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Magic Mike XXL (2015)

115 min  |  Comedy, Drama, Music

It's been three years since Tampa based Mike Lane transitioned from the life of a stripper - his stage name being Magic Mike - to his dream of starting his own custom furniture business, those three years mixed in terms of the goods and bads for him personally. His ex-troupe, the Kings of Tampa, minus who was their boss, Dallas, stop off in Tampa from their current home base in Miami on a road trip to a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach. As the remaining troupe members are nearing the end of their stripping lives, they, like Mike, who are at an advanced age beyond that of most strippers, they see this convention as their final hurrah in this life. Mike decides to join his old friends on the road trip to this send off. The current troupe members start to have their own dreams about their futures in being with Mike, while Mike has his own envy of his friends in his current life not being everything he hoped it would be. But especially without Dallas at the helm, the troupe members are feeling a bit lost, with Mike trying to inspire them, which he may or may not be able to do. As they make several stops along the way, they encounter many groups of women, which may demonstrate whether their thoughts about what to do at the convention is a good idea in if they still have what it takes. Beyond these encounters with women, the trip itself hits its bumps, with Mike needing to call in some favors and mend some bridges even to make it to Myrtle Beach, it not certain if those at the other end will accept Mike's pleas for help or his apologies.

6.3
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Whiplash (2014)

106 min  |  Drama, Music

Nineteen year old Andrew Niemann wants to be the greatest jazz drummer in the world, in a league with Buddy Rich. This goal is despite not coming from a pedigree of greatest, musical or otherwise, with Jim, his high school teacher father, being a failed writer. Andrew is starting his first year at Shaffer Conservatory of Music, the best music school in the United States. At Shaffer, being the best means being accepted to study under Terence Fletcher and being asked to play in his studio band, which represents the school at jazz competitions. Based on their less than positive first meeting, Andrew is surprised that Fletcher asks him to join the band, albeit in the alternate drummer position which he is more than happy to do initially. Andrew quickly learns that Fletcher operates on fear and intimidation, never settling for what he considers less than the best each and every time. Being the best in Fletcher's mind does not only entail playing well, but knowing that you're playing well and if not what you're doing wrong. His modus operandi creates an atmosphere of fear and of every man or woman for him/herself within the band. Regardless, Andrew works hard to be the best. He has to figure out his life priorities and what he is willing to sacrifice to be the best. The other question becomes how much emotional abuse he will endure by Fletcher to reach that greatness, which he may believe he can only achieve with the avenues opened up by Fletcher.

8.1
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