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  • A Vigilante

    A Vigilante

    ★★★½

    The early stretches of A Vigilante offer a convincing case for the strengths of concise storytelling. Within ten minutes of the opening sequence, we get a sense of the heroine's emotional state, hints of the reason she seeks out perpetrators of domestic abuse, and a glimpse of her process, driven by justice and executed as vigilantism, of intimidating the intimidators. Theoretically, this is business as usual, and nothing about writer/director Sarah Daggar-Nickson's screenplay suggests that it is going to elevate…

  • The Beach Bum

    The Beach Bum

    ★½

    Writer/director Harmony Korine would very much like to believe that the protagonist-of-sorts of his screenplay for The Beach Bum is likable in all the ways he shouldn't be. You know the kind. They're the ones whose questionable virtues and downright problematic vices clash with the sympathetic way in which they have been written. Since an audience's automatic response to a movie is to search for things to sympathize with, it usually works out pretty well for the audience members and…

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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

    Birdman

    ★★★★★

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