Making the world safe for filmgoers since 2002.
Sure, there’s that big-budget, special effect extravaganza opening on Friday (sneak previews Thursday night), but let’s take a moment to appreciate those films that don’t have a huge budget for advertising, but are just as worthy or your attention, maybe moreso. I’m not saying the big popcorn flicks should be avoided, heaven knows I’m a fan, but there’s more out there and here are my suggestions for this week. Some are not easy to find, but all are worth the hunt.
BLACKBIRD: A film that moved me deeply, made me laugh and cry and want to sing for joy with a story about a small town, a troubled mother (played by Mo’Nique) and star-crossed love of both the hetero and gay variety. Life-affirming in every sense.
CHEATIN’: Cartoonist and animator BIll Plympton’s best work to date, an animated film for grown-ups that tells the story of a perfect love struggling to survive in an imperfect world. Daring, poetic, and more real than real when it comes to human nature.
MAN FROM RENO: Dav Boyle’s A neo-noir that makes its own rules in which nothing is quite what it seems and a story that will keep you guessing, while shocking the heck out of you, at every turn.
LAMBERT & STAMP: The documentary about The Who that proves that old saw that life is what happens when you are making other plans. The eponymous men, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp finally get the credit they deserve for discovering The Who and then guiding them to superstardom. The catch? They actually wanted to make a film about a struggling band that would jumpstart the duo’s filmmaking career.
CANDLESTICK: Alas, Christopher Presswell’s gem of an homage to Hitchcock played in few theaters here in the States, but it’s available on Vimeo VOD. There are many reasons to watch his tantalizingly suspenseful black comedy, but if I had to sum it up in two words: Andrew Fitch as the sociopath you hate to love.
HBO has two enlightening documentaries about the foibles of power airing starting this week:
TALES OF THE GRIM SLEEPER: Nick Broomfield takes his British self to the streets of South Central Los Angeles to uncover the corruption, incompetence, and racism that allowed a serial killer to take maybe 100 lives in that neighborhood over the course of 25 years.
THE LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM: Rory Kennedy’s examination of the chaotic last days of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, a time that mixed good intentions with stark realities leading to heartbreaking betrayals and breathtaking acts of courage.