Flick Picks 4/17/2015: Foyles War Set 8, Big Eyes, The Babadook

Oh, quite a grab bag this week.  In feature films, we have the slightly weird, the dark and the downright scary.  But in a world gone slightly mad, fear not.  Detective Chief Superintendant Christopher Foyle is back on the case....

New Series

FOYLES WAR, SET 8

There is a bit of wall in a staff area of the library where librarians for a time posted pictures of their favorite actors.  One by one, the handsome men were replaced by beloved dogs, past and present.  Eventually, only one man's picture remained among the pooches.  That actor?  Michael Kitchen.  Interpret this as you will, but it does seem to speak to the appeal of the distinguished Mr. Kitchen, who has played the role of Foyle since the series' inception in 2002.  The detective is back once more to solve crimes in the years immediately after World War II in England.  Apparently this truly is it for Foyle's War (much as the series has been cancelled and revived in the past), so place a hold on Foyle's War Set 8 today and savor those final episodes!

Also new: THE MISSING

When a five-year-old boy disappears while his family is on vacation in the South of France, a nearly decade-long search for him begins.  The excellent James Nesbitt (the series Cold Feet, Murphy's Law; the film Bloody Sunday) heads the cast as the father of the missing boy.



Feature Films

BIG EYES

Big Eyes is a a more personal film for director Tim Burton, as with his 1994  film about another cult artist, Ed Wood.  Big Eyes stars the versatile Amy Adams as Margaret Keane, long overshadowed by her husband, Walter (Christoph Waltz), who claimed that he produced all those paintings of saucer-eyed women, children and animals.

THE BABADOOK

The only thing scary about most so-called horror films of the last few decades has been their chainsaw attacks on intelligence, their dismemberment of imagination.  But don't get too comfortable on your sofa...here comes The Babadook.  Written and directed by Australian Jennifer Kent, the bogeyman-type story of The Babadook eschews cheap thrills for the sort of old-fashioned horror that is likely to get under your skin and stay there a while.  The Babadook has met with almost universal praise from critics and audiences alike, even if they have lost a few hours sleep.  Or take the word of director William Friedkin (The Exorcist), "I've never seen a more terrifying film. It will scare the hell out of you as it did me."  Enjoy! 

Also new...
An audience favorite, BESIDE STILL WATERS, has young friends gathering for one last time to relive their glory days at summer house soon to be sold.  Not for the faint of sensibility, David Cronenberg's MAPS TO THE STARS is a particularly barbed addition to the canon of film and literature that skewers Hollywood and the worst of California culture.  
Classics
Arriving in a spiffy new Criterion Collection edition, Odd Man Out is the first in an excellent trio of films directed by Englishman Carol Reed in the late 1940's.  In Odd Man Out, James Mason is an IRA-type leader on the run from the law.  The film takes place in one tense evening, as the injured Mason takes refuge in shadowy haunts around Belfast,while the woman he loves desperately searches for him. 
The library also has the two films directed by Carol Reed subsequent to Odd Man Out, both based on stories by Graham Greene.  The Fallen Idol is seen through the perspective of a diplomat's son in London who idolizes his father's butler.  In The Third Man, Joseph Cotton is an American writer in post-war Vienna, trying to track down his slippery pal, Harry Lime (Orson Welles, dominating the film from the shadows).  Cue that crazy zither music and enjoy this one again.      
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