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Actor Harrison Ford as John Thornton from the film "Call of the Wild."<br>20th Century Fox/AP

Movie review: Human performances bring literary dog film 'Call of the Wild' to life

Much like our furry friends, movies about man's best friend come in all shapes and sizes: lost dog movies, talking dog movies, military dog movies, reincarnated dog movies. "The Call of the Wild," directed by Chris Sanders and based on the classic novella by Jack London, is what one might call a literary dog movie, even if there is technically no actual dog in it. The star of "The Call of the Wild," Buck, is a CGI creation. And it's only through the technology that his dangerous and harrowing adventures in the Alaskan wilderness during the Gold Rush, as outlined by London, could be realistically brought to the big screen, for better or for worse.


Movie Review: 'The Photograph', Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield take a good long look at love

The problem with movie trailers is: A) They're necessary, apparently; B) Too many beans get spilled; and C) Often, a movie without much overt intrigue or plot machinery becomes packaged in a gently deceptive fashion.


Night of ‘Parasite’: South Korean film the first foreign-language movie to win Oscars' best picture

In a surprise upset and a historic milestone, director Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” — a darkly comic class satire about two families, one rich and one poor, whose lives become entangled — won best picture Sunday night at the 92nd Academy Awards, becoming the first foreign-language film ever to win the film academy’s top prize.


Movie Review: "Birds of Prey" lets a Joker-free Harley Quinn shine

The last time we saw Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), in the very last scene of "Suicide Squad," she was happily reading a book and sipping an espresso behind bars, only to find herself suddenly freed by her boyfriend, the Joker (Jared Leto). "Puddin'!" she squealed at the sight of her green-haired paramour, though if you watch that scene again, you may find her delight more forced than persuasive. It's an unusually strained moment, and surely no fault of Robbie, a versatile actress with a Cheshire cat's grin who was always a good match for Harley's brand of lunacy. Clearly, not even the most irrational mind would want to go home with this joyless, juiceless excuse for a super-villain.

Shows canceled as virus outbreak spooks Asian entertainers

Concerts and shows are being canceled, not just in China but across much of Asia, as a virus outbreak that has killed more than 300 people and reached more than 20 countries spooks the entertainment industry.


Movie review: Star-studded cast elevates war drama 'The Last Full Measure'

In the Gettysburg address, President Abraham Lincoln paid tribute to those who fought and died for their cause, to which they "gave the last full measure of devotion." Lincoln’s description of the ultimate sacrifice provides the title for Todd Robinson’s "The Last Full Measure," which depicts the long quest to award Air Force pararescue medic William Pitsenbarger the Medal of Honor 34 years after he perished in the Vietnam War.


Movie review: 'The Assistant' masterfully shows abuse, complicity in Weinstein-inspired power structure

It’s the specificity that devastates in Kitty Green’s starkly damning quotidian drama "The Assistant." It’s in the quiet efficiency with which our unnamed protagonist (credited as "Jane," played by Julia Garner) speaks and moves as she performs her menial yet seemingly crucial duties in a job we will come to discover is both harrowing and highly prized.


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  • Movie review: 'The Rhythm Section' brings imperfect but fresh cadence to action/thriller genre

    Award-winning director and cinematographer Reed Morano has tackled dystopian futures in "The Handmaid’s Tale," the end of the world in "I Think We’re Alone Now" and devastating grief in "Meadowland." Her third feature film, "The Rhythm Section," combines a bit of all these themes, though it has a bit more kick to it than her prior indies. Starring Blake Lively as Stephanie Patrick, "The Rhythm Section" is adapted from the series of thriller novels by Mark Burnell, with a screenplay by Burnell himself. If Jason Bourne were a grieving trauma survivor, you’d end up with Stephanie, and the film serves as her gritty origin story.


  • How Ron Howard earned the right to document Paradise, California’s destruction and rebirth

    Ron Howard has already dealt with fire, lots of it. (The 1991 drama "Backdraft" was nominated for three Oscars, including sound and visual effects.) And he’s made documentaries, more than one. But this time it was different. This time it was personal. This time it was for real.


  • Movie review: In 'The Gentlemen,' Guy Ritchie returns to his raunchy, rambunctious roots

    There isn’t much that’s especially gentle about "The Gentlemen," the new Guy Ritchie movie that the filmmaker’s long-suffering fans will be glad to hear is a return to what he does best: a funny, violent, rambunctious shaggy-dog story of a crime caper featuring an ensemble cast studded with colorful characters played by name actors.


