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  • Thief

    Thief

    ★★★★★

    The diner scene, Caan and Weld contemplating a possible future together—which anticipates Mann's other legendary diner moment in Heat (1995)—is an absolutely perfect example of character unloading. Style, dialogue, technique, expressionistic visuals, insights into human nature, it's all there; not a moment is wasted, or a word too much - a scene of transcendent power. If it was a short film completely unto itself, it would still work and you would know everything you could possibly need to regarding the character's lives and their intentions.

    The other 113 minutes aren’t too bad, either.

  • Freebie and the Bean

    Freebie and the Bean

    ★★★★

    Though I have no factual evidence to support this, I am certain that Richard Bush’s Freebie and the Bean—one of the greatest forgotten gems of the ‘70s—is something Shane Black might be particularly keen on.

    This is one of the earliest action-buddy cop films I can think of – well, the type that features profuse violence and profanity, as well as spectacular citywide carnage and frequent rounds of insult ping-pong (read: screaming at each other) between its two lovably irascible…

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  • Under the Skin

    Under the Skin

    ★★★★★

    Hypnotic and brilliant, Jonathan Glazer's art-house rendering of Species explores the human form from an extrinsic perspective. The film tackles the notion of beauty being skin-deep in its own singular way as well as exposing just how uncomfortable we can be with our own bodies, echoing only the greatest Cronenbergian works. A uniquely transgressive modern masterpiece, Under The Skin may well be very best film of the year.

  • Inside Llewyn Davis

    Inside Llewyn Davis

    ★★★

    Inside Llewyn Davis is a soulful and great looking film with the Coens' trademark droll humour, a moving folk soundtrack (often sung live by the cast) and some cool cats. Although Oscar Isaac's performance is terrifically delivered, his titular character seems troublingly removed despite the odd outburst. His constant meanderings also prevented him from securing a fuller sense of engagement in me. A good movie, but not one of the Coens' very best.