Paterson (2016) — PICK
Planet Earth II (2017) — PICK
Tired of mindless entertainment as usual? Two of the best antidotes imaginable are new on home video.
You probably haven’t seen my favorite film of 2016, a little gem called Paterson. Like my favorite film of 2015, Brooklyn, it’s a winsome love story named for an urban area in my backyard — in this case, Paterson, New Jersey — though the protagonist, a bus driver (Adam Driver) who reads and writes poetry in his spare time, is also named Paterson.
He’s happily married to Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), a restlessly creative soul who’s as spontaneous as Paterson is routine-bound. The beauty of their relationship is how they enjoy one another and appreciate their differences. I enjoyed the time I spent with them more than maybe any movie couple ever.
My family and I love the groundbreaking 2006 BBC documentary series Planet Earth — but a decade later, Planet Earth II, again narrated by David Attenborough, is more astonishing, more awe-inspiring and more flat-out gorgeous than its predecessor.
Like the original series, Planet Earth II is divided into one-hour episodes (only seven rather than 11, alas), with themes like “Islands,” “Mountains” and “Deserts” — though “Cities,” which explores how wildlife coexist with major human populations, is a major departure for the brand.
I’ve seen a lot of nature documentaries, but few if any with such flagrantly beautiful cinematography — so many shots I would hang as prints on my wall. Recent technological advances have captured images the filmmakers could only dream of a decade ago. A treasure.
Caveat Spectator: Paterson: Some innuendo; fleeting mild violence; some cursing. Teens and up. Planet Earth II: Sometimes bloody scenes of predation and violence. Fine for all but the most sensitive children.