There Will Be Blow

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Michael Muller/52nd New York Film Festival

MOVIE REVIEW
Inherent Vice (2014)

Let the conspiracy theorizing begin: Paul Thomas Anderson must not have gotten over “There Will Be Blood” losing the Oscar race to the much inferior “No Country for Old Men.” That would explain him going all Coen brothers on us with his latest, an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s “Inherent Vice.” Inherently a Coenesque film noir, it features an uncannily Coenesque universe of cartoonish oddballs and a distinctive vernacular.

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Misery Loves Company

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Dale Robinette/Disney Enterprises

MOVIE REVIEW
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)

In spite of its marquee-name stars and once-hip indie director, Disney’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” is essentially a bloated TV movie better suited for the Disney Channel. You’d find this enjoyable if you were very young.

Klutzy tween Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) can’t seem to do anything right and also suffers from the classic middle-child (technically he’s the third out of four) syndrome. He somehow gets the idea that everyone else in his family has it much better and easier than him, despite the fact that his dad, Ben (Steve Carell), is presently unemployed and caring for toddler Trevor (Zoey and Elise Vargas) full-time and his mom, Kelly (Jennifer Garner), works for a horrible boss. Regardless, Alexander wishes on his birthday for everyone to experience that eponymous terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day so everyone will finally have an appreciation for what it’s like to be him.

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House of Cards

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Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox

MOVIE REVIEW
Gone Girl (2014)

After failing to inspire warm fuzzies or much Oscar gold with “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “The Social Network,” David Fincher seems to have resigned himself to familiar territory. But his ambition for recognition doesn’t seem to have subsided, as he has attached himself to genre material with a literary pedigree like “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and now “Gone Girl.”

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Music Discipline

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Daniel McFadden/Sony Pictures Classics

MOVIE REVIEW
Whiplash (2014)

In “Whiplash,” Juilliard-esque Shaffer Conservatory of Music freshman Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) gets handpicked by exacting and much-feared teacher, Terrence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons), to be an alternate drummer in a jazz ensemble intended for the competition circuit.

Fletcher sizes Neyman up while exchanging pleasantries, and quickly proceeds to humiliate and bully him with what little biographical information he has gathered. Mr. Simmons hurls orders, insults and obscenities like a cross between Armin Mueller-Stahl’s tyrannical father from “Shine,” R. Lee Ermey’s drill sergeant from “Full Metal Jacket” and his own Aryan leader from “Oz.”

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Notre technologie

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Wild Bunch

MOVIE REVIEW
Goodbye to Language (2014)

The unveiling of a new Jean-Luc Godard film always incites circlejerks among elitist cinephiles, who collectively muster as many pretentious fancy words and insufferable exclamation marks for the occasion as their copy editors will tolerate. Never mind that they've been punk’d — encore — by the biggest troll working in cinema. When Gaspar Noé splices in a gratuitous insert of hard-core sex, it’s the tantrum of an enfant terrible. When Mr. Godard does the same thing, it's poetry! Whatever, dude.

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A Civil Union

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Nicola Dove/Pathé Films

MOVIE REVIEW
Pride (2014)

Bookended by the London Pride parades of 1984 and 1985, “Pride” dramatizes the real-life Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign to raise funds for the Neath, Dulais and Swansea Valleys’ Miners Support Group in Wales during a yearlong strike.

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Friday Night Blights

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Tracy Bennett/TriStar Pictures

MOVIE REVIEW
When the Game Stands Tall (2014)

“When the Game Stands Tall” centers on the real-life Spartans football team of De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., under its legendary former coach Bob Ladouceur, here played by Jim Caviezel. It isn’t about how the team achieved its storied 151-game winning streak, however; but rather how it ultimately fumbled that winning streak and then recovered.

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Knock Off

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Frank Masi/20th Century Fox

MOVIE REVIEW
Let's Be Cops (2014)

The buddy cop subgenre has proven such a bankable formula in Hollywood — yet again by the success of “Ride Along” earlier this year — that some might now consider it a bona fide genre. The trope often combines varying percentages of thriller and comedy to mixed results. Some entries like “Lethal Weapon” skew more toward the thriller, while ones like “White Chicks” obviously yield to the comedy. Casting choices usually give a good indication which way it will turn out: If one of the partners belongs in the K-9 unit, you can be sure of the lowered stakes.

Besides the fact that neither of the main characters is an actual police officer, “Let’s Be Cops” feels unorthodox for defying these formulaic expectations the subgenre has been steadily creating through trial and error since its inception in the 1980s. The film actually has incredibly high stakes, like a much sillier “48 Hrs.” rather than a more thrilling “21 Jump Street.” If it’s any indication, Damon Wayans, Jr. plays the straight man to Jake Johnson’s instigator — complete with a reference to the Glover-Gibson dynamic.

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Twister of Fate

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Warner Brothers Pictures

MOVIE REVIEW
Into the Storm (2014)

“Into the Storm” imagines a tornado outbreak — including an EF-5 on the enhanced Fujita scale — wreaking havoc on fictional Silverton, Okla, in Tornado Alley. A team of storm chasers on a fruitless documentary project (among them Matt Walsh, Sarah Wayne Callies and Arlen Escarpeta) arrives fashionably in a Titus tank, while the vice principal of a local high school (Richard Armitage) attempts to locate a missing son (Jeremy Sumpter) and his classmate (Alycia Debnam-Carey).

We’ll leave film’s scientific legitimacy to professional meteorologists to assess, although the one played by Ms. Wayne Callies herein certainly casts doubts on the plausibility of this parade of cyclones. Since the film eschews the 3-D gimmick de rigueur for all Hollywood tentpoles, the only thing that separates “Into the Storm” from “Twister” made 18 years ago is its found-footage trope, utilized most memorably by “The Blair Witch Project,” “Paranormal Activity” and “Cloverfield.” As such, the entire endeavor is a total, um, disaster.

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No Fluff, Just Laughs

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Anthony Nunez/Open Road Films

MOVIE REVIEW
The Fluffy Movie (2014)

A concert film documenting comedian Gabriel Iglesias’s two-night stand in San Jose, Calif., last year, “The Fluffy Movie” demonstrates just why the oversize top banana has cultivated quite the sizable following worldwide.

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