The Forbidden Room

Wild, wacky, and wondrous, The Forbidden Room is a nerve-shredding, discombobulating experience; a scathing dreamscape of a film whose bits and pieces overwhelm, dazzle, and confuse in equal measure, evading every scrap of reason and making one’s temple throb incessantly. Madcap, mock-heroic, faux-mythic, and aggressively experimental to the point of being inscrutable, it’s an “avant-garde behemoth” of “boggling puzzlements.”

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The Martian

Brisk, heartwarming, genial, and celebratory, The Martian is a geeky survival yarn with personality, an exciting gem of a science fiction adventure, and an irresistible affirmation of collaboration. It’s an ode to scientific ingenuity, a humane spectacle with a genuine hero, and a robust cinematic take-off that lands on solid ground.

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Terse, tense, and thrumming like a pounding drum, Sicario is a smart, seamy, sweaty foray into the netherworld of drug trafficking; a trip-wired, arthouse/grindhouse ambush of disorienting ambiguity; and a nihilistic existential nightmare without boundaries. It’s a violent action thriller to die for.

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The End of the Tour

Observant, probing, poignant, and thought-provoking, The End of the Tour is a hipster road trip bromance that addresses perplexing themes for our times; a wise and wacky cautionary tale about a cultural titan and the reporter trailing in his wake; and an illuminating exposé about the nebulous relationship between interviewer and subject. Wonderfully performed and filled with dexterous repartee, it’s a true Sundance gem.

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The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Incisive, adventurous, bawdy, and ferociously honest, The Diary of a Teenage Girl is an uncompromising examination of the voyage into womanhood; a non-judgmental story of life-altering sexual experience that’s both specific and universal; and an unconventional, non-sanitized portrayal of hormonal bloodbath. Refreshingly attuned to the self-doubt, turmoil, and voracious appetite that defines adolescence, it’s a difficult and rewarding indie film stuffed with bitter truth.

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Meticulously crafted, emotionally resonant, and aggressively idiosyncratic, Amy is an enveloping journey of recovery and relapse; a grief-stricken experience laced with much-needed corrective; and a bittersweet catalogue of a nosedive that resulted in unparalleled creative breakthrough. Sensitive and soul-shattering, yet devoid of sensationalism, it’s a stirring testimony to a singular, once-in-a-generation talent.

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Assured, tragic, absurd, and heartbreaking, Phoenix is a complex Hitchcockian tale of a woman’s search for answers amidst devastation; a reverse riff on Vertigo; and a spellbinding enigma of identity, deception, and illusion. Through immaculate filmmaking and acting, an implausible, preposterous plot is methodically turned into a gripping and profound allegory.

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