Pick of the week: “Nightcrawler“ — The thing is, he’s not wrong. The freelance crime scene photographer Jake Gyllenhaal plays in this creepy thrill may be a total sociopath, profiting off other people’s miseries and even adding to them (or at least staging them) if it makes for a better shot. But he’s taking the principles of free-market-capitalism and entrepreneurship to its logical extremes — even if those extremes include murder. Great film.
“Words and Pictures” – My full review is here. Fine performances by Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen elevate a potentially drippy romantic drama about sparring professors at a private school – he’s a debauched English prof, she’s a free-spirited art professor – whose spirited debates over the value of images vs. language evolve into something deeper.
“Night Falls On Manhattan” – Great late-period Sidney Lumet in this gritty 1997 drama with hard-charging cop turned lawyer Andy Garcia getting tangled in a morass of legal and ethical corruption. Nobody did this kind of stuff better than Lumet.
“People Will Talk” – Cary Grant is delightful in this 1951 drama, playing a free-thinking professor at a stuffy Midwestern college who turns heads when he befriends a single pregnant woman, ignoring the disapproval of his colleagues.
“The Quiet American” – John Boorman did a wonderful job adapting Graham Greene’s cynically prescient novel about a naïve American advisor (Brendan Fraser) hoping to change hearts and minds in early ‘60s Vietnam, with a terrific Michael Caine as the ruined British journalist who sees the aftershocks of such wanton idealism.