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  • Marriage Story

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- At first blush, the title of the drama "Marriage Story" (Netflix) may strike some as ironic. This is, after all, at least on the surface, an engrossing study of the divorce process in contemporary America.

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  • Jojo Rabbit

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- As with many satires, the makers of "Jojo Rabbit" (Fox Searchlight) don't care much whether an audience likes their film -- or understands all of it. In this case, the latter option is not likely. New Zealand-born writer-director Taika Waititi knows how to jolt viewers. He plays not only a child-friendly Adolf Hitler, but one who's also a slightly fey Fuhrer.

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  • Bad Boys for Life

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- After lying dormant for more than a decade and a half, the action-comedy franchise that gave us "Bad Boys" in 1995 and the imaginatively titled sequel "Bad Boys II" eight years later makes an unwelcome reappearance.

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  • Dolittle

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Exactly a century ago, British author Hugh Lofting published "The Story of Doctor Dolittle," the first in a long series of books for children that have won lasting popularity for their protagonist, a physician-turned-veterinarian who has, need it be said, the unique ability to communicate with the critters he treats.

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  • Books offer powerful testimony on difficult work of forgiving others

    "The Way of Forgiveness: Readings for a Peaceful Life," edited by Michael Leach, James T. Keane and Doris Goodnough. Orbis Books (Maryknoll, New York, 2019). 236 pp., $18. "Forgiveness Makes You Free: A Dramatic Story of Healing and Reconciliation From the Heart of Rwanda" by Father Ubald Rugirangoga. Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame, Indiana, 2019). 161 pp., $16.95.

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  • Like a Boss

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- There's a lot not to like about "Like a Boss" (Paramount). In addition to the lazy bedroom jokes that are its stock-in-trade, director Miguel Arteta's feminist buddy comedy is tainted by a vaguely anti-family tone since it exalts friendship and professional success over marriage and child rearing and condones commitment-free hookups.

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  • 1917

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- "1917" (Universal) is a great movie about the Great War. By turns harrowing and lyrically beautiful -- and deeply humane throughout -- director and co-writer (with Krysty Wilson-Cairns) Sam Mendes' gripping historical drama displays both the horrors of trench combat and the endurance of fundamental decency and spiritual striving.

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  • Underwater

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Like the ocean depths in which it's set, director William Eubank's monster movie "Underwater" (Fox) is dim and murky. Though acceptable for most grown moviegoers, some gruesome deaths notwithstanding, it's a tedious survival slog on which viewers should hesitate to embark.

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  • The Grudge

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The drab horror tale "The Grudge" (Screen Gems) has a complex history and a complicated structure. But the upshot for viewers is a simple one: Failing skillfully to interweave his various narratives, writer-director Nicolas Pesce bids for audience attention with ever bloodier deaths and ever more hideous sights.

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  • Little Women

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Writer-director Greta Gerwig, who proved her bona fides as a screen moralist in 2017 with "Lady Bird," has repeated the feat with her elegant, vibrantly emotional adaptation of the 19th-century classic "Little Women" (Sony).

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  • The Irishman

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The disappearance of union boss Jimmy Hoffa, who vanished without a trace in 1975, has never been explained. But that doesn't deter director Martin Scorsese from solving the mystery in "The Irishman" (Netflix), an epic historical drama.

    Scorsese and screenwriter Steve Zaillain work off of Charles Brandt's 2004 nonfiction book, "I Heard You Paint Houses," based on the life of Frank Sheeran (1920-2003), a labor union official and erstwhile gangster whom Hoffa befriended. "Painting houses" is mob parlance for murder; the "paint" that mobsters use is the blood that splatters when a victim is pumped with bullets.

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  • Just Mercy

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The legal drama "Just Mercy" (Warner Bros.), director and co-writer Destin Daniel Cretton's adaptation of the 2014 memoir by Bryan Stevenson, reaches back to events in the 1980s. But it also succeeds in vividly demonstrating the ongoing dangers posed by the application of the death penalty in a society still burdened by widespread racism.

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  • Cats

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Since its debut in London in 1981, Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Cats" has been staged continuously around the globe, seen by more than 81 million people in 50 countries and 19 languages. To that gigantic built-in fan base, the film version of "Cats" (Universal) will be nothing less than, well, catnip.

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  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- A long time ago, in a world that now seems far, far away -- to wit, Earth in spring 1977 -- George Lucas wowed audiences with the original "Star Wars" film. More than four decades later, the ninth, and officially final, installment in the main body of the blockbuster franchise, "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" (Disney), premieres.

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  • Spies in Disguise

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- As animated pigeon-transformation movies go, "Spies in Disguise" (Fox) hits an avian sweet spot you undoubtedly didn't know existed. The pace is rapid while the premise is vapid. But directors Nick Bruno and Troy Quane, working from a screenplay by Brad Copeland and Lloyd Taylor, somehow manage to let learning take place, too, even if that means occasional lessons in pigeon ingestion.

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  • Richard Jewell

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- "Richard Jewell" (Warner Bros.) is director Clint Eastwood's sympathetic profile of the titular security guard (Paul Walter Hauser) who, as many will remember, was caught up in a media firestorm in the wake of the explosion of three pipe bombs in Atlanta's Centennial Park while the Georgia capital was hosting the 1996 Summer Olympics.

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  • A Hidden Life

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- In 2007, Franz Jagerstatter (1907-1943), a devoutly Catholic Austrian farmer martyred by the Nazis for his stance as a conscientious objector, was declared blessed. In the luminous, though deliberately paced, drama "A Hidden Life" (Fox Searchlight), writer-director Terrence Malick paints a striking and memorable portrait of Jagerstatter, one that will be especially prized by believing viewers.

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  • Black Christmas

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- It's sorority sisters versus frat boys in the horror flick "Black Christmas" (Universal). The real agenda of director and co-writer (with April Wolfe) Sophia Takal's film is not so much to chill viewers, though, as to convey what turns out to be a preposterously overblown feminist message, the bottom line of which is that the only good white male is a dead one.

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  • Bombshell

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Ripped from the headlines, as the saying goes, "Bombshell" (Lionsgate) dramatizes the real-life story of the sexual harassment scandal that swamped the Fox News organization in 2016 and helped to launch the #MeToo movement.

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  • Jumanji: The Next Level

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Playful gender-bending by video-game avatars mingles with an unexpectedly somber message about approaching death in "Jumanji: The Next Level" (Columbia). This sequel to the 2017 original -- which was subtitled "Welcome to the Jungle" and had teens physically absorbed into a vintage video game -- is more complex than its predecessor, with more "rules" as well as more hazards and attending subplots. New identities, especially those that cross gender lines, are predictable comedy. But the film's appeal is based on nostalgia, too.

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  • The Two Popes

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- In "The Two Popes" (Netflix), their glossy but highly speculative account of supposedly real events, screenwriter Anthony McCarten and director Fernando Meirelles ill-advisedly try to extol Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce) by trashing retired Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins).

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  • Uncut Gems

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- You'd have to be meshuggeneh to want to spend two hours-plus in the company of the lowlifes who populate the relentlessly grating character study "Uncut Gems" (A24). Although the film's abrasive tone is deliberate, the effect is that of a skillfully composed sonata for fingernails on a blackboard.

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  • Dark Waters

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Eventually, there may be a movie focused on some travail affecting people in West Virginia without John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" on the soundtrack. Or one that portrays the residents of that state as more than semiferal superstitious yahoos who put too much trust in corporations that endanger their health.

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