‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’
The late Leonard Nimoy’s run as “Star Trek”’s unfailingly cool-tempered Spock was one of those performances that so defines an actor it’s impossible imagining them as anyone else. Some actors (Anthony Perkins, say) find this restricting; Nimoy embraced it, while still doing other things. There are few characters as un-Spock-like as the one he plays in Philip Kaufman’s 1978 version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” — apart, that is, from evil, goateed Spock in the episode “Mirror, Mirror.” Clad in a ’70s sweater that screams false reassurance, he’s one of the secret pod people taking over liberal San Francisco, and Nimoy uses his calming persona to throw you off — to feel extra violated when the truth is finally revealed. You’d never assume Mr. Spock to be corrupted. In a film full of personable actors you don’t want to see go to the dark side — Donald Sutherland, Veronica Cartright, Jeff Goldblum — his turn is arguably the most devastating.
Don’t bother playing logic police with Nacho Vigalando’s sometimes silly but nevertheless often brilliant thriller, which plays with concepts of the real in the digital age in ways that will at least make for some kid’s killer grad school paper. Technically set entirely on a computer’s desktop, the action unfolds in tiny screens, with a nervous fanboy (Elijah Wood) trying to save a lusty star (Sasha Grey, whose presence is one of the film’s better jokes) from a mysterious psycho and finding little that appears to be real is.
The Criterion Collection unleashed many a gorgeous box set last year, one of them for Jacques Demy — the rare French New Wave filmmaker who loved artifice: loud pastel colors, beautiful dresses and full-on musicals. But they make you as happy as they do sad. Each is a heartbreaker, and no film has a beautiful downer ending like “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.” Most of the films in the set now live on the Criterion wing of Hulu, plus some that didn’t make the list, including “A Slightly Pregnant Man” — a proto-“Junior,” starring Marcello Mastroianni as a man with child — and his savaged, but possibly worth salvaging “Parking,” which does “Orpheus” in a parking lot.
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