Tuesday, June 2, 2009

5 Movies That You Probably Haven't Seen (And Probably Should)

I'm glad that lately I've gotten back into my habit of going out of my way to see interesting films The new Netflix account also helps. Seriously, why have I been against Netflix all these years? It's such an amazing invention! Here I give you five movies that I've seen recently that I think you should check out. Some of these are out on DVD already, some should still be in theaters. Checkee out.

Sin Nombre

Starring: Edgar Flores, Kristyan Ferrer, Tenoch Huerta Mejía, Paulina Gaitán

Synopsis (courtesy of Flixter): "After murdering his gang's leader, a teenager joins a family of Honduran immigrants making the dangerous journey across Mexico to the United States, avoiding a fellow gang member who has been sent to kill him along the way. "

This is the debut feature from director Cary Joji Fukunaga and, based on this, I'd be really excited to see what he does in the future. Sin Nombre ("Without Name") concerns people who are on the edges of society (i.e. gang members and illegal immigrants). It also teaches you not to mess with MS13. Like, seriously. The cinematography is amazing, with some hard-to-watch scenes inside the dens of gang leaders, and wide shots of trains zipping up the countryside of Central America, with dozens of people crowded on top, desperately trying to escape to a better life. This is a gritty drama that'll stick with you long after you're done watching. Still in theaters, I think. Watch trailer here.


Starring: Caroline Ducey, Rocco Siffredi, Sagamore Stévenin, François Berléand

Synopsis: "Although deeply in love with her boyfriend - and indeed sleeping in the same bed with him - a schoolteacher cannot handle the almost complete lack of intimacy he will allow. Increasingly frustrated, she gradually finds her sexual appetites leading her into ever more risky situations, including a developing one with the headmaster".

I've been trying to get into the work of director Catherine Breillat and this is the third film I've seen of hers so far (along with The Last Mistress and Fat Girl) and so far the one I like the most. However, I would say her films are difficult to like and she's certainly not subtle in terms of her agenda. Even still, I'm not exactly sure how much I like this film, but I definitely think it's worth checking out, if only because of the questions it raises and the buttons it pushes. I'd also have to say that Breillat's films, this one especially, have some of the most explicit sex I've ever seen on film...and also the least erotic. It's hard to explain. But worth a gander.

(Probably not work-safe) Trailer here.

Let the Right One In

Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson

Synopsis: A bullied Swedish boy develops a friendship with the girl next door...who happens to be a vampire.

Rarely will you see such bloody carnage in a movie and go "Awwww, it's so cute!" But seriously, the relationship between Oskar and his cute lil' vampire girlfriend Eli is simultaneously morbid, touching, and utterly adoreable. The young girl who plays Eli has a precociousness and an odd charisma that reminded me a lot of the girl who played Miette in City of Lost Children (what happened to that girl anyway? Does anyone know?). Even if you're not into vampire lore or vampire cinema, this Swedish export is still captivating, odd, and very well-crafted.

Trailer here

Gegen die Wand (Head-On)

Starring: Birol Ünel, Sibel Kikelli
Synopsis: "40-year-old Cahit is brought to German psychiatric clinic after attempting suicide and sets out to start a new life, even as he longs for drugs and alcohol to numb his pain. There he meets Sibel, who is young, pretty and like Cahit, Turkish-German. She lives a lifestyle that is a bit too wild for her devout, conservative Muslim family and fakes a suicide attempt to try and escape them. But the incident brings shame upon her family, who insist that only marriage can save her. Sibel begs Cahit to marry her and he reluctantly agrees, perhaps in an effort to save her and to find meaning in his own life. Gradually, however, Cahit begins to fall in love with Sibel and she, in turn, comes to realize that she loves him - but not before an incident of jealous violence tests this fledgling romance."

I loved, loved, LOVED this movie. I only saw it a little over a month ago and I would already put it in my top five favorite films ever. Here we are presented with two very damaged people who you are compelled to like and root for despite a number of unlikeable traits and habits. And despite the fact that their relationship seems ultimately doomed from the start, you just really want these crazy kids to make it! This film just has an amazing rush of energy to it and takes you on a rollercoaster ride that keeps your heart racing until the very end. Seriously, cannot recommend this highly enough. Watch it.

Trailer here.

Goodbye Solo
Starring: Red West, Souleymane Sy Savane
Synopsis: Goodbye Solo is the story of Solo, a kindhearted 34-year-old Senegalese taxi driver in North Carolina. He is hired by William, a tough 70-year-old white southerner, to drive him in two weeks time to a mountaintop from which William plans to jump to his death. Solo decides to charm his way into becoming William's friend, and this odd couple's unexpected friendship grows. Now all Solo has to do is change the old man's mind before the two weeks are up.

This movie reminded me a little bit of Thomas McCarthy's movies The Station Agent and The Visitor, which both dealt with unlikely friendships. This movie quietly takes you to some unexpected places and ultimately leaves you uncertain about the fate of its characters. But I think that's what I liked best about it.

Trailer here

Still in theaters.

Now get watching!

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