Pick of the Week: “Moonlight“ (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. I still can’t quite believe that Barry Jenkins’ exquisitely observed drama won an Oscar for Best Picture. Because of the whole weirdness at the Academy Award ceremony, obviously, but also because it’s just not the sort of movie Oscar voters cotton to, telling the story of a gay black man in three stages of his life with such specificity and humanity. The film gives just a glimmer of hope at the end, but the fact that films like these could be seen and celebrated by the mainstream — could be a HIT — provides way more than a glimmer.
“Doctor Strange” (Netflix) — A Marvel movie with Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen and Chiwetel Ejiofor is most definitely my kind of Marvel movie. And especially in this case, a trippy psychedelic adventure that brings the original ’60s comics vibe to the screen with humor and style. Now if only they could find more for Rachel McAdams to do than “frustrated girlfriend.”
“Inglourious Basterds” (Netflix) — I stand by my original characterization of Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 riff on World War II movies as five great scenes and some stuff connecting them together. But, man, what great scenes, especially the blind man’s bluff showdown in the bar and any time Christoph Waltz rubs his hands together gleefully.
“A Hologram for the King” (Amazon Prime) — I eventually warmed to Tom Tykwer’s adaptation of Dave Eggers’ novel, sort of a global multinational “Waiting For Godot” with Tom Hanks as a harried executive waiting in Dubai for a deal that never goes through. Once you understand that the pleasure is in the details rather than in any sort of plot, it kind of works.
“Long Strange Trip” (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. Not only Deadheads should plunk themselves down for all four hours of Amir Bar-Lev’s incredibly detailed, impressionistic documentary about the Grateful Dead. The film makes the case that the Dead were a quintessentially American band, democratic pioneers, before capitalism and fame eventually overwhelmed Jerry Garcia.