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Tom Hanks is back as the world’s nerdiest hero in “Inferno,” the third installment in the popular franchise based on books by Dan Brown.

Brown’s creation, Professor Robert Langdon, is an expert symbologist, which I have to say, in the hands of a versatile actor such as Hanks, is a lot cooler than it sounds. The movie, much like its predecessors (“The Da Vinci Code,” “Angels & Demons”), contains lot of advanced puzzle solving, racing from location to location—this time in Florence, Italy—a pinch of drama, and a decent dose of action. While Langdon would handily lose in a one on one fight with archaeologist Dr. Indiana Jones, I’m sure his life is much more adventurous than the average university professor’s.

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American auteur Jim Jarmusch triumphs again with an achingly gentle yet sharply funny portrait about ever-present beauty and the poetry of life.

Is it worth $10? Yes

Contrary to recent proclamations of the great master Martin Scorsese, cinema fights to live another day. Hollywood’s starlight might be fading but, in independent films like “Paterson,” by writer/director Jim Jarmusch (“Stranger Than Paradise” [1984]), we find not only a living, thriving cinema, but that rarest of precious 21st Century gems: truth.

Adam Driver, nuanced and vibrant, plays Paterson, the namesake of the small New Jersey city in which he lives. Jarmusch purposefully chooses a profession that seems ordinary and repetitive for his titular character: city bus driver, and part of the film’s power comes from depicting people as much more than what they do for a living. Paterson is also a prolific poet. He writes in his notebook every morning religiously and, in doing so, shows his laid-back determination not to become a robot, though his weekdays are programmed and run (mostly) like clockwork.

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Tremendous movie about the various influences on a 15 year-old guy as he comes of age in 1979.

Is it worth $10? Yes

A movie as well written and acted as “20th Century Women” must be seen. It must be seen by teenage boys who don’t know how to act around girls. By teenage girls who allow peer pressure to dictate their actions. By middle-aged men and women who are lost souls in search of themselves, and by parents who are doing their best in a world that’s constantly changing.

It also must be seen by anyone who enjoys engaging dramas. Writer/director Mike Mills, whose first film, “Beginners” (2010), was based on his relationship with his father, this time tells his mother’s story. It’s 1979, and 15 year-old Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) is growing up without a father in Santa Barbara, California. His mother Dorothea (Annette Bening, great as usual) is liberal and loving, though ineffectual in certain regards. For a time she hopes her tenant/handyman William (Billy Crudup) can be a positive influence on Jamie, but soon realizes they have little in common. So to help Jamie become a man, Dorothea enlists her tenant Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a 25 year-old cancer patient who’s into punk rock, and teenage neighbor Julie (Elle Fanning), with whom Jamie is madly in love even though he doesn’t know what real love is yet.

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The horrible “Keeping Up With The Joneses” is also new to Blu-Ray this week.

Great stories, whether they be movies, books, plays, etc. are like an onion. As each layer is peeled away, more and more is revealed until we finally get to the core. Since I have not read Paula Hawkins novel “The Girl on the Train,” I cannot speak to whether or not it tells a great story in a “peeling back the onion” sort of way. I can, however, say that the movie version, written by Erin Cressida Wilson and directed by Tate Taylor, sure does.

The movie is the story of three women: Rachel (Emily Blunt), Megan (Haley Bennett), and Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). Rachel, an alcoholic who works at an art gallery in Manhattan, is the titular girl on the train. Each morning as she rides the train she passes by the back yards of Anna and her husband Tom (Justin Theroux) as well as their neighbor Megan and her husband Scott (Luke Evans).

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A good looking, wannabe epic that’s entertaining enough, but doesn’t amount to much.  

Is it worth $10? Yes

Ben Affleck is a better director than actor. He’s a fine thespian, but he’s superior behind the camera. “Live by Night” is his fourth film and second adaptation of a Dennis Lehane novel. The first was Affleck’s excellent directorial debut, “Gone Baby Gone.” But does Affleck go four for four with “Live by Night”? Sadly, no. It’s kind of a mess, but a watchable mess.

A period gangster tale, Affleck also stars as Joe Coughlin, a veteran who returns to his Boston home disillusioned by the horrors of World War I. We don’t actually see any of this. Rather, it’s all conveyed by a lengthy bit of voice over narration, a crutch leaned on far too often, much to the film’s detriment.

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A touching docudrama that portrays real life tragedy without being overly sappy or exploitative. 

Is it worth $10? Yes

A film like “Patriots Day” is risky business. One wrong move and it is petty and in poor taste. Another wrong move, and it is preachy with no taste at all. Director Peter Berg, in his third collaboration with Boston-born Mark Wahlberg, hits all the right tones at the right times. The film’s emotional arc parallels what most Americans felt immediately after the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings: hate, sadness, and disbelief, and yet somehow in the midst of devastation, love, hope, and unity.

