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  • Lean on Pete

    Lean on Pete

    ★★★★

    Charley Thompson (Charlie Plummer) has had it rough his entire life, and director Andrew Haigh's screenplay for Lean on Pete only provides more suffering for the kid. He's only 16 years old, an often-tumultuous time. One is on the cusp of adulthood but hasn't quite reached an understanding of the world to the degree of operating alone within it. There is some dependency that Charley needs, and thankfully, he recognizes that by the end of the film. The story, though, certainly puts him through the wringer. This is, at times, an oppressively bleak experience.

    See my full review at Joel on Film.

  • You Were Never Really Here

    You Were Never Really Here

    ★★★★½

    Curiously, You Were Never Really Here, a truly great film of a kind that rarely gets made anymore, regards the merciless, occasionally brutal gun-for-hire at the center of its story as one might consider a petting-zoo animal within its glass house. Maybe it is something in director Lynne Ramsay's distinctive but intentionally frosty style that contributes to such an aura. Maybe it is something in Ramsay's screenplay, in which the particulars of a revenge picture are stripped to the skeleton,…

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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.