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  • Song to Song

    Song to Song

    ★★★

    A meandering, mostly compelling ballad of a film, Terrence Malick's "Song to Song" blends character study, show business tale, and tone poem for mildly appealing dramatic experience. Using a humid, buzzing Austin, Texas as his backdrop, Malick's film focuses on three characters at various points in music business careers. The narrative flows on anti-narrative energy, playing out like notes in a song as opposed to the beats of a typical film tale. The work is intriguing, and its communication of the personalities involved in its story is engaging. While it may lack a hook, its soul peals loudly.

  • Dunkirk

    Dunkirk

    ★★★★★

    2017's best film thus far, Christopher Nolan's "Dunkirk" is a thrillingly told, ferociously effective war epic. Telling the World War II story of the evacuation of Allied soldiers from France's Dunkirk during the early days of fighting, Nolan focuses on the personalities and acts involved in the against-all-odds effort. Technically, the film is brilliantly built with editor, Lee Smith, fashioning a surprising, gut-wrenching, and exhilarating piece of spectacle. Narratively, the work is efficiently and movingly engineered by Nolan and company…

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  • Inception

    Inception

    ★★★★★

    "Inception," at its most basic, is two things. It is a heist film dressed in science fiction conventions; and it is a study of a man trying to free himself from a near-suffocating past. "Inception," at its more complex, is a cerebral pop-masterpiece. It is an enthralling combination of thought-provoking, layered story-telling and sumptuous aesthetics enhanced by near-flawless editing, sound design, effects, and musical score. Driven by a pitch-perfect cast and the confident directorial hand of Christopher Nolan, "Inception" is a brilliant and unrivaled piece of filmmaking.

  • Whiplash

    Whiplash

    ★★★★★

    "Whiplash," Damien Chazelle's 107-minute-long ode to mentors, musicians, and motivation, is a taut and mesmerizing piece of filmmaking. A quick-moving and engrossing drama that explores the roles of teacher and learner, parent and child, Chazelle builds a film that brims with energy and emotion, bursts with authentic character beats, and soars with a percussive and narrative brilliance.
    With its powerful performances, crackling direction, and riveting story, "Whiplash" is a truly great piece of work.

    Chazelle's story is built around Miles…