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  • Aliens

    Aliens

    ★★★★★

    One of the best films of both its genre and its decade, James Cameron's "Aliens" is a horror-tinged science fiction triumph for the ages. Bristling with character-based personality, shadow-soaked action, and iconic effects, Cameron's sequel to Ridley Scott's 1979 landmark, "Alien," expands the canvas of the original while mirroring that film's quality.

    Decades after Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley jettisoned the beast that killed the crew of her vessel, the Nostromo, into the cold void of space, she is pressed into…

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  • Case 39

    Case 39

    ★★½

    A soggy but competent piece of horror that offers nothing new to the genre, "Case 39" finds a solid cast in need of a more solid film. Revolving around Renée Zellweger's children's welfare worker, the film finds her growing personal attachment to the child at the center of a particular case. That child, as script formula dictates, has secrets that lead the film's characters down a path to danger. Zellweger, along with Ian McShane and Bradley Cooper, are game, and…

  • Ogre

    Ogre

    ★★

    A laughably rendered CG ogre stalks the townsfolk of a small, 19th century community in "Ogre," a horror-fantasy made mostly unwatchable by the monstrous monstrosity at its center. Its flip-flopping tone doing the story of current-day hikers that discover both the ogre and the stuck-in-the-past town no favors, this bargain-bin knockoff of "The Village" almost entertains at times. The cast is half-way decent, and the premise might work in a better film. Alas, this is not a better film; and all of it lands with a resounding thud.

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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…