Saturday, June 2, 2018

Saturday Night Movie Recommendations with Abe

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 and Netflix. I invite you to add in your thoughts on any films I haven’t seen in the comments below.

Now Playing in Theatres

American Animals (highly recommended): This true story of a university library heist planned by four students pulls double duty as a gripping thriller and a creative amalgam of interviews with the actual people and the actors who portray them. The result is simply terrific. Now playing at AMC Lincoln Square and Regal Union Square. Read my review from South by Southwest.

Breath (highly recommended): Simon Baker stars in and directs this visually incredible story of two young surfers on the Western coast of Australia in the 1970s who get to experience glimpses of adulthood through their interactions with a former professional surfer. Now playing at the Angelika. Read my review from yesterday.

First Reformed (mixed bag): This dreary drama about a self-destructive pastor starts off with plenty of intrigue but quickly delves into disturbing and less-than-enthralling territory, hardly representative of the best work of veteran writer-director Paul Schrader. Now playing at AMC Lincoln Square, AMC Kips Bay, City Cinemas East 86th St, Cinepolis Chelsea, and the Angelika. Read my review from a few weeks ago.

A Kid Like Jake (recommended): Claire Danes and Jim Parsons lead this timely film, from trans director Silas Howard, about parents struggling the reactions by peers and professionals to their son who doesn’t conform to typical gender stereotypes or behavior. Now playing at the IFC Center. Read my review from Sundance.

Mary Shelley (mixed bag): Elle Fanning shows once again that she has a promising career ahead of her with a strong performance as the real-life creator of Frankenstein that isn’t nearly as interesting as either its protagonist or its star deserve. Now playing at the Kew Gardens Cinema and the Bow Tie Roslyn Theater. Read my review from Tribeca.

New to DVD

Forbidden Films (recommended): This insightful look at Nazi propaganda that comprised German cinema of the 1930s and 1940s played at the New York Jewish Film Festival back in 2015. Though it offers no clear-cut take on whether this film should be seen widely, its analysis is worthwhile.

Miss Stevens (mixed bag): Actress Lily Rabe leads a competent cast in a forgettable dramedy about a teacher far too invested in her high school drama students that’s harmless enough if also relatively missable.

Wonderstruck (recommended): The most recent - and most family-friendly - film from director Todd Haynes flew under the radar after playing at Cannes, Telluride, and the New York Film Festival. Its layered story, featuring strong child performances, about finding yourself in a sea of noise and confusion is powerful, and a strong second act demonstrates Haynes’ versatility.

Now Available on Instant Streaming

Cargo (highly recommended): Martin Freeman anchors this surprisingly strong zombie movie, which addresses the subject of mortality with sensitivity and depth, that played in the Midnight section at Tribeca. For fans of the genre, this film smartly emphasizes plot and emotion over gore.

Coco (highly recommended): It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t love this past year’s Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. Its message is pure and wonderful, and its content and characters are a whole lot of fun. Everyone and anyone should see this.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (recommended): This comedy, released just months after “The Office” first started, was Judd Apatow’s first feature film. It’s not as funny as his next film, Knocked Up, but it’s still fun, and Steve Carell is great.

The Kingdom (recommended): This pretty standard action movie from 2007 about war in the Middle East probably doesn’t look all that different from what a film made today about the same subject would. Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner were at the height of their careers headlining this solid if somewhat disturbing thriller.

Mamma Mia (anti-recommended): I was not a fan at all of this movie musical, which I think most consider to be a bit flighty but decently enjoyable. The timing of its availability on Netflix is no surprise given the sequel’s impending release this July - a film that’s far from at the top of my list.

Wanted (highly recommended): I saw this awesome action thriller as part of a triple feature nearly a decade ago and still remember some of its best scene, its score by Danny Elfman, and James McAvoy’s star turn with a flawless American accent. I’d love to see it again.

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