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[5] Director Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049, Arrival) takes a stab at delivering Frank Herbert’s dense, complicated science-fiction novel to the big screen. Dune centers around a teenaged royal named Paul Atreides (Call Me By Your Name‘s Timothée Chalamet) whose family is chosen by the galactic emperor to oversee production of the universe’s most valuable substance, the spice melange, on the desert planet Arrakis, nicknamed …

[8] Tension between rival New York City gangs the Jets and the Sharks is wound to a tragic snapping point after one young Jet falls head over heels for the sister of the Sharks’ leader. West Side Story is based on the landmark stage musical featuring music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and exciting dance choreography by Jerome Robbins, who co-directs this film …

[7] Cary Grant stars as an angel from Heaven who comes to Earth just before Christmas to help a Bishop (David Niven) and his wife (Loretta Young) raise money for construction of a new cathedral. But Grant has ulterior motives, trying to get the Bishop to realize that happiness lies in prioritizing his marriage over any construction project — and that the fundraising money is …

[5] George C. Scott’s charisma is the best thing Patton has going for it. The film is a pastiche of the famous (and infamous) army general’s career through World War II, including his successful invasion of Sicily, media blunders resulting in military reprimand, and his eventual aid in the fall of the Third Reich. The film initially paints Patton as a hard-ass who gets the …

[8] Writer/director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall) and co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns bring us back to the trenches of World War I with the harrowing journey of two British officers tasked with traversing enemy territory to deliver a message that will save 1,600 of their fellow soldiers from certain death — including one of the young men’s brothers. 1917 is compelling on two different levels, infusing …

[7] Helen Hayes and Gary Cooper co-star in director Frank Borzage’s adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Cooper plays an American ambulance driver who falls in love with Hayes’ British nurse in Italy during the first World War. They are secretly married and have to keep their relationship hidden from their superiors. Eventually, they are separated and their letters to each other are …

[8] Rami Malek stars as Freddie Mercury in Bryan Singer’s (X-Men, Valkyrie) biopic about the formation and explosive success of rock group Queen. The film centers primarily around Mercury — his estranged relationship with his family, his homosexuality, his drug use, and eventual battle with AIDs — but without ignoring the other members of the band, played by Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, and Joseph Mazzello …

[8] It’s formulaic, overblown and downright preposterous at times, but it’s also everything moviegoers want in a summer action movie. Speed has a tight, rapid-fire script, awesome sound design, a remarkably kinetic score, and surprisingly good acting for a movie of its type. Sandra Bullock gives a sweet, naturalistic performance as a woman stuck driving a bus full of passengers that will explode if it …

[8] Oliver Stone’s Platoon was one of the first major motion pictures to deal with the Vietnam war. Charlie Sheen stars as an infantry volunteer who finds himself in a moral quandry, torn between two sergeants of differing philosophies. Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe give solid, Oscar-nominated performances as the two sergeants, but it’s the director’s voice that comes through most strikingly in Platoon. As …

[8] After finishing The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson tackled a remake of his favorite film, King Kong. Jackson’s remake is largely faithful to the 1933 original, while generously expanding the storyline and embellishing some of the characters. Jackson protracts the opening act more than necessary, but his interpretation of Skull Island is amazing. It’s this middle portion of the movie that delivers the …

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