Recommended movies to see in theaters this week:
- The gentle and insightful end-of-life drama Truman. Often funny, it’s a weeper that is never maudlin. One of the best movies of the year. Hard to find, but worth it.
- The Lost City of Z, a thoughtful and beautifully cinematic revival of the adventure epic genre.
- In Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, writer-director Joseph Cedar and his star Richard Gere combine to create the unforgettable character of Norman Oppenheimer, a Jewish Willy Loman who finally gets his chance to sits with the Movers and Shakers. This may be Gere’s best movie performance ever.
- The Dinner is an emotional potboiler that showcases Richard Gere, Laura Linney Steve Coogan and Rebecca Hall.
- Free Fire is a witty and fun shoot ’em up.
- Their Finest is an appealing, middling period drama set during the London Blitz.
And movies to avoid:
- A Quiet Passion, a miserably evocative portrait of a miserable Emily Dickinson.
- I found the predictable Armenian Genocide drama The Promise to be a colossal waste of Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale.
My DVD/Stream of the Week is the emotionally affecting drama Lion, one of the top crowd pleasers of 2016. When The Wife and I saw Lion, pretty much the entire audience was choked up. Stay all the way through the end credits for even more tears. Lion is available on DVD from Netflix and Redbox and to stream from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.
What’s coming up this week on Turner Classic Movies? To start with, tonight TCM broadcasts the iconic generational comedy The Graduate AND my choice for the funniest movie of all time, The Producers.
On May 15, TCM will air the film that launched the Coen Brothers (Ethan and Joel), their first feature Blood Simple. Since their debut, the Coens have gone on to win Oscars for Fargo and No Country for Old Men, and their True Grit and the very, very underrated A Serious Man are just as good. Along the way, they also gave us the unforgettable The Big Lebowski.
It all started with their highly original neo-noir Blood Simple. It’s dark, it’s funny and damned entertaining. The highlight is the singular performance by veteran character actor M. Emmet Walsh as a Stetson-topped gunsel. Blood Simple was also the breakthrough performance for Frances McDormand. The suspenseful finale, when Walsh is methodically hunting down McDormand, is brilliant.