- The Last of Sheila: It was co-written by Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins and the story involves a puzzle game. So it’s no wonder that this mystery film has something of a cult following in the puzzle community. Overall, I found it absorbing enough, though there’s nothing terribly surprising if you’re familiar enough with the mystery genre. The 1970’s clothing and hair styles (especially on the men) are also pretty amusing. If this is the sort of thing you'd enjoy, you've probably already watched it.
- Still Alice: I saw this discussed somewhere as a movie for adults and that seems a fair call. If you’re not familiar with it, Juliane Moore gave an excellent performance as a woman stricken with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Her family copes surprisingly well and the film avoids the hysterics that I think my family would go into under the circumstances. Frightening and articulate, I highly recommend this to adults.
- Sex Tape: The thing about United’s on-demand entertainment is that sometimes you’re on a flight that’s not really long enough to watch most movies, so you end up watching something only because it suits the distance from, say, IAH to IAD. The premise of this movie – a couple makes a porno on an ipad to stir up their passion level and he accidentally synchs it to the cloud – isn’t inherently a horrible premise for a movie. But their machinations to get it back, which include stealing ipads he has given to various people, are just dumb. This isn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen (that would be Disco Beaver From Outer Space, still execrable after all these years) but I watched it to the end only because I found it hard to believe it could continue to be so stupid. Don’t make the same mistake.
- Famous Nathan: Once in a while, I see a movie somewhere other than an airplane or my living room. In this case, the Washington DC Jewish Community Center was screening yet another entry in a category that is less limited than you might expect – namely, documentaries about Jewish food. This one is about Nathan Handwerker, of Coney Island hot dog fame. It’s really less about the food (though New Yorkers will smile at seeing signs for things like the chow mein on a bun) than about the family, with the collapse of the empire as Nathan’s sons disagree on the future of the business and create yet another family rift. (There are lots of past ones, some more hinted at than others.) I think anyone who has tried to understand the stories of their immigrant ancestors will enjoy this film, which was made by Nathan’s grandson. (And, yes, the JCC had a hot dog truck out front before the film.)
- Man on Wire: I recently bit on a discount offer for Amazon Prime, and this was one of several tempting options from their on-demand streaming. It’s a documentary about Philippe Petit and his 1974 tightrope walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. (By the way, I watched this without knowing that there is a new film, The Walk now out on the same subject.) Much of the film’s emphasis is on the planning, which was complex and definitely worthy of a heist story, and I thought that provided a good balance to the drama of the actual high-wire act. I was, frankly, mesmerized. Highly recommended.
The Quarterly Movie Run-Down
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