A lot of wonderful movies pop into theaters for a week or two, and then they disappear. Here are five excellent films that far too few people saw. I gave them all of them an A when I reviewed them. I’m listing them by date.
I decided to skip documentaries.
Here’s a love story, set on the beautiful Nova Scotia coast, about two people unlikely to find love. Maude (Sally Hawkins) suffers from severe arthritis. To escape her family, she takes a job as a live-in maid with Everett (Ethan Hawkes) – a loner who lives in a tiny house outside of town. Everett is emotionally repressed, outwardly macho, filled with inner pain, and deeply sad. They eventually marry and learn to love each other. But it’s never easy. As Maude gains fame as an artist, Everett can’t handle the changes. A lovely, heart-wrenching biography of real-life Canadian artist Maud Lewis. Read my full review.
Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (2014)
Viviane Amsalem moved out of her husband’s home years ago. But her remote and stubborn spouse won’t give her a divorce. The resulting court case spans years in this chamber drama set in Israel, where only the husband can initiate a divorce. The filmmakers chose a simple, direct, and very effective way to tell their story. Although the film covers many years in the lives of the main characters, it’s entirely set in a small, plain judicial chamber and an adjoining waiting room. While clearly an indictment of Israeli marital laws, it’s also an intimate tale of a very bad marriage, told in an atmosphere of extreme claustrophobia. Read my full review.
Kill Me Three Times (2014)
Simon Pegg stars as a professional killer surrounded by amateurs in this very funny thriller from Australia. This is the sort of movie where a gruesome, bloody murder is interrupted by a ringtone, and the murderer delays pulling the trigger to answer the call. I can’t tell you a lot about the plot without giving too much of it away, but I can tell you that it reminded me of the Coen brothers’ first film, Blood Simple. With Alice Braga as the very nice person that everyone wants to kill. Read my full review.
Visuals reflect emotional states in this dialog-free romance by Bill Plympton, arguably the strangest, most brilliant animator who ever got distribution. For instance, when a wife reaches out to touch her estranged husband, her hand keeps extending across great distances as she tries to bridge the widening gap in their widening bed. The story of love, lust, and jealousy is funny, touching, heartbreaking, and carried entirely by Plympton’s surreal and instantly recognizable hand-drawn animation. Read my full review.
Terri (Jacob Wysocki) has problems well beyond those of your average adolescent. He’s extremely overweight. He’s caregiver for his mentally-ill uncle. He dresses only in pajamas and gets to school late almost every day. The school’s guidance counselor (John C. Riley) is totally inept at his job. Azazel Jacobs’ second feature walks a wonderfully fine line between comedy and drama, finding the humor in Terri’s situation without ever sacrificing empathy. Read my full review.