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Red Joan

‘Red Joan’ – Judi Dench stars in disappointing espionage tale

“I don’t want a lawyer,” protests Judi Dench in the first scene of “Red Joan.” “I haven’t done anything wrong.”Oh, but she has. She’s done this movie.

A fictionalized account of the life of British spy, Melita Norwood – here called Joan Stanley – played in old age, by Dench and played in full bloom of her espionage career by Sophie Cookson.

The Chaperone

‘The Chaperone’ – predictable tale of a prude who loosens up

“The Chaperone” is a rigged shell game. It lures you in with Louise Brooks, the charismatic silent-film legend best known for “Pandora’s Box,” and proceeds to tell you this tedious fictional tale about the woman who accompanied Brooks from Wichita to New York where the incipient Ultimate Jazz Baby found – what else? –fame and fortune.At least the movie can claim truth in advertising. It is, after all, called “The Chaperone.”

Best of Enemies

‘Best of Enemies’ – a well-acted civil rights story worth telling

In a way “The Best of Enemies” could be likened to a made-for-TV version of “The Green Book.” But even if that’s meant as a compliment from a flat-out fan of the recent Oscar winner (which I am), it’s still a bit demeaning. Though the movies share a Civil Rights theme and a first-they-bicker-then-they bond plot, “The Best of Enemies” has its own distinct voice. That’s due, for the most part, to its pair of high-powered stars, Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell.

Gloria Bell

‘Gloria Bell’ – Julianne Moore stars in thrilling character study

How good is Julianne Moore?So good that even when she’s sitting with her back to the camera, you can’t take your eyes off her.That’s how she’s introduced in Sebastian Lelio’s quietly moving and intelligent “Gloria Bell,” a remake of his 2013 Chilean film. We’re at a seemingly mythical singles bar catering to the middle-aged. Gloria, who’s been divorced for over a decade, goes there often. She likes the drinks, she likes the music and she likes – loves– to dance. If she meets a guy there, well, that’s okay, too.

Cold War

‘Cold War’ – a well-acted and ‘luminous’ black-and-white movie

The title – “Cold War”–  reflects the 15-year-long stalemate between its protagonists. That said, their romance blows both hot and cold.

This expertly done, bleakly ironic film, shot in luminous black-and-white by Pawel Pawlikowski, the director of the art-house hit, “Ida,” follows a love affair from its irreverent beginning to its eerie end.

Kasama: Infinity'

‘Kusama: Infinity’ – an extraordinary documentary about Yayoi Kusama

To echo the old saying, I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like. However, I know even less about artists, so I had no inkling that I would fall so hard for “Kusama: Infinity,” an extraordinary documentary about Yayoi Kusama, whom I’d never heard of.

Shame on me. She’s the world’s top-selling living female artist. And deservedly so. As Heather Lenz’s movie makes abundantly clear, Kusama is an astonishing original.

‘The Post’ -Steven Spielberg wants us to believe in newspapers

The man who made us believe in man-eating Great Whites, homesick extraterrestrials and re-booted dinosaurs now wants us to take a real leap of faith.

Steven Spielberg wants us to believe in newspapers.

“The Post,” as in the Washington Post, is in many ways the sort of rousing old-fashioned newspaper movie they used to make in the ‘40s and’50s.  Tough-talking editors with rolled-up sleeves. Deadlines stretched to the breaking point. Hard-boiled reporters for whom dirty tricks are just business as usual when it comes to getting the story.