Flick Picks 3/23/2016: The Big Short, Carol, Game of Thrones Season 5

Two prominent 2015 features highlight this rich, early spring (use your imagination, people of the Midwest) batch of DVD releases.  From the global economic collapse to forbidden love.  From high satire to broad comedy.  From a series about perilous moments in the 1980's to a remembrance of the Thin White Duke.  If Bitter Rice is too bitter, chase it with That Sugar Film.  If spring is a little too theoretical for you at this point, insert those Game of Thrones discs and hunker down until warmer weather arrives to stay.  

 
 

Feature Films


Perhaps it's a little too soon to fulfill the old equation, "comedy is tragedy plus time."  However, Adam McKay's The Big Short proves that a film about the financial crisis of 2007-2008 can be extremely entertaining without any loss of cutting insight.  Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Steve Carell and Brad Pitt play some of the men who actually saw the disaster coming, alternately disgusted and betting against housing market.  Other celebrities make amusing cameos to explain rather esoteric economic concepts.  Unlike our financial industry at the time, The Big Short works very well.  




Based on the groundbreaking novel by Patricia Highsmith (which she published under the pseudonym Claire Morgan), Carol is the love story of the relatively unformed Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) and soon-to-be divorcee Carol (Kate Blanchett).  Like director Hayne's Far From Heaven (2002), Carol is a story of forbidden love set in the more repressive 1950's.  Also like that earlier film, Carol provides impeccable period settings and costuming.  

 
 

SISTERS


Golden Globes dream hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler continue to look for movie magic with their latest pairing, Sisters. The Saturday Night Live alums play siblings who decide to spend one last rowdy weekend in the house in which they grew up before it is sold.  

Also new:  Dakota Fanning and Emmy Thompson (along with a host of eminent English actors) star in the period drama, Effie Gray.

 

 

 

Series

GAME OF THRONES SEASON FIVE

No introduction or explanation is really necessary for fans of the 

hugely popular HBO historical fantasy series, based on the novels of George R.R. Martin.  We have season five of Game of Thrones in both regular and Blu-ray DVD.  Binge forth.  

 

 

 

DEUTSCHLAND83

This German series is set amid the Cold War tensions of the 1980's.  Jonas Nay plays a young spy from East Germany, infiltrating both the West German military and youth culture of the time in the series which has received near-perfect reviews from critics and viewers alike.  

 

Ever-so-slightly removed from the complexities of the Cold War and the 1980's...we have Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  Ellie Kemper stars as the 29-year-old Kimmy, newly rescued from an Indiana doomsday cult (presided over by none other than Jon Hamm), starting life anew in New York City, armed mainly with a very positive attitude.  Reviews have been almost universally good for this Netflix series, (co-created by Tina Fey) with one critic calling it "the first great sitcom of the streaming era."  

 

 

 

Foreign Films

 

BITTER RICE

The title of this 1949 neo-realist classic is actually a pun, as the Italian riso means both rice and laughter.  Appropriate for a film replete with earthiness, sex and even a social conscience.  We have Bitter Rice in a new Criterion Collection edition.  

 

 

A BORROWED IDENTITY

This Israeli drama follows Eyad, a Palestinian teenager who moves to Jerusalem to study at an elite Jewish high school.  As he tries to fit in, he befriends another outsider, a student with muscular dystrophy, and eventually falls in love with Jewish student Naomi.  

If you'd like to see and discuss this thoughtful and well-regarded film, join Susan Benjamin on April 15 for her monthly "Talking Pictures" series.  The screening and discussion are held in the Hammond Room.  No registration is necessary.  

 

 


CLASSIC FILMS

SPIES


The penultimate silent film from the great Fritz Lang, this early German espionage thriller was restored to its original 178-minute length in 2003 and 2004.  Expect lots of intrigue, lots of shadows and even some romance.  But who can trust whom?  Find out.    

 
 

Documentary/Nonfiction

DAVID BOWIE:  IN HIS OWN WORDS

If you know anything about the recently-departed David Bowie, you know that he was much more than a shape-shifting rock star.  Get to know the erudite and mercurial Bowie a little better through the series of filmed interviews that make up David Bowie:  In His Own Words.  

Also new:  Similar in concept to Morgan Spurlock's SUPERSIZE ME, Damon Gameau's THAT SUGAR FILM traces the serious and sometimes comedic effects of an intensely high-sugar diet.  The redoubtable Michael Pollan takes a less gimicky approach in IN DEFENSE OF FOOD, based on his best seller of the same title:  "Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly Plants."  Good advice, although your friends at Flick Picks posit that a life entirely bereft of the sweet stuff might not be worth living at all....

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