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  • The Lost City of Z

    The Lost City of Z

    ★★★

    An engrossing film for the first two thirds, this lost me in a major way during the third act. The first two expeditions are interesting, the whole film is shot gorgeously, but the script takes a turn for the derivative and overlong in the last act, and this gives plenty of time to reflect on what a mediocre leading man Charlie Hunnam is. His accent is irritating here, and he struggles to bring across the nuances necessary for the protagonist…

  • The Little Norse Prince

    The Little Norse Prince

    ★★★½

    A simple but often visually compelling debut from Isao Takahata, this bears the symptoms of studio meddling and suffers from a slow second act, but smooth action sequences, good songs, and an impressive climax make it an entertaining time overall. It doesn't reach the heights of most Ghibli films, but it's pretty distinct from them, with a simple art style that Takahata would take much further later on in his career. It's mostly fascinating as a look at the starting point for a truly great director, but that's enough for it to succeed.

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  • Whiplash

    Whiplash

    ★★★★½

    Excellent, riveting film. Feels like Hitchcock made a Jazz Musician Psychological Drama, but slicker, wound even tighter, etc. Most intense movie theater experience of 2014 so far. Feels like a Best Picture Front-runner, to me anyway. Only con: Its early, sudden ending feels like a cop-out.

  • What We Do in the Shadows

    What We Do in the Shadows

    ★★★★

    "Yeah, some of our clothes are from victims. You might bite someone and then, you think, 'Oooh, those are some nice pants!'"