Instant Gratification: “Frank” and four other good movies to watch on Netflix Instant and Amazon Prime

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Pick of the week: “Frank (Netflix)My full review is here. Michael Fassbender as you’ve never seen him before — completely obscured by a giant papier-mache head as he plays the enigmatic, possibly emotionally damaged leader of an art-rock band in this strange, funny and sad film about the price and salvation of creative genius. Great supporting turns by Maggie Gyllenhaal as the mercurial power behind the band and Domhnall Gleeson as a mediocre songwriter who tries to push the band towards mainstream success.

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“Selma”: Bending the arc of the moral universe towards justice

SELMA

“Selma” is now playing at Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema and Sundance. PG-13, 2:07, four stars out of four.

History does not have to happen. Years after, it seems inevitable that African-Americans would have gotten the right to vote, just as years from now it will seem inevitable that gay people would get the right to marry, or someday it will seem inevitable that African-Americans would be treated fairly by the criminal justice system.

But it does not just happen on its own. It happens because people put their shoulder to the wheel and push, push their leaders to act, push their media to listen, push their countrymen to see. It requires hard work and diligence and suffering to, as one character in “Selma” puts it, “build the path best we can. Rock by rock.”

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In “Birdman,” “Big Eyes” and “Top Five,” everybody’s a critic (hater)

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Everybody’s a critic these days at the movies. Or, at least, everybody’s a critic hater. For some reason, three of the top movies released in the last couple of months have prominent and pretty unflattering roles for critics — New York Times critics in particular. Did the Old Grey Lady do something to tick off Hollywood?

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Instant Gratification: “Election” and four other good movies to watch on Netflix Instant

Election-still

Pick of the Week: “Election — Tracy Flick would have turned up her nose at the messy, careless Cheryl Strayed, but after seeing Reese Witherspoon’s tour de force in “Wild,” it’s fun to go back and see her in Alexander Payne’s 1999 comedy about a driven high school student and the teacher (Matthew Broderick) determined to stop her.

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