Indian “Superstar” (it’s in his contract). That’s probably old news for Kollywood movie buffs, some of whom have been following Rajini’s seemingly deathless career since the mid- to late 1970s, when he first became a (regular) star by swiping some moves from …

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Only Cloud Knows

The Chinese romantic-drama “Only Cloud Knows” is sappy, slow, and mostly effective. It’s also a notable change-up for director Xiaogang Feng (“Youth,” “I Am Not Madame Bovary”), the popular mainland filmmaker who’s sometimes called “China’s Spielberg” because of his melodramatic blockbusters’ inescapable popularity. Feng’s CV is a mix of tones and styles that includes broad …

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Black Christmas

[Full disclosure: I’m friends with co-writer April Wolfe and have previously worked with her for Voice Media Group] Led by writer/director Sophia Takal (“Always Shine,” “Into the Dark: New Year, New You”) and co-writer April Wolfe, “Black Christmas” is a PG-13 horror film for general audiences—it never really needed to be R-rated, especially since the 2006 …

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Rabid

“Rabid” definitely feels like a remake of a 1977 horror cheapy directed by a young David Cronenberg. Co-writer/director team Jen and Sylvia Soska, with the help of co-writer John Serge, have only superficially updated Cronenberg’s “Rabid,” a B-movie about the dehumanizing effects of a vampire-like epidemic. The Soskas’ revamped “Rabid” is still worth seeing because …

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In Fabric

Comics artist Howard Chaykin once (or twice) said that the role of advertising is to flatter you into thinking that you’re smarter than advertising. That concept is put to work in “In Fabric,” a slippery horror-comedy about the equally treacherous relationship between salespeople, consumers, and their possessions. Watching “In Fabric,” the latest giallo-inspired adult fairy …

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White Snake

There’s a significant difference in quality between the mediocre scenario (and dialogue) and thrilling production design (and direction) in “White Snake,” the new Chinese animated fairy tale about a shape-changing demon snake who falls in love with a romantic human demon-hunter. The movie’s uneven quality is especially disappointing given the timing of its American theatrical …

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The Warrior Queen of Jhansi

“The Warrior Queen of Jhansi” is the third of three announced 2019 Indian period piece films about Lakshmibai, one of the Indian leaders who led the fight against the British East India Company during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 (a TV series called “Jhansi Ki Rhani” was also released earlier this year). The two previous …

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Primal

“Primal” is a programmatic action-thriller that sounds a lot crazier than it actually is: Nicolas Cage, playing jungle poacher Frank Walsh, must stop a ghost jaguar and murderous escaped prisoner Richard Loffler (Kevin Durand) from terrorizing a cargo ship’s passengers and crew. Granted, the movie does feature a few endearingly goofy scenes where Cage acts …

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The Best Films of the 2010s: Under the Skin

This feature is a part of a series on the best films of the 2010s, resulting from our ranked top 25, which you can read here. This is #7.  “Under the Skin” is an immersive, disarming work of modern horror and science-fiction. It’s the kind of movie that rewards viewers’ patience through hypnotic, precise acting, cinematography, and …

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Girl on the Third Floor

The impressive haunted house flick “Girl on the Third Floor” is just as much a machine to produce seductive imagery as it is an effective deconstruction of those blatant symbols. Set in an abandoned home and mostly following a solitary character—ex-lawyer and expectant father Don (Phillip Jack Brooks, A.K.A. former pro-wrestler C.M. Punk)—this blackly comic …

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Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

The depressing stoner comedy sequel “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” makes “Jay and Silent Strike Back” look like “Clerks.” If that sentence reads like no-brow hieroglyphics, you are probably not the target audience for “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot,” which is for Kevin Smith fans only. Acting as this site’s designated Kevin Smith apologist, it …

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In My Room

The German lo-fi sci-fi character study “In My Room” is for anybody who’s dreamed and/or panicked about the existential terror and romantic solitude that attends a classic doomsday scenario: what if you were the last person on Earth?  We follow Armin (Hans Löw), an aimless 40-something year-old bachelor, before and after the rest of humanity …

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War

The new Bollywood action-adventure “War” is probably only for fans of marquee-topping actors Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff, the former of whom stars in the goony but likable superhero series “Krrish” and the latter of whom will star in an upcoming, officially licensed Indian Rambo remake. Stylistically, “War” is Maximum Masala, and maybe features more …

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Sid Haig: 1939-2019

Sid Haig (born Sidney Eddie Mosesian) was a great character actor. His generosity of spirit is apparent both on and off-screen, especially in his work as an all-purpose heavy (gang leaders and bikers a specialty). Being a utility player wasn’t always an easy career for Haig to pursue, especially not when he had to survive …

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Loro

It’s hard to judge a drama that’s as ambitious and personal as “Loro,” an Italian character study about Silvio Berlusconi, given that it’s missing a little more than an hour of footage. “Loro” was originally a two-part, 3.5-hour drama written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino (“The Young Pope,” “The Great Beauty”), but has been released …

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