1. Pick of the week: “The Wolf of Wall Street“ — I wrote here last January on how critics of Martin Scorsese’s wildly entertaining movie about junk bonds trader Jordan Belfort who think the movie condones his behavior are deeply misguided. Sure, the exploits of Belfort (a loose Leonardo DiCaprio) and his cohorts look like frat-boy frolicking, but the damage is plain as day for those willing to see it. And, more damningly, Scorsese is less interested in indicting Belfort than he is in indicting the rest of us for idolizing guys like him.
2. “It’s Such a Beautiful Day” — Don Hertzfeldt’s stick-figure animation is unsettling, often funny and very poignant, as he follows hapless little protagonists through nightmare worlds of banality. In this triptych of shorter workers, a man finds himself becoming unhinged from reality, but Hertzfeldt manages to bring him through the darkness and into a glorious epiphany.
3. “The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears” — My full review is here. I won’t argue that the storytelling in this homage to Italian giallo makes much sense, or is intended to. But filmmakers Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani employ every filmmaking trick they can think of to create a mood of erotic dread, buoyed by a trippy period soundtrack, that makes for a dizzying viewing experience.
4. “Runaway Train” — Jon Voight and Eric Roberts are excellent in this 1985 thriller about two convicts who escape an Alaskan prison and hop a train — only to find themselves trapped on the train as it steamrolls towards oblivion.
5. “From Russia With Love” — Sean Connery’s second outing as James Bond features a great villain in Lotte Lenya’s Smersh agent with knife-tipped shoes, and a fight aboard a train with assassin Robert Shaw that is one of the greatest fight scenes in film history.