Pick of the week: “Liberal Arts“ — My full review is here. Josh Radnor wrote, directed and starred in this soulful comedy about a disenchanted college admissions officer who goes back to his alma mater and connects with a bright student (Elizabeth Olsen). Radnor deftly avoids the skeevier aspects of the May-December relationship, and with fine supporting turns by Richard Jenkins and Allison Janney, the film is a lovely ode to keeping that college curiosity about the world going well after graduation.
“The Debt” — Three retired Mossad officers are honored for their capture of a Nazi war criminal decades earlier, and then John Madden’s film flashes back to the ’60s to show us what really happened. The attempt to give a standard spy story the weight of a John Le Carre novel doesn’t always click, but this is still an enjoyably grounded thriller.
“Alive Inside” — My full review is here. This moving documentary looks at how music affects the brain, specifically how elderly patients with dementia and strokes have been revived by hearing their favorite music. More broadly, the film delivers a powerful message about how the aging in our society shouldn’t merely be managed, but connected with.
“Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)” — Woody Allen’s riotous sketch-comedy send-up of the notorious ’70s sex manual has several classic scenes, including Gene Wilder falling in love with a sheep.
“Rescue Dawn” — My full review is here. Werner Herzog makes an unusually straightforward action film about a Vietnam War prisoner of war (Christian Bale, who gets put through the ringer) who beats impossible odds to fight for his freedom.