9   +   7   =  

This week we start light before descending into the depths. If it’s too much, you can always jump out early at the comedy stage, but you’ll miss a documentary return, psychological experiments and revenge served icy.

First out the traps we have something of a lighter hue. In a tightly contested field, Melissa McCarthy is probably still ruling the comedy roost. She brings her abilities to The Boss as star, producer and co-writer in a film written with and directed by her husband Ben Falcone. She plays a Martha Stewart style businesswoman trying to rebrand herself after a spell in prison for insider trading. Aiming for big, broad laughs, reviews have been almost universally negative. McCarthy always warrants a look though.

It’s been a little while since we last saw confrontational documentarian Michael Moore, but he’s back now and on generally amiable form in Where to Invade Next. Mixing laughs with sharp edges, America is once again his target as he heads around the world to discover how other countries approach issues from healthcare to education and holiday allowances. As is often the way with Moore, it’s scattershot but not without entertainment and insight.

Now things are getting darker. Telling the story of the infamous psychological study, The Stanford Prison Experiment pits two groups of students against each other, one half as prison guards, the other as prisoners. In no time at all, everyone adapts to their roles with terrifying consequences. Picking up strong reviews and with a decent cast including Billy Crudup, Olivia Thirlby and Tye Sheridan, it’s worth seeking out

If that isn’t gruelling enough, The Revenant is out on DVD. Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Oscar winning survival-a-thon sees Leonardo DiCaprio coming back from the verge of death to seek revenge on the man who left him there. It’s hard to pick out the most punishing scene, but for sheer unrelenting horror, watch poor Leo (and poor bear for that matter) get into one hell of an animal encounter. It’s one to own but perhaps not one to curl up to.

On that uncomfortable note I’ll leave you. See you next week for the further butchering of ancient cultures.

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