Pick of the week: “56 Up” — My report from the Wisconsin Film Festival, including comments from subject Nick Hitchon, is here. The latest installment in Michael Apted’s revolutionary documentary series, which checks in on the same group of people every seven years of their lives, finds the subjects in a ruminative mood. The deft editing between prior installments shows the people (including UW-Madison professor Nick Hitchon) growing older, living with the choices they made along the way. Watching them it’s impossible not to think of the milestones in our own lives, those passed by, and those yet to come.
Drama of the week: “Starlet” — My full review is here. It sounds like a terrible idea for a sitcom — an octogenarian bingo addict and a young porn star become friends. But this indie drama is a restrained and insightful character study of a strange but lasting relationship.
Foreign film of the week: “As Luck Would Have It” — My full review is here. In this pitch-black media satire from Spain, a down-on-his-luck man becomes a media star after his head becomes impaled on a steel rod at a construction site. As reporters, politicians, and agents swirl around him, all looking for ways to exploit the situation, the victim becomes complicit in the selling of himself.
Comedy of the week: “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” — As a director, George Clooney now makes pretty respectable entertainments like the upcoming “Monuments Men.” But his debut was this gonzo film that posits “Gong Show” host Chuck Barris was secretly a CIA assassin. The film features a great performance by Sam Rockwell in the unhinged lead role.
Thriller of the week: “Nick of TIme” — It’s Johnny Depp in the most shocking role of his life — a completely ordinary guy. In this well-plotted 1995 thriller, which unfolds in real time, Depp plays a dad blackmailed by Christopher Walken into assassinating a politician.