Pick of the week: “Chef“ — My full review is here. While some elements of Jon Favreau’s indie hit strain credulity (I can’t imagine Scarlett Johansson really getting that worked up over someone making spaghetti), this is an amiable film about pursuing what you love, and a celebration of American cuisine. And it will teach you how to make a great grilled-cheese sandwich.
“The Brothers Bloom” — Writer-director Rian Johnson made this marvelously twisty caper comedy starring Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo as con artist brothers trying to outfox an heiress (Rachel Weisz) with plenty up her own sleeve. It didn’t get as much attention as Johnson’s “Brick” or “Looper” but is definitely worth seeking out.
“Gloria” — My full review is here. Chilean actress Paulina Garcia gave one of the year’s best performances as a late middle-aged woman hungry for love and belonging in a world that seems to be passing her by. It’s perceptive, sad, and ultimately triumphant.
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” — I thought the last two installments of this film version of Stieg Larsson’s best-selling trilogy were a big dropoff in quality, but the first one is still terrific — a haunting and bloody twist on the murder-mystery genre, with goth hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) making an unforgettable sleuth.
“Frida” — Salma Hayek showed for the first time that she was much more than just Robert Rodriguez eye-candy by playing tortured artist Frida Kahlo in this vibrant 2002 biopic.