The Rider – 6.5

A good film to discover, unheralded, at a small film festival – not something to be seen at CityCinema3 in Manhattan. The amateur acting is remarkably good, but occasionally painful; the shots of horses are welcome, except when the horse is literally shot; and the scenes of the West are surprisingly plain. The story, as one reviewer noted, is “how we deal with the hand we are dealt.” It’s a quiet movie, with a lot of longeurs.

A Quiet Place – 7

Yes, it was scary – especially the erect nail waiting to be stepped on – and no, the story didn’t make any sense, which I gather is par for a horror movie. What set this apart was the depiction of a family dynamic, portrayed by the real-life husband/wife team of John Krasinski and Emily Blunt. Still, as one new horror piled on another, I felt detached, contemplating how I would have responded to each turn of events (hint: not well).

Itzhak – 7.5

A delightful bio-documentary about a charming man who wears his musical genius lightly. Itzhak Perlman’s story – overcoming polio to Juilliard to international stardom – is heartwarming, as is his marriage to a lively wife, but what sets this film apart is the music. I don’t know classical music, but even I appreciated the excerpts of Itzhak’s performances that punctuated the story. Less successful were some of the set pieces, such as a staged lunch with Alan Alda, which made you think the director was struggling to build a narrative that didn’t really have a dramatic arc.