" It was nice to meet you. Surreal, but nice "
— Hugh Grant, Notting Hill

MRQE Top Critic

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Pic of the Week

Each week we pick a recommended "Pic" from our archives. Below are our most recent picks.

Ready Player One

***1/2Steven Spielberg

The advice is simple: Get outside. Live in the real world.

Power-up for a whiz-bang ride through the 1980s and beyond, with Steven Spielberg serving as the nimble navigator.

The Wind Rises

***2014, Hayao Miyazaki

An engineer pursues his dreams in Miyazaki’s latest (and hopefully not last)

Master animator Hayao Miyazaki had announced that The Wind Rises would be his last film (since retracted). That makes some of the scenes about a brilliant career all the more pointed. The protagonist’s mentor believes that artists and engineers only have ten years of brilliant creativity in them.

Strange Victory

***1948

Would have been positively radioactive had you tried to show it in the 1950s

There are many strange things about director Leo Hurwitz’s Strange Victory, perhaps the strangest, given the film’s politics, is the time and place in which it was made: 1948/USA. Stranger still is that Strange Victory survived the 1950s Extinction Event of the American Left. Now, 70 years later, it is being reissued on DVD and Blu-ray  by Milestone Films. Perhaps with the resurgence of a new American Left, Strange Victory will finally find a home.

Glengarry Glen Ross

***1/21993, James Foley

David Mamet’s screenplay is brutal and snappy, and the cast is an acting connoisseur’s dream

Glengarry Glen Ross is one of the best films about salesmen ever made. As a story and a work of art, it ranks right up with Death of a Salesman and the Maysles Brothers’ 1969 documentary Salesman.

Sleep Furiously

***2008, Gideon Koppel

Lovely and comforting portrait of life in a Welsh village

Made in 2007, Sleep Furiously documents life in the Welsh village of Trefeurig.

It’s a documentary without a narrator, although once in a while someone will acknowledge the camera — like the man who recites his poem about the signpost that gets blown around by the wind. Most of the time, the film captures people going about their nonindustrialized agrarian ways.

The Girlfriend Experience

****Steven Soderbergh

The nature of men and the business of relationships

Christine is a prostitute, but there’s much more to her transactions than just sex and money. What she provides instead is the girlfriend experience: a pretty woman to take on a date, converse with, embrace, share some intimacy, and yes, maybe a little sex. In exchange, Christine gets a lot more money than your average hooker.

Lady and the Tramp

***1955

50 years after its original release, this story of canine lives still oozes charm.

Lady and the Tramp earned is place in pop culture with the iconic spaghetti scene, where romance was kindled between two dogs. The movie may not have as much drama or adventure of Disney’s fairy tale movies, but 50 years after its original release, this story of canine lives still oozes charm.

Antz

***1998, Eric Darnell, and Tim Johnson

If you think Disney animated features have been getting stale lately, give Antz a try. Antz is the first animated feature put out by DreamWorks SKG, (not affiliated with Disney). As such, it has more freedom to target an audience older than 6. It is hipper and funnier than anything Disney has put out for years.

Man in the Chair

***2007, Michael Schroeder

A moving buddy picture: Citizen Kane crewmember consults on an aspiring filmmaker’s skateboard movie

In Hollywood, everybody wants to direct. Michael Schroeder’s Man in the Chair chronicles the youthful ambitions and directorial evolution of Cameron (Michael Angerano), a high school slacker bent on winning a film school scholarship and escaping suburbia. Along the way, he meets Flash Madden (Christopher Plummer), the last of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane crew, now retired and a degenerate drunk.

Hell in the Pacific

***1969, John Boorman

The Skin I Live In

****2011, Pedro Almodóvar

Almodóvar returns to his horror roots

I generally like the films of Pedro Almodóvar, but I am not a devoted follower like some are. I may have to rethink my position after seeing my new favorite Almodóvar film, The Skin I Live In.

Clerks X

***1994, Kevin Smith

The extras seem like overkill at times, but will tell fans as much as they ever wanted to know

Ten years ago, I was a clerk, slogging away at the front lines of the retail world. Oh sure, they called me a “sales associate,” but I knew where I stood. At the same time, Kevin Smith, a 23-year-old film school dropout and clerk, touched a chord when he used his crappy job as inspiration for a very funny, crude movie called Clerks.

Paradise: Hope

***2013, Ulrich Seidl

Funny, tense conclusion to Seidl’s provocative Paradise trilogy

Paradise: Hope is the third film in a trilogy by Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl. The others were Paradise: Love and Paradise: Faith.

The Last Mimzy

***1/22007, Bob Shaye

The kids are complex enough that, by the end, we truly want to know how things work out for them

My in-laws just forwarded me a humor e-mail that contained this anecdote: A teacher, observing her kindergarteners while they were drawing, asked one student about her picture. “I’m drawing God,” the girl said. “But no one knows what God looks like,” the teacher replied. “They will in a minute,” the girl said.

Titan A.E.

***1/22000, Don Bluth, and Gary Goldman

A timeless story and a feast for the eyes

Titan A.E. compares favorably with Star Wars. Its plot is a solid, serious Hero’s Journey, and the visuals are elaborate and impressive. It has interesting aliens, formidable villains, and not so much comic relief that you start getting annoyed.