The real Lee Israel, the celebrity profiler turned forger who died in 2014, was a more boastful figure than the sad-sack recluse Melissa McCarthy plays in Marielle Heller’s sympathetic biopic, especially when methodically detailing her brief, prolific criminal spree in the early 1990s.
The makers of Trafficked walk a fine line, embedding their advocacy in an action film and conveying the horror of sexual slavery without edging into exploitation. Director Will Wallace achieves this balance by emphasizing the inner lives of enslaved women even as the men who peddle them see them as meat.
Emanuele Della Valle’s choppy feature debut has the visual markers of noir, using the autumnal gloom of desolate coastal communities south of Atlantic City to express the isolation and bone-deep sadness of his characters.
The simplicity of Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit is its best and worst quality. Her direction has such clarity and power that the chaos and brutality of 50 years ago is vivid and immediate.
Casablanca is a sharply political movie, displaying overt admiration for anti-fascist activists and sympathy for refugees while subtly probing the corrosiveness of appeasement. Against the current rise of nationalism and xenophobia, the political climate that generations have taken as a backdrop for the romance of Ilsa Lund and Rick Blaine crashes to the forefront.