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  • The Manchurian Candidate

    The Manchurian Candidate

    ★★★★½

    Frankenheimer's masterpiece because he must have, rightly, adored Condon's novel to recreate it so perfectly. Actually, in the hyperreal hyper-Hitchcock romance of Sinatra and Janet Leigh he excels the source. Everything is played with joy; given the bleak cynicism that underlies the ideology; the US manipulated by a loudmouth bombast of a politician, heroes used as marketing aids, reds tweaking American politics? Nonsense. It would never happen. Or perhaps the joke is so good somebody would have to try it…

  • Sweet Smell of Success

    Sweet Smell of Success

    ★★★★½

    Here's a film with some incredibly nasty characters in it. It's bleak, it has a horrible ending because of how horrible people are prepared to be to each other, with no more motive than petty power; avarice, a shallow desire to be king of the heap on Broadway. Sad.

    It's gloriously acted, directed and written; so the utterly nihilistic attitude that pervades the movie, doesn't matter at all. It's a wonderful movie; like a character in a similarly nasty book…

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  • Whiplash

    Whiplash

    ★★★★★

    Looking for Charlie Parker.

    Astonishing. Pitch perfect.

    The extraordinary ability to communicate musical obsession but also the power and perfection of a musical form like jazz. To do this in a second art form is remarkable. Using the language of cinema to transmit the beauty of music is what stuns me about this film. It would be enough to embrace the technicalities of jazz but to compose an expression in film form is the directors gift and achievement.

    Don't you…

  • Raw Deal

    Raw Deal

    ★★★★½

    So here's how you incorporate some of that ineffable visual poetry into a b-movie à la Moonrise, and still keep the engines of hell chugging along. The deadweight of a small moon (that's no moon) settles onto your shoulders and pins you. "Ominous" is the word of the day. Raymond Burr does something with the villain akin to a Shakespearean cad, just a lot more vicious. Always with two or three intentions to every action. He isn't the only shining…