Screening Room: ‘Experimenter’

Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) and his 'shock' machine in 'Experimenter' (Magnolia)
Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) and his ‘shock’ machine in ‘Experimenter’ (Magnolia)

At Yale in 1961, researcher Stanley Milgram began a long-term, wide-ranging experiment on obedience and authority that would actually—and for once, this isn’t hyperbole—shock the world with its conclusions. That’s the story of Michael Almereyda’s daring and (yes) experimental film Experimenter, opening this week.

My review is at PopMatters:

[Milgram] put a volunteer in a room with an officious research assistant and called them “Teacher”. He instructed Teacher to ask questions of a “Learner” in another room, a man they could hear but not see, a man they were told had a heart condition. Teacher administered a series of apparently escalating and painful electric shocks to Learner, and to continue no matter how many times Teacher heard Learner grunt and shout in pain. Teacher was free to leave whenever they liked … Many volunteers squirm with hesitation. Some ask the assistant if they will be responsible for whatever happens. Most of them deliver shock after shock, long after Learner has begged to be let out, and then fallen quiet…

Here’s the trailer:

Now Playing: ‘Night Moves’

Dakota Fanning, Jesse Eisenberg, and Peter Sarsgaard in 'Night Moves' (Cinedigm)
Dakota Fanning, Jesse Eisenberg, and Peter Sarsgaard in ‘Night Moves’ (Cinedigm)

nightmoves-posterA trio of environmental conspirators try to blow up a Pacific Northwest dam in Kelly Reichardt’s superbly quiet but tension-laced new film, Night Moves, which is playing now in limited release.

My review is at Film Racket:

The green activists plotting to blow up a dam in Kelly Reichardt’s sublimely nervy new film don’t talk about why they’re doing it. By the time the film catches up with them, the trio has already set their minds on a plan of action. They talk shop here and there, one grousing about all the golf courses being built in a dry climate, another about how the oceans will be dead from pollution by 2048. But there’s no deeper investigation into the why of what they’re about to do or whether they should do it. They just know that the dam, that hulking concrete symbol of humanity domineering nature, must come down. “It wants to come down,” one says dreamily. The introspection comes afterward, with a vengeance…

Here’s the trailer: