Before you see any other movie, go see The Big Sick, the best American movie of the year so far. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love. Here are more choices (but see The Big Sick first!):
- Baby Driver is just an action movie, but the walking, running and driving are brilliantly time to the beat of music.
- The Journey is a fictional imagining of a real historical event with wonderful performances from Colm Meaney and Timothy Spall as the two longtime blood enemies who collaborated to bring peace to Northern Ireland.
- Okja, another wholly original creation from the imagination of master filmmaker Bong Joon Ho, is streaming on Netflix and opening in theaters.
- The amusingly naughty but forgettable comedy The Little Hours is based on the dirty fun in your Western Civ class, Boccaccio’s The Decameron.
- The character-driven suspenser Moka is a showcase for French actresses Emmanuelle Devos and Nathalie Baye.
Here are my top picks for the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, which just opened yesterday.
My DVD/Stream of the Week is Drinking Buddies that RARE romantic comedy where the characters act and react – not in the way we’ve come to expect rom com characters to act – but as unpredictably as would real people. Drinking Buddies is available on DVD from Netlix and Redbox and streaming from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and GooglePlay.
On July 26, Turner Classic Movies brings us a feast of Alfred Hitchcock: Psycho, Vertigo, The Birds and North by Northwest. These are four of Hitchcock’s best, but today I’m choosing to feature The Birds, which I’ve screened recently. The Birds showcases Hitchcock’s brilliant sense of foreshadowing. Repeatedly, precursor events are unnoticed or dismissed by the characters, but seem vaguely offbeat or unsettling to the audience. And the suspense when the kids are walked out from their schoolhouse is unmatched. Plus no one could be more vulnerable to an aerial attack than when trapped in a glass phone booth.
I had forgotten about the flirtation between Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor), which certainly wouldn’t happen the same way today; Melanie is actually acting sexually aggressively for 1963. Today, we find Melanie and Mitch to be dressed with strange formality, but I can tell you that the wardrobe fits 1963 San Francisco.
Today’s audience, in our post 9/11 world, will identify with the locals in the town cafe as they assess whether the birds present a real or imagined threat. The Birds has been named to the National Film Registry.