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Amandla Stenberg (center)

“THE HATE U GIVE” My rating: B

132 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

“The Hate U Give” begins with an African American father swallowing his rage and giving his children “the talk,” instructing them how to behave if they’re ever pulled over by the cops. For starters, don’t argue. Put both hands on the dashboard and don’t remove them until told to do so.

The film ends with a race riot of the kind seen in Ferguson MO in 2014.

Between those cringeworthy moments this movie — based on Angie Thomas young adult novel and brought to the screen by director George Tillman Jr. (“Notorious,” “Soul Food,” “Men of Honor”) — explores the world of Starr Carter (Amanda Stenberg in a star-making perf), one of the few black students at her mostly white private school.

Starr is our narrator and she points out from the get-go that she’s living a dual life.  Evenings and weekends she’s a resident of a mostly-black neighborhood, where she can just be one of the girls.

Miles away at school, though, she’s got to be whiter than the white kids (who are free to appropriate gangsta manners while Starr must cling to the straight and narrow). She’s got a white boyfriend (K.J. Aha), who seems a decent enough guy, even if he is making noises about taking their relationship up a step (nudge, nudge).

“The Hate U Give” (the title references one of Tupac’s raps) is set in motion by the death of one of  Starr’s childhood friends, Khalil (Algee Smith) in a police confrontation to which she is the only witness.

The authorities expect Starr to testify about the incident, including her knowledge that Khalil was peddling dope for local drug lord King (Anthony Mackie).  King wants to stop her from talking and will threaten Starr’s family to do so.  It doesn’t help that there’s bad blood between King and Starr’s father, Mav (Russell Hornsby), a grocery owner who broke away from the  gang years before.

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Yayoi Kusama

“KUSAMA: INFINITY” My rating: B 

76 minutes | No MPAA rating

At 89 Yayoi Kunama is the world’s the most successful living artist.

So we are told in “Kusama: Infinity,” Heather Lenz’s fact-filled, provocative and intriguing documentary.

Not bad for a woman who fought most of her life to gain equal footing with her male counterparts and who remains largely unknown to most Americans.

Born to a philandering father and a domineering mother who operated a huge garden seed company in their native Japan, Kusama showed an independent streak early on, defying her parents by studying art, corresponding with the legendary Georgia O’Keefe (then about the only living woman artist with a worldwide reputation) and, shortly after WWII, emigrating to New York City where she quite literally banged on gallery doors seeking recognition.

She took to wearing kimonos in public to draw attention…and in fact throughout her career has been seen as something of a publicity whore. Blowback from her unstoppable promoting led to her being more or less banned from most commercial galleries for a decade or more.

Old photos show her as an attractive woman — though not beautiful –with a terrific sense of style.

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Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga

“A STAR IS BORN”  My rating: B

135 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Lady Gaga (Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta) has been a major star for almost a decade now, but even if you’d never heard of her, “A Star Is Born” would confirm that there is indeed a new comet in the heavens.

She’s really, really good.

This is the third remake of the original show-biz love story (after the 1937 original with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, the ’54 version with Judy Garland and James Mason, and the ’76 vehicle for Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson). Though many of the details have been refreshed for this Bradley Cooper-directed effort, it’s still the story of a rising young performer’s romance with an older, established star who cannot handle it when her career eclipses his.

So don’t expect much new in the plot department.

But watching Gaga sink her teeth into her first major acting opportunity is thrilling. The woman who in her stage shows often relies on visual overkill here delivers a sensitive and carefully modulated performance that will likely result in an Oscar nomination. And what makes it even more remarkable is that hers is the less showy performance.  Her co-star, Cooper, gets the big chewy scenes (You want attention? Play a drunk.) yet Gaga is all you want to look at.

Plus, the screenplay by Eric Roth, Will Fetters and Cooper perfectly nails its milieu of arena rock concerts, tour busses and messy hotel rooms. The plot may be familiar, but the setting has a life of its own.

Jackson Maine (Cooper) is a bearded, gravel-voiced star whose music ranges from folkie efforts to guitar-shredding Southern rock (something along the lines of Lynyrd Skynyrd/Marshall Tucker). He’s also a heavy drinker who gets itchy if he’s too long without a bottle in his hand.

Which is how Jackson ends up in a gay bar (they’ve got alcohol, right?) watching a drag show in which a waitress named Ally (Gaga) steals the spotlight with a spot-on Edith Piaf imitation. He’s impressed enough to go backstage to make her acquaintance.

It’s the start of a big-time romance.  Ally is flattered by the attention, but doesn’t think she’s pretty enough to be hobnobbing with a big star. (Interesting that Gaga, who in her earliest incarnations hid behind elaborate costumes, wigs and makeup, here goes through much of the film with almost no makeup at all).

She’s a songwriter and Jackson urges her to develop that talent.  In fact, after whisking her off to one of his stadium gigs in a far-flung city, he more or less drags her onstage to perform one of her compositions as a duet.  The audience goes ape (so will folks watching the movie) and before long the Ally show is in full swing with a fancy-pants manager/producer, an appearance on “SNL” and a Grammy nomination for best new artist.

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Gael Garcia Bernal, Leonardo Ortizgris

“MUSEO”  My rating: B

208 minutes | No MPAA rating

Though essentially a crime story — its centerpiece is an almost-silent 20-minute depiction of a museum heist — “Museo” is interested in much bigger issues.

Alonso Ruizpalacios’ sophomore directing effort might be viewed as a study of disaffected young men in 1980s Mexico.

