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  • Irresistible

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- While it may not be all its title promises, TV comedian-turned-writer-director Jon Stewart's clever political satire "Irresistible" (Focus) is certainly appealing. Though couched in terms that put it off-limits for youngsters, his lampooning of both the cynicism underlying our current electoral system and the cultural divide separating the coasts from the heartland will likely amuse most grown-ups.

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  • Saint Frances

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- A grotesque treatment of abortion and a misguided view of faith are the most notable elements of "Saint Frances" (Amazon). A mix of comedy and drama written by and starring Kelly O'Sullivan, the would-be charming film, directed by Alex Thompson, groans under the burden of its own amorality.

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  • Da 5 Bloods

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman is said to have observed, with famous succinctness, that "war is hell." With the rich but harrowing drama "Da 5 Bloods" (Netflix), director and co-writer Spike Lee makes the point that the burdensome, sometimes crippling, legacy of armed conflict can be equally infernal.

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  • 7500

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Viewers' reaction to the hijacking thriller "7500" (Amazon) might depend on how far the memory of 9/11 has receded for them. Peril in the skies has always been a dramatic staple. But Islamist terrorists who chant "Allahu akbar" are such predictable villains that the plot gets drained of suspense after a while.

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  • Artemis Fowl

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- In the hands of such great artists as British novelist J.R.R. Tolkien or Irish poet W.B. Yeats, the elements of medieval lore have been deployed to great effect. Such, alas, is not the case with "Artemis Fowl" (Disney), director Kenneth Branagh's crowded, off-key screen version of Eoin Colfer's 2001 fantasy novel for young adults that's streaming now on Disney+.

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  • The King of Staten Island

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The name Judd Apatow is not one that conjures up images of wholesome family entertainment. Nor will his reputation in that regard be much altered by the advent of his latest endeavor as director and co-writer, the slacker comedy "The King of Staten Island" (Universal).

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  • Mr. Topaze

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The 1961 British comedy "Mr. Topaze" (Film Movement), originally distributed by Fox, is unusual in a number of respects. For one, it's the only feature for which celebrated comic actor Peter Sellers (1925-80) took directing credit. For another, it was almost lost, a sad fate usually reserved for much older movies.

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  • Shirley

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- On its surface a suspense drama, "Shirley" (Neon) also carries with it the full discomfiting feeling of a class assignment. That's because the main character, author Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss), wrote "The Lottery," the instantly classic horror story about murderous villagers that's been a staple of high school literature anthologies since it was first published in 1948 in The New Yorker magazine. She was the master of that literary form long before Stephen King arrived on the scene.

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  • The High Note

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Glossy and generally upbeat, "The High Note" (Focus), a blend of comedy and drama from director Nisha Ganatra, is a pleasant tune rather than an aria for the ages. Still, the film's positive view of human nature offsets those elements of talk and behavior that flag it as grown-up fare so that viewers will likely be inclined to hum along with it readily enough.

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