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We review films. You see films. You need to know where to see those films. You may want to know what we thought of those films. Here’s where you can read what we thought of the film you’re about the see. Click on the film links to read THE FULL BYT REVIEWS.

El AngelNow playing in D.C.

Based in Buenos Aires, Carlos Robledo Puch killed at least eleven people before he was caught. He was caught at age twenty, and earned the nickname “The Angel of Death” because he was so youthful and handsome. The biopic The Angel does not quite know what to make of him. While he is a psychopath without remorse, this film sometimes revels in his crimes. Like Goodfellas, The Angel acknowledges there is an uneasy line between depiction and endorsement. But in the hands of Argentine director Luis Ortega, it lacks the same level of cinematic and moral clarity. -Alan Zilberman

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Beautiful BoyNow playing in D.C.

In Sheff’s book (which Beautiful Boy is based on, alongside Nic’s memoir, Tweak), he worries whether or not his divorce led Nic to drugs, or his own personal experiences with drugs might’ve led to a genetic addiction, or maybe, David smothered his son. With Beautiful Boy however, the problem is a case of emotional smothering, where director Felix van Groeningen – in his first English-language film – drowns his audience in maudlin melodrama, cloying nostalgia, emotional reunions, and on-the-nose needle drops that cause more eye rolls than tears. -Ross Bonaime

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Bohemian Rhapsody Now playing in D.C.

Queen’s bestselling album is Greatest Hits. Their second bestselling album, Greatest Hits II. Bohemian Rhapsody, fittingly, is a film made for the greatest hits, a checklist of Wikipedia moments and musical biopic cliches that the film doesn’t seem to realize are cliches. Playing the fabricated EMI executive Ray Foster, Mike Myers states, “Let’s stick with formulas. Formulas work.” Despite the way that Queen clashes with Foster and his way of doing things, Bohemian Rhapsody falls right into the biopic as countless other have before. -Ross Bonaime

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Boy Erased Now playing in D.C.

Edgerton, as director and writer of Boy Erased, has adapted a muted story that should illicit major emotions, like his Victor Sykes character demands. But in a story that centers around literally pushing down the feelings that cause others to take notice, Boy Erased’s quiet world has a softhearted ambition, but might be too bottled up for its own good. -Ross Bonaime

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Burning Now playing in D.C.

It’s Lee Chang-Dong, the award-winning director, that keeps the audience engaged in such a low-key film. Lee doesn’t entertain with heavy-handed action, but his methods are thorough in ways that are more satisfying. You have to work to track the shifting dynamics among the three central characters, both because the skilled performances are subtle and also because the relationships can change by the moment. -Trisha Brown

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Crazy Rich Asians Now playing in D.C.

Crazy Rich Asians is a glamorous confection of a romcom. It’s basically the film equivalent of a chilled, bubbly glass of champagne on a steamy August night: a refreshing, classy party starter. It’s the kind of lush ensemble romantic comedy that the Sex and the City films wished they could be. CRA has a delightful, warm familiarity to it, and along with its all-Asian and Asian-American cast – all of whom deserve to be massive worldwide stars – it will hopefully be a guiding light towards the romcoms of the future. -Diana Metzger

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Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald Now playing in D.C.

The second installment of the Fantastic Beasts saga is a tremendous disappointment. Much of this comes down to the story, a garbled mess of ideas connected by tiny rubber bands back to the evil Grindelwald, played by Johnny Depp. The cutest little beasts cannot save this ship so long as its captain, author and screenwriter J.K. Rowling, is setting her legacy ablaze. -Vesper Arnett

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First Man Now playing in D.C.

Neil Armstrong was an intensely private man. After landing on the Moon, he studiously avoided the spotlight. Instead, he taught graduate students at a small college in Ohio and even wrote children’s poetry. Armstrong probably would have hated First Man, a film that dramatizes the Apollo 11 mission and his personality flaws. This is an intense, sometimes moving film. It is also a strange one, since Armstrong comes off as an inert, borderline passive figure. This also marks Damien Chazelle’s first effort that isn’t about a Big Jazz Boy, and he establishes himself as a shrewd, empathetic chronicler of male interiority. By putting the Moon landing into Armstrong’s point of view, we get a stronger sense of just what he accomplished, and at what cost. -Alan Zilberman

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Free Solo Now playing in D.C.

