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  • In the Line of Fire

    In the Line of Fire

    ★★★½

    I recall feeling lukewarm about Wolfgang Petersen's political thriller when it came out. Eastwood's character seemed too broadly-drawn... it was immediately clear that Secret Service Agent Horrigan was an anachronism but the film kept hammering away with too-obvious situations and awkward dialog... it steadily sapped whatever sympathy one might have had for Frank Horrigan, and made the already improbable relationship with Rene Russo's character seem heavy-handed and unbelievable.

    But that aside, "In the Line of Fire" worked remarkably well as…

  • Megan Leavey

    Megan Leavey

    ★★★½

    Kate Mara stars as Megan Leavey, a directionless young lady with family problems who joins the Marines looking for some purpose in life and finds it in the form of a bomb-sniffing German Shepherd. As a story it's nothing special... another one of those fact-based human/animal tales that tugs at the heart and has you reaching for the tissues even though most of what we're seeing is pretty predictable. Still, we do get something novel here ... a heroic dog…

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  • Star Wars

    Star Wars

    ★★★★½

    There's not much new to be said about one of the best sci-fi action adventure flicks of all time. Quippy dialog and hammy acting rooted in the classic mid-20th century sci-fi serials, a fast-moving story, rousing music and spectacular special effects all combine in a nearly flawless way for the cinematic experience of a lifetime. The film industry has changed quite a bit since then in terms of visual technique and digital effects, but the basic storytelling really doesn't get…

  • Whiplash

    Whiplash

    ★★★★★

    Whiplash has received a lot of attention for its visceral and at times brutal portrayal of the relationship between an ambitious young music student and the volatile college professor who alternately inspires and abuses him. We've seen a lot of music films going back to the thirties that deal with these same themes so we're all familiar by now with the numerous and well-worn cliches which make the odds of seeing something new and different pretty slim at this point.…