Latest movies: The Birth of a Nation, Snowden, Office Christmas Party

A rebel with a cause, a whistleblower who gives us pause and a Bacchanalian blowout thrown by a sozzled Santa Claus

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THE BIRTH OF A NATION ★★★★

In the wake of 12 Years a Slave, writer/director Nate Parker exposes another real-life episode from America’s harrowing history of slavery with this uncompromising chronicle of a slave rebellion that shook antebellum Virginia to its roots. Parker also stars as the leader of the revolt, a preacher for whom turning the other cheek is no answer to the repression and brutality of the time. 

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SNOWDEN ★★★★

Oliver Stone returns to establishment-baiting form with this penetrating portrait of Edward Snowden, the CIA analyst whose leaking of classified secret documents on surveillance continues to have worldwide repercussions to this very day. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is utterly convincing in the title role, and there’s terrific support from a cast including Shailene Woodley, Tom Wilkinson, Nicolas Cage and Rhys Ifans (as a very spooky spook). 

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OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY ★★★

Merry mayhem is the (dis)order of the day with this crazy (and topical) comedy about office workers going clear at Christmas time. It may be broad and bawdy but with Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston and Kate McKinnon heading the cast, the manic antics are in safe comic hands. 


ALSO RELEASED THIS WEEK

THE COMING WAR IN CHINA ★★★★

I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER ★★★★

LIFE, ANIMATED ★★★★

THE PASS ★★★★


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