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  • Brawl in Cell Block 99

    Brawl in Cell Block 99

    ★★★½

    S. Craig Zahler's "Brawl in Cell Block 99" is more or less 90 minutes of Vince Vaughn violently scrapping with all comers. Those comers include wive's cars, prison guards, an various unlucky background characters. There is a heavy and odd cinematic poetry to it all the that spans a space between button-pushing exploitation yarn and eruptive social commentary. It is compelling work.

  • Sicario: Day of the Soldado

    Sicario: Day of the Soldado

    ★★★★

    A satisfying action drama built on compelling characters and solid narrative, "Sicario: Day of the Soldado" is worthy followup to its more nuanced precursor. Seeing Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin return to their roles from 2015's "Sicario," the sequel deals with terrorists and trafficking. The cinema is robust and capable, and the work moves with heavyweight energy. It is compelling, engaging stuff.

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  • Inception

    Inception

    ★★★★★

    "Inception," at its most basic, is two things. It is a heist film dressed in science fiction conventions; and it is a study of a man trying to free himself from a near-suffocating past. "Inception," at its more complex, is a cerebral pop-masterpiece. It is an enthralling combination of thought-provoking, layered story-telling and sumptuous aesthetics enhanced by near-flawless editing, sound design, effects, and musical score. Driven by a pitch-perfect cast and the confident directorial hand of Christopher Nolan, "Inception" is a brilliant and unrivaled piece of filmmaking.

  • Whiplash

    Whiplash

    ★★★★★

    "Whiplash," Damien Chazelle's 107-minute-long ode to mentors, musicians, and motivation, is a taut and mesmerizing piece of filmmaking. A quick-moving and engrossing drama that explores the roles of teacher and learner, parent and child, Chazelle builds a film that brims with energy and emotion, bursts with authentic character beats, and soars with a percussive and narrative brilliance.
    With its powerful performances, crackling direction, and riveting story, "Whiplash" is a truly great piece of work.

    Chazelle's story is built around Miles…