Intouchables (2011). In French with English subtitles. After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caretaker. It’s a subject you might think would be a depressingly sad tale of woe, but it’s uplifting, hilarious, and insightful—and I know you’ll love it! Trailer. BUY now at Amazon.
A Late Quartet (2012). Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken, Mark Ivanir, and Imogen Poots, this film seemed only to have a short run in most parts of the United States, but deserved major attention. In New York City, the four members of a world-renowned string quartet struggle to stay together in the face of death, competing egos, and not-so-hidden lust. The four are bound together by their passion for music and long years of working together. But when their patriarch Peter is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the repercussions hit the group deeper than they could imagine. First and second violinists Robert and Daniel row over first chair, Robert and violist Juliette’s marriage hits the rocks when he has an affair, and their headstrong daughter embarks on her own explosive affair—with Daniel. This is a thoughtful film with a background of heavenly music. Trailer. BUY now at Amazon.
Still Bill (2009). Still Bill is an intimate portrait of soul legend Bill Withers. Its world premiere took place at the 2009 South by Southwest Film Festival and its title is a reference to Withers’s 1972 album of the same name. If you love soul, you’ll sink with pleasure into this music documentary. Trailer. BUY now at Amazon.
Lore (2012). In German with English subtitles. A powerful and haunting drama set in Germany immediately after the country’s defeat in World War II. A young girl whose Nazi parents are taken away and die when the allies occupy Germany must make her way, with a baby brother and three other young siblings, through the devastated wasteland of the war to reach her Grandmother in Holland. This film is well worth seeing as it reveals a different side of the war than most we see. There were innocents on all sides, victims all, forever changed by the decisions and choices of governments and militaries, criminals and opportunists. Trailer. BUY now at Amazon.
Strawberry and Chocolate (1994). In Spanish with English subtitles. The first Cuban film to be nominated for an Oscar is a plea for tolerance and an affirmation of human dignity. In this beautifully filmed exploration of true comrades’ compassion, an unlikely friendship blossoms between a cultivated homosexual and a heterosexual communist charged with exposing his anti-revolutionary compatriot. Our dear departed Roger Ebert said it “is not a movie about the seduction of a body, but about the seduction of a mind. It is more interested in politics than sex.” Trailer. BUY now at Amazon.
Mud (2012). Mud is an American coming-of-age drama, written and directed by Jeff Nichols and starring Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Sam Shepard, and Reese Witherspoon. The film competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Set in the south along a stretch of the Arkansas River, it’s a moving tale of love and obsession and the powerful forces that can prevent a man from achieving his dreams. A favorite of mine last year—McConaughey is at his best. Trailer. BUY now at Amazon.
Before Night Falls (2000). English with Spanish subtitles. Javier Bardem was nominated for a best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Cuban poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas in Julian Schnabel’s searing biopic, co-starring Johnny Depp. Arenas grew up as a poor, naked illegitimate child, joined Castro’s Cuban revolution and became an intellectual. After discovering his gay sexuality, his work and life become dominated by a mix of temptation, fear, betrayal, and man-hunting (in both senses of the word). Finally he makes it to Manhattan, only to get caught in another trap for which there is only one tragic escape in the end. Trailer. BUY now at Amazon.