Toni Erdmann (2016)

Toni Erdmann is triumphant in its use of socially uncomfortable situations to pursue a relaxed and less serious take on life.  The film follows uptight and determined business woman, Ines Conradi, played by Sandra Hüller, and her jester father, Winifred, a.k.a Toni Erdmann, played by Peter Simonischek.  Their characters could not be more polar when it comes to self-confidence in terms of social acceptance. In other words, he doesn’t care what people think about him and she is obsessed with self-image and self-preservation. Ines is making a name for herself as a consultant in the oil industry in Bucharest, Romania.  Winifred is a teacher in Germany who spontaneously decides to visit his daughter after the death of his dog.  Her somber and humorless demeanor mixed with her fierce determination to move up in her company puts her in a highly stressful state throughout the movie.  This, coupled with her father’s outrageous and eccentric persona that is embellished by his live-in-the-moment attitude and absence of shame, makes him push his daughter to her limits.

I ♡ Huckabees (2004)

I   Huckabees is a philosophical comedy that follows Albert Markovski, played by Schwartzman, as he is investigated by existential detectives, Hoffman and Tomlin.  His desire to find meaning in specific coincidences in his life inspires him to learn more about the meaning of life.  The story encompasses opposing and differing ideologies surrounding self-image and status,  the human impact on the world, and the interconnected relation-ship between everything within the universe.  The film also features a comedic performance from Wahlberg as well as Jonah Hill’s debut in the acting world.

Cat People (1942)

With love and passion comes sin and strife, this is the theme throughout Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People.  Is the curse of the cat people a figment of their imagination, are they alive and well, or is there a panther on the loose?  Cat People tells the story of Irene and Oliver as they fall in love and reconcile the difficulties of marriage.

Mr. Nobody (2009)

Jaco Van Dormael’s Mr. Nobody is an ambitious project in terms of concept and structure. The film dissects life’s struggles and achievements through an examination of infinite choices, possibilities, and outcomes.  Nothing happens in a vacuum, and this film functions as a vehicle to demonstrate this idea.  An individual’s path in life can be broken down into a series of junctions defined by choices, actions, and responses.  Each junction setting the stage for the next and influenced by the previous.  Dormael accents this powerful exploration of the human mind with a mosaic of differing camera shots and editing styles.  The final result is a challenging concept that loses some of the impact through convolution.

Love & Mercy (2014)

‘Sometimes it scares me to think where it’s coming from, you know?
there’s someone else inside there, not me.’

I am both a Paul Dano fan and a Beach Boys fan, especially in regards to Pet Sounds.  So, I was biased going in to this film from the onset.  Part of the reason I enjoyed Love & Mercy so much is the same reason I enjoy “Pet Sounds”, it challenges my thought process on life and forces introspection.  This album contributed to my psyche and I feel this film adequately conveyed Wilson’s vision.  The opening line of the movie passes by so quickly you might miss it.  Paul Dano, as young Brian Wilson, says,