My running list of Best Movies of 2016 – So Far is out. For movies in theaters right now:
- Our Kind of Traitor is a robust espionage thriller with a funny yet powerful performance by Stellan Skarsgård.
- Free State of Jones effectively combines the elements of political drama, romance and war movies into an absorbing Civil War drama, one which connects the dots between the 19th Century and the 20th and beyond. With a sizzling Matthew McConaughey.
- Zero Days is a documentary on a jaw-dropping hacker mystery – who and how was able to get Iranian military computers to destroy the hardware for their own nuclear weapons program.
- All the Way is a thrilling political docudrama with a stellar performance. It’s the story of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, warts and all, ending official racial segregation in America with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Bryan Cranston brings LBJ alive as no actor has before. All the Way is still playing on HBO.
- Finding Dory doesn’t have the breakthrough animation or the depth of story that we expect from Pixar, but it won’t be painful to watch a zillion times with your kids.
- I’m not writing about Ghostbusters, but I’ve seen it, and it’s not terrible. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy are brilliant talents, and they produce some laughs in Ghostbusters.
Here are my top picks at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF36), underway right now throughout the Bay Area.
My DVD/Stream for the next two weeks is one of my Best Movies of 2016 – So Far. San Jose native Matt Sobel’s impressive directorial debut Take Me To the River is entirely fresh. Not one thing happens in Take Me to the River that you can predict, and it keeps the audience off-balance and completely engaged. You can stream Take Me to the River on Amazon Instant, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play or rent the DVD from Netflix.
On July 26, Turner Classic Movies presents the still-powerful 1943 The Ox-Bow Incident, a parable about mobs acting rashly on the basis of fear and prejudice (which certainly resonates in today’s political environment). Henry Fonda and Harry Morgan lead an excellent period cast with Dana Andrews, Anthony Quinn and Jane Darwell, along with Frank Conroy and Harry Davenport, whose performances are perfect little gems. Which character most resembles Donald Trump?
On July 27, TCM airs Heaven’s Gate, a movie that I reviled when I saw it in a theater in 1980 and again in 2013 when it garnered some wholly undeserved revisionist praise. The second time around, I still found Heaven’s Gate to be a brutal, if occasionally unintentionally humorous, viewing experience. Its director, Michael Cimino, died last week, and it’s a good time to honor him by watching his masterpiece The Deer Hunter.