Five new reviews from Don Shanahan on Every Movie Has a Lesson and Medium



Chock full of more jokes, puns, and references than there are virtual plastic bricks, “The LEGO Batman Movie” is a breezy blast of unabashed fun.  Twirling with dazzling animation and saturated with endless character possibilities, these two hours of zippy entertainment offer exhilarating playful engagement for young audiences and many absolute belly laughs for the adults.  Like “The LEGO Movie” before it, the biggest flaw will always be the manic pace.

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The documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” from director Raoul Peck unearths “Remember This House,” an unfinished 1979 manuscript of James Baldwin’s recollections of Medgar, Malcolm, and Martin.  This outstanding and informative film presents Baldwin’s musings alongside sobering imagery of both the turbulent history of the era and parallel occurrences of modern racial unrest that echo the same violence, inequality, anger, and sorrow.  As an Oscar nominee in a banner year for feature documentaries, “I Am Your Negro” is essential viewing.

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Call me a softy or a sunny optimist, but I will take “The Space Between Us” over the next “Percy Jackson and the Hunger Maze Runner City of Bones Games with the 5th Wave of Divergent Mortal Instruments.”  The YA movie marketplace is overfilled with militarized kid-on-kid peril in the science fiction department.  “The Space Between Us” is cheesy, corny, and pretends to be better than it really is, but, gosh darnit, the film has a charming and positive core that is hard to ignore.

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Renowned Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar seizes our attention and lights the fires of intrigue with human simplicity in “Julieta,” his 20th feature film and Spain’s entry this year for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.  Concocting a brew of passion coupled with remorse across personal history young and old, Almodovar unspools the tangled threads of a guilt-ridden woman’s heart.  Adapted from three Alice Munro short stories, “Julieta” is a strong return to the female-focused storyscapes that have made him a legend.

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Directed by Christoforos “Christopher” Papakaliatis, “Worlds Apart” presents three narratives and three different flavors of passion.  Each surrounds a Greek native in a burgeoning romantic relationship with an immigrant from another land.  Thematically, all that transpires in the film riffs on recurring imagery and commonality with the mythical story of Eros, the Greek god of love.  Layering a topical worldview tinged with allegory every step of the way, “Worlds Apart” is a mature and beguiling romantic drama.

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