Recently in Pick of the Week

Silence (2016) is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a Martin Scorsese film about faith, some fantastic beasts, our own planet in HD, and much more.
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In my very first Five Cool Things article, I was excited about the trailer for Martin Scorsese's Silence. I also noted that I had really enjoyed the book. What I didn’t mention was that my copy of the book had a bunch of pages missing. For the last 20 pages or so, every other pages was blank. It was a horrible way to finish what was really a very good novel right at its conclusion. I learned what happened at the end in my class and always meant to buy another copy, but never did. As I’ve surely mentioned numerous

Live By Night is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a gangster flick from Ben Affleck, a disgusting one from John Waters, singing animals, and much more.
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I’m a sucker for gangster stories. There is something utterly fascinating about people who push aside all of society's rules and take what they want for themselves. Gangsters are often not the smartest, strongest, or the best but rather they are the most willing to use violence for their own means. Most of us avoid trouble whenever we can so when someone comes along willing to openly commit violence the vast majority of people shirk away. Those who don’t get a beating. In real life, I find that sort of thing appealing, but on film it's really interesting. Dennis Lehane

Fences is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us Denzel Washington in a critically praised drama, Will Smith in a critically hated one, a sci-fi adventure with Chris Pratt and much more.
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During that ridiculous let's-bring-in-a-tour-bus-full-of-common-folk-to-the-Oscars bit a few weeks ago, host Jimmy Kimmel asked one of the tourists who her favorite actor was. She pointed and simply said “him.” I turned to my wife and said, “It's Denzel Washington.” Of course it was. Everybody loves Denzel Washington. He’s one of the greatest living actors we have. He’s won all the awards. He’s beloved by just about everyone - men, women, African Americans, Caucasians, liberals, and conservatives alike. He happily mixes it up by playing in straight-up action flicks and small dramatic films. Last year, he was in both The Magnificent Seven

Moana is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us the best Disney music in a decade, a critically praised biopic, a Criterion drama, a creepy flick from Portugal, and Japanese animation.
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I’ve always liked Disney movies. but for the most part I’ve waited until they’ve reached home video (and have gained a favorable critical consensus) before watching them. Well, that’s the way things went until I had a daughter. Now, I pretty much see them in the theater, or at the very least as soon as they come out on Blu-ray, no matter the critical or popular opinion. So it was with Moana. It came out this summer while we were visiting the wife’s family in Kentucky so we took the in-laws along for the ride. I was a little worried

Moonlight is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us an Oscar upset,
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We cut the cord year ago and our cheap antenna doesn’t really work in our new house. We pick up a few channels but not ABC which carried the Oscars last night. I had all but resigned myself to not watching the ceremony this year and in fact wrote out several paragraphs for this article about how I wasn’t going to get to watch. Then my genius wife moved the antennae upstairs to our bedroom TV and got all the channels. I missed the first twenty minutes or so and then another twenty minutes or so in the middle putting

Nocturnal Animals is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us another Amy Adams pick, a couple of Criterions, Mel Gibson's return, a Doctor Who Christmas special, and more.
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As I sit down to write out why Nocturnal Animals is my pick of this week, I realize I know next to nothing about the film. I know it stars Amy Adams and that it's gotten some critical buzz. I also really like its title. But other than that - nothing. Yet here I am ready to make it my pick. It's not like one of those weeks where there is nothing else coming out either. There’s a Doctor Who Christmas special, an Oscar-nominated Mel Gibson flick, and a couple of wonderful Criterion releases. Yet here I am, picking something

Arrival is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us Amy Adams' language skills, a new Cinemax show, an Ang Lee Iraq War movie, a PBS Civil War show, and a gay porn crime drama starring James Franco.
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My wife is a language nerd. Technically, she’s a master linguist having received her degree from Indiana University many years ago. As such, she has many language-nerd friends. Which means I have many language-nerd friends. Arrival is a film in which Amy Adams plays a linguist who saves the world from an alien invasion using her language-nerd powers. All of those aforementioned friends were terribly excited by this film. I am not a language nerd. I’m not particularly interested in grammatical intricacies as one can easily tell by constant abuse of the rules in these weekly picks. I do however