  • Movie review: 'The Turning' less about answers, more about gothic horror to savor

    At the end of Floria Sigismondi’s "The Turning," after all the credits had rolled, some members of the audience at a press screening were visibly and vocally upset. They were seemingly enraged at the film’s unwillingness to offer up a single definitive answer about the perceived haunting in this take of Henry James’ 1898 novella "The Turn of the Screw," joining a century’s worth of questioners who have puzzled over the story of a young governess bedeviled by ghosts at her new job. Are these ghosts real, or is she just crazy? It’s an age-old question, but Sigismondi is confident simply not answering it, as frustrating as that may be.


  • Movie Review: 'Bad Boys for Life’ refreshing tribute to '90s action cinema

    After turning in the first two greatly beloved, operatically souped-up action opuses in the "Bad Boys" franchise, everyone’s favorite gearhead maximalist auteur Michael Bay is no longer behind the camera for the third, "Bad Boys for Life" (though he is in front of it, briefly). Not to worry though, as Belgian filmmaking duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, clearly devoted students of Bay’s style, craft a wonderful facsimile of his greatest hits, from his swirling low-angle dolly shots to capturing the glorious clash of sunset and neon that screams Miami. From the very first sequence of a screeching Porsche burning up the streets of South Beach, El Arbi and Fallah prove that as directors, they have the horsepower to match Bay, if not the grace yet. Nevertheless, their first major American feature outing is a loving and skillful tribute to pure ’90s action cinema, and it’s a hoot for fans of the franchise.


  • Movie Review: Take two aspirin and avoid seeing this malpractice of a movie ’Dolittle’

    Everyone knows that if you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all. Less well known is the adage "You can’t publish a movie review that is entirely blank."


  • 'Joker' leads Oscar noms; '1917,' 'Irishman' close behind

    Female filmmakers were shut out, “Parasite” made history and “Joker” just edged out “The Irishman,“ “1917” and “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” in Monday’s Oscar nominations.


  • ’Joker,’ explained: How the movie went from divisive debut to Oscars darling

    What a difference a good awards season can make. Just four months ago, the comic-book movie "Joker" was muddied in controversy, as critics questioned whether 2019 was the right time for a movie about an urban sociopath who goes on a killing spree. In 2020, though, "Joker" has become the billion-dollar film that cleans up well. On Monday, the superhero-universe movie certainly cleaned up at the Oscar nominations announcement, receiving a field-leading 11, including best picture.


  • Movie review: Death row drama 'Just Mercy’ tells a tale both shattering and satisfying

    The stirring, stylish legal drama "Just Mercy" feels familiar on several levels. The story of a wrongly accused man sent to death row, it joins such films as "Dead Man Walking" and the more recent "Clemency" as an affecting examination of how justice is confused with inhumane retribution.


  • Movie review: ‘Underwater’ plays homage to ‘Alien’ with similar roles, plot but different setting

    The opening shot of “Underwater” roves around the empty, industrial passageways of some kind of transport vessel, its walls creaking. Motivated by an unknown force, the camera’s pan ultimately lands on Norah (Kristen Stewart), who has cropped bleached hair and a mouthful of toothpaste, clad in her skivvies. Immediately the audience recognizes this will be Stewart’s “Ripley moment,” paying homage to Sigourney Weaver’s iconic role in Ridley Scott’s “Alien” (but at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, rather than in outer space).


  • Movie review: 'Like a Boss’ feels more like a chore: You can’t wait for this movie to be over

    "Like a Boss" is the perfect airplane movie: something that won’t distract you terribly much while you work the New York Times crossword puzzle during a long flight, periodically looking up at the screen when the 2-year-old in the seat behind you kicks the back of your chair. Oh well. At least that way you won’t fall asleep.


  • Movie review: Faith, conviction, sacrifice examined in ‘A Hidden Life’

    In “A Hidden Life,” Terrence Malick tells the little-known story of Franz Jaegerstaetter, a farmer living in Austria during World War II, who was executed in 1943 after refusing to swear an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler.


  • Part Alcott, part Gerwig, 'Little Women' is a very nearly perfect film

    There’s something perfect about Greta Gerwig adapting "Little Women." Louisa May Alcott’s semi-autobiographical ode to sisterly love, competition, creativity and lofty self-sacrifice could have been written as vehicle for Gerwig to star in, its rambunctious spirit utterly of a piece with her penchant for unpredictability and barely contained physicality.


