THE ARTIST - A near silent, black and white film made by French people sweeps the Oscars -- holy merde! Jean Dujardin is a joy to watch, best mug in the industry. Ask us for more great titles from the team behind this one!
EXTRATERRESTRIAL - Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo (TIME CRIMES, one of our favorite recent thrillers) proves he is just as adept at comedy, with this tale of a man (Julio) who wakes up with a stranger (Julia) after a one-night stand, only to discover they have drunkenly slept through an alien invasion of Madrid -- and that this new girl of his dreams didn't tell him she has a boyfriend. The boyfriend returns a hero, and when a lovelorn neighbor attempts to uncover Julia and Julio's infidelity, they try to convince him that the neighbor is one of the alien invaders. This lie leads to an avalanche of others, as Julio and Julia attempt to find time alone together while the world goes to chaos around them. Fresh, unique, and utterly hilarious.
MARGARET - From the Oscar winning director of YOU CAN COUNT ON ME. An upper-class teenager in NYC (Anna Paquin) flirtatiously distracts a bus driver (Mark Ruffalo), causing a fatal accident. In this brilliantly epic coming-of-age tale, she attempts to make sense of her involvement in the accident while manipulating everyone around her into operatic drama with herself at the center. Recommended.
THE HUNGER GAMES - Sure, we've seen similar stories in BATTLE ROYALE and RUNNING MAN, but with solid acting by Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence (WINTER'S BONE) and Woody Harrelson as her drunken mentor, it's still one of this year's must-see dystopian sci-fis (or is all dystopian sci-fi must-see?). Lawrence is one of two teenagers from her district, chosen by lottery to compete in a televised fight to the death against other teens, while the 1% -- I mean the elite -- watch from their decadent mansions in The Capitol. I cried a little, I admit.
THE FAIRY - From the French comedy team of Fiona Gordon and Dominique Abel (L'ICEBERG, RUMBA). Abel plays a hotel clerk who falls in love with a mental patient (Gordon), who claims to be a fairy and grants him three wishes. Like their other films, influenced by Jacques Tati and American silent films, this is low on dialogue and subtitles, and heavy on atmosphere and physical comedy.
ORANGES & SUNSHINE - The always wonderful Emily Watson stars in this shockingly little-known true story of British social worker Margaret Humphreys, who uncovered a conspiracy between the U.K. and former colonies to send impoverished British children to work as migrant labor in Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand -- something which went on until the 1970s! The childrens' lower-class, single mothers were told that they had been adopted, and the children, many of whom were subjected to physical and sexual abuse in religious schools, were told that their parents were dead. The film follows Margaret's attempts to reunite these adult children with the parents they never knew existed. Well-acted, this film focuses on individual human dramas rather than politics.
BERNIE - The latest from Richard Linklater (WAKING LIFE) is a critically acclaimed dramedy, based on actual events, starring Jack Black as a beloved East Texas funeral director who befriends the "meanest" elderly woman in town (Shirley Maclaine) and becomes her constant companion. We don't want to give anything away if you're not familiar with this tabloid story, but all is not what it seems...
GOD BLESS AMERICA- Actor/Director Bobcat Goldthwait was just in Humboldt shooting his next film, a mysterious project involving Bigfoot hunters! His latest comedy, though, is a twisted critique of reality TV, Christian Right hypocracy, and spoiled kids; scathing enough to sit alongside the works of Todd Solondz. If you can make it through the disturbing first scene of this one, you're golden.
JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI - Elevating sushi from a culinary art to a profound statement of personal expression, this documentary tells the story of one of Japan's most prestigious sushi chefs and his relationship with his successor son. A cult hit with foodies!
TIM & ERIC'S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE - Somehow this is even more random and obnoxious than their "Adult Swim" TV show, which can be a good thing depending on how you felt about TIM & ERIC AWESOME SHOW, GREAT JOB! In their feature debut, Tim and Eric have just borrowed and squandered $1 billion on a 3-minute long movie, and in order to repay their debts they take a job revamping a run-down shopping mall. With uncredited cameos from John C. Reilly, Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, WIll Forte, & more!
THE TURIN HORSE - Attention, philosophy students! Acclaimed Hungarian director Béla Tarr (SATANTANGO) called this apocalyptic vision his final film. It begins with Friedrich Nietzsche's mental breakdown in 1889, in which he saw a horse being beaten by its owner in Turin, and threw his arms around it to protect it, then collapsed and spent the rest of his life in the care of his mother and sister. From there it follows the horse's owner and his daughter through their daily routines as the end of the world seems to be approaching.
JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME - A mundane errand for his mother turns into a fate-filled adventure/mystery for stoned 30-something basement dweller Jeff (Jason Segal), who helps his buzzkilling older brother (Ed Helms) spy on his straying wife. Writer/Director brothers Mark and Jay Duplass work their understated, underrated magic as on previous efforts CYRUS and BAGHEAD. Recommended!
FOOTNOTE - This Oscar nominee from Israel is a real treat for those with an eye for foreign films. A light-hearted film about father and son academics whose disjointed relationship is further complicated by a prestigious award one of them is about to receive, elevated by great cinematography and well paced edits. Recommended!
4:44: LAST DAY ON EARTH - Willem Dafoe stars in this very personal take on armageddon from veteran NY filmmaker Abel Ferrera (BAD LIEUTENANT). Faced with the knowlege that all life on earth is about to end, a recovered addict and his artist lover spend their last hours reconciling themselves to their lot. Through sex, art, rage, sadness, spirituality, jealousy, jubilation, and fear, the gamut of humanity is clumsily assembled here. Definitely not for everyone, this falls squarely in the "arthouse" realm.
TEDDY BEAR - Another lovable indie from Denmark! Dennis, a painfully shy competitive bodybuilder, lives with his overbearing mother, whom he must lie to every time he wants to go on a date with a girl. When one of his uncles returns from Thailand with a seemingly perfect wife, Dennis tells his mother he's entering a competition in Dusseldorf, and sets off to find true love. However, the sensitive man is disillusioned when he learns that his uncle has sent him to the underworld of Thai sex workers and the middle-aged Europeans who exploit them. Will this shy, old-fashioned hulk of a man meet his match, without incurring the wrath of his mother...?
KILL LIST - This eerie U.K. thriller comes from the director of the equally refreshing DOWN TERRACE. A year after a mysterious botched job, two hitmen accept a high-paying assignment disposing of what appear to be several members of an upper-crust cult. And then things get really weird... Recommended for its uniqueness, if you can handle graphic violence.
PROJECT X - Like ANIMAL HOUSE for the reality TV generation, from the producers of HANGOVER and DUE DATE. Three high school dweebs attempt to increase their social status by throwing a rager, which unexpectedly escalates beyond any party you've ever seen before... seriously, dude.
ATTENBERG - From the producer of last year's Best Foreign Oscar winner (DOGTOOTH), another quirky, twisted coming-of-age film from Greece. Marina is a 23-year-old virgin repulsed by sex and obsessed with nature documentaries, and Bella is the promiscuous friend who schools her in bizarre arts of seduction.
WANDERLUST - A pair of worn out city slickers inadvertantly fall in love with life again, at a hippie commune -- or as brother Seth prefers to call it, an “intentional community.” Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston star in this enjoyably ridiculous comedy from the WET, HOT, AMERICAN SUMMER team of David Wain and Michael Showalter.
CREMASTER 3 - Somewhere between Masonic Black Magic Ritualism and Dali-esque Nightmare Surrealism, perfomance artist, filmmaker, husband of Björk, and ex-model Matthew Barney has created something utterly unique. This is not really a movie per se, but more like modern art in real-time and covered in vaseline- like all the trippiest parts of a David Lynch movie got all stuck together in a K-hole... jaw-dropping.
TOM WAITS: BIG TIME - A bizarre blend of conceptual art and concert performance film from 1988, featuring Marc Ribot, Ralph Carney, and Greg Cohen, this perfectly captures the raw creative power of poet/singer Tom Waits. Excellent stuff.
ODD MAN OUT - A wounded IRA gunman (James Mason) stumbles through the slums of Belfast after a botched robbery, pursued by British officials, in this nightmarish proto-noir. Director Carol Reed would go on to make noir masterpiece THE THIRD MAN two years later.
CHELSEA GIRLS - Finally, we've gotten our hands on a rare copy of Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey's 1966 cult classic! Warhol Factory regulars Nico, Brigid Berlin, Ondine, International Velvet, and Mary Woronov star as inhabitants of the Chelsea Hotel, in juxtaposed split screen segments showing the dark and light sides of life for a "Chelsea Girl."
LOS OLVIDADOS - This early masterpiece from surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel follows the lives of a pack of ruthless juveniles in the slums of Mexico City. Don't worry, this one has a linear plot, like a Spanish ROSSELINA, only darker- call it the FUNNY GAMES of 1950!
THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION - Easily one of the most important documents of punk music/ethos, straight from the mouths of its biggest players: Black Flag, Circle Jerks, X, The Germs, Fear, et al. Essential viewing!