EXPERIMENTER

Yale, 1961: Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) is conducting one of the most infamous and notorious behavioral studies of the 20th Century. Two individuals who have never met before will choose roles; one will be the teacher and the other the student. The student enters a separate room and is hooked up to a machine that will shock them in increasing voltage when they answers a question wrong. The teacher remains in the first room, asking the student to remember a particular word order. If the student answers incorrectly, or fails to answer at all, the teacher flips a switch and … Continue reading EXPERIMENTER

STEVE JOBS

The new film from director Danny Boyle and writer Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs, marks the third cinematic interpretation of Apple’s storied co-founder in the past two years — Jobs (Joshua Michael Stern, 2013) and Steve Jobs: Man in the Machine (Alex Gibney, 2015) were the previous two. I have seen all three and still cannot answer the question my sister posed after the credits rolled for this iteration: “Why are people so fascinated by him?” Is it because the products his company produced are so integral to our day-to-day lives? Because we find Apple products so aesthetically pleasing? So intuitive? … Continue reading STEVE JOBS

BRIDGE OF SPIES

James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) is a kind man in a cruel world. Rare considering that Donovan is an insurance lawyer in the middle of the Cold War. Donovan — who served on the Nuremberg Trails — is recruited to defend a captured Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), providing him with a competent defense per the United States Constitution. Donovan’s colleagues agree it is his civic duty, and to perform it honorable is the proper American thing to do. Donovan defends Abel to the best of his ability, and if Abel were a U.S. Citizen, Donovan probably could have … Continue reading BRIDGE OF SPIES

99 HOMES

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we are free to do anything.” —Tyler Durden, Fight Club That anything can be devastating. Stripped of social responsibilities and courtesies, even the best will behave like a dog backed into a corner. It’s the stuff of high drama, and it courses through the veins of the writer/director Ramin Bahrani. For Bahrani, the key is to explore the personal without losing sight of the political, and when it came to America’s housing crisis, the two intersected with a potent poignancy. Set in Orange County, Fla. in 2010, 99 Homes shows both sides of … Continue reading 99 HOMES

PAN

Director Joe Wright’s latest, Pan, might be the most unnecessary return to Neverland to see the big screen. Wright and writer, Jason Fuchs, take the tale of the boy who refused to grow up and turn his backstory into the typical chosen one fare, wedge in a couple of warrior princesses and toss out all the humor and color of a tick-tocking crocodile. Abandoned as a baby by his young mother, Peter (Levi Miller) is raised in a London orphanage during WWII. As Peter grows older, an evil Nun, Nazi saturation bombing and miserable gruel plague his dreary life. If … Continue reading PAN

BIG STONE GAP

Existing somewhere between the recent spat of faith-based cinema and an elongated episode of Gilmore Girls, Big Stone Gap travels back in time to a simpler era where everyone knew everyone else, the people were kinder and the world moved at a slower pace. Set in the coal-mining town of Big Stone Gap, Virg. circa 1977, Ave (Ashley Judd) is the middle-aged town spinster that the town is overly concerned with seeing her settling down. But Ave is not the quiet, reserved librarian with too many cats, but a self-professed loner who isn’t interested in marriage, sharing her life with … Continue reading BIG STONE GAP

THE MARTIAN

Of all the people to get stranded on Mars, Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is the lucky one. Smart, resourceful, cunning and, most importantly, optimistic, Watney can grow potatoes using human feces, manufacture water simply and reconfigure every possible piece of technology available to him. All while maintaining hope in the face of certain catastrophe and sanity in spite of being the only living soul on a planet. Yes indeed, Mark Watney is one of those rare-breeds. The Martian is a shipwreck story located in the barren wasteland of Mars, set to swinging 70s disco music, and featuring a diverse cast of incredibly … Continue reading THE MARTIAN

MEET THE PATELS

Talk to anyone, and you’ll find that marriage has about a 50% success rate. Whether the two know it each other a lifetime, or have just met. Whether they date for years or for weeks. Whether they choose each other or it was arranged, marriage success is roughly the same. Everyone has a fifty-fifty chance. If this is true, why then put so much emphasis on it? Why fret and sweat, hoping to finding a perfect and compatible mate when the outcome is essentially a coin-flip? Emotions? Most likely. Fear? Definitely. But I suspect that tradition is most likely the strongest reason. … Continue reading MEET THE PATELS