The folks in the climbing community are not like regular people. They look at the face of a seemingly insurmountable cliff and see something to dominate, often at great risk. And within that community, there are are some folks who takes risks too dangerous for the mainstream. Alex Honnold, the subject of the new documentary Free Solo, is one of those people. He doesn’t just want to climb mountains; he wants climb them without the assistance of ropes, using only his hands, feet, and a handful of chalk. Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, this film is about a seemingly impossible athletic feat. It treats Honnold’s goal with awe and urgency, but there is more to it than that. Chin and Vasarhelyi are keenly aware of the danger involved, so the film also serves as an exploration of obsession and risk. -Alan Zilberman

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The Girl in the Spider’s Web Now playing in D.C.

Fans of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo may find themselves disappointed with the newest film in the “series,” The Girl in the Spider’s Web. It’s an adaptation of the fourth book in the Millennium series originated by the late Steig Larsson, that novel being the first not authored by him. The original book series and four film adaptations are known for brutal violence inflicted against women, but this film largely skirts this issue in exchange for a suggestion of that greater violence. In its original language, the title of The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo is Men Who Hate Women. Where in The Girl in the Spider’s Web is the woman who takes down those men? -Vesper Arnett

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Goosebumps 2 Now playing in D.C.

The first Goosebumps was far more ambitious than it needed to be, throwing in a career’s worth of R.L. Stine’s characters into one bursting film, and even made Stine (played by Jack Black) part of the story. Goosebumps was essentially “The Monster Mash” meets Adaptation. With director Ari Sandel (The Duff, Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show) taking the reins of this franchise in Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, the series becomes less about making the spooky creations of Stine come to life, and more about just making a Disney Channel-level Halloween film with some name brand recognition. -Ross Bonaime

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Green Book Now playing in D.C.

Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) prides himself on his talents as a bullshitter. He can talk his way into the hearts of New York power players, talk the police out of putting his friends in prison, and can convince others that he’s not racist, as long as he’s getting paid not to be. He can use a racial slur in one scene, then hang out with non-white companions in the next. Tony is a mess, covered in whatever food he ate last and childishly simple in both the way he talks and writes. Yet Tony can also be charming – a parallel talent for the bullshitter – and a man who stands for what’s right, regardless of prejudices. Green Book is a lot like Tony: it’s sloppy, it’s plain, and full of expected bullshit, but when it needs to lay on the charm, it can do so quite effectively. -Ross Bonaime

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The Grinch Now playing in D.C.

In the opening lines of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the narrator states, “The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.” To be fair, Seuss didn’t need to dig much deeper to tell his 69-page holiday classic, or the subsequent iconic 1966 animated television special. Illumination Entertainment’s third and best Seuss adaptation – following their Horton Hears a Who! and The LoraxThe Grinch does a decent job of patting out the original story, but these additions are still inserted into a mostly middling animated film. -Ross Bonaime

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Halloween Now playing in D.C.

Joining Carpenter’s deceptively simple slasher, and Zombie’s dirt-caked remake, is David Gordon Green’s shiny reboot of the story. Taking place 40 years after the original, Green’s Halloween finds Michael incarcerated in the middle of nowhere. Chaperoned by a new Loomis (which is a line straight out of the movie), a prison is about to transfer Michael to a more secure facility. Hidden away in a over-the-top reinforced cabin in the middle of the woods, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is also prepping for Michael’s big move. She may have a successful daughter and granddaughter, but Laurie spends her days hidden from the world. Her motivation is singular: she’s going to end this series once and for all. That doesn’t happen. Instead, there’s a “mysterious accident,” Michael gets loose, and he manages to make his way back to the town where it all began. The town where Laurie’s daughter lives.

After that, Halloween quickly falls into its gore-filled rhythm. -Kaylee Dugan

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The Hate U Give Now playing in D.C.

With the relatively quick turn around from novel to film, audiences may worry that the movie may be a thin representation of the book—luckily, that’s definitely not the case. -Diana Metzger

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The House with a Clock in its Walls Now playing in D.C.

Eli Roth might seem like a strange choice to adapt a PG-rated version of John Bellairs’ The House with a Clock in Its Walls, but Roth has always had a childish streak to his films. His gory films like Hostel and Cabin Fever indulge juvenile curiosities, with Roth himself going over-the-top to childish, ridiculous level. While Roth has shown an admiration and reverence for the horror of the 80s, like Cannibal Holocaust and Evil Dead, The House with a Clock in Its Walls plays with a different type of 80s nostalgia. In his first kids movie, produced by Amblin Entertainment, Roth attempts to make his own those version of those early Amblin films, movies like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Gremlins, or The Goonies, which could meld horror elements with childhood adventure. Roth’s first film for a younger audience plays like an experiment, as he tries to see how far he can push his usual button-pushing, yet still make an accessible kids film. -Ross Bonaime

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Night School Now playing in D.C.

