Friday, July 22, 2011

One Addition

Wow, I just saw this, and it reminded me of a movie that I left off the list on my last post.  Jackpot, by the Polish brothers.  A genuinely offbeat and visually interesting movie.  It was shot by M. David Mullen who has shot most of their films and is one of my favorite cinematographers.  The stories I've heard about working with them (leaner than lean) and the films they have made put them in the forefront of interesting American filmmakers.

Their latest film, For Lovers Only, had a cast and crew of three.  The two Polish brothers, one on camera  (A 5D) and the other an actor, and one actress.  It is being self-dstributed online only.  I can't wait to watch it this weekend.

Here's the trailer:

for lovers only... from Polish Brothers on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Let the Right Ones In

Let the Right One In

We do this to tell stories.  So, I thought I'd share some of the one's that I've enjoyed over the past year or two.   Most of them were made in the past decade, however, there are a few exceptions.   This list isn't meant to be inclusive, systematic or really have any larger meaning.   It's just some films that I've watched recently and enjoyed.  Many of these films grossed under $100,000 and some were as low as $20,000 in their U.S releases.

There are not any big Hollywood films in the list.  It's not because there aren't any good films made in Hollywood, but they get their coverage elsewhere.  These are films that typically are not going to get much coverage in the media, even after winning major international awards.

Really good French/Belgian movies from the last 5 years.

Many of the best movies coming out recently are low to mid-budget films coming from Europe, including many French and French-Belgian productions.  They seem to be able to still put the financing together for really engaging character driven stories.

 The Class

  1. The Class:    This one was somewhat experimental in that it was workshopped with the actual immigrant kids who also star in it.  HIGHLY recommended.
  2. A Prophet
  3. I've Loved you So Long
  4. L'Enfant
  5. Lorna's Silence

Four Lions

Other fairly recent European films
  1. Four Lions-I think you can safely call a comedy about 4 wannabe homegrown jihadists in England transgressive (and funny).  Christopher Morris may be the new Ricky Gervais.
  2. Let the Right One In:  Really interesting look to it, captures that modern alienated Nordic feeling.  One of the best vampire movies ever.  It is astonishing that it only grossed $49,000 in its opening weekend in the U.S.  It was remade as Let Me In (2010) in the U.S.
  3. The Lives of Others: wow. Beautiful and incredible acting.  The claustrophobia of living in a police state.
Lives of Others


Lady Vengeance- last film in the twisted Oldboy trilogy. 

Whisky: Uruguayan comedy.

Bubble: really compelling Soderbergh.  He uses "real people" as actors and shot this on a shoestring.

Cutie Honey: Get your Cos Play on.  Not a great film but who can resist a live action Japanese female superhero.

Play Time:  this is a taste one.  I love Mr Hulot and this is arguably the best of the lot. It is great to look at, the cinematography is phenomenal, and the physical comedy really good on a big screen.  Get the Blu-Ray and watch it on the biggest screen you can find.  Made in 1967 by Tati.

Play Time

  1. September Issue: rightfully got a fair amount of press.  And every visual person should be well-versed in Grace Coddington.
  2. Salesman: an awesome, awesome classic.  A reminder of why the Maysles brothers so heavily influenced the course of documentary film making for 50 years.  A day in the life of door-to-door bible salesmen.
  3. Valentino: The Last Emperor- Surprisingly, another fashion-related film. 
  4. Wasteland-won the IDA feature award last year
  5. Bus 174:  Brazilian.  It will change you. Really.  Maybe one of the most important documentaries of the last 25 years.
  6. La Vida Loca:  I can't recommend this doc highly enough.  Christian Poveda lived a dangerous life and ended up getting killed in the end.  In the meantime he recorded the reality of gang life (imported from the U.S) in El Salvador.   There is one scene in it that is like a waking fever dream.  
  7. Stevie: by Steve James (Hoop Dreams).  One of the few movies where the reflexive mode really works well because the film maker allows himself to be presented in a less than perfect light.  The moral center of the movie is provided by a white supremacist ex-con.
    Iranian: the best of my recent obsession with Iranian cinema
    It is really a shame that we don't get to see more Iranian films here.  They produce a decent number of films and have some incredibly talented directors.

    Kandahar- released in 2001.  Made by the prolific Mohsen Makhmalbaf.
    Gabbeh- another Makhmalbaf film.
    Close-Up- Abbas Kiarostami.  This film is an innovative blend of documentary and narrative film making.  And watching a real life trial in Iran is fascinating.


    And winner of possibly the most disturbing film I've seen in a long, long time:  The Chaser (Korean).  I felt terrible for days after watching this. If horrendous serial killers are your thing, then this film will scratch your itch.

    Don't Ask