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


The Instant Gratification column took the week off while I was immersed in covering the 2015 Wisconsin Film Festival (check out all my reviews here.) But it’s back, headed by one of the best horror films in recent  years.

Pick of the week: “The BabadookMy full review is here. There may be nothing scarier than being a parent, as shown by this wonderful Australian horror film in which a harried single mother comes across a mysterious pop-up book that tells of a fearsome creature menacing a family . . . very much like hers.

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“She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry”: You really have come a long way, baby


“She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry” opens Friday at Sundance Cinemas. Not rated, 1:27, three stars out of four.

During the civil rights movement, scores of women stood up for what was right. And, after that, they weren’t inclined to sit back down again when it came to their own rights.

Mary Dore’s illuminating documentary “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry” looks at the feminist movement of the 1960s, celebrating what was achieved but also being pretty frank about where it fell short. Dore could have done more to connect the struggle to the ongoing battles for women’s rights today, as well to so-called “third wave” feminism. But as a galvanizing document of its time, “Angry” hits the mark.

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“GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem:” An Israeli wife fights in a court divorced from fairness


“GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem” opens Friday at Sundance Cinemas. Not rated, 1:55, three and a half stars out of four.

For the first five minutes of “GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem,” we never see the woman who gives the movie her name. Instead, co-directors Shlomi and Ronit Elkabetz film from her point of view, so we see her view of her attorney (Menasheh Noy), her estranged husband (Simon Abkarian) and the three-member religious court of rabbis that will decide her fate. But never her.

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“While We’re Young”: Middle age is wasted on the middle-aged

Ben Stiller and Adam Driver in While We're Young

“While We’re Young” opens Friday at Sundance Cinemas. R, 1:34, three and a half stars out of four.

If youth is wasted on the young, middle age is definitely wasted on the middle-aged. Think about it. You have the experience and wisdom to know what truly matters, and the resources to go after it. And yet you waste all this time either mooning over your vanished youth or living in fear of the old age to come. Or waste time hunting around for the cardboard sleeve to your “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” CD.

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


The start of a new month means a whole mess o’ new movies arriving on Netflix. Some of these I swear have been on Netflix before, but, either way, they’re here now!

Pick of the week: “Life PartnersMy full review is here. In this very funny comedy about female friendship, Gillian Jacobs and Leighton Meester play lifelong buds whose bond is tested when Jacobs falls into a serious relationship. The fact that one of the two friends is gay is the source of some gags but is otherwise refreshingly irrelevant.

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“Effie Gray:” Losing sense and sensibility in a loveless marriage

effie gray review dakota

“Effie Gray” opens Friday at Sundance Cinemas. PG-13, 1:48, two and a half stars out of four.

On a train ride, Effie Gray (Dakota Fanning) remarks to John Ruskin (Greg Wise) that sharing the train compartment together is the first time they’ve ever been truly alone together.

They’re already married at this point. That would seem like a red flag.

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Instant Gratification: “Kingdom of Dreams and Madness” and four other good movies new to streaming


Pick of the week: “Kingdom of Dreams and Madness” (Netflix)My full review is here. This illuminating fly-on-the-wall documentary looks inside the unassuming home of Studio Ghibli, as Hayao Miyazaki and his team of hand-drawn animators work on “The Wind Rises” and idly wonder if it will be their last film.

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