  • Will Smith plays a spy who transforms into a pigeon in sweetly silly 'Spies in Disguise'

    To all appearances, the animated comedy "Spies in Disguise" is just another a rollicking sendup of superspy thrillers. As befits a movie about clandestine activity, however, there’s more than meets the eye here. Hidden beneath its parodistic action-comedy exterior is a message, one that doesn’t set out to merely lampoon the genre but to playfully question almost everything about it.


  • Movie review: Harried, hectic ’Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker’ gets stuck in nostalgia for a long time ago

    Writer/director J.J. Abrams delighted a lot of "Star Wars" fans with his freshening up of the series in 2015, kicking off a trilogy of sequels to the original three films with "Episode VII - The Force Awakens." The film brought new life to "Star Wars," rinsing out the dour taste of "The Prequels" with new heroes and new baddies to boot. After Rian Johnson’s second installment, "The Last Jedi," Abrams returns now, with co-writer Chris Terrio, for "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," to close out the series of nine films that started over four decades ago. What a shame then, that it all goes out with a fizzle rather than a bang.


  • After a delay, Fortnite players get treated to free Star Wars items and a new scene

    Millions of Fortnite players had a bad feeling about a historic Star Wars event inside the game, just minutes before it went live.


  • The definitive Batman voice finally gets his Dark Knight moment in front of the camera

    If even just for a moment, Kevin Conroy was the Batman in front of the camera instead of just the voice.


  • Movie review: 'Jumanji: The Next Level' amps up the body swapping with hilarious returns

    In 2017, director Jake Kasdan rebooted the ’90s family adventure film "Jumanji" by plunking John Hughes-style teen characters into a wilderness-set video game. "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" was a critical and commercial success, anchored by the charms of megastars Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black, and the unique pleasure of watching them all play against type. Kasdan and company (including co-writers Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg) know a good formula when they see it. So the sequel, "Jumanji: The Next Level," simply offers more and more of it: There’s more jaw-droppingly crazy video game high jinks, and especially, more stars playing personas vastly different from theirs.


  • Movie review: 'Richard Jewell' takes Eastwood’s libertarian ethos to questionable ends

    Sometime soon, there will be a class, book or dissertation parsing the era of late period Clint Eastwood, his cinematic fixation in the latter half of the 2010s on ripped-from-the-headlines white male American exceptionalism. The notoriously speedy auteur, now 89, has churned out these films every two years starting in 2014, with the smash hit "American Sniper." He’s taken on the "Miracle on the Hudson" with 2016’s "Sully," and experimented with nonprofessional actors in the ghastly "The 15:17 to Paris," about American tourists thwarting a terrorist attack on a train to France. Eastwood himself starred in "The Mule" as an elderly man who gets himself into interstate drug transportation.


  • Adam Sandler on plunging into the Safdies' 'Uncut Gems'

    Adam Sandler was waiting to be thrown into a midtown fountain on Sixth Avenue for a scene in Josh and Benny Safdie's "Uncut Gems" when he noticed a familiar face on the sidewalk.


  • Golden Globes nominations 2020: 'Marriage Story' leads with 6

    The biggest surprise from this year’s Golden Globe nominations is the lack of surprises. As expected, Netflix continued encroaching on awards season in both the movie and television categories, earning 17 each, or 34 nominations across the board. The streaming platform’s dominance also signaled the slight slipping of HBO’s powerful hold on television: The network earned 15 nods, trailing Netflix’s TV nominations by two.


  • Movie Review: Melina Matsoukas takes visionary approach to modern-day ’Bonnie and Clyde’ with ’Queen & Slim’

    The descriptor "visionary" is thrown around a lot these days for film directors, and it’s often a bit of a reach. But for filmmaker Melina Matsoukas, the veteran music video director behind many of Rihanna and Lady Gaga’s most memorable clips as well as Beyonce’s "Formation" and "Lemonade," "visionary" seems the only word apt enough to describe her searing directorial debut, the unique and unabashed "Queen & Slim." It’s a film that comes roaring out of the gate, Matsoukas firmly planting her flag as a filmmaker with audacity and originality.


  • Why Ana de Armas almost turned down the comic whodunit ‘Knives Out’

    Ana de Armas is looking for a place to call home. “I’ve been in L.A. for six years,” she says, lounging in a Beverly Hills hotel to talk about her latest film, writer-director Rian Johnson’s spry whodunit “Knives Out.” “But I’m in an in-between moment of deciding where I want to go next. I’ve been working so much that I miss my family — I might want to spend more time in Cuba, or maybe move to New York and try a different kind of city with another energy and vibe. But right now, I’m neither in L.A. or New York because I’m working in New Orleans.”


