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Let us leave aside the abomination that is PIXELS (why Peter Dinklage, why?). Instead, there are some excellent ways to spend your time and money at the movies this week, including in its second week of release, Amy Schumer’s sublimely profane, sly satire on the rom-com, TRAINWRECK, which made me laugh more than any other film so far this year. Bill Hader, in the traditionally “chick” role stays just peculiar enough to make his quintessentially good guy character interesting, and a match for Schumer’s titular trainwreck of a debauched single woman.
For a more serious, and troubling, film, there is THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT opening this weekend. What it says about the thin and fragile veneer of civilization that barely contains our essentially savage nature is disturbing, and sadly all the more relevant now than when the ill-fated experiment took place in 1971. The cast of young actors, headed by Ezra Miller and Michael Angarano give visceral, intense performances, while Billy Crudup as Dr. Philip Zimbardo, as the psychologist who devised the experiment, and refused to stop it when it got out of hand, is the perfect chilling blend of scientific curiosity and complete lack of self-awareness.
Woody Allen’s IRRATIONAL MAN is a piquant blend of the serious and the absurd with an existentially nauseous philosopher, played to the hilt by Joaquin Phoenix, finding meaning in a criminal act, and a romantic triangle with a precocious student (Emma Stone) and a quietly discomfited science professor (Parker Posey) at the small college where he is spending the summer teaching.
My interview with the effervescent Ms Posey can be found here.
In sadly limited release is LILA AND EVE , a revisionist take on the traditional revenge flick with Viola Davis as a grieving mother told by her support group to get a hobby to help her cope. She does. And it’s tracking down her son’s killer with the help of another mother of a murdered child played with excellent grit, if too perfect makeup, by Jennifer Lopez. Where other films of this ilk focus on action, this one dares to explore the complexity of grief and the elusive nature of closure.
Continuing favorites to catch if you haven’t already include the eye-candy and female empowerment of MAGIC MIKE XXL and the subtle and poignant mix of politics and romance in JIMMY’S HALL, and the sheer genius of social commentary and satire that is DOPE.