Melanie Dishman

Photo courtesy of rottentomatoes.com

An obvious fan letter to the golden age of Hollywood — or pretty close to it — this won’t go down as one of the best Coen Brothers movies, but it is a lot of silly fun. Set in the ’50s at the fictitious Capitol Pictures, all of the genres popular to the big studios during that era are represented in grand style with tongue firmly pressed against cheek.

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Something I’ll never understand. For instance, who wrote the rule about rewarding movies no one gets to see unless you live in a “major city”? By the time Oscar night arrives, the general public is lucky to have seen about half the nominees. Andsomewhere it must be written that only the crummy movies can be released in early winter or late summer.

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photo courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes

Outside of a small contingency of movie enthusiasts, not many have had the chance to see “Room.” It opened in major cities and then poof — it was gone from theaters in a matter of weeks. But that was just enough time garner its star, Brie Larson, a lot of awards buzz. In fact, right now she is the overwhelming odds-on favorite to win the Oscar for best actress.

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Anyone who attended last week’s screening of “Dirt! The Movie,” the public service documentary project sponsored by the Magnolia Garden Club and the City of Beaumont, will realize that Christopher Nolan’s movie gives an accurate depiction of mankind’s future fate — and it’s not good.

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In what could be dubbed the “Network” for the new millennium, writer and first-time feature director Dan Gilroy taps into our morbid fascination with the grisly sensationalism that passes for evening news, all seen through the eyes of one of the most fascinating characters on screen this year.

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No living actor plays the curmudgeon better than Bill Murray. He’s become the Walter Matthau of his time. All through this, I could see Murray channeling that “Bad News Bears” grumpiness of Matthau as he plays Vincent Van Nuys in this first feature from writer/director Theodore Melfi, who should get down on his knees and thank Murray for saying “yes” to the role.

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This is not in the same league as “Saving Private Ryan,” but like that World War II film, this one also deals in graphic, visceral realism that gives it more weight than the old “B” war pictures that obviously inspired it. Call it “five guys and a tank” for the quasi family of men trapped inside the metal bucket called a Sherman tank in the final days leading to the end of the war.

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The Equalizer film poster, courtesy of rottentomatoes.com

About the only thing this movie and the old television series have in common is the title. Replacing British actor Edward Woodward, who starred in the show that ran for four seasons beginning in 1985, is Denzel Washington, who teams up again with “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua for an updated take on the enigmatic character of Robert McCall.

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This first adaptation of best selling author Lawrence Block’s series signals a possible franchise for star Liam Neeson as off-the-books private eye Matt Scudder.

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Based on the Dennis Lehane short story, “Rescue Animal,” this might as well be a companion piece to other Lehane adaptations such as “Mystic River” and “Gone Baby Gone.” Lehane’s world isn’t pretty, and neither are his characters.

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