Friday, October 25, 2013

What to Watch This Weekend: October 25, 2013

You can check out The Conjuring on DVD if you're in the Halloween spirit, but we have some other suggestions.

This is a minimalist story about an unnamed sailor (Robert Redford) who becomes lost at sea after an unexpected collision. AIL provides little background into the sailor aside from brief, early voice-over, instead focusing on his increasingly desperate struggle to keep his damaged yacht afloat in an unpredictable ocean. There's even less dialogue than the limited amount found in other survival films like Castaway and GravitySome say it's one of 77-year-old Redford's strongest, most physically demanding roles.

This coming-of-age story is about an awkward teen who spends much of his summer avoiding his family by going to a beach town's local water park. The occasional dramatic portions of the story often feel familiar, but the relatable protagonist and often hilarious writing make much of the story a fun reminder of the awkwardness of being a teenager. Sam Rockwell is great as the playful water park manager who takes the boy under his wing.

Judi Dench plays an unusually nasty role as lonely, obsessive spinster Barbara in this twisty drama. Barbara is a teacher who finds herself drawn to new, much younger teacher Sheba (Cate Blanchett). When she learns a secret that would ruin Sheba's life if revealed, she slyly uses that information to bring them closer together. Watching Barbara manipulate Sheba into this "friendship" is unsettling, uncomfortable and absorbing. It gets a bit melodramatic towards the end but I appreciate that Barbara, despite her disturbing actions, is portrayed as a complex, troubled character rather than a mere villain. Both actresses received Oscar nominations.

If The Fifth Estate left you wanting more insight into Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, you can check out this documentary. It coldly explores Assange's rise from ambitious hacker to notorious whistleblower and his unusual behavior, assisted by interviews with disillusioned former colleagues. It's more sympathetic when looking into the motivation and fate of the source of WikiLeaks' biggest scoop, Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning.

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