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Arty Chick’s Seven Picks: Week 5

This week’s  picks include a healthy dose of Roman decadence, an obsessive and tragic snoop, a ghostly romance, a grieving mother on the warpath, violent union busting, food to die for, and a woman who’s brutally honest about sleeping her way to the top.  Something for everyone!  One is from Italy, another from Germany. There’s a Korean flick and a Danish one, too. And three of them are Oscar winners.

This week’s picks are:  La Grande Bellezza; The Lives of Others; Truly Madly DeeplyMother Matewan ; Babette’s Feast; Baby Face

Review: Irresistible

Irresistible is far more easy to resist than one might hope, despite a strong cast, timely premise and the indelible imprint of former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart as the film’s writer and director. In a nutshell, Irresistible is a scathing rebuke of our campaign finance system, issued through the lens of political satire. Steve Carell plays Gary Zimmer, a democratic political strategist based in DC who travels out to the small Wisconsin town of Deerlaken to help a retired Marine colonel (Chris Cooper) run for Mayor, touting the somewhat reluctant candidate as “a redder kind of blue.” The race draws national attention and Deerlaken takes on a political circus atmosphere, replete with media punditry and the arrival of Gary’s republican nemesis Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne) to bolster the campaign of the incumbent.

Review: Little Women

Louisa May Alcott’s 1860s novel Little Women has been adapted to film more times that I can count, beginning in the silent era. So do we really need another one? Yes, we do. In the hands of the talented Greta Gerwig, this story of the four March sisters in Concord, Massachusetts feels as fresh and as relevant as any modern story. And blessed with a perfect cast including Saoirse Ronan, Laura Dern, and Timothée Chalamet, it’s one of the gems of this awards season.

August: Osage County

In the battle of Meryl vs Julia, who will chew more scenery? August: Osage County pits them against each other as the drug addicted Mom versus the only person in her large extended family capable of taking her on. Based on a stage play of the same name, it is a star-studded dramedy about what must be the most dysfunctional family in the state of Oklahoma all coming together after a tragedy. None of them want to be there, and I started to feel the same way, but stuck with it because it’s one of those acting slugfests you just have to see through.

The Company Men

Put Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper in a movie and you’re pretty much guaranteed I’ll go see it. Of course, it helps if the movie is also good, and The Company Men is good – quite good actually. Jones and Cooper star along with Ben Affleck as long time employees of huge manufacturing conglomerate GTX. They’ve all spent their entire careers at the place – they are “company men.”