Opening on Santayana’s famous quote: “Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it,” director Peter Bebjak tells a story of horror and bravery that is now all too familiar. The setting is April 1944 at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland close to the border of Czechoslovakia (now divided into the…

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It’s not often that someone can take what should be a compelling story and credible actors and flatten it to the point that it is better suited to mid-level television. But this is what director Kiyoshi Kurosawa has done with his film “Wife of a Spy.” Not everyone has felt as disappointed as I am…

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“Monsters Inside; The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan,” the new Netflix four-part docu-series on Billy Milligan, the sociopath with 24 personalities, attempts to cash in on the serial-criminal-content-trend so popular on streaming services. Directed by Olivier Magaton and written by Megaton and Brice Lambert, they spend four episodes detailing the troubled life of rapist and…

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“Best Sellers,” is the features directing debut of Lina Roessler working from the first produced feature script by Anthon Grieco. “Best Sellers is a fun, swiftly moving small tale that benefits enormously from having the venerable Michael Caine as its center. Lucy Stanbridge has inherited her father’s famous publishing house and is failing miserably. So…

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“Fauci,” the new documentary directed by John Hoffman and Janet Tobias, both past Emmy winners, is not so much a canonization of Dr. Anthony Fauci as it is an illumination of the journey of a life well-lived in the service of others. It would be so easy to shine a spotlight on someone whose prominence…

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Scott Coffey, director of “It Takes Three,” began as an actor having bit roles in two John Hughes movies including the iconic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Working with a script by Logan Burdick and Blair Mastbaum, based on that eternal chestnut, Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand, Coffey imagines “It Takes Three” as an homage…

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“Black Magic Live” is a peek into the only all Black male revue in Las Vegas. Tracing its origins from the hit film “Chocolate City,” the Black version of “Magic Mike,” Jean-Claude La Marre and Eurika Pratts, co-owners of the brand, tell a decent story. Pratts segued into a career producing independent films after small…

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“Only Murders in the Building,” an original episodic series from the minds of writers Steve Martin and John Hoffman, delivers a charming, funny, occasionally over-the-top, mindlessly entertaining evening (or since it’s streaming, morning, afternoon, or late night) in half hour chunks. The building in question? The venerable Arconia is Manhattan. The murder victim? An unpleasant…

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Character studies don’t get more intense or complex than Quentin Reynaud’s new film, “Final Set.” Integrating a compelling plot into the mix is a high bar to reach and Reynaud has catapulted himself over that benchmark in Olympian fashion. Thomas Edison was once considered the great French hope in tennis but when he self-destructed at…

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All hail Sharon Horgan and James McAvoy! Their latest film, a saga of the lockdown, is a tour de force for them as actors with an almighty “assist” from brilliant director Stephen Daldry (“The Reader,” “Billy Elliot) working from an incisive, vinegar-laced script by Dennis Kelly (“Matilda” the stage musical, “Utopia,” the television series). The…

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As long as there are audiences out there, there will be horror films. David Bruckner, the director, and the writing team of Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski have trod this path before. Attempting to combine supernatural elements with thriller undertones, they almost get it. But almost only counts in horseshoes and this young team opted…

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Ann Hu drew from personal experience when she wrote and directed “Confetti” about her own child’s dyslexia. Hu’s film is heartfelt and sincere, tackling a difficult and abstract problem, but it never really takes off. Lan, a mother with a secret, works as a janitor at her daughter Meimei’s school. Meimei, age 8, the brunt…

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Amanda Ripley wrote a New York Times best seller called The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got that Way. Tracy Droz Tragos, intrigued by the questions raised by Ripley, has just produced a documentary based on the book. The United States spends more per student on education than almost any other developed…

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“Wildland,” the curiously disturbing film that is ultimately disappointing on a massive scale was directed by Jeanette Nordahl and written by Ingeborg Topsøe. Neither seem to understand the concept of basic structure and plot. Briefly, teenage Ida has just been orphaned and sent by social services to live with her only relative, Aunt Bodil. Ida…

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