Saturday, September 1, 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

Operation Finale (recommended): Ben Kingsley stands out with his portrayal of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in this intense, entertaining thriller in the style of “Argo.” Now playing in wide release. Read my review from Wednesday.

Pick of the Litter (highly recommended): While I didn’t see this film, my wife Arielle, who loves dogs, did when it premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival this past January. This documentary about puppies raised to be guide dogs still sticks out as one of the best movies she’s seen in a while, so if it sounds like your thing, see it right away! Now playing at the IFC Center. Read her review from Slamdance.

New to DVD

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.

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.

The Last Laugh (recommended): This entertaining and insightful documentary explores the question of whether the Holocaust is funny, an issue it doesn’t resolve but has an interesting and worthwhile time examining through clips and interviews with many famous comedians.

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.

Woman Walks Ahead (recommended): This period film, which premiered at Tribeca earlier this year, is a worthwhile look at one trailblazing woman who wanted nothing more than to paint a famous Native American chief, with plenty of historical value and modern-day emphasis on getting along despite differences to be found within it.

Now on Netflix Instant Streaming

A Beautiful Mind (highly recommended): I’d still rank this very deserving 2001 Oscar winner for Best Picture as my second-favorite movie of all-time, featuring amazing performances from Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, and Jennifer Connelly. It’s an exceptional drama that serves as a great example for similar films.

Brick (recommended): I wasn’t so gung-ho about director Rian Johnson’s debut feature film long before “Looper” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” but I can still appreciate the innovative and off-kilter nature of this early Joseph Gordon-Levitt indie.

Bruce Almighty (recommended): Jim Carrey will be back next week with a new TV show, and you can celebrate with this late-era comedy from the height of his career that’s genuinely funny, with a random guy grappling with what it means to have all the power in the universe.

The Cider House Rules (recommended): This 1999 Oscar winner and Best Picture nominee is hardly the liveliest of films, but it does feature some strong performances and a good script.

Fair Game (recommended): This underrated 2010 dramatic thriller is a very worthwhile look at what it means to be a journalist and a politician, featuring exceptional performances from both Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.

King Kong (recommended): Last year’s sort-of sequel may be more recent, but this 2005 remake of the classic original was brought to tremendous life by director Peter Jackson. It’s a large scale-epic, one that manages to make this monster movie believable and enthralling.

Pearl Harbor (recommended): I’ve only seen this much-maligned war movie from much-hated director Michael Bay once, but I actually didn’t think it was all that bad. Even if the acting and script aren’t superb, there are decent parts of this film, particularly its technical elements.

Searching for Sugar Man (recommended): This Oscar winner for Best Documentary is an enormously compelling, involving look at one peculiar, unique artist made all the more empathetic and worthwhile after its director Malik Bendjelloul’s tragic suicide a few years ago.

Spider-Man 3 (mixed bag): I described this film as “silly but fun” way back in 2007 when I went to Staten Island for its premiere. The franchise has already been rebooted twice since the third and final Tobey Maguire-stalling installment, and you’re probably better off watching “The Cider House Rules,” listed above, if you want to see him in something.

Summer Catch (anti-recommended): I saw this pretty terrible movie in theatres with a bunch of friends from Hebrew school back in 2001 and remember asking before it started why we were going to see a film that had received such bad reviews. They weren’t wrong – even stars Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jessica Biel have done better.

Unforgiven (highly recommended): This 1992 Best Picture winner directed by and starring Clint Eastwood is an excellent western, one that takes the best of the genre and revisits it for a contemplative and very well-done film. Definitely worth seeing.

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