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  • Ouija: Origin of Evil

    Ouija: Origin of Evil

    ★★★

    If the prospect of having to adapt a spirit board for the screen is already a grim enterprise, to have to also follow up the unquailed disaster that was Ouija is certainly a fool's errand. Except Mike Flanagan, one of the most idiosyncratic horror directors currently working, is no fool. Time and again, he's proven canny at sneaking an off-kilter and decidedly un-ironic sense of the macabre into big-studio horror productions, which typically depend on snarky humor and ostensibly fashionable…

  • The Lost City of Z

    The Lost City of Z

    ★★★★

    One of the quiet triumphs of James Gray's The Lost City of Z is how it posits artillery officer, archaeologist, and explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam)—who disappeared along with his son, Jack (Tom Holland), in 1925 while searching for a fabled civilization in the Amazon rainforest—as a kindred spirit of The Immigrant's Ewa Cybulski. If the exact nature of Fawcett's obsession with Z remains frustratingly ineffable, that's by design, as Gray understands that the explorer sailed toward a new world,…

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  • Timbuktu

    Timbuktu

    ★★★★

    Do not miss this great film when it comes to a theater at a major metropolis near you at the end of the month. It has its imperfections, but they pale in significance to its elegiac sense of will. After what happened yesterday in Paris, and especially for those confused about the ties between Islam and terrorism or operating under the mistaken belief that Charlie Hebdo's provocations weren't necessary, the film's searing, lucid depiction of innocents rightfully, righteously fighting fundamentalism from within will grip you in horrified empathy.

  • Whiplash

    Whiplash

    ★½

    "Exhilarating," "astounding," and "electrifying" reads the quotes on the film's poster, from agents of our culture of mean. Okay, I'll give it "electrifying." Miles Teller is a mean drummer, or maybe it's the jazzy cutting that tricks one into thinking so, but the implausible scenario is pretty low-down in how it tries to milk suspense from an unbridled spectacle of human cruelty. Not even sure Damien Chazelle believes his paltry justification for J.K. Simmons's worse-than-Gordon-Ramsay shtick. Maybe someone needs to throw a director's chair at his head so we can see if he's capable of drumming up a "Casablanca."