Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen’s latest places starving writer Owen Wilson in Paris with his fiancée, Rachel McAdams. Searching for inspiration for his incomplete novel, Owen begins taking strolls around the city at night where he discovers an unexpected group of people. I wish I could be more specific, but it would ruin the surprise. Know that it is brilliant, witty and full of mystique. 92% on Rotten Tomatoes (RT).
Let the Right One In
The best vampire movie ever made in my opinion. Let the Right One In is a truly unique story about a young boy and his new blood-sucking friend from next door. This film is a heart-warming love story with sprees of gory violence, which the director pulls off brilliantly. To say this movie blows ‘Twilight’ out of the water is a terrible understatement. 98% RT. Note: This film also has an American counterpart called Let Me In that is almost as good.
The Man From Earth
Holy &#%@ this film’s plot is fascinating! A professor gathers his academic friends and confesses that he is a caveman who has been alive since prehistoric times thanks to a gene mutation allowing his cells to replicate without error. This claim is of course met with much skepticism, resulting in some very intriguing conversation about mortality and the history of mankind.
This is my absolute favorite film. Garden State is the story of an actor who goes back to his hometown for his mother’s funeral and starts figuring out what he wants in life. It’s chock-full of quirky humor, funny characters and ruminations on life. Not to mention the soundtrack is phenomenal. I recommend Garden State to every person I talk to about movies and have yet to hear a bad review :)
It’s impossible for you to grasp Waking Life without actually watching it, but I’ll do my best to explain it. The ‘plot’ centers around lucid dreaming with the main character floating around dreamscapes having incredibly interesting conversations with strangers about a variety of topics. Each conversation concerns something I would write about for the Mind-Blowing Concepts category of this site. Plus it’s all presented in trippy animated sequences.
This film is a rather dark, yet comedic story about the twisted relationships between Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Clive Owen and Julia Roberts. Instead of going with the normal romantic-comedy theme, Closer shows the sinful, deceptive, human side of love and infatuation. If I say anything else, I’ll start to give some of the plot-twists away so just watch it.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le Scaphendre et le Papillon)
A beautifully shot film from the first-person perspective of Jean-Do (Mathieu Almaric), a man who has everything before he becomes paralyzed in a car accident. After a painstaking recovery in the hospital, Jean is only able to communicate by blinking his eye. I really can’t fully convey how amazing the cinematography is throughout the film, nor how tragic the story is. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is straight visual art.
Sin Nombre is the intense story of a runaway gangster and a young Honduran girl crossing paths en route to illegally enter the United States. The film gives you a detailed look at life in Central America and the conditions under which people travel on their way to the American border. Lots of action, suspense, love, sex and a very climatic ending.
Snatch is Brad Pitt’s lesser known Fight Club, except he’s an ever bigger badass in this film (if that’s possible). The plot twists around gangsters, mobsters and Pitt’s gang of Irish misfits and all of the conflict that ensues. Snatch is rather similar to it’s predecessor, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, but provides a fresh spin on the multi-plot, mob-violence theme.
I’m not big on anime but this movie is awesome. Written and directed by acclaimed director Hayao Miyakzaki, Spirited Away is the story of a young girl whisked away to a kind of ‘spirit resort’ where she must work her way to getting back to her parents. All of the characters are so damn creative and goofy. It’s a bit strange at first, but once you get into groove with this movie, you’ll be hooked.
This movie is really, really scary. A group of female spelunkers decides to take a weekend to explore an uncharted abyss they have stumbled upon. Little do they know that there is a race of uber-creepy creatures wandering around looking for food down there. The storyline sounds stupid, but the way the film is shot and how the suspense builds before the creatures are introduced makes for a bone-chilling watch. **Warning: If you plan on exploring any caves in the next few months, do NOT watch this movie.
Once is the story of two musicians that meet by chance and begin to make beautiful music together, and subsequently fall in love. The two actors are actually the duo band, The Swell Season. Honestly you could just listen to the soundtrack of this film and get the gist of the plot, but the plot does add to the meaning of the lyrics.
Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
Three escaped convicts make their way towards their stowed away riches in a spree of comedy & misfortunes. The three stooges-like trio narrowly escape the law, the KKK and their own impudence in their treasure-driven adventure. This one is laugh-out-loud funny all the way though.
