Pick of the week: “Ex Machina“ (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. In Alex Garland’s sleek sci-fi thriller, a young programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) is tasked with evaluating the humanity of an android (Alicia Vikander) built by his boss (a great Oscar Isaac). Naturally, complications ensue. Garland largely dodges deeper questions about humanity and identify, instead making a beautiful and tense movie that’s something special.
“I’m Still Here“ (Netflix) — My full review is here. Now that we know Joaquin Phoenix’s foray into bearded hip-hop was just an act, we can enjoy Casey Affleck’s mockumentary about the prank, a woozy comedy which does have some disquieting things to say about the arrogance of celebrity.
“Dior & I“ (Netflix) — My full review is here. This entertainment fashion documentary follows designer Raf Simons’ attempt to take over the legendary Dior brand as its creative director and develop a new line in just eight weeks. The film succeeds as it delves into the human beings behind those beautiful clothes, from Simons and the models to the seamstresses who toil away in obscurity.
“The Wolfpack“ (Netflix) — My full review is here. This Sundance-acclaimed documentary is a fascinating fly-on-the-wall look at five brothers, all raised largely in isolation in the middle of New York City, and how movies end up feeding their artistic curiosity and invited them to join the wider world.
“The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus“ (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. I’ll happily take second-tier Terry Gilliam, which is certainly what this 2009 film is, starring Christopher Plummer as an old magician leading his carnival troupe (including Andrew Garfield and Verne Troyer) through London, trying to keep his daughter (Lily Cole) out of the clutches of the Devil (Tom Waits in the role he was born to play). It doesn’t really all hang together, but there are some wonderfully weird images and ideas along the way.