  • Movie review: ’Knives Out’ is like a game of Clue come to life, only even more fun

    Daniel Craig delivers a slab of Smithfield-sized ham in "Knives Out," a cheekily playful updating of Agatha Christie by way of Trump-era politics.


  • Director J.J. Abrams won’t tell whose carelessness led to lost ‘Star Wars’ script

    A long time ago, in a galaxy online called eBay, an early script for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” went up for sale thanks to one actor’s thoughtless actions.


  • Tom Hanks didn’t want to be Mr. Rogers. Then he met Marielle Heller.

    Tom Hanks has never played a superhero. But when the actor recently donned a very simple cardigan sweater, and the slacks to go with it, he felt like one.


  • In '21 Bridges,' a police manhunt plays out within predictable parameters

    The movie "21 Bridges" opens with a bang. Not literally - it’s just a close-up of a 13-year-old boy’s tear-streaked face, as he listens to the off-camera sermon delivered at his father’s funeral. We learn that Dad, a New York City cop, has been killed in the line of duty, but not before he "punished" three of the four criminals he was pursuing.


  • Movie review: 'Frozen II' doesn’t make waves, but keeps the franchise on track

    Disney’s 2013 animated "Frozen," inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s "The Snow Queen," wasn’t just a hit. It was a cultural tidal wave, a ubiquitous phenomenon thanks to Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez’s soaring songs, particularly the inescapable, Oscar-winning "Let It Go," belted by Broadway powerhouse Idina Menzel. Six years later, the Elsa Halloween costumes have yet to grow cold. So when it comes to a sequel, the only mandate is: "Don’t muck it up."


  • Lizzo, Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X lead diverse, youthful Grammy 2020 nominations

    Freshman-class recording artists Lizzo, Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X collectively landed 20 Grammy Award nominations for 2020 on Wednesday, as the Recording Academy, which determines nominees and, ultimately, award recipients, wholeheartedly embraced the music industry’s newest faces and sounds.


  • Documentary spotlights interpreters left behind in Iraq, Afghanistan

    American troops who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan relied on interpreters to understand the threats around them and help them to communicate with locals.


  • Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen relish roles in ‘The Good Liar’

    Roles for older actors can fall into some predictable tropes, but Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen say their new film, “The Good Liar,” let them brush aside cliches and even their characters’ mortality for a good cat-and-mouse thriller.


  • Bale, Damon shift into overdrive for ‘Ford v Ferrari’

    France’s legendary Le Mans race, the central contest depicted in James Mangold’s “Ford v Ferrari,” runs more than 3,000 miles over the course of 24 hours. But that’s nothing compared to the distance Christian Bale had to cover coming off playing Dick Cheney in “Vice.”


  • Film review: Kristen Stewart is a lively shot in the arm for ‘Charlie’s Angels’ franchise

    For all its nostalgic charm, the “Charlie’s Angels” brand -- born as a TV series in the 1970s, then followed by a hit 2000 movie, an underperforming sequel and a short-lived ABC series - was hardly crying out for a reboot.


  • Movie review: 'The Shining' sequel pays homage to the original 1980 film, but is not its equal

    The film, a sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s "The Shining," opens with a series of short curtain raisers, including a flashback to the Colorado setting of that 1980 horror classic, with a small boy riding a plastic tricycle through the mountain inn’s iconically carpeted hallways. Inspired as much by Kubrick’s revisionist film as by either of Stephen King’s books -- 1977’s "The Shining" and its sequel, 2013’s "Doctor Sleep" -- this new story by horror wunderkind Mike Flanagan ("The Haunting of Hill House") returns to the Overlook in ways both literal and figurative.


  • Movie review: 'Last Christmas' looks like a rom-com cliche, but it packs some surprises

    Paul Feig’s “Last Christmas” looks every bit like your standard holiday romantic-comedy, but it has some surprises under its gauzy wrapping. For one thing, it’s the first — and likely the last — Brexit Christmas movie.


  • Movie review: 'Playing with Fire' shoots for slapstick, but its writing goes up in smoke

    "Playing with Fire" is a family comedy about wildland firefighters, or "smokejumpers," who gain a little levity in their lives thanks to a trio of mischievous kids. Directed by Andy Fickman and written by Dan Ewen and Matt Lieberman, the movie shoots for slapstick but lands squarely in the surreal.


  • How 'Doctor Sleep' earned Stephen King's endorsement and still honored Stanley Kubrick

    Director Mike Flanagan is no stranger to adapting Stephen King’s more difficult works. After all, his adaptation of "Gerald’s Game," a story long considered to be unfilmable, was positively received in 2017.


  • Movie review: Sixth 'Terminator' film succeeds by ignoring the past three in the beloved series

    When reviewing a sequel in any long-running franchise -- especially one with as much time travel as the "Terminator" movies, which have always trafficked in alternate futures and pasts -- there’s a temptation, if not an absolute need, to include a brief recapitulation of where things stand before getting started. And with "Terminator: Dark Fate," the satisfyingly solid sixth installment in the sci-fi series about various Terminators (i.e., cyborg super-assassins from the future), that’s certainly true.


  • Movie review: 'Motherless Brooklyn' is Edward Norton’s longtime passion project

    Jonathan Lethem’s novel about a private eye with Tourette’s syndrome, “Motherless Brooklyn,” starts with a brilliant burst of uncontrolled profanity and an explanation of its protagonist’s condition.


  • Cynthia Erivo on becoming Harriet Tubman

    British actress Cynthia Erivo is relatively small in stature. In person, she is earnest and genial. In performance, the 32-year-old can appear achingly vulnerable. And if you’re not paying attention, she will bowl you over. Even if you are, she probably will, anyway.


  • ‘Black and Blue’ a lean, mean corrupt cop thriller

    It seems like director Deon Taylor might be the only filmmaker actively keeping the mid-budget adult thriller alive in this age of extinction. Plus, he’s prolific: His topical corrupt cop drama “Black and Blue” is his second 2019 film, arriving just a few months after his surprisingly entertaining and campy home invasion horror thriller “The Intruder.”


  • Portman goes all in for ‘Lucy in the Sky’

    “Fargo” and “Legion” auteur Noah Hawley shoots for the stars in his daring leap from the small screen to the big with his uniquely existential “Lucy in the Sky.” It’s a loose adaptation of the bizarre 2007 incident involving Lisa Nowak, an astronaut who was charged with attempted kidnapping after driving from Houston to Orlando to confront the Air Force captain she believed to be involved with her lover, another astronaut. But rather than trafficking in tawdry true crime, Hawley and co-writers Brian C. Brown and Elliott DiGuiseppi use the story to explore the thematic potential of what it means to return to life on Earth after experiencing space, from a point of view of a complex, challenging woman.


  • Movie review: Ignoring the 10-year gap, 'Zombieland: Double Tap' brings its outdated shtick back from the dead

    For years, people have wondered why 2009’s smash zom-com "Zombieland" never had a sequel. Ruben Fleischer’s feature directorial debut put him on the map and firmly established the postmodern zombie craze as a pop phenomenon that shows no signs of stopping.


  • Movie review: Jolie, Pfeiffer lock horns in 'Mistress of Evil,' a 'Maleficent' sequel

    Once upon a time, a Hollywood movie didn’t have to be so many things to so many people. It didn’t have to set a new opening-weekend record, conquer multiple demographics or plant the seeds of a future franchise to be deemed a reasonable success. But times have changed and reasonable has long gone out the window. Witness the bigger-is-better aesthetic that informs even a relatively minor cultural happening like "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil," Disney’s follow-up to its 2014 hit "Maleficent," which was itself a live-action spin on the studio’s sublime 1959 animation, "Sleeping Beauty."


  • Are these end times for binge culture?

    After years of buildup, Apple will make its long-awaited push into original programming with the Nov. 1 launch of its streaming service, Apple TV+. Its most anticipated series, "The Morning Show," starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, might as well have been created in a streaming TV lab -- with one exception. Viewers eager to consume the show will have to pace themselves: Apple TV+ will make three episodes of the series available immediately, but the remaining seven will be released weekly.


  • Movie review: 'The Addams Family' reboot maintains its gently spooky charm, but doesn’t break the mold

    The enduring appeal of "The Addams Family" is quite impressive. With only four notes and a couple of snaps, plus a classic black dress, one can instantly evoke the classic American Gothic clan, who are creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky.


