Here are a four movies that you may have missed out on that you should add to your Netflix queue. You'll thank me unless your tastes run primarily to Armageddon or Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. If there's one common thread to be found in the four varied movies below, it's that each respects the viewer enough to arrive at some conclusions without a fucking map.
The Lives of Others
Doperbo makes the perfect Valentine's Day mix tape
This critically acclaimed movie was initially suppressed in German film circles for its overly negative portrayal of life in East Germany. The Berlin Film Festival refused it as an entry in 2006. The artistic Left's inability to condemn the very people that actually want to shoot them has always been odd, hasn't it? Fortunately, sanity prevailed and the film went on to win multitudes of awards and plaudits there and abroad. The film's plot is simple but layered. A Stasi functionary (East German secret police) on a political witch hunt realizes the fundamental cruelty of the State he has served so loyally while surveilling the lives of others - in this case, a pair of artists living in semi-state favor in East Berlin. The betrayals in this movie are heartbreaking and unrelenting. The predation of the state and the simple petty cruelties of totalitarianism are all played out in an understated tableau full of tension and suspense. The heart of the movie is the Stasi man's change of heart and the film's triumph is its steadfast refusal to telegraph his motive.
The Mafia isn't the only organized crime in Newark
Speaking of state suppression, welcome to the New Jersey Democratic inner city Political Machine. Meet Councilman Cory Booker, lifelong Democrat. He's a 32 year old black Rhodes Scholar Yale Law School graduate who got his BA at Stanford while playing varsity football. He's running against Sharpe James, the corrupt incumbent mayor of Newark, and the living manifestation of all that has gone wrong with the traditional black political establishment in America. Booker is capable, principled (he lives in Newark government housing to show his solidarity with his constituents) and running for all of the right reasons. And he doesn't stand a fucking chance. You really need to see this documentary.
The original picture in picture
Jorge Luis Borges once said something along the lines of no one remembers things as they truly happened. What you remember is the last time you remembered. Proven by the fact that I can't remember the dude's quote. This is the work that put Chris Nolan on the map and led to his more mainstream The Prestige and Batman Begins (both very good films in their own right). Featuring a nonlinear plot exploring the world of anterograde amnesia, avenging angel Guy Pearce is led only by photographs, scribbled reminders, and a body covered in tattoos to guide him in his presumptive quest for his wife's killer. These clues are crucial for viewer and protagonist both as his memory - and each scene - is periodically wiped clean. This movie is about the imperfection of memory and the mindless power of revenge - and how each can form imperfect self-perpetuating loops in our lives. Pearce is brilliant in the lead role and his final act to free himself from the servitude of his "friend" Teddy is gratifying genius. Don't be ashamed to watch it a few times. You'll figure it out.
The Aggies ink another promising recruiting class
What's more uplifting than quadraplegic rugby? This is a film I'd heard raves about but was always reluctant to view because, like most people, I'm deeply terrified of my own frailty. Being reminded of it unnerves me. It's the same inhumanity that I despise in myself when I thousand yard stare past the homeless like so much vapor walking down a city street. So I manned up and was rewarded handsomely. The movie is funny as hell, engaging, smart and is positively anthropological in its exploration of quad rugby and quad culture. What's more, these guys can score quality trim. Who knew?
Any comments on these films?
Any recommendations of your own?