A funny thing happens when you have a child. Like a couple of body parts on your partner, your free time gets sucked dry. I have a pretty amazing child who has simple needs and doesn’t quickly resort to tantrums when needed. In fact, I’d say most of my family already believes my ten month old is less needy than myself. Nevertheless, the opportunity to sit still for two straight hours has become a scarce opportunity. For the time being I’ve resorted to picking the movies I more or less know I will enjoy. No Transformers. No Eddie Murphy. Maybe I haven’t seen the number of films I normally would have by this time every year, but I will commend those that I’ve seen which I am fond of.
These five movies all tickled my fancy in one way or the other. I hope this list will encourage you all to find those extra two hours and enjoy a good flick.
- Snowpiercer (2013)
This was a film that if I saw as a teenage boy (around the time of seeing Matrix and Fight Club) I’d have been a devout fan for life. The energy and creativity lifted this film beyond the screen. An obvious analogy for the current climate changes in the world, the greed of our corporations, and the lavish lifestyle of those who can afford to live in ignorance. We step aboard the Snowpiercer, a train ran with renewable technology that houses the last remaining humans. Each section of the train houses a different class of people. Obviously the people at the back are the poor working class.
We follow the anti-hero, Curtis (Chris Evans), as he and the other poor citizens attempt to hijack the Snowpiercer. As the team of hijackers ascend the train we peel away different components of remaining humans and are confronted with their frail humanity. A terrific cast of side characters and a memorable casting of Tilda Swinton, as the train’s dictator, make for a fun and memorable train ride.
Ultra-violent, uber-stylized, oozing of irony, Snowpiercer has it all and more. It is the summer blockbuster deserving of your attention.
- Enemy (2013)
In my most professional journalistic voice, I’d like to say: “WTF was that”!?!?
There has never been a movie that ended in such a way that the first thing I did was google what the hell the ending meant. Please watch it and you will see what I mean.
This is the latest from director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners (2013)) teaming up again with Jake Gyllenhaal as the title characters, Tom and Anthony. This film never provides much for answers. Just two separate possibilities by two people of the same breath with different personalities. The performances by Gyllenhaal and Melanie Laurent are absolutely terrific. Sometimes it’s enjoyable being confused and this mystery walked that line perfectly.
- Blue Ruin (2013)
There has been a recent trend where the anti-hero is a strong, silent, loner -type (possibly with a form of aspergers disease) who slowly and quietly takes his revenge on those who’ve done him wrong. I’m thinking of Drive (2011) in particular. In Blue Ruin, Dwight’s (Macon Blair) life was destroyed when his wife was murdered by a maniac. With the person responsible being released from prison, it is time for retribution. I won’t spoil how and when the revenge takes place, just know that with his own murder, Dwight has tipped a long line of dominos he didn’t foresee. Sometimes it takes an entire family to create such a resident sicko.
This is THE revenge flick for the year. Must watch!
- Tim’s Vermeer (2013)
Tim Jenison is a lucky man to have friends in Hollywood who find him to be such a smart and captivating person. Somehow Tim, an engineer by trade, has a documentary made about his latest hobby – painting an exact replica of a Vermeer. Tim has a theory that the Dutch Master painter Johannes Vermeer wasn’t exactly the greatest of painters, just one with a trick up his sleeve. Therefore, Tim invents a method to paint a Vermeer that takes several months. The final results are astounding.
There isn’t much drama. There aren’t any jokes. It’s just an incredible display to see how poorly someone can paint, then with a little patience and a good trick, you can produce a painting that is worthy of a museum.
- Cheap Thrills (2013)
I’m beginning to see a trend here with these summer independant films. In Cheap Thrills (2013) we are introduced to Craig Daniels (Pat Healy) as he is fired from his job. Knowing that his wife and newborn child are waiting for him at home, he perceives having a difficult conversation. Trying to avoid his current situation Craig goes to his local bar to reflect and think about what he’ll say. While drinking solo he bumps into an old skateboarding buddy, Vince (Ethan Embry). They reconnect, but not without catching the attention of a couple with devious intentions and some interesting ways to make money.
Cheap Thrills is exactly what it says it is. It starts slowly and builds to a crazy, nauseating closure. A film of one uppers, this is violence porn with a satirical twist. The ending scene is uproarious and will be burned into your conscious memory.