This week’s best choices in theaters are:
- La La Land: the extraordinarily vivid romantic musical staring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.
- Lion: an emotionally affecting family drama that makes the audience weep (in a good way).
- The Founder: the enjoyably addictive story of how a the money-grubbing visionary Ray Kroc built the McDonald’s food service empire.
- Hidden Figures: a true life story from the 1960s space program – a triumph of human spirit and brainpower over sexism and racism; the audience applauded.
- I Am Not Your Negro, the documentary about the American public intellectual James Baldwin. It’s a searing examination of race in America as analyzed through Baldwin’s eyes and as expressed through his elegant words.
- The Salesman is another searing and authentic psychological family thriller from Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, The Past).
For the second consecutive week, my DVD/Stream of the Week is the Argentine neo-noir The Aura. Featured last week at San Francisco’s Noir City film fest, The Aura is available to rent on DVD from Netflix and to stream on Amazon Instant.
On February 13, Turner Classic Movies presents one of the greatest ever courtroom dramas, Stanley Kramer’s brilliant Inherit the Wind from 1960. The story is taken from the real-life Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925, so it has elements of culture wars and politics that resonate today. Spencer Tracy and Fredric March are superb as the warring thought-leaders (based on Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan).