The Thrum of Thrill-Seeking - A Sundance Festival Sampler

Among the most original selections this year are Michael Almereyda’s “Experimenter,” a conceptually exciting, intellectually searching portrait of the social psychologist Stanley Milgram (a superb Peter Sarsgaard), whose famous 1960s obedience experiments, in which subjects delivered punishing shocks on command, were later condemned. Making the most of an obviously low budget, Mr. Almereyda bridges the past and present with a movie that looks back at the Holocaust and toward Abu Ghraib. Mr. Sarsgaard, occasionally addressing the camera and sometimes accompanied by an elephant that materializes in the room, delivers a forceful yet intimate performance that expresses his character’s sincerity and the sinister undertow of his methods. Sundance could use more movies, like “Experimenter,” that are adventurous in form and thought, not just in subject.