Pick of the Week: “A Most Violent Year” (Amazon Prime) — J.C. Chandor’s thriller about an ambitious heating oil salesman (Oscar Isaac) who tries to keep his hands clean (or clean enough) in a world of crime and corruption owes an obvious debt to great ’70s films by Sidney Lumet, Francis Ford Coppola and William Friedkin. But its exploration of the intersection between capitalism and morality seems utterly relevant in an age of “Corporations are people too, my friends.”
“Welcome To Me” (Netflix) — My full review is here. I really think this bizarre, candy-coated skewering of self-actualization and instant celebrity is one of the best films of 2015. Kristen Wiig is perfect as a disturbed woman who uses her lottery winnings to finance her own talk show, where she celebrates herself and redresses old wrongs to the growing horror of the cable station staff. It’s like a great Michael Ritchie satire for modern times.
“Human Capital” (Netflix) — My full review is here. The hit-and-run death of a motorcyclists ripples through the lives of several families in this Italian mystery, based on Stephen Amidon’s novel, which revisits the same events from several different characters’ perspectives. In the end, it’s not as deep as the film seems to think it is, but it is engrossing to sift through the different stories and find out what really happened.
“Conspiracy Theory” (Netflix) — An unlikely mix of ’70s paranoid thriller and ’90s action movie, with Mel Gibson as a disturbed cabbie who discovers his crazy theories may have some truth behind them.
“Shanghai Noon” (Netflix) — I’m ashamed to say it took me over a decade before I realized the pun in this title. Oof. Anyway, it’s a fun Western romp with Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson.