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Diane Carson

Pixar's new animated film "The Good Dinosaur" relies on familiar themes: the importance of family, finding your way home after traumatic separation, and mustering courage despite intense fear. This being Pixar, Arlo, the title dinosaur, has an appealing humor amidst vividly realistic natural settings: a river that turns deadly, a beautiful windswept field of grain, and sun-dappled mountain backdrops.

In "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 2" Katniss Everdeen continues her noble, determined commitment to secure democracy and ensure livable conditions for Panem's workers. This final installment in the series rather abruptly ties up some of the plot points and shuttles off problematic characters, some given a fitting send off, some dismissed too cavalierly. I doubt the fans will mind.

Friday, 20 November 2015 00:00

'By the Sea' plumbs mood and emotions

Some viewers will go to "By the Sea" because of its famous stars: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who also wrote and directed the film. Fewer will embrace the slow, quiet, meticulously staged story of two damaged individuals. Roland struggles to revive his writing career, escaping into alcohol. An aging dancer, Vanessa languishes in a depressed state buttressed by pills.

1950s Enniscorthy, Ireland finds Elish Lacey living with her loving mother and older sister Rose while working at a small shop. Comfortable as home is, Elish has few options to contemplate in this prescribed, Catholic culture. And then, unexpectedly, Rose offers Elish a wealth of possibilities by sending her on an ocean liner to Brooklyn.

Bond, James Bond. Craig, Daniel Craig. And Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser, Bond's nemesis and the mastermind behind the current battle for world dominance in "Spectre," code name for an all-encompassing surveillance network. All this adds up to two and a half hours of high caliber, riotous action in the 24th in the Bond franchise. Need I say more?

The 24 Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival begins Thursday, November 4 running through Sunday, November 15. Sporting a record 447 films, 97 narrative and 86 documentary feature films, plus 264 short films will screen. The fiction and nonfiction, live action and animation selections hail from 70 countries. If all these statistics sound overwhelming, the 270 programs are.

The 24 Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival continues through Sunday, November 15 with films from 70 countries: live action and animated, feature and short subjects, fiction and nonfiction. Dozens of directors introduce and discuss their works. Among the best, organized under the theme "Race in America: The Black Experience," various offerings intelligently address critical, contemporary issues.

For everyone wanting a respite from the American political scene, "Our Brand Is Crisis" dramatizes a fictitious presidential campaign in Bolivia. However, savvy evaluations of what voters want matter more than what a candidate believes and underhanded tactics and dirty tricks depict an all too familiar scenario: selling candidates like products; winning is all that matters.

Friday, 13 November 2015 00:00

'The 33' loses its grip on a tragic story

In the Chilean Atacama Desert on the morning of August 5, 2010, thirty-three miners descended seventeen hundred feet into the San Jose copper and gold mine. Shortly thereafter, the mountain groaned and shifted, collapsing a mass twice as hard as granite, two times the size of the Empire State Building directly into the long sloping roadway's exit path.

A few rare, exceedingly exceptional individuals make lasting, positive contributions to the world in which they live. Julius Rosenwald ranks among the most admirable and constructive true heroes, as writer, director and producer Aviva Kempner's documentary "Rosenwald" amply shows. J.R., the address he preferred, said he identified with racial inequality because of the European pogroms against Jews.

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