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  • The Upside

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Take the "white savior" formula of 2009's "The Blind Side," in which a Caucasian of considerable means changes the life of an impoverished African-American, mix in a little of "Driving Miss Daisy" from 1989, and you have "The Upside" (STX).

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  • The Favourite

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Hollywood and history have always been uneasy partners, the former taking liberties with the latter when it comes to the truth. The latest example, "The Favourite" (Fox Searchlight), is a costume comedy-drama about a royal love triangle in 18th-century England (hence the British spelling of "favorite").

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  • On the Basis of Sex

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- From "On the Basis of Sex" (Focus) one learns that even though a tax case may be destined to serve as a landmark for equal treatment under the law -- as well as a breakthrough for future Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) -- it's nearly impossible to keep stodginess at bay.

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  • Escape Room

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The routine thriller "Escape Room" (Columbia) may leave discerning moviegoers looking for their own means of egress. A high quotient of panic-driven transgressions against the Second Commandment and the rules of verbal propriety aside, there's not much to object to about director Adam Robitel's film. Yet his project ultimately amounts to little more than a less disturbing take on the dreaded "Saw" franchise.

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  • Vice

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- In 2008, Oliver Stone, a director not always associated with calm and impartial reflections on recent history, helmed a biopic of George W. Bush that was neither flattering nor abusive. Instead, Bush was presented in a balanced and shaded way that made the film absorbing for viewers.

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  • Welcome to Marwen

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The story behind the fact-based tale "Welcome to Marwen" (Universal) is a compelling one. And it provided the subject matter for "Marwencol," a highly-regarded 2010 documentary by filmmaker Jeff Malmberg.

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  • Second Act

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The appealing workplace comedy "Second Act" (STX) which posits that street smarts should rate at least as highly as an educational pedigree, is not so much #Metoo as #Whynotme. Director Peter Segal and screenwriters Justin Zackham and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas have turned the plucky old formula sideways. As a result, their heroine, Maya (Jennifer Lopez), is not facing predations such as sexual harassment or a phalanx of poisonous, scheming co-workers, but rather dealing with crises rooted in self-confidence and her difficult past.

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  • Aquaman

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Though he may lack a pineapple in which to dwell, "Aquaman" (Warner Bros.), as his name suggests, spends much of his time under the sea. Viewers taking the plunge to follow his adventures will be treated to a sprawling, lush spectacle. But the DC Comics adaptation built around him also is overlong, overcomplicated and, at times, just plain dumb.

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  • Bumblebee

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Does "Bumblebee" (Paramount) deserve a lot of buzz? While it shares the slightly preposterous premise of all the "Transformers" movies -- being concerned, as they are, with alien robots who can shapeshift into cars -- this installment of the sci-fi action franchise ranks above average thanks to an emotionally appealing story line.

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  • They Shall Not Grow Old

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Director Peter Jackson, best known for helming "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" trilogies, ventures far from Middle Earth in his innovative documentary on the First World War, "They Shall Not Grow Old" (Warner Bros.).

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  • Mary Poppins Returns

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- It has taken more than half a century, but at long last "Mary Poppins Returns" (Disney). The result is a delightful sequel to the 1964 classic that will divert all but the youngest and most skittish members of the family.

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  • The Mule

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Old people are inherently cute and Drug Enforcement Administration agents reflexively racist in "The Mule" (Warner Bros.). This ambling, fact-based story of an octogenarian drug runner who becomes a success at it because no one, evidently, believes he's capable of such a dangerous task is more than a little morally tone deaf.

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  • Mortal Engines

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The phrase "a city on the move" is usually just an expression. Not so in "Mortal Engines" (Universal), director Christian Rivers' screen version of Philip Reeve's novel for young adults.

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  • Once Upon a Deadpool

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Somebody over at 20th Century Fox -- or, perhaps, someone in Marvel Comics' real-life universe -- came up with the following idea: Let's slightly rework this year's "Deadpool 2" in order to have it qualify for a less restrictive rating from the Motion Picture Association of America than the original R, let's market it to a broader audience over the holidays and let's give away a portion of the proceeds to charity.

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  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Traditionalists be warned: "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" (Columbia) has little to do with your father's Peter Parker. Instead, this innovative but noisy and frenetic animated take on the Marvel Comics saga features one novice web-slinger and a quintet of alternate versions of the title character who arrive on Earth from other dimensions.

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  • Stan & Ollie

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- To reinforce the proposition that Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were, and still are, sacred icons of film comedy, the pitch-perfect, affectionately nostalgic "Stan & Ollie" (Sony Classics) reproduces their 1953 arrival in Cobh, Ireland, during what would be their last tour of British music halls.

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  • Encore: Schindler's List

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The tortured, troubling -- yet in the end, uplifting -- story of a German risking his life to save some Polish Jews from Nazi death camps is recounted in "Schindler's List" (Universal).

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