Loving is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us an Oscar nominee, another release of Dirty Dancing, Trolls, psychedelic horror, and much more.
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I first noticed Ruth Negga on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. where she played Raina, a villain who was working for the mysterious Centipede Group before becoming a spiky headed Inhuman. She was a striking presence but honestly didn’t make that much of an impression on me. After watching her in Preacher, I realize just how poorly used in S.H.I.E.L.D. as she is magnetic in that show. After watching the first season, I put a mental peg in her name as someone to always watch. It seems I wasn’t the only one as she’s getting all kind of accolades for her performance

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us generic action from Tom Cruise, a queen from England, a Nazi love camp, and more.
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Tom Cruise, the human, seems like a pretty awful dude. He’s a high-ranking member of a terrible cult/religion that uses brainwashing, blackmail, and mob-like intimidation techniques. He’s publicly made damaging comments about psychiatry, that if taken seriously, could do untold harm to millions of patients who desperately need the medical practice and their prescribed medication. I also don’t think he’s that great of an actor. He gets the job done, sometimes very well, but there’s never been a moment in which I found his performance in any film to be elevated into the level of greatness. Despite all this, I

The Handmaiden is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a new film from Park Chan-wook, Robert Langdun solving more clues, a story from Jaws coming to life and much more.
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There is a scene in Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy that just might be the greatest fight ever put in a movie. It immediately made me a fan of the South Korean director. Oldboy is the middle part of the director’s Vengeance Trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Lady Vengeance are the other two). All three ensconce themselves in perverse violence that will please even the most hardcore action fan, but that violence is never the point. Chan-Wook uses the unrelenting and incredibly crafted brutality to dig deeper into the soul’s of his characters and ponder man’s insatiable need to destroy. He’s

Girl on the Train is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a girl on a train, a fox and his friends, plus Aaron Paul, Jon Hamm, and many others.
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I was never much of a reader growing up. I would read whatever was assigned to me at school but I much preferred to watch TV or play video games than read. I was about 15 when Silence of the Lambs hit theaters. My brother and his then-girlfriend saw it on a date and raved about it. With their nudging, and promises that it wasn’t too graphic, my mother allowed me to see it. I loved it. I must have talked about it nonstop because that Christmas my mother bought me the book. I loved it too and with it

His Girl Friday (Criterion Collection) is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a comedy classic, a classic of the French New Wave, a holistic detective, and much more.
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I can’t even remember the first time I saw His Girl Friday. It was high school, probably, or maybe on a trip home from college. I watched it with with my mother I’m pretty sure. Whenever, wherever it was, I immediately loved it. I’ve seen it a good dozen times since then and love it even more now. It gives me great pleasure to show the film off to those who haven’t seen it and watch them discover one of the great comedies of all time. The film stars Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell as two hard-nosed reporters who were

Blair Witch is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a sequel no one was asking for, a trip into outer space, Holocaust deniers getting their day in court, and some girls.
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It's difficult now to imagine a time when every movie didn’t have its own social media team. Or when there weren’t dozens of websites dedicated to promoting every single aspect of a film months before it made it to a movie screen. But in 1999, that was very much the case. The World Wide Web had been around for a little while, it was becoming a huge force in our daily lives. It had grown out of its infancy and was now into its adolescence trying to figure out what it was going to be. Movie studios didn’t know what

Snowden is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us Oliver Stone's take on a whistleblower, Ethan Hawke committing violence, teenagers cruising around the country and more
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Turn on the news and you are bound to hear any number of stories about computer hacking of some sort. Whether it's Hillary Clinton’s e-mails (and Russia’s potential involvement) or some celebrity having their private photos released publicly, there is no escaping that we live in a world governed by our technological devices and increasingly made vulnerable by them. It used to be easy to write off those who lived in fear of what technology might bring. Back in the '80s, we used to laugh at my grandfather who would rant about how the government was spying on us through

Hitchcock/Truffaut is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us documentary about an influential book, a true life film about a pilot, some horror films, a remake, and more.
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In 1961, Fran├žois Truffaut sat down in a Hollywood hotel room with Alfred Hitchcock for a week-long chat about Hitchcock’s films. That series of interviews became the landmark book Hitchcock/Truffaut. It came out at a time when American critics dismissed Hitchcock as a genre director, nothing more. He could make a very good suspense picture, but those type of things were beneath people who took cinema seriously as an art form. The French New Wave, led by Truffaut, saw Hitchcock for what he was - a true auteur. That book went a long way to convincing everybody else of that

