Currently browsing the "psychological drama" tag.

Arrival

Arrival is very… cerebral. It’s about a linguist (Amy Adams) who is recruited by the military to help translate communications from aliens that have landed in Montana and 11 other sites around the world. The “action” (such as it were) all takes place in a basecamp set up in a field, and aboard a spaceship that resembles a giant egg or shell-shaped rock. The vessel opens itself up to visitors every 18 hours, and that’s when Dr. Louise Banks (Adams) and her colleague, sciencey guy Dr. Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), try to figure out who the aliens are, and what they want. It’s like E.T. as a deep, psychological drama. Inception-esque, slow to unfold, mind-bendy. The type of movie that movie nerds will want to see multiple times. I found the movie interesting overall, but a tad boring in parts, especially in the middle. That’s probably because I figured out one of the big plot twists fairly on and was eager for validation. But hey, no spoilers. Here’s what I can tell you:

True Story

True Story is based on, well, a true story. But I suspect the actual events were more gripping than this somewhat interesting, but often boring psychological crime drama starring James Franco as accused family killer Christian Longo and Jonah Hill as disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel. For some reason, Longo took on Finkel’s identity while on the run for the gruesome murders of his wife and three young children. When he was caught, Finkel was the only one that Longo was willing to tell his story to.

Whiplash

Whiplash is intensely good, and about as far from formulaic and predictable as you can get from a movie these days. With any luck (and word of mouth), it will cross over from ‘indie’ and ‘arty’ to mainstream in a Juno sort of way, thanks in large part to the performance of the guy who played the dad in Juno – J.K. Simmons. Even if his name escapes you, his face and voice will surely ring a bell. He’s that character actor you’ve seen so many times in the movies and on TV – in The Closer, Spiderman, and those commercials for Farmer’s Insurance.

Shame

Oh my! I’m not really sure who – if anyone- you can actually see this movie with. Suffice it to say, it’s not a date movie. Or a family movie. Or a fun fantasy flick. It’s dark and disturbing – and provocative – in a Black Swan sort of way. I didn’t particularly like Black Swan, despite the Oscar-worthy performance of Natalie Portman. Same goes for Shame. It’s not my cup of tea (at all), but the performances – especially from Michael Fassbender and Carrie Mulligan – are quite superb. So should you see it? Maybe – in the privacy of your own home when it comes out on DVD! But in a theater??? That’s a tough call. Here’s why:

The Beaver

Mel Gibson is his own worst enemy these days. It’s hard to watch him play a depressed, mentally-unstable guy without thinking about his real-life antics (and let’s face it – they’ve been off the charts). And that’s a real shame. Because The Beaver happens to be a pretty good movie – and Gibson is very good in it, as is director/co-star Jodie Foster and the rest of the supporting cast.

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is one of those small arty films starring an impressive roster of accomplished actors who probably took the gig for the love of the material rather than box-office glory. It’s a psychological drama tinged with wry humor and melancholy. So if you like that sort of stuff, you’ll probably like this film.