Pick of the Week: “Under the Skin” (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. Jonathan Glazer’s chilling sci-fi arthouse movie will certainly have one of the very top slots on my 2014 Best Movies list, following an alien predator (Scarlett Johansson) who lures horny young men home and then . . . well, you just have to see it. With its mix of gritty on-the-street filmmaking and surreal imagery, “Under the Skin” is an unsentimental meditation on humanity that’s like nothing you’ve seen before.
“Ida” (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. This beautiful and devastating film from Polish director Pawel Pawilkowski follows a young nun in 1960s Poland who, begins to investigate what happened to her Jewish parents during the Nazi occupation. The deceptively brisk film is a mystery, an indictment of the collective guilt of a nation that would prefer to forget, and a character study of a seemingly naive young woman who understands much more than she appears. For Netflix viewers, “Ida” is scheduled to arrive this Saturday, Nov. 22.
“Quartet” (Netflix Instant) — Dustin Hoffman directed this breezy and poignant comedy about four retired opera stars, estranged for years, who grudgingly agree to reunite for a fundraising concert to save their retirement home. It’s pretty familiar stuff, but full of great British character actors in great, plummy roles, including Michael Gambon as a tetchy director and Billy Connolly as a randy old goat.
“Chelsea Peretti: One of the Greats” (Netflix Instant) — There’s a new comedy special on Netflix every day it seems, but the “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star’s stand-up special is really one of the greats, both because of her hilarious, finely-tuned material and her merciless send-up of stand-up specials, from the self-aggrandizing intro to the random reaction shots of audience members (in this case, including dogs and babies).
“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (Netflix Instant) — Granted, Johnny Depp pretty much steamrolled any goodwill he raised with the many cash-in sequels. But the original is still a fun swashbuckling romp that avoids the silly world-building and self-seriousness of the later installments.