Pick of the week: “Samsara“: My full review is here. This arresting documentary is essentially a wordless flow of arresting images gathered from around the world, from sand dunes shifting in the wind to cityscapes full of bustling lights. The effect is a hypnotic and unsettling journey into life as it is lived around the world, from the most beautiful natural spots to the poorest urban backwaters.
Action movie of the week: “The Rundown“: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s first real outing as an action hero was this surprisingly fun and canny 2003 film, playing a bounty hunter rescuing a rich boy (Seann William Scott) from the Amazon jungle. Features Christopher Walken in Full Walken Mode.
Comedy of the week: “Greenberg“: My full review is here. Generation X is not aging well in Noah Baumbach’s dry and sharp comedy about a middle-aged misanthrope (Ben Stiller) who complicates life for an aimless Angeleno (Greta Gerwig). Gerwig and Baumbach would go on to collaborate in the much more sunny “Frances Ha.”
Drama of the week: “Agora“: My full review is here. Rachel Weisz plays a 5th-century Greek mathematician who finds science under attack from a growing religious sect in this parable about fundamentalism. It’s better in its broad strokes than its characters, who are often mouthpieces for the viewpoints they represent.
Thriller of the week: “Albino Alligator“: Kevin Spacey’s directorial debut was a 1996 crime drama about three criminals who take the denizens of a dive bar hostage after their heist goes wrong. The story’s roots in the theater are obvious, but Spacey fills the film with tension and good actors, including Faye Dunaway, Joe Mantegna and Matt Dillon.