“Valley of Love”: Depardieu and Huppert reunite in the desert


We’ve seen tons of movies about young Americans going to France. “Valley of Love” flips the script, giving us old French people coming to America.

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Instant Gratification: “The Trials of Muhammad Ali” and four other good movies new to Netflix and Amazon Prime


Pick of the Week: “The Trials of Muhammad Ali” (Netflix): My full review is here. Netflix dropped this excellent documentary by UW-Madison graduate Bill Siegel about a month ago, but wisely picked it back up after the death of Ali. It’s a terrific look inside Ali’s struggles in the 1960s against the Vietnam War and for civil rights, a fight that got him banned from boxing and made him a pariah for many white Americans. While he is being rightfully lionized, this film is an important reminder of how much of the country turned its back on him and what he stood for.

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“The Player”: Remember when writers in Hollywood were important enough to get murdered?

The Player

What would Griffin Mill think of today’s Hollywood? In Robert Altman’s 1992 satire “The Player,” Mill (Tim Robbins) is the boy-king of an compromised Hollywood, ruthlessly steamrolling the desperate pitches of screenwriters, plucking a few that he can turn into acceptable multiplex pablum.

Today, original movie pitches seem almost quaint; it’s all about reboots and remakes, putting a CGI gloss on something familiar. Or better yet, make every movie conform to a larger brand, like products on an assembly line, each feeding back to the same rapacious beast. The studio comes up with the idea now, and hires hungry writers and an unproven director to get it done. Of all the pitches we hear in “The Player,” Buck Henry’s idea for “The Graduate 2” might get through. But Mill would be sacked — probably by the studio’s Chinese owners — if he let anything remotely original get made, sappy happy ending or no.

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Instant Gratification: “Jurassic Park” and four other good movies new to Netflix


Pick of the week: “Jurassic Park — Perhaps getting ready to release “Jurassic World” later this summer, Netflix has posted both “Jurassic Park” and the sequels, “The Lost World” and “Jurassic Park III,” on June 1. Especially when compared next to the bloated and unfocused “Jurassic World,” Steven Spielberg’s original “Park” is a perfectly-balanced summer movie, with just the right amounts of humor, horror, thrills and wonder. “Lost World” seemed like more of the same upon first viewing, but has some dynamite suspense sequences. And “III” is a fun and occasionally clever B-movie that follows in the same big footsteps.

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Five ideas for 007 movies while we’re waiting for the next James Bond


Tom Hiddleston. Idris Elba. Jamie Bell. Maybe even Daniel Craig. Whoever ends up being the next James Bond, one thing is for sure — 007 fans will have to endure months of speculation and unconfirmed reports about who’s meeting with Barbara Broccoli to take over the role.

Now, keep in mind, that Craig has never actually said he’s not doing 007 any more — he’s made some noise about the fact that he’s sick of the role, but those comments usually come right after a bruising film shoot. And he’s not exactly known for being straight with the press in the past.

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