363 – American Sniper (2014)

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There are few directors as prolific as one Mr. Clint Eastwood. Eastwood has become famous for his rapid shooting schedules, and his limited number of takes. It is difficult to say whether this is the best approach, as the method has already yielded the pretty lackluster Jersey Boys in 2014. But the good thing about Eastwood’s rapid filmmaking technique is that there is always another one around the corner. In this particular case, Eastwood’s end-of-year film is American Sniper, an adaptation of the memoir by the late Chris Kyle, the military man referred to in the title. Does American Sniper fare any better than the story of Frankie Valli and his crooning buddies?

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215 – Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

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The grand experiment that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been trucking along since 2008. The first nine films (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel’s The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier) combined have earned over 6 billion (with a “B”) dollars worldwide. These movies are a great financial success, but more and more they are starting to feel creatively dull. The most recent film from Marvel Studios, Guardians of the Galaxy, looks to break that trend. Based on an incredibly obscure comic book team, Guardians of the Galaxy is unlike any movie Marvel has put out, and it feels like it, too.

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