  • Movie review: 'Gemini Man' leans hard into its visual gimmick ... and that’s about it

    Legendary director Ang Lee first dipped his toe into the world of high frame rate cinema with 2016’s "Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk," which was shot and shown in select theaters at 120 frames per second (as opposed the usual 24). Lee and executives hoped critics and audiences might give the new look a chance, but the bizarre adaptation of the best-selling novel wasn’t the hit that allowed the format to break through to the mainstream. Perhaps they just needed a real movie star to sell it. So for his next trick, Lee has put not one, but two Will Smiths in an action movie, "Gemini Man." Too bad everyone involved forgot about the part that actually makes you care: the script.


  • Heart attack encourages Kevin Smith to make another 'Jay and Silent Bob' movie

    Kevin Smith was about to go in for heart surgery in early 2018 when his doctor informed him the odds were high he would not survive because he had what doctors call a "widowmaker heart attack." Despite assurances by the man who was about to perform the operation that all would go well, Smith began to reflect on his life.


  • Ruby Rose knows Batwoman is a step forward for LGBTQ superheroes - but she’s more interested in how she saves the day

    Ruby Rose knows it’s a big deal that Batwoman is gay. She’s read the comics and has seen the clickbait headlines. But she also wants you to know there’s more to her new character than just her dating life.


  • Movie review: Controversy aside, 'Joker' is all setup, no punchline

    With the amount of controversy surrounding it, "Joker" feels more like an idea and less like an actual movie. Could it possibly stand up to the mythology that has sprung up around it, stoked by breathless film festival hype, pre-emptive misanthropic adoration, gun control activists demanding action and some foot-in-mouth interviews by writer/director Todd Phillips? It absolutely does not live up to its undeserved hype, for better or for worse. And while that may be surprising, it also has to be expected. So what exactly is "Joker"? It’s a great trailer.


  • Movie review: 'Dolemite Is My Name’ returns Eddie Murphy to his R-rated comedic glory

    Where have you gone, Eddie Murphy? Our nation turns its cheerless eyes to you. Really. I know, Murphy didn’t actually go anywhere, but given the two decades since he’s made one of the trademark R-rated comedies that are his strength, it seems like he did. Thankfully, Murphy is back, and both his old gifts and some new ones are on engaging display in the rowdy, raunchy, inescapably funny "Dolemite Is My Name," a gleefully profane biopic and a passion project the star has been nurturing for years.


  • Movie review: Animated adventure 'Abominable' is beautiful -- though a little formulaic

    As cliched as it sounds, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. But if a wheel can’t be improved on, it can be made lovelier. That’s what "Abominable" does. The animated film takes a standard story and adds so much visual beauty that it exceeds expectations.


  • Army spouse and two-time 'Survivor' winner returns to show, but this time it's 'stress-free'

    Sandra Diaz-Twine will join "Boston" Rob Mariano as a mentor for "Survivor: Island of the Idols."


  • Winfrey picks Ta-Nehisi Coates' first novel for her book club

    Ta-Nehisi Coates’ first novel, “The Water Dancer,” has been a long and eventful journey. Begun a decade ago, his chronicle of a slave with an extraordinary memory who joins the Underground Railroad is the result of countless drafts, a shift from multiple narrators to a single voice, some needed advice from fellow writers and hundreds of thousands of words discarded. Coates’ research ranged from reading interviews with ex-slaves and consulting a 19th-century Farmer’s Almanac — books duly pictured on his Instagram account — to his numerous and revelatory visits to former plantations. And then came that call from Oprah Winfrey.


  • Brad Pitt is ready to kick masculinity to the curb: 'We have to redefine it'

    A look comes over Brad Pitt when he listens to James Gray that can only be described in one word: tickled. And a little awed. Recently, the actor and director visited Washington, D.C., to premiere "Ad Astra," a science-fiction drama in which Pitt plays an astronaut sent to Neptune to retrieve his father, who has been presumed dead. Gray conceived his idea in 2011 but it lay dormant until Pitt agreed to produce it in 2016; the film, both agree, changed profoundly in the ensuing years, becoming as much a meditation on middle-aged regret as a speculative glimpse into a space-age future.


  • Movie review: 'Downton Abbey' is in the house, picking up where the PBS series left off

    Once feared shuttered for good, "Downton Abbey" has grandly reopened its doors, and for those who found pleasure within its magisterial walls, that is the best of news. For six seasons a pillar of appointment TV, in fact PBS’ highest-rated dramatic series of all time, "Downton" has adroitly transitioned to theaters with all its satisfying qualities -- and just about its entire core cast -- intact.


