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‘The Fall of the American Empire’ – falls short in every way

“The Fall of the American Empire” does only one thing well: fall apart.

Gracelessly. Stupidly. And without a shred of self-awareness.

The Canadian director Denys Arcand, who may be one of the most pompous and annoying filmmakers in the northern hemisphere, has concocted a cretinous crime caper that seems strung together from bits and pieces of every ‘70s cop show ever made.

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‘The Souvenir’ – Tilda Swinton and her daughter play drab roles

“The Souvenir” is a portrait of the artist as a young doormat.Set in London in the ‘80s (i.e., no computers, cellphones, but the occasional IRA attack at Harrods), the movie features Tilda Swinton, looking as close to ordinary as you’ve ever seen her, and her real-life daughter, Honor Swinton Byrne, here cast as her movie daughter, Julie.

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‘All is True’ – an older Shakespeare struggles in retirement

Imagine Shakespeare, not in love, but up to his ears in inducements from AARP.That’s the framework, more or less, for Kenneth Branagh’s “All Is True,” a look at the Bard in retirement.The year is 1613. His beloved Globe Theatre has burned to the ground and the playwright takes that as a sign it’s time to move back to the country and retire in the…um…loving?…bosom of his family.

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‘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.

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‘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.”

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‘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.

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‘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.

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‘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.