(500) Days of Summer (Webb, 2009)
An honest look at idealized love and the heartbreak that follows when reality sets in, it feels both familiar and fresh. Creatively zipping through the ups and downs of a relationship, playing with timelines, contrasting reality with expectations, and succeeding at connecting with anyone who feels both jaded by failure and hopeful about the future, it has the rare of virtue of being a story about love that doesn’t insist we define ourselves by it.
Lake of Fire (Kaye, 2006)
A relatively unbiased look at the abortion debate in America that is absolutely shocking in both its graphic imagery and frank depiction of the sheer force of hate that uses the issue as a launching pad. Interviews with violent fundamentalists are even more chilling than the medical procedurals. Essential viewing.
The Sacrifice (Tarkovsky, 1986)
When war looms, our true nature is revealed. Thought-provoking and masterfully shot, this film is a rather indescribable experience, as it is so richly layered and beautifully textured. The patience it demands is truly rewarded.
Night of the Living Dead (Romero, 1968)
It starts off a bit clunky, and the score can be overbearing, but it quickly becomes disturbing and the violence still has impact today. The bleak ending is powerful, making the randomness of the tragedy, not the flesh-hungry zombies, the real horror.
Say Anything (Crowe, 1989)
The fear and pain that comes with discovering who you are and what you value apart from your family’s expectations is tenderly depicted in this sweet love story. Learning to trust yourself and your emotions when you’ve relied on your intellect all your life is not easy.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Gilliam, 1988)
Gilliam’s most visually enticing fantasy. Beautifully imaginative, if unsubstantial. Like a great children’s novel with wry black humor, sharply illustrated characters, and a whimsical disregard of logic.