REVIEW: Plaza positively shines in ‘Emily the Criminal’

Aubrey Plaza showed great acting skills in 2020’s “Black Bear” and she has followed it up with another strong performance this time around.

As the title implies, Plaza plays a young woman named Emily. Carrying a troubled past with her, Emily is down on her luck, working a bad job and paying off seemingly insurmountable loans.

Needing more income, she reluctantly decides to get involved in a credit card scam ring. While Emily starts having success, though, it pulls her deeper into a dangerous situation.

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REVIEW: Visually appealing ‘Outfit’ bogged down by plotting issues

The Chicago crime scene of years gone by is brought to life on a small scale in this bottle film.

Graham Moore makes his feature directorial debut with “The Outfit,” which centers on Leonard (Mark Rylance), an Englishman who owns a tailor shop in Chicago. The film’s protagonist runs an honest business, with the help of his secretary Mable (Zoey Deutch).

However, he has also set up a post box at his establishment used by crime organizations to communication. One night, this decision becomes a problem, as mafia members who’re customers of Leonard’s store begin using the shop as a place to go during a gang war. Leonard is then placed in a tense situation with dangerous men.

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REVIEW: ‘The Batman’ is a brilliant caped crusader story

Some of the best elements of the “Batman” interpretations by directors Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan are melded into the new crime epic featuring the Dark Knight.

In director Matt Reeves’ “The Batman,” Robert Pattinson stars as Bruce Wayne, who spends his nights out in Gotham City as the caped crusader. The film picks up with him meeting with Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) after a night of fighting criminals to consult on a murder case.

The victim is the city’s mayor, and the suspect is the Riddler (Paul Dano), who leaves behind haunting clues. The killing sets Batman on an investigation, where he partners with Gordon and a cat burglar, Selina (Zoe Kravitz). The investigation brings him in conflict with the city’s underbelly, with the likes of the Penguin (Colin Farrell) in his way.

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REVIEW: Cage shines in truffle trouble drama ‘Pig’

Nicholas Cage has had ups and downs in his career over the last decade, with some real lows in there (“Season of the Witch”), but he shows in this movie that he still has the acting prowess that won him an Oscar in the 90s.

Cage stars as Rob in “Pig,” a man who lives a secluded life in the Pacific northwest. He spends his days hunting for truffles with his foraging pig, and sells his finds to a single buyer, Amir (Alex Wolff), for simple supplies.

His day-to-day routine is shattered, though, when his pig is stolen in the middle of the night. With a reluctant Amir providing assistance, Rob sets out to get his pig back by any means necessary. However, his journey takes him back to a world he left behind, digging up his past in the process.

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REVIEW: Take a stroll in ‘Nightmare Alley’ for quality noir

A title like “Nightmare Alley” may inspire thoughts that this film is about fantastical monsters.

But director Guillermo del Toro’s latest film is about how ordinary men can be just as monstrous as fabled beasts.

Bradley Cooper stars as Stanton in the film, a man who’s clearly on the run from his past at the start of the movie. As the film takes place during the later years of the depression and Stanton needing work, he ends up taking an offer to work at a carnival.

There, he meets a husband and wife duo who have an act where they perform as a pair of psychics, although, their mind games are actually just coded words to make it appear that they have powers. Still, Stanton sees an opportunity for himself and decides he would like to do such an act, but his efforts to do so leads to dangers and conundrums.

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REVIEW: Eastwood’s ‘Cry Macho’ is a misfire

Clint Eastwood is once again sporting a cowboy hat in his latest movie, but this one doesn’t take place in the old west.

In “Cry Macho,” Eastwood portrays Mike Milo, a retired rodeo star and horse breeder who was just cut from his job. His former boss Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam) hires him for a different job at the movie’s outset, though.

Polk’s son, Rafo (Eduardo Minett) lives in Mexico and is allegedly being abused. Mike’s job is to bring Rafo back to the United States, so the father and son can reunite. While reluctant, Mike takes the job, meets Rafo and the two go on a journey from Mexico City to the U.S. border.

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REVIEW: ‘The Card Counter’ is a terrific slow-burn in a fast setting

Paul Schrader is back with another pessimistic film that earns a positive score.

Oscar Isaac stars as William Tell in “The Card Counter,” a man who after serving a prison sentence, lives on the road traveling from casino to casino. Tell is able to count cards and is strong poker player, but he never tries to make more than he needs to survive. It soon becomes clear that he’s troubled by something in his past.

Tell’s life begins to change, though, when he meets Cirk (Tye Sheridan), the college-age son of a soldier he knew while serving. Around the same time, he meets a woman named La Linda, who convinces him to begin playing professionally under her management.

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REVIEW: ‘Cruella’ constricted by tonal imbalance

Hero. Antihero. Villain. Can a protagonist be all three? “Cruella” attempts to find out.

Emma Stone stars as Estella in this supposed prequel to the “101 Dalmatians” story. Estella, born with white and black hair, is a girl who was orphaned at a young age when her mother fell from a balcony during a party. Following the death, Estella finds her way to London and meets Jasper and Horace. The three become friends and pull schemes together to make money in order to survive.

Eventually, though, Estella gets her chance to leave her life of pick-pocketing and get her dream job as a fashion designer. Eventually, she gets to work for London’s top fashion individual, who simply goes by The Baroness (Emma Thompson). The more she works there, though, the more Estella finds reason to let out her true self, Cruella, and conquer the fashion world.

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REVIEW: ‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’ brings big sky thrills

Angelina Jolie has taken a break from playing Maleficent to return to the action genre.

This time, though, she plays a character with survival skills, rather than being a master martial artist or super spy.

In “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” Jolie portrays Hannah, an elite firefighter in Montana who’s trying to get over a traumatic event that took place about a year ago. Because of the experience, Hannah is taken off the frontlines and instead is stationed at a fire lookout tower.

Meanwhile, a father and his son Connor (Finn Little) go on the run. The father, Owen (Jake Weber), is an accountant mixed in a situation where he could potentially expose several financial scandals and therefore has a hit on him. Those looking to take Owen out do succeed, but Connor escapes. After doing so, he runs into Hannah, who takes on the task of protecting him.

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REVIEW: Good direction from Ritchie makes ‘Wrath of Man’ work

Many revenge movies are straightforward in their approach, so any time a good director can come along with some flair to elevate things, it’s a plus.

That’s the case here with “Wrath of Man.”

The film centers on Patrick Hill (Jason Statham) who simply goes by “H.” Appearing to be just an everyman, H begins working for an armored vehicle company, mainly under the supervision of a man whose nickname is Bullet (Holt McCallany).

His first several days there are routine, but one day a truck he’s in is stopped by a gang of thieves. It’s no problem for H, though, who takes out the criminals with great skill and precision. It soon comes to light that H is working at the company for a specific reason and has revenge on his mind.

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