Recommended Smaller, Overlooked or Underrated Movies in the Redbox Kiosks
Fresh off a ton of Emmy wins (including awards for outstanding made for TV movie and lead actress) comes this biopic about an autistic woman who, despite being born at a time when autism was treated with life-long institutionalization, went on to earn several advanced degrees and revolutionize livestock treatment. Claire Danes is a terrific force of nature as Grandin, her eccentric exuberance overwhelming the usual (and still present) character cliches. The film also does an admirable job of visualizing how Grandin sees, hears, and understands the world.
Yes, it’s a Lifetime TV movie that could have been titled A Fake Rockefeller Stole My Daughter!, but as things progress you’re drawn deeper into the who’s and why’s of this increasingly dark true-life tale of deception and self-delusion. Erik McCormack (Will & Grace) displays skittery charm as the title’s pathological liar, Sheri Stringfield (NYPD Blue, E.R.) is the woman he cons into loving him, and Regina Taylor (The Unit) is the FBI agent sorting it all out. (Plus it’s directed by Mikael Salomon, who also helmed the final “Points” episode of Band of Brothers–one of the finer hours on television.)
I was originally so-so on Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s 2004 strings-attached satire–I didn’t feel it measured up to their brilliant Southpark: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. But today I fully appreciate its manic (very-R-rated) vulgarity, puppet silliness, and school-yard political analysis. Not to mention those note-perfect musical send ups of every heroic Top Gun rah-rah epic. The anti-actor rants still feel both accurate and childish, but in addition to being ridiculously funny (and hilariously ridiculous), the film kinda acts as a social-political time capsule from the peak of the post-9-11, Iraq-invasion decade.
I’m surprised how this film has stuck with me over the weeks and months–I finding myself thinking back to its perfectly crafted tone. As I said last month, it’s “a slowly unfolding mystery, chilly and wind-swept gray,” that “carefully and masterfully stirs up dark secrets at the intersection of politics and publishing… Unease slowly coagulate[s] into tension and then tension build[s] to suspense, right down to the final… shot.”
About once a year there comes along a raunchy comedy that maybe doesn’t work perfectly as whole, but that I keep re-watching whenever I need a giggle. (Hellooo, Saving Silverman!) League ultimately succeeds not so much as a rom-com, but instead as a showcase for both its leads (the irresistably likable Jay Baruchel and winning Alice Eve) and its hilarious supporting cast of dirty minded dim bulbs.