  • Military quartet Voices of Service places fifth in 'America's Got Talent' finals

    The group competed in Wednesday's live, two-hour results show, where they performed "Some Gave All" with Billy Ray Cyrus.


  • The most anticipated movies of fall 2019

    It’s that time of year I always look forward to: leaves crunching on the sidewalk, sweater weather, shadowy evenings and -- just maybe -- a glut of good movies at the multiplexes. Here are some of the most anticipated titles coming up this season, sorted by categories; please note that all release dates are tentative and as changeable as Mister Rogers’ cardigans.


  • Movie review: 'Hustlers' is an instant crime classic

    "Hustlers" opens with a long Steadicam shot following new girl Destiny (Constance Wu) as she strolls into her own destiny, winding her way from the warm womb of a strip club dressing room, onto the club floor. With this visual nod, director Lorene Scafaria asserts just what her film is, and what it’s about. It’s not just "the J. Lo stripper movie," although it is that, and how.


  • Movie review: 'Goldfinch' doesn’t live up to the book

    Donna Tartt’s Pulizter Prize-winning tome "The Goldfinch" was a blockbuster bestseller and the toast of book clubs in 2013. The film adaptation should have been slam dunk, with director John Crowley, fresh off the acclaimed "Brooklyn," legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, and screenwriter Peter Straughan adapting Tartt’s novel. And yet, the movie is simpering and dull, devoid of tension, an overwrought and uninvolving film that is both a personal drama and a crime mystery, but also neither of those things, and nearly, nothing at all.


  • Movie review: 'It Chapter Two' is a big-screen funhouse

    It can be a cheesy thing when a novel is split up and spread out over a handful of films, but Stephen King’s “It” is not one of those books.


  • TV review

    There’s no better use of Netflix’s fortunes than this perfect revival of 'Dark Crystal'

    See how we sift and scroll through these endless TV menus and grids, scoffing at what the algorithms recommend, defaulting yet again to old sitcom reruns and an episode of "Beachfront Bargain Hunt" that we’re never quite sure if we’ve seen before. In theory we want to be swept up in something new, but we’re sometimes not very good about trying new things. Sometimes the biggest challenge is a genre bias -- to watch a show that looks unbearably hokey. Too elfy, too childish, too derivative.


  • British actor David Oyelowo brings Shakespearean passion to ‘Don’t Let Go’

    David Oyelowo is a writer, director (he’s in the middle of shooting a film called “The Water Man” now), actor and producer. The classically trained British actor -- a couple of years ago, he was in an off-Broadway production of “Othello,” opposite James Bond, aka Daniel Craig, as Iago -- has five other projects in pre- or post-production, as well as a lot of voiceover work for television and more on his resume. Point is, the guy is busy, but he knows how to keep his proverbial ducks in a row.


  • What's the statute of limitations on movie spoilers?

    We all agree that in writing about new films, spoilers should be kept to a minimum, right? But what about movies that are decades old — classics, whose stories are embedded in popular culture? Is there a statute of limitations on when it is not OK to openly discuss a film's secrets?


  • Movie review: 'Angel Has Fallen' is a new low for the silly Gerard Butler franchise

    There is a certain mindless pleasure in the “Fallen” movies. Watching Gerard Butler muscle his way through increasingly preposterous obstacles as a Secret Service agent can be amusing and oddly transfixing at the same time. It’s mass entertainment that makes a courtesy stop in theaters before ascending to its true calling: Endless cable reruns. But whatever this franchise got away with in “Olympus Has Fallen” and “London Has Fallen,” it’s clear that the well has run dry on this idea and character.


  • Movie review: 'Blinded by the Light' irresistibly blends Bruce Springsteen and Bollywood

    The Boss meets Bollywood, and if those potent entities resonate with you, you know that combination is not to be missed. If you don’t know, you’re going to find out as "Blinded by the Light," a high-spirited film with enough potential for pleasure to get picked up at Sundance by a major like Warners, goes into wide release.


  • Movie review: 'Good Boys' is a surprisingly sweet comedy about the raunchy side of tween boy life

    Much has been made of how "Good Boys" -- an R-rated comedy about a trio of sixth-grade nerds caught up in a misadventure involving drugs, sex toys, beer and slapstick mishaps -- looks like a junior varsity version of "Superbad," or, to cite a more recent precedent, "Booksmart," but with 12-year-old boys. Those comparisons are fair, and fairly accurate. The comedy, produced by "Superbad’s" writer/producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, hits all the expected marks for raunch and vulgarity, with the bonus that it is actually also kind of sweet.


