Stoop to Conquistador

Zama-movie-review-daniel-giménez-cacho
Strand Releasing

MOVIE REVIEW
Zama (2017)

Adapted from Antonio di Benedetto's acclaimed 1956 novel, "Zama" is Lucrecia Martel's first period piece. The film concerns the eponymous 18th-century Spanish officer, played by Daniel Giménez Cacho, stationed in a middle-of-nowhere colony (Paraguay per the novel) away from wife and child, repeatedly kowtowing to successive superiors in a desperate and futile bid for a recall or transfer.

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Whipped Into a Sunshine State

The-florida-project-movie-review-willem-dafoe-brooklynn-prince
Marc Schmidt/A24

MOVIE REVIEW
The Florida Project (2017)

"The Florida Project" depicts the impoverished lives of people who take up seemingly unending residence in a low-rent highway-side motel, tackily wrapped in lavender paint, and seen through the eyes of 6-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince). Moonee's cohort passes the time by getting into such mischief as spitting from the balcony at cars parked below, panhandling in front of an ice cream stand and setting abandoned homes ablaze.

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Eating Disorder

The-dinner-movie-review-richard-gere-laura-linney-steve-coogan-rebecca-hall
The Orchard

MOVIE REVIEW
The Dinner (2017)

The third film adaptation of Herman Koch's eponymous novel (following Menno Meyjes's 2013 "Het Diner" and Ivano De Matteo's 2014 "I nostri ragazzi"), Oren Moverman's "The Dinner" indeed plays out like a European art thriller — perhaps one by Thomas Vinterberg (despite that he's Danish and Mr. Koch is Dutch).

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Estranged Bedfellows

The-lovers-movie-review-debra-winger-tracy-letts
Robb Rosenfeld/A24

MOVIE REVIEW
The Lovers (2017)

In "The Lovers," Debra Winger and Tracy Letts play wife and husband on the brink of divorce, keeping up appearances for the sake of a visit from their son and his girlfriend. Suffering symptoms of midlife crises and ennui, Mary (Ms. Winger) and Michael (Mr. Letts) absent-mindedly drift through their workaday obligations just so they can make excuses to each other to spend time with and pacify their respective long-suffering, ultimatum-giving paramours. As the extramarital affairs grow increasingly tedious, Mary and Michael inexplicably rekindle their passion for each other — which their son, Joel (Tyler Ross), interprets as a façade presaging the marriage's inevitable dissolution.

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Brexit Stage Left

The-trip-to-spain-movie-review-steve-coogan-rob-brydon
Phil Fisk/IFC Films

MOVIE REVIEW
The Trip to Spain (2017)

The third installment of the Steve Coogan-Rob Brydon-Michael Winterbottom BBC Two/Sky Atlantic six-part sitcom and companion abridged big-screen version, “The Trip to Spain” reunites the comedians and filmmaker for more culinary samplings, showbiz inside baseball, celebrity impersonations and narcissistic midlife crises. Their journey encompasses Getaria, Sos del Rey Catolico, Cuenca, La Mancha, Granada and Malaga in the titular country, this time with extra braggadocio from Mr. Coogan boasting his Oscar nod for “Philomena” and extra envy from Mr. Brydon toward James Corden’s newfound success as a talk-show host in America.

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Requiem pour un fou

Rockn-roll-movie-review-guillaume-canet-marion-cotillard
Jean-Claude Lother/Pathé

MOVIE REVIEW
Rock'n Roll (2017)

Guillaume Canet directs, co-writes and stars in "Rock'n Roll," a navel-gazing musical satire on the French film industry that centers on him and real-life partner, Marion Cotillard.

After a much-younger costar (Camille Rowe) breaks the news to him that he's no longer a cinematic sex symbol, the plot thrusts Guillaume (Mr. Canet) into full midlife crisis, partying and carousing until embarrassing cell phone footage of his debauchery ends up on YouTube and shooting up Botox to a point that jeopardizes the continuity of his new film. He's still able to line up directorial projects thanks to his Oscar-winning girlfriend, Marion (Ms. Cotillard), but she's preoccupied with mastering a Quebecois accent (and doing Céline Dion tributes) in preparation for an upcoming film role.

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Unsung Heroes

Bad-rap-movie-review-salima-koroma-awkwafina-dumbfoundead
2016 Tribeca Film Festival

MOVIE REVIEW
Bad Rap (2016)

The documentary “Bad Rap” encapsulates the travails of Asian-American rappers striving to make their voices heard. Some profiled here are relatively well known, most notably Awkwafina, who has parlayed her viral hit into VH1 punditry and bit movie roles. Another is Dumbfounded, an underground artist who recently garnered mainstream attention spitting verses on #OscarsSoWhite and #WhitewashedOut with the viral track “Safe.” Jin, the first Asian-American rapper to score a major label deal following an impressive freestyle-battle winning streak on BET, gets honorable-mention treatment.

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Part Company

Reset-movie-review-benjamin-millepied-paris-opera-ballet
Emmanuel Guionet/2016 Tribeca Film Festival

MOVIE REVIEW
Reset (2017)

The documentary “Reset” recounts Benjamin Millepied’s brief tenure as the director of dance at the Paris Opera Ballet. Mr. Millepied rose to fame as a principal at the New York City Ballet, and went on to found the L.A. Dance Project and choreograph Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan.” But he remained an outsider to the Paris Opera Ballet for not having risen within its ranks.

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Suspicious Minds

Elvis-nixon-movie-review-michael-shannon-kevin-spacey
Steve Dietl/Bleecker Street

MOVIE REVIEW
Elvis & Nixon (2016)

Extrapolating entirely from a photo of Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley shaking hands in the Oval Office, “Elvis & Nixon” reimagines the events leading up to the curious meeting between the king of rock and roll (Michael Shannon) and the disgraced former president (Kevin Spacey). Suffice it to say, there’s less value to the history lesson on offer here than, say, the one from “Frost/Nixon.”

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Forlorn This Way

Moonlight-movie-review-alex-hibbert
David Bornfriend/A24

MOVIE REVIEW
Moonlight (2016)

"Moonlight" depicts the coming-of-age of a gay black man in three chapters, each taking its heading from the moniker he goes by during that distinct phase in his life and representing a corresponding metamorphosis.

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