Welcome back to a weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. I'm going to be providing a handy guide to a few choice movies currently playing in theatres as well as several films newly released on DVD. I invite you to add in your thoughts on any films I haven’t seen in the comments below. Understandably, some weeks will have considerably fewer releases to address than others.
Now Playing in Theatres
Bluebird (mixed bag): This quiet drama set in a small Maine town follows a bus driver who discovers a child unconscious on her bus one morning and the effects it has on her family and his. It’s a worthwhile premise that doesn’t quite catch fire in its execution. Now playing at Cinema Village. Read my review from yesterday.
Deli Man (highly recommended): Who wouldn’t salivate at the idea of a documentary about the history of Jewish deli in America? Its primary subject, the owner of a deli in Houston, is extremely entertaining, and the mix of anecdotes, cultural quirks, and celebrity interviews with plenty of food thrown in is a true delight. Now playing at Lincoln Plaza and, hilariously, all over Florida. Read my review from yesterday.
’71 (highly recommended): I can’t remember the time I saw something as intense as my final film screened at Sundance this year, which is a feverish account of one tempestuous, fateful night in Ireland for a British soldier separated from anything familiar or safe. Jack O’Connell, who is a true breakout, delivers yet another strong performance in this nonstop thriller. Now playing at AMC Lincoln Square and the Angelika. Read my review from Sundance.
Wild Tales (highly recommended): I already raved in a standalone post last Friday about how much I loved this Best Foreign Film Oscar nominee from Argentina when I saw it at Sundance. Its clever format is matched by impossibly entertaining stories that transition effortlessly between drama and comedy. The only true recommendation is to see it with an audience so that you can share in the experience. Now playing at Lincoln Plaza and Landmark Sunshine. Read my review from Sundance last year.
New to DVD
Big Hero 6 (highly recommended): This newly minted Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature is an extremely enjoyable, wondrously hi-tech vision of an imagined amalgam of Tokyo and San Francisco where heroes get their day and kindness wins out above all. A real adventure with heart.
Birdman (highly recommended): This film, which I saw at the New York Film Festival and won Best Picture last week, is a spectacular tale of an aging actor staging his comeback portrayed by an aging actor staging his comeback. Michael Keaton leads an incredible cast with no weak links in a marvelously inventive and engaging film.
The Homesman (anti-recommended): Tommy Lee Jones’ second time behind the camera is about as bleak and uninviting as his first, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.” If watching his disgruntled drifter and Hilary Swank’s buttoned-up Midwesterner transport three crazy women across territorial lines sounds appealing, go ahead and check this one out.
Life Itself (highly recommended): This documentary seemed worthwhile enough to me to rank as the fifth film of my second-ever quintuple feature, and fortunately, it delivered. This retrospective of Roger Ebert’s life and his enthusiasm for movies is a resounding and entertaining endorsement of the whole concept of cinema.
Whiplash (recommended): Miles Teller and Oscar winner J.K. Simmons are both terrific in this hit from the Sundance Film Festival and the New York Film Festival as a determined drumming student and his tyrannical instructor, respectively.
Now on Netflix Instant Streaming
In Bloom (mixed bag): This 1990s-set drama, which was Georgia’s official Oscar submission for Best Foreign Film last year, has strong characters but not an effectively engaging story to match them.
White Bird in a Blizzard (recommended): Shailene Woodley is the real reason to see this occasionally fascinating, sometimes too peculiar film that has an interesting central premise but gets distracted when it heads in a less worthwhile overarching direction.