Denmark’s official submission to the Foreign Language Film category of the 2014 Academy Awards, this film features Mads Mikkelsen as a teacher falsely accused of child sexual abuse in his small Danish town. Following this character through the torture he endures from those who turn their backs on him and from those who come to despise him for something he didn’t do is gut-wrenching. The ending is something you have to watch–seriously. Don’t miss this one.
On the surface, this sounds like the stupidest idea for a film ever: a climate change experiment freezes the world and every living thing in it except for the passengers on this huge train, The Snowpiercer. The passengers circle the globe and within the train, they’ve created their own social, economic, and class system. So what happens when the 1% have it all and the 99% are pushed to the back of the train? Revolution. On a train. In the cold.
Director Jim Jarmusch takes on the Old West as only he could. In this film, timid accountant William Blake (Johnny Depp) takes a job in Machine Town where, on his first night, he’s shot, wounded, and put on the run. He meets a Native American named Nobody who mistakes him for the English poet William Blake. Their journey through the metaphysical levels of Dante’s Divine Comedy set in the west is sometimes comical, sometimes frightful, and always haunting.
The City of God is a slum in Rio de Janeiro where two boys take entirely different paths through life. One becomes a drug kingpin; the other, a photographer. The story is told “Pulp Fiction” style through the narration of the photographer as he documents growing up in the City of God where he and his compadres begin their “careers” as pre-teen killers, progressing through the ranks of drug dealers to positions at the top of the food chain. An unbelievable look into a lifestyle most of us refuse to acknowledge even exists.
The late Alan Rickman plays Hilly Kristal—the guy responsible for the punk rock scene in New York City that launched the careers of stars such as Blondie, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop, The Ramones, The Talking Heads, and The Police. CBGB was “Country, Bluegrass, and Blues” but when Kristal found he was unable to book enough acts to keep the club going, he opened the doors to any band that wanted to play with only one rule: all music had to be original. No top-40 covers, no re-makes. A fascinating biography about the godfather of punk.
The true story of Richard Kuklinski, devoted family man and contract killer, played to perfection by Michael Shannon. While working as a porno film lab technician, Kuklinski comes to the attention of the organized crime bosses behind the operation. It seems he has something they think would be beneficial to them—or, rather, he doesn’t have something. A conscience. And as it turns out, that’s the one trait that makes for an excellent hitman. The movie emphasizes Kuklinski’s attempts to keep his family life and his “job” separate but what it really does well is give a peek into the mind of a sociopath.
A truly gruesome look at what happens when journalists blur the line between documenter and participant. Jake Gyllenhaal is Louis Bloom, a loose cannon with a camera who finds work selling film of car crashes, murder scenes, fires, suicides, etc. to local news channels. One slow news day, Bloom decides to give the news a little “assistance” and a lunatic is born. This is almost a horror film, but it’s too believable.
This film was released in 1989 and for years, it was impossible to get a copy of it anywhere. No VHS, no DVD, no streaming, no WebRIPs—nothing. If you wanted to see it you had to go to an “art house” and hang with the dweebs for a few hours listening to them discuss Fassbinder films and the impact of sauerbraten on Marlene Dietrich. Thankfully, there’s Netflix now. In this film, the wife of an organized crime boss carries on an affair with a bookseller between meals at a restaurant owned by her husband. Doesn’t sound like much, but when you watch it and you realize small things (such as the color of everyone’s clothes changes as they go from room to room) are happening all the time that contribute to the story, you’ll be hooked. Yes, there are some “gross-out” scenes and no, it’s not for everybody but you should at least give it a try. If it hasn’t got you in the first 15 minutes, move on, but you’ll be missing a young Helen Mirren in a black-lace bustier and fishnet stockings. Just so you know…
Scary stuff. It’s 1921, England is just getting over the horrors of World War I, and Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall), an exposer of hoaxes, seers, and spiritualists, is summoned to a boarding school to get to the bottom of sightings of a child ghost. Been done to death? Not like this, it hasn’t. The way the film makers hide facts all the way through the film to keep you from figuring out what’s going on makes this old-fashioned ghost story one not to be missed. If you liked The Others or The Orphanage, you’re going to love this one.