BEST FILMS: A Cut Above . . .

Best films

Intouchables film


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! TrailerBUY now at Amazon.


Late QuartetA 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. TrailerBUY now at Amazon.


Bill Withers


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. TrailerBUY now at Amazon.



Lore film
(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

Cuban film
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.” TrailerBUY now at Amazon.

Mud the filmMud (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.


Cuba film
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.


3 Responses to “BEST FILMS: A Cut Above . . .”

  1. Chandi Says:

    Thanks for these reviews. I had vaguely seen something about MUD (being over here in the Middle East I a rather “out of it”) and it’s good to know you recommend it– I tend to think of McConaughay as doing light/silly films about “50 ways to leave your lover” or whatever that one was with Kate Hudson…and it sounds interesting to see him in a role where it sounds like the actor has to dig deep. I’m sure he’s done other substantial things… like I said, I’m rather out of the loop on these things.
    Your review of the Cuban movie makes it sound quite interesting, although depressing perhaps? I like Bardem!


    • Rosemary Carstens Says:

      Chandi: This is a terrific film and it’s one that the whole family can see since it includes the story of a young man coming of age. The setting is interesting and, McConaughay is really convincing. The Cuban movies are really good, especially if a person has an interest in Cuban culture. One is more serious than the other, but it makes you think!


  2. Gail Storey Says:

    I’ve come to trust your film reviews so completely that I hope you keep reviewing until I catch up! So many great films, not nearly enough time. Please keep your site going for a very long time– you’re my go-to arbiter of good taste–not just in film, but books and art. Thank you!


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