Movies to See Right Now

Melissa Leo in NOVITIATE

So the highly acclaimed Novitiate, Lady Bird, Last Flag Flying, Darkest Hour and The Square have reached the Bay Area, but only in a few theaters.  The festival audience favorite Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri arrives next weekend.  Of these, I’ve only seen The Square, an ambitious satire that I liked, but which is not for everyone; I’ll be posting about it soon.  I liked LBJ, an effective Cliff Notes history lesson.  I’ll also soon be writing about LBJ and Murder on the Orient Express.  Stay tuned.


Because the big Prestige Movies are arriving in theaters and Oscar campaigns are being launched,  I’m giving you a movie that you can compare to 2017’s Oscar Bait. The Polish drama Ida won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Picture and the International Critics’ Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. Ida was my pick as the best film at Cinequest, where it won the Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature.  Ida is available on DVD from Netflix and streaming from Amazon Instant, YouTube, Google Play and Xbox Video.

On November 15 , Turner Classic Movies presents the Otto Preminger masterpiece Anatomy of a Murder (1959). This movie has everything: Jimmy Stewart’s portrayal of a wily lawyer, content to underachieve in the countryside, Stewart’s electrifying courtroom face-off with George C. Scott, great performances by a surly Ben Gazzara and a slutty Lee Remick, a great jazz score by Duke Ellington and a suitably cynical noir ending. That jazz score is one of the few movie soundtrack CDs that I own. The music perfectly complements the story of a murder investigation that reveals more and more ambiguity as it proceeds. Stewart’s character relaxes by dabbling in jazz piano, and Duke himself has a cameo leading a bar band in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (of all places).

James Stewart and George C. Scott tangle in Anatomy of a Murder
James Stewart (right) and George C. Scott (seated) tangle in ANATOMY OF A MURDER

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