Flick Picks 2/9/2016: Bridge of Spies, Spectre, Suffragette

You want blockbusters?  We've got blockbusters.  Something smaller, more character-driven?  Maybe  a good indie film?  We've got those too.  And as the mercury settles to a more typical winter level, you might want to check out out a good series and hold out until spring...or at least until we see the right side of the freezing mark.

 

 

Feature Films

 

BRIDGE OF SPIES

 

The critically-acclaimed Bridge of Spies is the fourth collaboration between actor Tom Hanks director Steven Spielberg.  Nominated for best picture at the upcoming Academy Awards, Bridge of Spies is based on actual events.  Hanks plays the lawyer picked to negotiate the swap of U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers for Soviet spy Rudolf Abel.

 

 

SPECTRE

 

Ah, cue that familiar theme music.  Bond is back in the person of Daniel Craig.  007 has it out once and for all with the mysterious, villainous agency that has been haunting him and his comrades for several films now - Spectre.  Craig, as ever, plays the secret agent with wit, feeling and just the right level of arrogance.  Does the film's conclusion signal Craig's departure from the franchise?  Watch for yourself and decide.

 

SUFFRAGETTE

 

Not in the mood for boys being boys?  Consider this British historical drama, set in the dark age before women had the right to vote in England and elsewhere.  The always-engaging Carey Mulligan plays a laundress drawn into the cause of the suffragettes.  She heads an excellent cast that includes Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep and Brendan Gleeson.  

 

 

Romantic comedies - remember those?  Sure, they do come down the pike now and again, but the viewing of such films can leave the feeling of having cheated on one's brain.  From the producers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot FuzzMan Up offers you the rare opportunity to have your romantic comedy without regretting it in the morning.  Simon Pegg plays a man who mistakes Lake Bell for his blind date.  She fails to disabuse him of the mistake and we're off on an evening of first date awkwardness and breakthrough, baggage both humorous and bitter and, yes, romance.  Man Up is certainly a classic romantic comedy and wears its messy heart on its sleeve.  Like any romantic comedy, contrivances arise and are dispatched without regard to plausibility.  Aside from some good writing, Man Up separates itself from the pack of lesser films of the genre on the charm of stars Simon Pegg and Lake Bell.

 

If you prefer your comedy sans silly romance, check out IN A WORLD.  The same talented Lake Bell  wrote and directed this story about a performer trying to make her way in the male-dominated field of voice-over, one of the smartest comedies of recent years.

 

 

 

99 HOMES

 

While the Big Short (due on DVD this spring) considers the lead-up to the 2008 world financial crisis essentially from the top down, Ramin Bahrani's 99 Homes examines ramifications of the disaster from ground level.  Andrew Garfield (the most recent Spider-Man) plays a young father who loses his job and home in short order.  His troubles cause him to cross paths with a very shady, charismatic real estate agent (Michael Shannon, great as usual).  The eager young man prospers quickly when he begins to work for the real estate agent, but at what cost?  

 

 

Also new:  WAR ROOMMEADOWLANDTRUTHFREEHELDROCK THE KASBAHOUR BRAND IS CRISISLOVE THE COOPERS

 

 

 

Series

 

 

MERCY STREET

 

Showing currently on PBS, Mercy Street is a medical drama set during the Civil War.  The series focuses on two volunteer nurses from opposing sides of the war who work at the Mansion House Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia.  

 

 

 REV. SEASON ONE

 

Finally seeing a DVD release in the United States, Rev won the British Academy Television Award for best sitcom in 2011.   Tom Hollander (whom you might remember as a particularly droll Mr. Collins in the most recent film version of Pride and Prejudice), plays an Anglican priest presiding over a "socially disunited" parish in East London.  

 

 

FLESH AND BONE SEASON ONE

 

This miniseries, broadcast on the Starz cable network, focuses on a ballet company trying to find a place among the world's great artistic institutions.  At the center of the drama is the classic story of up-and-coming performer versus fading star.  

 

 

SHOW ME A HERO

 

The magnetic Oscar Isaac stars as former Yonkers mayor Nick Wasicsko in this very well reviewed HBO miniseries, based on the nonfiction book of the same title by Lisa Belkin.  The conflict at the center of Show Me a Hero is battle over the desegregation of public housing in Yonkers, which Wasicsko pushed through in compliance with a federal court order, after initially opposing as a candidate.  

 

 

BLACK WORK

 

This British crime miniseries concerns a policewoman, Jo Gillespie, whose detective husband is killed in the line of duty.  As she purses the investigation, Gillespie uncovers several dark truths about her husband, his colleagues and the criminals they were investigating.  

 

 

Also new:  DOCTOR WHO SEASON NINE - PART 2THE CHURCHMEN SEASON ONE, 

 

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