Although it’s been used repeatedly as a movie title, Alive and Kicking perfectly captures the joyous enthusiasm of Susan Glatzer’s debut documentary, which presents swing dance as a vibrant, living art form.
In the trying relationship drama Between Us, a thirtysomething couple addresses commitment pressures with a childish display: a discussion about marriage builds to frenzied chanting and flailing dancing that dissolves into exhausted giggles.
What do you do with a loathsome hero? Noah Pritzker isn’t sure. His aimless first feature (co-written with Ben Tarnoff) is built around slippery teenage manipulator Clark Rayman (Ben Konigsberg), who goes from a little Machiavellian to big-time creepy with no rhyme or reason.
The Chet Baker portrayed by Ethan Hawke in Robert Budreau’s misty biopic Born to Be Blue is midway between beauty and ruin. Behind him are the 1950s, when the jazz trumpeter and vocalist was the epitome of California cool. Ahead are two peripatetic decades of scattershot gigs and recording sessions.
Kent Mackenzie had an astute eye and a strong social conscience, and 1961’s The Exiles is a stunning example of social realism and aesthetic audacity, capturing 12 hours in the hardscrabble, hard-drinking lives of Native Americans in Los Angeles.