This week's offerings include rare "adult" movies--no, not that kind; I'm talking about movies that were made with grown-ups in mind that don't require viewers to check their brains at the door or lower their expectations. By the same token, we have two G-rated movies streaming for kids of all ages. Studios don't like to make many G-rated movies because there's a perception that they're for "babies" and don't appeal to older kids. But when they do show up--the best ones are gentle and likable--parents and kids alike very much appreciate them.
My other two recommendations fit in between those extremes: These are movies that are mature in content, but immature in other ways. In other words, they're just good fun.
A Most Wanted Man (Netflix)
It's always a gargantuan task to adapt a John Le Carré novel to the screen, but sometimes the effort is worth it. Directed by former music-video maker Anton Corbijn, A Most Wanted Man (2014) is an exceedingly well-balanced movie, intelligent, with a richness of character as well as suspense. It features one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's final performances, and one of his best (we lost a great actor at the top of his game). He plays a burned-out German intelligence agent, Gunther Bachmann, who is stationed in Hamburg, where the 9/11 attacks were planned.
A human rights attorney (Rachel McAdams) hopes to help a young immigrant (Grigoriy Dobrygin) to procure an inheritance, but Bachmann sees a way to use him as bait to catch a bigger fish. Willem Dafoe co-stars as a banker who is crucial to the scheme. Corbijn uses the gloomy cityscape to create a potent mood. Andrew Bovell wrote the brilliant screenplay, full of quietly loaded conversations. But it's Hoffman, with a German accent, that carries the film, shambling, lost, and yet with a flicker of burning hope.
All the Wilderness (Netflix)
Michael Johnson's All the Wilderness (2015) manages to avoid all the familiar elements of the "coming-of-age" genre, using a kind of wandering, searching quality to tell the story of its protagonist, a young man who can't quite find his place. The wonderful Kodi Smit-McPhee stars as James, who has a tough time dealing with his father's death. He has become obsessed with sketching dead animals, and his visits to a shrink (Danny DeVito) and concern from his mom (Virginia Madsen) don't seem to help.
James meets an orphan pianist, Harmon (Evan Ross) and one of his doctor's other patients, Val (Isabelle Fuhrman), and enters a new world of abandoned buildings and skateboard parties, where it's not so easy to keep his feelings inside. At only 77 minutes, the movie is like a great short story, an impression of a moment, rather than a tightly-constructed narrative. The performances are uniformly great, especially Madsen, whose sympathetic "mother" role could have been a lot less than it is.
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