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is the Pick of the Week

This week features Tim Burton's latest, Ridley Scott's son, zombies, never-before-seen Star Trek, and more.
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My wife and I bought a house a few months back. We are first-time home buyers. It's a bit of a fixer-upper, but we got a good deal on it. I’ve enjoyed making improvements on it. There really is something special about owning your own home. Even mowing the yard isn’t so bad because it's my yard I’m mowing. We live in what I’d call a lower middle-class neighborhood. It's filled with renters, those who have moved up a notch from renting, and first time buyers like us. The neighbors are nice if a little more redneck than I’m used

Jason Bourne is the Pick of the Week

This week bring us a new Bourne movie, a couple of Criterions, Mad Max in black and white and more.
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My wife and I lived in Strasbourg, France for about ten months back in 2004. We sublet a tiny studio apartment from a university student who was spending a year living in England. There was hardly any furniture - a small desk, a coffee table, and a couple of half-broken chairs. She’d taken the bed out as it was only a single. A friend of ours let us borrow a blow-up mattress, but it had a tiny hole in it so as the night crept on we got lower and lower to the floor. After about a week of that,

Don't Breathe is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us some thrilling horrors, some weird anime, and at least two friendly monsters.
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It's strange this writing things that get published on the internet. You never really know who is reading what your wrote, if anyone actually is at all. This afternoon I went to see a Fathom screening of Breakfast at Tiffany's. When I got to the theater, I tweeted about it and shared my location on Facebook. Then later this afternoon, in real life, no fewer than three people asked me how the movie was. That always throws me. It took me a minute to realize how they knew I’d gone to the movies. It makes perfect sense that people I

Hell or High Water is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a modern western, and old horror flick, a couple of Criterions, Marlon Brando directing and much more.
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I’m much too young to have grown up during the heyday of westerns. As a kid I didn’t like them. They were too old, too old-fashioned for me to take any interest in. When I’d complain about my uncle watching them, he’d laugh and say I really did like westerns I just didn’t know it. Star Wars, he’d explain, was really just a western in outer space, so maybe I should give John Wayne a try. I’d make a face and go play with my Han Solo figure. It was Young Guns that turned me around. That 1988 film about

Finding Dory is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases include a forgetful fish, a killer king (or two), several Criterions, and lots of Buster Keaton.
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I have lamented numerous times in these pages about how my young daughter has kept me from seeing a great many movies. For years it was inappropriate to take her to the theatre and babysitters were hard to come by. Many movies that I want to watch at home should surely not be viewed with toddlers by my side. Thing is she’s five and a half now. She loves going to the movies. She has a greater attention span so she can watch longer and more complicated plot lines with at least some comprehension. I'm also pretty liberal in what

Taxi Driver (40th Anniversary Edition) Is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a blind crime fighter, a killer taxi driver, raunchy sausages, and more.
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If The Avengers are all about saving the world from alien annihilation, then the Defenders have far less loftier goals - they protect the dirty neighborhood streets of New York City from thugs and gangsters (and the occasional ninja). Four seasons in (two of Daredevil and one each of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage) and I am totally on board with Marvel’s street level superheroes. With these Netflix series, Marvel is proving yet again that their aim is to take over every possible entertainment venue we have as puny humans. They’ve ruled the comics market for decades and every few

Batman: The Return of the Caped Crusaders is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us an animated Caped Crusader, a sea of trees, bad moms and more.
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As a teenager living in the '80s I developed a great fondness for old '50s, '60s, and '70s television shows. A lot of fledgling cable channels found it valuable (and no doubt cheap) to rerun old shows rather than create original programming. I’d sit every afternoon watching that old stuff. I loved just about all of it from the cheesy shows of the '50s like Donna Reed and Father Knows Best to more urban and socially conscious '70s series such as Good Times and The Jeffersons. It was during these classic TV afternoons that I discovered two of my all-time

