Pick of the week: “Django Unchained“ — Samuel Fuller knew that sometimes only genre pulp can tell the truths that more high-minded films skirt around, and Quentin Tarantino’s revisionist Western “Django Unchained” was in that spirit. An unholy mash-up of Spaghetti Western and ’70s blaxploitation, set in the pre-Civil War South and West, in addition to being a bloody, rip-snortin’ good time, “Django” was unflinching in showing the evils of slavery, how cruelty and greed kept it going.
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” — My full review is here. Bigger and better than the original, but also deeper and richer, this second film of Suzanne Collins’ teen dystopian trilogy has a strong cast of actors behind Jennifer Lawrence’s commanding performance and a better director in Francis Lawrence, who raises the emotional stakes. Not surprisingly that the movie hits Netflix the same week that tickets go on sale for “Mockingjay Part 1,” like fans of the series needed a reason to line up.
“We Are The Best!” — My full review is here. Early ’80s Stockholm may seem like the least punk place in history, but director Lukas Moodyson’s irresistible comedy-drama bleeds rock ‘n’ roll in its tale of three middle-school girls who turn their misfit status into a tight friendship and a punk rock trio.
“Radio Days” — One of Woody Allen’s warmest films is his semi-autobiographical comedy about the connection through radio between his working-class neighborhood and the glamour of the wider world, with a young Seth Green playing the surrogate Woody.
“Shivers” — This early David Cronenberg film is the very definition of creepy, as the residents of an antiseptic apartment building are besieged by an alien parasite that is transmitted through sex.