Dispatches from the front lines of indecision.
  1. Beasts of No Nation (2015), Netflix
    Visually poetic portrait of a child soldier roped into the guerrilla warfare of West Africa. Shot cinema verite style by Cary Fukunaga, who also directed season 1 of True Detective. Really beautiful...enough to redeem its brutality, which is meted without gratuitousness. The kid that plays Agu is a quiet force.
  2. What We Do In The Shadows (2014), HBOgo
    This film is the perfect low-stakes comedy thing to watch if you just want to chuckle for like an hour and 15 minutes straight. It's a mockumentary about 4 vampires living in a flat in New Zealand and their take on "surviving" in the modern world. It's fun and clever without trying too hard, silly without being idiotic, and lighthearted without being a total waste of time.
  3. Dogtooth (2009), Hulu
    Honestly, I fucking hated this movie. Everyone that knows me told me I would love it. It has been praised as a great arthouse feature; it's won some important awards. Me: I don't think it deserves them. There are some beautiful cinematic moments, and I don't shy from difficult material, but positive reviews of this film sound to me like they're bending over backward to justify weird-for-weird's-sake. Bah. I say it's shock pastiche at best. BUT a lot of people like it, so you watch and tell me.
  4. Best of Enemies (2015), Netflix
    A close look at the animus between arch-conservative William F. Buckley Jr. and uber-liberal Gore Vidal, framed by their prime time face-off before coverage of the 1968 Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Particularly interesting if you've ever wondered how television has shaped political discourse in America.
  5. Burn After Reading (2008), HBOgo
    This Coen bros caper is the perfect mix of energetic hijinx and dark comedy for the casual cynic who doesn't want to watch anything too depressing right now. The characters aren't meant to be dynamic, but the way they're filled out by the likes of Brad Pitt, Francis McDormand, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, and John Malkovich makes them totally pop into life.
  6. Heathers (1988), Hulu
    You and I both know it's been too long since you've watched Winona Ryder and Christian Slater murder their way out of high school lameness in this jauntily twisted send-up of garden variety teenage boredom.
  7. The Thin Blue Line (1988), Netflix
    If you already binged out on The Jinx and Making a Murderer and you want to fill the true-crime-shaped hole in your heart, this is the movie that pioneered the genre. Directed by Errol Morris.
  8. Wonder Boys (2000), HBOgo
    Based on the novel by Michael Chabon about the travails of a pot-smoking university English professor with major personal probs and an overdue second novel. Given its literary subject matter and academia setting, it's no real wonder this one was technically a box office bomb, but it's actually a fun and charming movie full of wit, driven by the kinds of real-life absurdities that make for great stories, if not hit movies.
  9. Crash (2005), Hulu
    Crash is not a perfect film, nor should it have won Best Picture against Brokeback Mountain. However, I still think it is a powerful and affecting film that's worth a (re)visit ten years later, bc it's as relevant today as it was then, especially given the current spotlight on identity politics. In particular I appreciate its thesis: that life isn't as simple as "good guys" and "bad guys"--especially when it comes to the complexities of race and class. No one has a lock on the moral high ground.
  10. Crips and Bloods, Made in America (2008), Netflix
    An informative and engrossing documentary that investigates the origins of the epic violence in South Central LA. Directed by Stacy Peralta (Dogtown and Z Boys), the film uses candid interviews with current gang members, elders that founded the social clubs that predate them, archival news footage, and tons of statistics to illustrate the social upheaval that destroyed a neighborhood and sent shockwaves through a nation. Leans heavily toward compassion for the disenfranchised, but not blindly.