In Night School, a clear paycheck masquerading as a lazy comedy, Hart and Haddish show what a comedian should and shouldn’t do with their success. -Ross Bonaime

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The Old Man & the Gun Now playing in D.C.

The Old Man & the Gun is a genre film that cannot be bothered with genre tropes. It is ostensibly a crime caper, the sort that people sometimes lovingly describe as “the type of movie they used to make.” The trouble is that writer/director David Lowery drains the story of any tension, suspense, or conflict. Sure, there are the usual archetypes of cops and robbers, but what interests Lowery is nostalgia. With its old timey title cards and cinematography, Lowery has affection for a period that never really existed in the first place. No one was ever as gentle, mild-mannered, and charming as the characters in this film – especially the criminals. Without much for an audience to sink its teeth into, this film succeeds and fails through the innate charisma of its cast. The trouble is that only a fraction of the cast has the charisma to elevate this material. -Alan Zilberman

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Overlord Now playing in D.C.

Overlord starts with its most fantastic sequence, as a plane full of soldiers is shot down on the eve of D-Day. Director Julius Avery introduces the audience to all of his characters, before shooting them out of the sky in horrific fashion. The events of this crash are far more terrifying than any of the horrors appear later on in the film. Avery focuses on Jovan Adepo’s Boyce, as he watches his friends get shot from underneath, before falling out of a burning airplane, and eventually ending with Boyce flying out of the plane himself. It’s a tense way to start his film that the rest of Overlord can’t live up to. -Ross Bonaime

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A Private War Now playing in D.C.

A Private War, a biopic about the late Marie Colvin, who was killed in February 2012 while covering the populist uprising in Syria, peels back its lead reporter’s layers, telling an intimate story about the personal costs of covering war that often feels as harrowing as the battlefields she visits. In Matthew Heineman’s film, Rosamund Pike discards her natural glamour, transforming into a ragged, hard-drinking, chain-smoking and deeply haunted person. -Benjamin Freed

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A Star Is Born Now playing in D.C.

However the development process went, the finished product is astonishing. Cooper, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Eric Roth (with an assist from William Wellman’s script for the 1937 original), has crafted a classic bit of Hollywood mythmaking that avoids so much of the stodginess that frequently drags down prestige studio fare. -Benjamin Freed

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Venom Now playing in D.C.

Here’s the deal: Venom is not good. I don’t know whether it was a victim of the editing, or if it was the writing, but put together, there is little to salvage. I don’t understand how a movie that could have been a macabre take on the new Spider-Man turned out to be a fantastic mess, complete with what looks like unfinished computer graphics and a aspiring world-saver who also murders homeless people in a test lab. He says he wants to cure cancer and get the first human tourists in space. Listen to Eminem’s theme song for the film. However you feel about that song is how you will feel about this movie. -Vesper Arnett

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Widows Now playing in D.C.

Widows wastes no time letting you know what you’re about to watch. After the light-saturated idyll of lovers in bed, there is a smash cut to chaotic, desperate violence. The immersion is total and complete. Steve McQueen’s follow-up to 12 Years a Slave has all the hallmarks of a thriller: chases, explosions, shoot-outs, gangsters, twists, and double-crosses. But McQueen, along with his co-screenwriter Gillian Flynn, mostly opted for a film that unfolds like an anti-thriller. Personalities, corruption, and drama interest them more than action or suspense. They expect you to keep up with the dense plotting, so this film is more cerebral, even challenging, than typical mainstream entertainment.

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Wildlife Now playing in D.C.

Wildlife has all the hallmarks of a first film. It has few settings, and even fewer characters. In adapting a Richard Ford novel, director Paul Dano and co-screenwriter Zoe Kazan unearth familiar ennui from the middle of the twentieth century. Their adult characters are not that much older than their POV character, a teenage boy who barely understands what his parents are going through. What makes the film worthwhile is how the limited point of views interacts with the film’s subtext. Dano and Kazan realize that the adult actors need to express a great deal so we can see the family cracking at the seams, and thankfully they are sensitive and controlled enough to pull it off. -Alan Zilberman

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