With the exception of Wahlberg’s character, Sgt. Tommy Saunders (who is a composite of a number of different officers), all of the main characters are based on real people. This includes the courageous Dun Meng (Jimmy O. Yang), the driver the Tsarnaevs carjacked, and devoted newlyweds Patrick Downes (Christopher O’ Shea) and Jessica Kensky (Rachel Brosnahan), who were at the marathon to cheer the runners at the time of the disaster. The story thoughtfully introduces the main characters a day prior to the Boston Marathon and the bombing, an effective technique that establishes that the victims, responders, and police officers who suffered at a calamity were more than byproducts. They were people with dreams and hopes, spouses and children. The tragedy did not define them - they defined it.

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Say "bye-bye" to good writing, acting, and any semblance of a coherent and enjoyable horror film.  

Is it worth $10? No

Strange, cerebral, and a downright mess, "The Bye Bye Man" isn't even good enough for late night cable movie viewing.

After a horrible bunch of murders, set in 1969, we flash forward to present day. Three college students, intelligent millennial Elliot (Douglas Smith), jock John (Lucien Laviscount), and Elliot's cute girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas), decide to move into a creepy old house together. Odd things start occurring when they learn the name of a homicidal specter, named The Bye Bye Man. Soon after, they begin having hallucinations and, in their paranoid delusions, they start to mistrust everyone. On top of that, now they have to find a way to stop the demonic boogeyman from taking them all.

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“The Birth of a Nation” and “Deepwater Horizon” are also new to Blu-Ray this week.

January may be the doldrums for new releases at the cineplexes (cuz yeah, we were all clamoring for another overly slick, CGI-shock inducing “Underworld” movie), but that is not the case for your living room. This is the time to check out the great movies that were overlooked in theatres on their initial release, and are absolutely worth the time and money to give them a watch. “The Accountant” is one of these movies.

“The Accountant” stars Ben Affleck as math savant Christian Wolff. He runs a modest one man accounting firm in the Chicago suburb of Plainfield, IL, in which he helps the occasional customer from getting screwed over by the IRS.

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Martin Scorsese eschews his trademark high-energy style, and the result is disappointing.

Is it worth $10? No

Notably lacking from Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” is the distinctive style that makes the master auteur’s work special. There’s very little music (mostly just singing), no sweeping camera movements, and precious few filmmaking techniques on display. Consequently nothing about the movie is captivating, and at times it’s barely interesting, resulting in a dull slog of 161 minutes.

The story, written by Scorsese and Jay Cocks (“Gangs of New York”) and adapted from the Shusaku Endo novel of the same name, is one of religious imperialism and philosophy. In 1640, Portuguese Jesuit priests Sebastian Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Francisco Garrpe (Adam Driver) venture to Japan to find their mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson). Because the roughly 300,000 Christians in Japan are being persecuted for their beliefs, Rodrigues and Garrpe believe Ferreira is in danger. They know the Buddhist majority is murdering Christians in inhumane ways, but assume the risk regardless, citing God’s will for strength and guidance.

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Inspiring story about three African-American women should become required viewing for little girls in need of role models.

Is it worth $10? Yes

“Hidden Figures” is about three smart African-American women making a huge difference in a white man’s world. It’s 1961 Virginia, and they work for NASA. The mathematics needed to send an astronaut into outer space do not yet exist, and were it not for the efforts of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), who knows how long it would’ve taken to figure it out.

Their obstacles are not just the difficulty of the task, mind you, but also the double whammy of racial segregation in a male-dominated workspace. Katherine is assigned to the space task group headed by Al Harrison (Kevin Costner), a no-nonsense, bottom-line boss who has little patience for anything other than rapid success. Not helping is Katherine’s immediate superior, Paul Stafford (Jim Parsons), who stubbornly redacts information she needs and does little to help her along.

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Recent Articles

Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Inferno
Tom Hanks is back as the world’s nerdiest ...
Paterson ****
American auteur Jim Jarmusch triumphs again ...
20th Century Women ***1/2
Tremendous movie about the various ...
Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: The Girl on the Train
The horrible “Keeping Up With The Joneses” is ...
Live by Night **1/2
A good looking, wannabe epic that’s ...
Patriots Day ***
A touching docudrama that portrays real life ...
The Bye Bye Man 1/2*
Say "bye-bye" to good writing, acting, and ...

Best Movie In Theaters Now: La La Land

Musical about dreams and falling in love is a masterpiece and the likely Best Picture Oscar winner.

Is it worth $10? Yes

What a beautiful, special film “La La Land” is. It is simultaneously a throwback to classic Hollywood musicals and a modern romance told with style and confidence. To see it is to embrace a tale of dreams, love, heartache and triumph, and experience a level of filmmaking that is superior to most of what’s released today.

Writer/director Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”) has taken the classic Hollywood musical and set it in the present, yet he’s captured the spirit and essence in a transplendent way. There’s a grand musical score, singing and dancing, but at its heart it’s a love story about artists pursuing their dreams. Set in Los Angeles, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is an aspiring jazz pianist, and Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress. They’re meant for each other, but of course don’t realize it at first.

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