Pick of the week: “Much Ado About Nothing“ — My full review is here. The gimmick behind Joss Whedon’s Shakespeare adaptation is a lot of fun, he shot it in his own house, using a lot of actor friends (including Nathan Fillion and Amy Acker) in under two weeks, as a break between shooting and editing “The Avengers.” But the film, set in present-day Los Angeles, is an efficient and knowing adaptation of the text, never skimping on the fun of the Bard’s plot while throwing the play’s sharp anti-feminist themes into sharp relief.
“The Trials of Muhammad Ali“ — My full review is here. While Ali may be a beloved sports icon today, this powerful documentary shows his fights outside the ring, as a conscientious objector and a Muslim not afraid to speak out against his country. His forthrightness earned him a lot of enemies in both sports and politics, and the film shows how he became an emblem of a counterculture stirred to action.
“Wrestling for Jesus“ — My full review is here. The idea of a Christian wrestling league, in which the wrestlers pray and prosthelytize before slamming each other off the ropes, might seem like something to sneer at. But Madison filmmaker Nathan Clarke digs past stereotypes and paints a fascinating portrait of the limits of faith in hard times.
“Il Futuro” — In this very strange Brazilian film, a disaffected young woman agrees to befriend the reclusive owner of a nearby mansion, a blind ex-actor who used to star in cheesy Hercules movies in the ’50s. The woman ends up forming a bond with the sagging former muscleman, who is played by, of all people, Rutger Hauer in a majestic performance as a lion who has lost his fangs.
“Anatomy of a Murder“ — Otto Preminger directed this elegant 1959 courtroom thriller starring Jimmy Stewart trying to get his client off for murder — he did it, but claims he was suffering temporary insanity because the victim raped his wife.