Here Are Seven Films You Might Have Missed But That You Have To See
Neil Martin gives you a heads up on some flicks you might not have seen:
I watch a hell of a lot of films, at the time of writing I have watched 103 films in 2012 so far, but even I miss some every now and then. A few newish releases and a few I missed completely on their initial release.
Not sure how I managed to miss this one when it first came out in the spring of 2011 given how much I loved both of Thomas McCarthy’s previous films, The Station Agent and The Visitor. Paul Giamatti is fantastic as the small time lawyer and part-time high school wrestling coach whose slightly dubious practice comes back to haunt him when he ends up becoming the guardian of a teenage runaway. The film is a bitter sweet comedy family drama that has been the staple of much US indie cinema in recent years but it is so well written and so perfectly performed that it is head and shoulders above the standard indie fare. It has a far deeper emotional resonance and even rewatching the trailer as I write this it brings a tear to my eye. I just wish McCarthy would make more films as he only seems to manage one every four years. So far though he is 3 for 3 and I cannot wait for his next one, there is nothing flashy about his films, just simple, brilliantly written stories and characters, perfectly played by fine ensemble casts.
MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE
Sean Durkin’s incredible debut is a slow burning thriller that feels like a horror film. Elizabeth Olsen is excellent as the young women recently escaped from a cult led by the terrifyingly creepy John Hawkes. Where the film really excels is the way it slips between present day reality, dream and flashback without ever really signifying when this is happening. This creates a disorientating dreamlike state and really places the viewer in the situation of Martha. Or is that Marcy May or Marlene?
Jeff Nichols powerful follow up to the excellent rural drama Shotgun Stories. Curtis is a happily married family man who begins to be plagued by prophetic visions of impending apocalypse the trouble is his mother is institutionalised suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and Curtis is unsure whether his visions are merely the onset of a genetically inherited mental illness. Michael Shannon has spent the last few years turning in brilliant performances as characters on the fringes of society and Take Shelter sees him turn in a tour-de-force performance.
Terri is a wonderfully honest coming of age film about a misfit who doesn’t really want to fit in. Terri is overweight, bullied and spends his spare time looking after his alzheimer’s afflicted uncle. He has also recently taken to wearing his pyjamas to school because “they’re just comfortable on me”. Well meaning vice principal John C. Reilly takes him under his wing and whilst that may sound like a recipe for a twee, quirky indie flick by numbers it is actually a heartfelt, touching and honest portrayal of teen outsiderdom. Impeccably played by Jacob Wysocki and John C. Reilly.
I would urge you to watch this film with as little background info as possible. Don’t watch the trailer as it gives too much away. It is for the most part a very low budget realist indie film about a young woman falling out of love with the city whilst at the same time something vaguely unsettling is happening on the edges of her life. It takes a while for what is happening to become clear but it all leads to a denouement that left me absolutely floored.
A civil war zombie film with a stately elegaic tone. It barely qualifies as a horror film and is in the main a character study about grief and loss. Beautifully filmed on a miniscule budget Exit Humanity has the look and feel of a Terence Malick film with the added bonus of the walking dead. Mark Gibson puts in a stunning performance as the bereaved widower returning from war to a barren wasteland populated by the living dead.
Pretentious and narcissistic just like its protagonists, Bellflower is a blistering dissection of young manhood. Filled with hipster tropes it’s easy to see why some hate this film but what grates about it is also what is important about it. The film is in many ways a satire of aloof hipsterdom so it uses those signifiers to prick at its subject matter. Ultimately it doesn’t matter because what Evan Glodell has delivered is a flawed masterpiece that shows some serious promise for the future.
Words by Neil Martin. He tweets here.