45 Films to Find
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Leviathan: A favorite on the festival circuit, this hard-drinking drama shows how corrupt the current Russian society can be, with one man fighting a dangerous battle against a gun-wielding politician to keep his family’s seaside property.
Maps to the Stars: David Cronenberg’s funny, sad, and hard-to-stop-watching-the-trainwreck satire about child stars both young and old, starring Julianne Moore, John Cusack, and Robert Pattinson, is a quite acerbic critique of Hollywood culture.
Nightingale: David Oyelowo is the only actor in this entire film about a PTSD-afflicted solider who kills his mother and tries to lure his only supposed friend over for dinner. It’s an acting tour de force.
Sunshine Superman: This engrossing documentary about the birth of BASE jumping is told through the love story of Carl and Jane Boenish.
Tangerines: This thought-provoking and downright excellent film enters the separatist rebel war in Abkhazia, showing how two Estonian men — their own ethnic role in the region an entirely interesting piece of forgotten history — bring a Georgian soldier and Chechen mercenary who shot each other back to health under the same roof.
Timbuktu: This colorful feature from the heart of Saharan Africa shows what life is like under foreign Islamic fundamentalist rule, when hypocritical Arab rulers impose laws that are so senseless they make normal life unlivable and so harsh that those lives are quickly ended.
A Better You: Matt Walsh (Veep, The Hangover, Upright Citizens Brigade) directs longtime buds Horatio Sanz, Natasha Leggero, Rob Huebel, and Nick Kroll in this hilarious and oddly thoughtful take on the agonies and the ironies of the self-help industry.
Kill Me Three Times: This Australian black-comedy film starring Simon Pegg is about a group of revenge-seeking manipulators who each concoct diabolic plans that will make you cringe and laugh. Misperceptions of the strategizing send the plot twisting in delightful ways.
Uncanny: This feature film concerns the exciting yet frightful development of artificial intelligence by following a female tech reporter who visits a humanoid robot and his genius creator and the love triangle that ensues, tackling the issue with thought-provoking intrigue.
Wet Bum: This coming-of-age independent film follows a teenage girl who’s concerned about her late-blooming body, her budding love affair with an older swim coach, and her work at a home for seniors. It’s sad, happy, charming, and depressing at various times but always very honest, much like life itself.
In the Sands of Babylon
All Cats Are Grey (Tous les chats sont gris): This touching and engaging French film is about a daughter in search of her father, revealing that meaningful relationships can often be based on much more than blood.
Cruel: This nail-biting narrative study of the mind of a very troubled though quite prolific serial killer in Toulouse, France, explores many facets of human existence, from childhood trauma to dreams of the future to the pains of growing old.
In the Sands of Babylon: In the wake of the first Gulf War, millions of Iraqis rose up against Saddam Hussein, only to be brutally crushed when American support didn’t materialize. This film focuses on an Iraqi soldier who’s mistaken for a traitor and how the prison where he is held becomes a hotbed for the tragic revolt.
Kolnoa (Jewish Films)
Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem: Due to a patriarchal Israeli divorce ritual, women like Viviane Amsalem remain married for years after separating from husbands. This beautiful chamber work for actors relies on a subtle, insinuating script that takes the story behind the clichés of hero and villain.
Sacred Sperm: This is an honest if at times awkward look into the belief held by Haredi Jews that it’s a violation of a covenant to spill one’s sperm outside of the vagina of one’s wife and was made by a devout believer who’s curious how to raise his baby son.
Aces (Os fenómenos): The Great Recession stars in many movies this year, including this heartstring-pulling drama about a single mother in Spain who must turn to the male-dominated construction trade to make ends meet. Watch as she enters their world against all odds.
Happy Times (Tiempos felices): This is a well-acted and funny Mexican film about a man who’s trying to break up with his girlfriend, only to have her think that she’s being proposed to. He enlists a service to get rid of this problem, and everything gets weird.
La noche del ratón (The Night of the Rat): What would you do if you stopped at a gas station and were suddenly under gunfire? This film focuses on the fear that builds in a victim of such senseless violence and the quiet spaces in between the flashes of terror.
The World Laughs
Bonobo: What if people decided that our ape cousins lived better lives and set about copying them? That’s what happens in this racy British comedy about a group of folks deciding to follow the bonobo’s highly sexualized and peaceful ways.
Monument to Michael Jackson (Spomenik Majklu Džeksonu): Set in post-Balkan War Serbia, this inspiringly quirky and often hilarious film follows one man’s quest to revitalize tourism, the airport, and the economy of a small town by erecting a monument to pop star Michael Jackson (who’s still alive back then) in the center of town.
The Grump (Mielensäpahoittaja): What begins as a funny film from Finland about a grumpy old country man who must move to the city evolves into a self-examination of a lonely life full of mistakes. This lovable feature will make you laugh, cry, and think about your own life, no matter your age.