Pick of the Week: “Captain Fantastic” (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. Jimmy Kimmel joked at the Oscars about how few people had seen this movie that got Viggo Mortensen a Best Actor nomination — now you can rectify that. Mortensen is terrific, both majestic and wounded, as a widower who has raised his five kids off the grid in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. It’s a tough but idyllic existence — but when his late wife’s parents attempt to take custody of the kids and bring them into the modern world, he has to reckon with how he’s raised them. He’s both like no parent ever and like every parent.
“Clouds of Sils Maria” (Netflix) — My full review is here. Juliette Binoche plays a middle-aged actress who has to reckon with mortality when she’s asked to take part in a revival of the play that launched her career – but as the older female character, not the young ingenue she originally played. Oliver Assayas’ film is a subtle and slippery tale of change, with terrific supporting performances by Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz.
“Milk” (Netflix) — My full review is here. Sean Penn is terrific as Harvey Milk, the San Francisco activist who fought for gay rights both inside and outside municipal politics in the 1970s and 1980s. Written by Dustin Lance Black, whose miniseries about gay rights “When We Rise” is on ABC this week, it was one of the best films of the year, but a film featuring an LGBT main character wouldn’t win an Oscar for Best Picture until “Moonlight” three days ago.
“Code: Debugging the Gender Gap” (Netflix) — My interview with director Robin Hauser Reynolds is here. Technology is a part of our everyday lives, so why does the field of computer science remain so frustratingly male-dominated. This lively documentary digs into the reasons why sexism still remains such a factor in both tech schools and computer firms, and suggests long-overdue remedies.
“Sonita” (Netflix) — An Iranian female rapper attempts to pursue her art, including songs about young girls being sold into marriage, in the midst of a repressive society in this crowd-pleasing documentary. The filmmakers’ decision to interfere to help Sonita on her journey shows questionable documentary ethics, but the film gets you so invested in her story that you wonder if you might do the same.