Punch Drunk Love
Paul Thomas Anderson directs Adam Sandler in his most serious and impressive role to date. Adam plays a shy & damaged nobody who runs off with a woman and learns about who he is along the way. This dark humored indie-drama is highly underrated. Check it out!
Young Mark Wahlberg plays an up-and-coming porn star in the 70’s and 80’s. Much comedy and drama ensues. 92% on RT.
Your jaw will drop at some point during this film. Hugh Jackman plays a scientist hunting for a cure to his wife’s cancer while, in a separate storyline, he plays out the main character’s role in the book she is writing. The two storylines intertwine in a fantastic way and ends the movie with the most beautiful scene I have witnessed in any film.
The Closet (Le Placard)
Ridiculously funny French film about a man (Daniel Auteuil) who pretends to come out of the closet at work to keep his boss from firing him. Of course this lands him in all sort of funny situations and conversations, etc. Daniel Auteuil can play the most awkward, laughable character, so he really shines in this role.
Laugh your head off watching a ridiculous group of ‘super heroes’ band together to face mastermind, Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush). I think the best way to let you know what is in store is to list of the characters and their respective powers:
Ben Stiller as ‘Mr. Furious’ — Can become extremely angry on command
William H. Macy as ‘The Shoveler’ — Extremely good with a shovel. “Lucille, God gave me a gift. I shovel well. I shovel very well.”
Hank Azaria as ‘The Blue Raja’ — Can throw forks and spoons (but not so much knives) with pristine accuracy
Kel Mitchel as ‘The Invisible Boy’ — Can become invisible, but only when no one else is looking at him. “When you go invisible, you can just feel it!”
Paul Reubens as ‘Spleen’ — Can fart with the pull of a finger with deadly accuracy thanks to a curse from a gypsy.
Greg Kinnear also appears as ‘Captain Amazing’, the city’s beloved superhero.
Unique, clever & bizarre. These are the words I choose to describe Rubber — a film that follows an animate tired (yes, like on a car) that rolls are blowing things up with its mind. It has some other strange elements to it that I won’t event try to explain here. Just watch it! It will be unlike any other movie you have ever seen, guaranteed.
Kung Fu Hustle
Kung Fu Hustle puts a crazy spin on the classic kung fu film. An unlikely group of heroes, each with bizarre powers (the woman pictured can scream loud enough to kill people) goes up against an axe gang that threatens to overrun their town. Out-of-this-world fight sequences and strange plot twists make this film unlike any other action flick out there. 90% RT
This movie is a trip to say the least. I couldn’t even begin to describe the plot, so I’ll let IMDB do it for me: “An epic mosaic of several interrelated characters in search of happiness, forgiveness, and meaning.” Paul Thomas Anderson directs Julianna Moore, Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, John C. Reilly and Philip Hall. The combo is just phenomenal.
12 Angry Men
The only classic film on this list, 12 Angry Men centers around the jury in a murder case in which one man strives to convince the other 11 jurors of the plaintiff’s innocence. It’s like a clever CSI episode from 1957 that also happened to get 100% on RT.
Enter the Void
This one starts off with the protagonist taking a hit of DMT (if you don’t know what that is, get ready for the most interesting Google search in recent memory) and the absolutely beautiful visuals that follow. Soon after, the guy is killed in a drug deal gone bad. We spend the rest of the film watching the after-math of his murder from the perspective of his soul, having now floated out of his body. Meanwhile the other characters reflect on consciousness and mortality in light of their sudden exposure to death.
A confused young man decides to take advantage of his insomnia by getting a late night job at the local 24/7 grocery. There he learns that he can somehow stop time with his mind. Oddly this power has little to do with the plot, which centers mostly around his search for meaning and the girl pictured above. If you like independent movies, you have to give this one a chance.
The Big Lebowski
The Big Lebowski is, in my opinion, the funniest movie ever made. Jeff Bridges stars as ‘The Dude’ who is sucked into a world of crime and oddity after some loan sharks mistake him for a rich man of the same name and urinate on his rug. Words cannot describe how fucking awesome and hilarious the plot of this movie is. Do yourself a huge favor and watch it right now.