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  • Lion

    Lion

    ★★★★½

    Lion is essentially two movies. The first, following a young boy in India, is gripping and electric. The second, set in Australia twenty five years later, is carried by Dev Patel, the boy grown up. Surrounded by thin characters, he obsesses about the events of the first part of the movie. The latter is nothing particularly remarkable, but the scenes in India are so touching it elevates the rest.

  • Thief

    Thief

    ★★★★

    The prototypical Michael Mann movie. A loner ex-con, tense dialogue, synth soundtrack - it's all here. A little rough around the edges but some of the shots here are just awesome. Ryan Gosling probably owes half his career to this movie. As an added bonus, Thief features (and blows up) some iconic Chicago locations. Keep your eyes peeled for improv legend Del Close as a mechanic.

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  • Whiplash

    Whiplash

    ★★★★★

    Wow. Holy shit. That was like Full Metal Jacket: The Musical. J.K. Simmons is electric as a hard-ass Jazz band conductor and, while I didn't like his character, Miles Teller really puts it all out there as his ambitious, young student.

  • Seven Samurai

    Seven Samurai

    ★★★½

    Despite its 207 minute running time, Seven Samurai is quite engaging throughout. It's influences on modern action movies, particularly those assembling a group of heroes, is easily recognizable. I don't quite get why this movie is considered one of the best ever made, but it's certainly worth watching.