Movie Reviews

Lady Gaga sings and shines in the latest 'Star Is Born'

“A Star Is Born” again. Not evangelically, just generationally, since the 1930s.

The current razzle-dazzle iteration features Stefani Germanotta, a Lady better known as Gaga. She plays aspiring singer Ally, whose dreams of stardom are fading until rock star Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) finds and falls in love with her, coaxing her into his own spotlight.

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'Science Fair' doc is an exhilarating ode to teens at their brainy best

Do you remember Paul Zindel’s “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds”? It was a beautiful, Pulitzer Prize-winning play (and later, film) about a troubled girl whose lifeboat out of a troubled environment is her high school science fair project.

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Retro-magical 'House with a Clock in Its Walls' is a family-friendly adventure for Halloween

Straight-faced and straight-laced Lewis is a traumatized young orphan, sent to live with his Uncle Jonathan, a warlock, amidst a hotbed of sorcery. Sounds familiar — but Lewis is no Harry Potter, and Jonathan’s creepy old mansion in New Zebedee, Mich., is no Hogwarts. The uncle is a magic-school dropout, and the timid nephew has no magical aspirations or equipment, except his old Mattel 8-ball fortuneteller — a retro-diviner, indeed.

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Ruth Wilson and Domhnall Gleeson deliver fine performances in 'The Little Stranger'

In the Ayres family’s House of Dark Shadows, nothing greater than a 25-watt bulb illuminates any room. Ditto even in the local doctor’s office. There’s gloom aplenty and precious little natural light to penetrate this supernatural thriller.

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Final Portrait' makes nice order out of Giacometti's artistic chaos

Rhetorical question: Are eccentricity, a mercurial personality, obsessive-compulsive disorder, alcohol and tobacco abuse and domestic chaos prerequisites for all great artists — or just for all films about great artists?

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'Merchants of Doubt' shows how to do battle on major issues

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

There’s no doubt that asbestos and cigarettes cause lung cancer.

There’s no doubt that DDT kills wildlife.

There’s no doubt about the existence of acid rain and holes in the ozone layer.

There’s no doubt that the Arctic and Antarctic ice shelves have shrunk by 23 percent.

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'Queen and Country' charmingly captures English life in the 1950s

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It takes a successful Hollywood film about 15 — maybe 20 — minutes to generate a sequel. In England, the gestation period for a really good sequel of a really good film tends to be much longer — in writer-director John Boorman’s case, 28 years.

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'Kumiko' pays homage to 'Fargo'

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Kumiko is a stranger in a strange land and in the equally strange movie that bears her name.

At work in Tokyo, she’s an “Office Lady” for Mr. Sakagami, a Clarence Thomas-type boss, who seems to be pushing a sexual agenda even while instructing her to buy an anniversary present for his wife.

“What kind of present?” asks Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi).

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'Wild Tales' just that plus a cathartic jolt

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Anybody asks you what the sweetest thing in life is, you tell ’em it’s revenge!” snarls Paul Lazzaro, obsessed with killing Billy Pilgrim, the hero of Kurt Vonnegut’s great “Slaughterhouse Five.”

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Wallace Shawn plays Ibsen's womanizing architect in 'A Master Builder'

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It's been a long time -- 33 years, to be exact -- since actor Wallace Shawn and director Andre Gregory famously dined in front of a camera. Now, if not quite by popular demand, they're together again thanks to Henrik Ibsen and Jonathan Demme.

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