Or it might be about a couple of idiots who get lucky in spite of their own ineptness.

Juan (Gael Garcia Bernal) has a part time job at Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology. He’s helping a photographer catalog the museum’s collection of Mayan and Aztec artifacts, but Juan is always getting in trouble for handling these priceless objects without the requisite latex gloves.

Though in his early ’30s, Juan is a boy/man whose lack of ambition — not to mention common sense — is the bane of his middle-class family.

Early in the film he challenges his best friend, Wilson (Leonardo Ortizgris), to shoot a Rubik’s cube off his head with a bow and arrow. Wilson, who has the look of an uncomprehending bassett hound, at first protests this ill-conceived idea; then, at Juan’s urging, prepares to let loose a shaft.

That scene tells us much about their friendship.  Juan makes the policy; the loyal, thick-headed Wilson does his bidding.

Which brings us to Juan’s hair-brained scheme to slip into the museum on Christmas Eve and sneak out with millions in ancient jewelry, stone sculptures and even an exquisite jade burial mask.

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Kelly Lamor Wilson, Joey King

“SUMMER ’03” My rating: C+ (Opens Oct. 5 at the AMC Town Center)

95 minutes | No MPAA rating

Mixed up teenage girls are no stranger to our movie screens.  In recent months we’ve seen some terrific femalecentric coming-of-age titles like “Eighth Grade” and “The Edge of Seventeen.”

Becca Gleason’s “Summer ’03” isn’t in their league, but it does boast a fine lead performance by young Joey King and has perhaps one of the most honest depictions of teen sex in recent memory.

Tonally, though, it’s a bit out of control.

In the opening moments an old lady (June Squibb) summons her family members to her dying bedside to clear her conscience.

She tells her son Ned (Paul Scheer) that the man he thought was his father wasn’t…that he in fact was the result of his mother’s torrid affair.

Then she lays a whole lot of ugly on Ned’s 16-year-old daughter, Jamie (King).  First the aged gal announces that she hates Jamie’s mom Shira (Andrea Savage) for being “a dirty Jew” and confesses that when Jamie was little Grandma had her secretly baptized a Roman Catholic. Before slipping off this mortal coil, the old bag offers a bit of grandmotherly advice:  Learn to give a good blowjob.

The members of Jamie’s family are more than a little shook up by Grandma’s revelations.  Dad sets out to find his genetic father — halfway through the film he will return with an ancient German who spouts antisemitic slogans.

And whenever Jamie, her mom, and her Aunt Hope (Erin Drake) get together the decibel level spikes. These women interact at one speed: hysterical.  Oh, and then there’s Hope’s son Dylan (Logan Medina), a preteen so crazy to drive that he’s become an accomplish car thief.

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Gilbert Saldivar, Jorge Burgos, Kimberli Flores

“SHINE”  My rating: C 

95 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Funded by a Kickstarter campaign and conceived as a tribute to the indigenous but threatened culture of NYC’s Spanish Harlem, “Shine” is a heart-on-its-sleeve musical melodrama that excels when it sticks to music and flounders when it goes for drama.

Unfolding in a corner of Manhattan where Puerto Rican flags outnumber Old Glory by about 5-to-1, writer/director Anthony Nardolillo’s tale centers on two brothers whose lives take diverging paths.

In a prologue we see the boys’ childhood and their training in salsa dancing by their nightclub-owning, band-leading father (David Zayas). The two grow into accomplished dancers, strutting their stuff like Latino John Travoltas.

But a family tragedy intervenes, and the film jumps seven years forward. One of the brothers, Ralphi (Jorge Burgos), has gone to college and now works for a big British redevelopment corporation that’s trying to get a foothold in Spanish Harlem.  He’s sent back home to do some community massaging, to win over neighborhood leaders on behalf of gentrification and to stop a series of arson attacks on the company’s properties.

His brother Junior (Gilbert Saldivar) regards his interloping sibling as a traitor.  Junior, in fact, is one of those gasoline-flinging vandals.

And, oh yeah, there’s a girl (Kimberli Flores) in the middle.

Little by little Ralph comes to realize the errors of his way.  How to save his old neighborhood?

Hey, kids, let’s put on a show!

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Benjamin Dickey as Blaze Foley

“BLAZE” My rating: B- (Opens Sept. 28 at the Tivoli, Screenland Armour and Glenwood Arts)

128 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Ethan Hawke’s “Blaze” is unlike any other music biz film biography I can think of. Its closest competition in its nontraditional approach would  be 2015’s “Miles Ahead” with Don Cheadle playing the great jazz trumpeter in a narrative-tossed-salad retelling.

The ostensible subject of “Blaze” is Blaze Foley, a Texas musician and songwriter who hung out with country/folk music’s “outlaw” wing until his untimely death by gunshot in 1989 .

Hawke’s film (he  directed and adapted the memoir by Foley’s wife Sybil Rosen) follows no particular chronology. It’s all over the place. As a framing device he has given us a radio interview with fellow folkie Townes Van Zant (Charlie Sexton); scenes from Foley’s life play out as Van Zant provides a running commentary.

Foley (Ben Dickey) is a bearded, burly good ol’ fella.  He can be charming in a down-home way. He can also be a drunken maniac.

A Foley concert might be sublime, or it might be a slog, given the musician’s tendency to rap endlessly when the customers only wanna hear some tunes.  A few of his songs were recorded by the likes of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Lyle Lovett and John Prine, but he was never a household word or a major player.

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