When folks ask me for film recommendations I have been in the habit of directing them to my facebook movies page, touting "anything I've given four or five stars." However, facebook now seems to have silenced the star-giving so it looks like the blog will be taking over that function. Here's my take on some flicks you may want to see – or avoid, given your own priorities:
Dr. Strange ***
(2016) Benedict Cumberbatch
If you’re not quite sick to death of the constant bombardment of super-hero movies, this one should do it for you. All the required shtick and a main character who is almost three-dimensional. Almost.
(2016) Amy Adams
Dynamite stuff: intriguing, suspenseful and particularly resonant given the struggles of our times (and of all times). This goes deep beyond the sci-fi banner, digging up rare insights into the significance of language and the magic of human relationships. Catch it in the theatres while there’s still time!
Cartel Land ****
Gutsy, penetrating, laudably-balanced look at the criminality of drugs, the criminals who thrive from it and the devastating effects on both sides of the international border, all through the eyes of the peoples of these borderland communities. A very intimate view of their particular struggles and the conflicting beliefs for which they fight. Tense and unsettling.
Hitler’s Olympics ****
A satisfactory dissertation on the nature of the modern Olympics which we all seem to whole-heartedly embrace while imagining it is something else, and a reminder of the architect whose vision we have made a reality.
(2015) Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson
Creepy, twisty, thrilling and fascinating. The most compelling look I’ve seen at the concept of artificial intelligence since The Matrix and by far the most emotionally and viscerally striking.
Hello My Name is Doris ***
(2015) Sally Field
Surprisingly satisfying feel-good fluff.
(2015) Gregg Tarkington
Uneasy, off-beat, perversely humorous fare with a serious creep factor. It’s like a book you want to put down but can’t.
Mad Max: Fury Road **
(2015) Tom Hardy
The wispy plot and cast of caricatures are just barely stable enough to hold this action and special effects bonanza sort-of together.
(2015) Meryl Streep
The package looks deceptively corny but Streep’s fine performance is just one of the gems that keeps this neat little effort afloat. It’s Little Miss Sunshine without the kids.
(2015) Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams
Some excellent, arguably under-rated actors made an Oscar splash with this Best Picture which is nice, but is that the reason it won? I found it a routine, competent unfolding of a true story
The Boy ****
(2015) David Morse
A troubling little tale of a boy who is trapped in unacceptable circumstances and seeks a logical solution within his considerable limitations. Gripping and eerie. And if you’re a writer, don’t miss it for its modelling of tidy efficient short-story telling!