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  • Spenser Confidential

    Spenser Confidential

    ★★★½

    With relative success, Spenser Confidential mixes its dead-serious plot, which is straight out of a pulp paperback, with a zany tone and a handful of live-wire characters, which are straight out of the buddy comedies of a certain era of moviemaking. In other words, this is a throwback in almost every way, right down to a flat refusal to engage with the modern technology that surrounds those characters. To be clear, the movie offers nothing new to the table, but…

  • Blow the Man Down

    Blow the Man Down

    ★★★★

    It isn't so much that the top level of Blow the Man Down suggests much about a deeper level. It's that the debut feature from the writing/directing team of Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy does what it does so well, including populating the action with characters that have more than two dimensions, that a deeper level eventually does reveal itself. On the surface, this is another one of those movies in which desperate characters make a series of calculated…

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  • Whiplash

    Whiplash

    ★★★★½

    There is no getting around the occasional, oft-used phrase, and "Whiplash" calls for it: This film is note-perfect. The trailers and advertisements, irrelevant in the long run to anything but marketing, have sold it short as a sort of "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" for the Juilliard set, but while it comes very close to equaling that by-now-underappreciated gem's power, the film ultimately plays in much more complex areas than simply a "...from Hell"-type thriller (You know…

  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

    Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

    ★★★★★

    Holy crap, the second viewing of this left me reeling. Completely underestimated it the first time. Masterpiece.