The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us an enormous gore feast, Norman Lear, Bob Dylan, Viggo Mortensen in the woods, and much more.
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Halloween is really sneaking up on me this year. October is normally one of my favorite months of the year as it is the beginning of cooler weather, hot drinks, the smell of burning wood, and beautiful colors. It's also the only month of the year when everybody wants to watch scary movies. I don’t know if it's the warm weather, or the fact that we bought a house and have been spending all our excess time and energy fixing it up or what, but I just haven’t been feeling October this year. We had our annual pumpkin-carving party a

Cafe Society is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a new Woody Allen, lots of old Marx Brothers comedies, a couple of Criterions, an Independence Day sequel nobody really wanted, and much more.
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There are a handful of directors that will get me to the theatre sight unseen. Martin Scorsese, The Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson, and a few others make films that I know I want to see even if I know nothing going in. Even if the critical evaluations have been poor. I don’t always love their movies and on occasion I've even come close to outright loathing them, but I am never disappointed in having seen them. Directors with a true vision can be a rare thing in Hollywood, and I’m always ready to see what they can do with it.

The Hills Have Eyes (Arrow Video Edition) is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us nuclear mutants, Mel Gibson, Tarzan, the music of Jerry Garcia, lady ghostbusters, and much more.
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This weekend I gave away the vast majority of my CD collection. I am a collector of things, especially entertainment media things, so this was a very difficult thing to do. I love physical objects. Books line my walls, my DVD shelves are overflowing, and CDs stack up everywhere. At least they used to. Truth is, most of my CDs have been sitting in boxes for several years because I’ve not had room in my homes to put them anywhere. Truth is, I really haven’t minded. I’ve long since had all my music ripped to my hard drive and I

Preacher: Season One is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us comic books brought to screens both big and small, an election year purge, lots of TV and more.
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In this new Golden Age of Television, it's easy to feel a bit like King Midas where every show you turn to is beautiful. Yet much like the legend, this can be as much of a curse as it is a blessing. There is just too much great TV available and not enough time to watch it. I now not only have a list of shows I want to watch but I now have to keep another list of shows I’ve started, really loved, but have not yet caught up with because I keep getting distracted with all the other

The Neon Demon is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us sinister models, shark attacks, goofy horror flicks, critically acclaimed Polish films and so much more.
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I used to say that the best part of going to the movies was watching the movie trailers before the show started. That wasn’t really true of course (unless the film was bad), but in those days that was about the only place I could find out what movies were coming up. It wasn’t like today where there are a hundred million sites dedicated to giving us every scrap of information about every upcoming movie from here to eternity. Truth be told, I don’t really pay that much attention to those things anyway. My Facebook and Twitter feeds get filled

Beauty and the Beast (25th Anniversary Edition) is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a Disney classic, David Bowie with crazy hair, an early Coen Brothers film, teenaged turtles and more.
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Memory is a funny thing. It changes and mutates along the way as we get older. My memory says I was a great fan of the Disney Renaissance of the 1990s, but looking back at those films it seems I really wasn’t. The Little Mermaid kicked things off in 1989. I was 13. I love that film. I think I saw it in theaters upon first release, but honestly, it's become such a part of my cinematic DNA, I can no longer remember the first time I saw it. Beauty and the Beast was released two years later, and I’m

Aliens: 30th Anniversary Edition is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a special anniversary, a ghost story sequel, a comic book nerd's dream come true, and lots of classic films getting nice upgrades.
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I can’t remember when I first saw Aliens. It was definitely the plural and not the singular (it would be years later than I’d finally sit down with the original Ridley Scott film). I vaguely remember seeing it with my cousins. I certainly discussed it with them and we quoted it regularly. But the details fade. My strongest memory of the actual film is the scene in which two of the marines are caught in a tunnel and one decides to take out as many aliens as she can by letting them come in close and exploding a grenade. As

Money Monster is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a World War II film from Carol Reed, Bryan Cranston as a president, Salma Hayek in an Italian fairy tale, and George Clooney's charm.
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My wife and I have never, nor will we ever make a freebie list - a list of five celebrities whom we can sleep with without the other getting upset over it - but if we did, George Clooney would be at the top of hers. Hell, he’d be pretty close to the top of mine, and I don’t begin to even swing that way. But he’s just so damn handsome and he just bathes in charm, and push come to shove, I don’t think I’d be able to help myself. He’s one of my all-time favorite movie stars, which

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