“Experimenter”: Social psychologist Stanley Milgram’s notorious, eye-opening obedience experiments from 1961 — in which subjects were observed as they administered what they thought were harmful electric shocks to an unseen stranger — inspired a disarmingly playful, surprisingly poignant and regrettably overlooked biopic from writer-director Michael Almereyda. It’s heady and fun.
“Heart of a Dog”: A gently questing lullaby of grief, artist Laurie Anderson’s aural/visual collage charts the emotional stages she went through in saying goodbye to her beloved canine Lulabell but stays with you as a poetic ode to loss and change. The result is moving, musical and humorously offbeat, her steady stream of wise, witty, free-associating narration washing over the beautifully trance-like footage and imagery.
“Man From Reno”: This Bay Area-set, cross-cultural neo-noir from filmmaker Dave Boyle deserves a bigger audience among fans of maze-like crime stories both cozy and hard-boiled. Boyle exhibits an elegant artistry with twisty sleuthing and themes of slippery identity; it’s full of eccentric charm and richly built suspense, a genuine indie gem.
“It Follows”: A ghoulish game of cinematic tag with a curdled undercurrent of intimacy hysteria, David Robert Mitchell’s offbeat horror film, briefly a buzzy spring indie phenomenon, remains one of the year’s most stylishly effective genre pieces. Mitchell gives movie lovers a sly, fun tutorial in patient wide-screen suspense not seen since John Carpenter’s heyday.
No más: Brando may have mumbled his way to screen fame, but when will today’s film stars stop whisper-acting every line as if it were a secret? Believe it or not, myriad emotions can be suggested while fully enunciating and projecting each word.