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  • The Florida Project

    The Florida Project

    ★★★★

    Sean Baker spends much of The Florida Project charging in vigorously nimble fashion up and down the stairs of the Magic Castle, in and out of its rooms, investing the minutia of the down-and-out lives within this little ecosystem with a bittersweet energy and significance. For much of the film, calamity is never harsher than a father packing up to move to New Orleans and forcing his son to leave his toys, relics of memories, behind with the friends he’ll…

  • Alien: Covenant

    Alien: Covenant

    ★★

    I've never been so problematically gay-baited by a slasher flick in my life, certainly not one as banally high falutin' as Sir Ridley's latest.

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  • 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."

  • 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.