Stranger Than Fiction

Poster for the movie "Stranger Than Fiction"

I can’t believe I completely missed this one when it came out, and then never heard about it until a friend pointed it out today. And then I watched it. And I liked it. A lot. A huge lot. With a stellar cast, a wacky premise, but not as silly as it sounds, and a big heart, it just might very well be the best thing I have watched this year so far. Oh, and one more thing, if you want to be surprised, don’t even watch the trailer below, just dive right in, enjoy, and tell me what you think about it afterwards.

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Melancholia

Poster for the movie "Melancholia"

Since we are in the middle of Oscar season, I finally caught up with the latest from Lars Von Trier. You can think what you want about the man and his Cannes antics, he does make great movies, and this may be one of his finest. Hats off to both Kirsten Durst and Charlotte Gainsbourg for some fantastic acting as well.

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Margin Call

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I was skeptical. Especially after having endured Wall Street 2. How wrong was I. Finally, a movie about the financial crisis (and trading floors) that is not a caricature, is actually pretty close to the truth, and still a good movie to watch! With a phenomenal cast, a great script (with only a couple of clunky let-me-explain-to-you-what-is-going-on dialog moments), this was a very pleasant surprise indeed.

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The Artist

Poster for the movie "The Artist"

Speech is overrated. And sometimes, even talking too much about a movie is both unnecessary and counter-productive. Just go and see this little gem. It deserves every award coming its way. And then some.

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2001: A Space Odyssey

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With The tree of life now in cinemas, there have been a lot of comparisons made with Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, so it’s time to go back to the source. Yes, it has aged somehow, but not really in what truly matters. So if you haven’t seen it already, or if you were too young when you did, try it, and let’s sit down to discuss what it all means afterwards…

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Much Ado About Nothing

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I watched it again with Christine the other day, and it is still one of the most delightful Shakespeare adaptations out there. Easy, breezy, fun, with a great cast (beautiful chemistry between Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh, of course, but let’s not forget Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves, Michael Keaton and the very young Kate Beckinsale and Robert Sean Leonard), this is a great summer movie.

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The Thin Red Line

Poster for the movie "The Thin Red Line"

With a grand total of 5 films since 1973, you could say that Terrence Malick is not a prolific director. However, he definitely has a cult following and a unique style. Not to be mistaken for a war movie, this is much more than that. An ode to a Paradise lost, the folly of Man vs the beauty of Nature, love it or hate it (but how could you?), it will not leave you indifferent. Oh, and did I mention the insane cast?

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Little White Lies

Poster for the movie "Little White Lies"

If you are bored of the standard Hollywood summer movie fare, here is something for you. From the young actor/director Guillaume Canet (who also directed one of my favourite films of the last few years), this is a sober look at love, friendship and selfishness, with an amazing ensemble cast. I guess you have to use a French word to describe French cinema.

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Twelve Monkeys

Poster for the movie "Twelve Monkeys"

There are not many very good Science-Fiction movies out there, let alone ones that would appeal to a broader audience than the typical fans of the genre. This is one of them. From the acclaimed former Monty Python Terry Gilliam (I promise to talk about Brazil as well at a later stage), comes a visual and intellectual treat, which still remains fun and easy to watch. And now I can’t get this Astor Piazzolla tango out of my head…

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The Game

Poster for the movie "The Game"

I don’t know why I like this movie so much. Granted, David Fincher is obviously one of my favourite directors, but this particular film has never generally been considered to be one of his finest. Yet somehow, I don’t seem to care, and every time I watch it, I get sucked in for the ride and thoroughly enjoy it. Am I the only one?

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There Will Be Blood

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I guess 2008 was the year of the nouveau western, since this movie ended up losing the Oscar race for best picture to No country for old men. Daniel Day-Lewis however, in one of his trademark intense performances, still walked out with a well deserved best actor statue, and PTA strikes again with this spectacular masterclass in epic movie-making. Unusual, possibly, but memorable, certainly.

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Howards End

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I am not usually a huge fan of big period pieces, costume dramas and other literary classics adaptations, but I will make an exception for this one. A perfectly melancholic translation to the screen of E.M. Forster’s novel, it simply oozes Britishness (in a good way), and will positively ravish you. Even if you are a cynical skeptic like me.

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Dead Again

Poster for the movie "Dead Again"

After going through a lot of heavy films recently, it’s time for something lighter! At the time Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson were still together and their wonderful chemistry makes this half-silly/half-serious reincarnation thriller an unusual yet thoroughly enjoyable ride. I’ll put this down as one of my guilty pleasures.

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Eastern Promises

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I’ve already discussed David Cronenberg’s A history of violence, and in this one the director teams up again with Viggo Mortensen (with a superb Naomi Watts along for the ride) to produce yet another masterpiece. Still not for the squeamish (I’m looking at you, extraordinarily brutal Turkish bath scene), but well worth your time.

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The Lincoln Lawyer

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I will confess freely that I was not a huge fan of Matthew McConaughey until now. However, after seeing this movie, I can change my mind and agree that he not only has the looks, he also has the (acting) chops necessary to pull off this adaptation of Michael Connelly‘s novel. Let’s not forget some great supporting actors (special mention to Marisa Tomei) who definitely help fleshing out the characters of the book. I can’t wait for the sequel, or to see if somebody will dare to bring Harry Bosch to the screen after this.

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Donnie Darko

Poster for the movie "Donnie Darko"

An amazing movie from first time director Richard Kelly, Donnie Darko refuses to be easily categorized: Is it Science-Fiction, a glimpse inside a mentally ill teenager’s mind, or a chronicle of suburban malaise? Maybe a bit of everything. In any case, this little cult gem is truly worth watching and will be a great topic of discussion afterwards.

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Team America: World Police

Poster for the movie "Team America: World Police"

If you’ve ever seen an episode of South Park, you already know Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s brand of humour, and this movie doesn’t disappoint. With more (hilariously) nasty jokes, rude caricatures, catchy tunes and puppet sex than you can shake a weapon of mass destruction at, it will make your cheeks hurt from so much laughing.

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Brick

Poster for the movie "Brick"

The idea of a stylish film noir set in an American high school can seem pretty strange at first glance. Ok, even at second glance. Rian Johnson sure didn’t pick an easy choice for his first movie, but you know what? It works. And it is different. And at the end of the day, it is a bloody good movie.

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Surveillance

Poster for the movie "Surveillance"

Jennifer Lynch is most definitely her father‘s daughter. I believe the words twisted and disturbing were featured on the poster and, for once, those quotes were actually very much warranted. Filmed with a small budget, the great performances by Julia Ormond and Bill Pullman elevate this movie to a much bigger level. Save it for a day where your stomach doesn’t feel too tender though…

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The Corporation

Poster for the movie "The Corporation"

I’ve been watching a few documentaries lately (I really enjoyed Super size me recently, and I mean to catch Inside job soon) which reminded me of this one I saw quite a while ago, back in 2003. If you have never seen it, I highly recommend spending some time to do so. Even if the subject matter seems a little dry, it is extremely well done, funny (in a sometimes scary way) and informative, putting some of the more recent corporate disasters into perspective.

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Lust, Caution

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Ang Lee certainly made some bigger and more famous movies (Brokeback mountain, The ice storm and Crouching tiger, hidden dragon) but this one is an overlooked little gem. A beautiful love, duty and espionage story set in Japanese-occupied China, this movie deserves to be on your Netflix queue. Oh, and if you are wondering where you have seen Joan Chen (Mrs Yee) before, this is where

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