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WONDER is a wonder. Don't miss it!

WONDER By JOSEPH W. SMITH III Sun-Gazette Correspondent “Wonder” is a wonder. It’s incredible that a film with so much grief could be so funny -- and in the end, so thoroughly inspiring. I’m leery of movies about handicapped folks; they have built-in “aww”-factor that invites film-makers to focus on sentiment, dropping the ball on other vital factors such as character, dialog and authenticity. “Wonder” never drops the ball. On the contrary: Soaring to the top of the year’s best-list, it scores a touchdown on nearly every play. In this powerhouse based on R. J. Palacio’s bestseller, Jacob Tremblay -- so effective in 2015’s “Room” -- plays the soulful and clever Auggie Pullman, whose horrific

20 years of reviewing films! A retrospective of some under-the-radar titles going back to 1997

It was a sunny Tuesday 20 years ago when I phoned the Sun-Gazette and offered a review of the new Mr. Bean movie. Fortunately, Lifestyles editor Robin Van Auken was willing to gamble on an unknown writer. Since then, I’ve penned nearly 1,000 features, often urging viewers to avoid mainstream junk and pony up for lesser-known gems. In keeping with that penchant, here’s an alphabetical baker’s dozen of “under the radar” movies from my two decades with your favorite home-town paper: “Appaloosa” (2008) Ed Harris wrote, directed and starred in this grand, old-fashioned Western with soaring music and meticulous production design. Co-starring Viggo Mortensen, Renee Zellweger and Jeremy Irons. (R) “

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