  • New live-action 'Dora' features a more grown-up explorer

    Actress Isabela Moner says she didn’t expect so much action when she signed up for “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” the upcoming film about the adventurous Latina explorer. Moner said she thought it would be a funny film, with Dora in a “fish out of water” kind of situation as she starts high school.


  • Movie review: Mob wives brutally take over the business in 'The Kitchen'

    It’s two-thirds of the way through "The Kitchen" before anyone asks Kathy Brennan (Melissa McCarthy) what, exactly, she wants. It’s her son, at the dinner table. We’ve seen Kathy struggle and scrape by to survive, utterly sick of depending on and thanking men for her existence. We’ve seen her turn to a life of crime, wresting away control of the Irish mob in late ’70s Hell’s Kitchen while her husband is away in prison. We’ve seen her flourish in the brutal and bloody collections and protections "business" she builds with two other mob wives, the abused, broken Claire (Elisabeth Moss) and Ruby (Tiffany Haddish), a black woman, an outsider. But what does she really want?


  • Movie review: Dog drama ’Art of Racing in the Rain’ laps up pathos

    "Sometimes I hate who I am." In most movies, an expression of such existential angst is to be expected from the lips of a troubled teen -- or a conflicted killer. But in the overheated (yet undercooked) melodrama "The Art of Racing in the Rain," those thoughts belong to a dog, voiced by Kevin Costner, who articulates the frustration that his character can’t communicate with the struggling racecar driver (Milo Ventimiglia) who owns him.


  • The new '90210' is a nostalgia bender with a meta twist

    Like most attempts at wrangling old friends for a gathering, this one started with a group text. But those can become a graveyard of noncommitments, so to persuade their former “Beverly Hills, 90210” costars to reunite on the small screen, Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth (aka Donna Martin and Kelly Taylor) opted for a more personalized touch: They made gift bags.


  • Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch go to war in new trailer for WWI drama '1917'

    The clock is ticking for two soldiers who have to stop an attack in the trailer for "1917," which is scheduled to be released in December.


  • Movie review: In 'Fast & Furious’ spinoff 'Hobbs & Shaw,' costars Kirby, Elba take the wheel

    It’s pretty incredible how the humble beginnings of 2001’s "The Fast and the Furious," a twist on "Point Break" with muscle cars instead of surfboards, have now spawned a nine-film franchise. And the souped-up series shows no signs of slowing down. This summer, star Vin Diesel has tossed the keys to his action superstar costars, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, for their very own spinoff, the cumbersomely titled "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw."


  • Lil Nas X's 'Old Town Road' ties Billboard record set by Mariah, 'Despacito'

    Lil Nas X has taken his horse to the old town road and ridden it to the top of the Billboard charts for 16 weeks, tying a record set by Mariah Carey and Luis Fonsi.


  • 'The Lion King' rules, 'Endgame' scores all-time record

    If there was any doubt that the 2019 box office belonged to the Walt Disney Co., this weekend put an end to it. Not only did its photorealistic remake of “The Lion King” devour opening weekend records for the month of July and PG-rated films, but “Avengers: Endgame” also crept past “Avatar” to become the highest-grossing film of all time.


  • Watch the new 'Top Gun: Maverick' trailer

    Tom Cruise, who plays the title character, surprised audiences at Comic-Con in San Diego, Calif., with the trailer Thursday.


  • Movie review: Harder to feel the love for live-action 'Lion King'

    "The Lion King" is the latest victim in the Disney remake parade, in which director Jon Favreau dons his best Dr. Moreau cosplay and imagines a "Planet Earth" where animals spout Shakespearean soliloquies. The result of this horrific experiment, combining photorealistic animal simulations with celebrity voices, is a bizarre Frankenstein’s monster of a film that is so distressingly unpleasant it somehow manages to even ruin the original, much beloved 1994 hand-drawn cartoon version.


  • Movie review: Kumail Nanjiani enlivens 'Stuber,' an otherwise so-so comedy about ride sharing

    Kumail Nanjiani has enlivened everything from jeans commercials to Oscar clip packages, so it’s no surprise that in "Stuber," he’s able to perk up a buddy comedy that follows the "Lethal Weapon"/"Rush Hour" template so slavishly that it could be titled "Lethal Hour" or "Weapon Rush" or "Lethal Rush." You get the idea.

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