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And let’s start with a bang. That would be MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION, which is everything a terrific popcorn flick should be: sleek, fast, and fun. And, yes, the action sequences are jaw-dropping. You can read my full review by clicking here, Spoiler alert, I go on and on about Simon Pegg, he of The Cornetto Trilogy, the Star Trek reboot, and the Mission Impossible franchise. I think he’s one of the undersung character actors today, as well as being wickedly funny I’ve had the pleasure of talking to him three times, most recently for THE WORLD’S END, Click here for that film’s review and the interview.
There’s action of another sort in THE BEST OF ENEMIES, a documentary about the fabled 1968 debates between arch-conservative writer and editor William F. Bucklen and progressive gadfly novelist and playwright (among many other things) Gore Vidal. For a reminder of what a real debate about ideas, not ideology, is like, there is nothing better than watching the two spar with the lethal weapons that were their barbed tongues, quick wit, and scintillating intellect. My conversation with the film’s co-director, Robert Gordon, can be found here.
A GAY GIRL IN DAMASCUS is a disconcerting look at the tricks the internet can play on us, and, worse, the tricks we allow it to play when we should know better. A blog by the titular woman in Damascus attracts the attention of Canadian Sandra Bagaria, who falls in love with her, and the world media when the Arab Spring breaks out. It’s a gripping psychological thriller, as suspenseful, and full of twists, as the best spy movie, but with the added jolt of being true. My conversation with Bagaria can be found here. Don’t worry, we don’t give too much away.
Also a true story, but rendered into a fictional narrative, THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT revisits that infamous experiment that turned one group of regular, anti-establishment college kids into sadists, and another group into their compliant victims. More than just an interesting historical footnote, it explains human nature in a way that should give us all pause. My review is here.
Continuing in theaters, and continuing worthy of at least one look, if not two: TRAINWRECK, Amy Schumer’s delicious take-down of rom-coms, and IRRATIONAL MAN, Woody Allen’s dialectic on chance and fate.