Pick of the Week: “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation“ (Amazon Prime and Hulu) — When word of a fifth “M:I” was announced, I thought “Really?” Sure, Brad Bird’s “Ghost Protocol” was the high point of the franchise for me, but did Tom Cruise really need to go to the well for a fifth time? As it turns out, “Rogue Nation” (directed by Christopher McQuarrie) is sparkling entertainment that blends the humor and panache of caper films of yore with cutting-edge stunts. Bring on No. 6.
Even the mariachi bands are depressing in a Todd Solondz movie. From 1996’s “Welcome to the Dollhouse” to the new “Wiener-Dog,” Solondz has been one of the most reliable miserablists in movies. He treats the losers and posers of the world with equal contempt. If there’s anybody in his movies he seems to have an affinity for, it’s the few amoral predators who prey on the rest of us. They’ve at least figured out the rules in such an unfeeling world.
I’ve gone back and forth on Solondz’s movies – I really liked his little-seen last film “Dark Horse,” but have found other films to be mean just for the sake of meanness – and a pretty repetitive meanness at that. It plays Saturday night at the UW-Cinematheque, 4070 Vilas Hall, for free on a double bill with the documentary “Weiner.”
We may not be ready to let go of summer just yet, but the release of the UW Cinematheque fall 2016 schedule makes digging that sweater vest out of the closet a little easier.
The free on-campus film series, which has spread from its home base at 4070 Vilas Hall to include the Marquee Theatre at Union South and the Chazen Museum of Art, features indie movie premieres, restored classics, documentaries and cult films. It’s safe to say that none of these films would play in Madison on a big screen if it wasn’t for the programmers at the Cinematheque. And it’s all free.
Pick of the Week: “Z for Zachariah” (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. Despite a stellar cast that includes Margot Robbie (“Suicide Squad”), Chris Pine (“Star Trek Beyond”) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”), this Craig Zobel sci-fi drama never really caught fire and never played theatrically in Madison. Too bad, because it downplays the sci-fi and plays up the character drama, set in an idyllic valley apparently immune to the ravages of an apocalypse. A man and a woman meet there. And then another man shows up, setting up a love triangle with perhaps the future of humanity at stake.