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Here's a look at the new movies I saw this week.

Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, and Jared Harris
Synopsis: There have been a lot of movies set in or around World War II. It’s a pivotal time in United State history, as well as the history of many nations. And no matter how many different stories are told around those events, we still find ways to make it fresh and interesting. That’s true of “Allied,” which takes place during the war and focuses on a pair of spies who meet, complete a mission and fall in love in Casablanca before returning to start a life together in Africa. Brad Pitt and Marion Cottilard take the lead roles and do a beautiful job of crafting the story. Though the trailer gives away the central conflict in the drama, and though it’s pretty obvious which way the story is going to go, it’s the craft and care of the leads and the director, Robert Zemeckis, that makes the story pop. Zemeckis is no stranger to crafting powerful dramas, especially ones that are period-specific. He famously directed “Forrest Gump,” which won Best Picture in 1994. And he deftly handles this story, too. If you’ve seen the trailers, you know where “Allied” is going. And if you’re watching the film, you have a fairly good idea what Max’s investigation is going to yield. But that doesn’t matter. By then you’re hooked to the story, the characters and the artful way it’s being told. That’s a credit to Zemeckis in his adaptation of the script from Steven Knight. It’s also a credit to the lead performers. Pitt and Cotillard have a good onscreen rapport, and they sink into their roles well. They have some complicated scenes to play, but they play them well in building up this story. I liked the look of the film, too, which captures the period in a couple radically different locations. It’s a movie that builds its world in a compelling fashion that pulls you in, even if the story beats aren’t really a surprise. “Allied” is a well-made and compelling film. It’s also an enjoyable film and one worth checking out.
Rating: R for violence, some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use. Enter with caution.
Verdict: Three stars out of four.

Hacksaw Ridge
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, and Sam Worthington
Synopsis: "Hacksaw Ridge" is a World War II story set in the Pacific Theater and surrounding a conscientious objector, Desmond Doss (Garfield), who served as a combat medic and bravely saved a number of his comrades during a deadly mission. The film is directed by Mel Gibson, who has been largely absent from mainstream cinema for the last decade. But the man who gave us "Braveheart" and "Passion of the Christ" hasn't lost his touch as a director, nor his fondness for highlighting stories of those driven by their deep and abiding religious beliefs. Garfield is great in the lead role, which is a far cry from his previous work in films like "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "The Social Network." He's very believable and is the heart of this film, which is a contender for a number of awards this season. The film has a great supporting cast, too. Palmer and Worthington offer strong performances, as do Rachel Griffiths and Hugo Weaving, who play Doss's parents. This is an intense film to watch, with some very gritty war action. But it's a story worth seeing about a true hero who stayed true to his personal beliefs and saved a lot of lives in the process.
Rating: R for intense prolonged realistically graphic sequences of war violence including grisly bloody images. Enter with caution.
Verdict: Three stars out of four.

Upcoming Releases:
Friday, December 2: "Incarnate"
Friday, December 9: "Office Christmas Party," "Miss Sloane," "Nocturnal Animals"
Friday, December 16: "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," "La La Land," "Collateral Beauty"
Wednesday, December 21: "Passengers," "Sing," "Assassins Creed"
Friday, December 23: "Why Him?"
Sunday, December 25: "Fences"


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