Witch, The (2015)

This directorial debut for Eggers was pretty intense.  I feel like this is what people were expecting when The Village, by M. Night Shyamalan, was released.  This film follows a puritan family exiled from their village to the edges of a forest.  The film shifts from a thriller to a horror relatively quickly and keeps us guessing as to what is going on until the absolute end.

Arrival (2016)

Villenueve has been successful with several movies in recent years, including Prisoners and Sicario.  In his latest film, Arrival, he takes on a the concept of time and memory.  In the opening sequence we hear Louise, played by Amy Adams, say,” Memory is a strange thing… It doesn’t work like I thought it did.  We are so bound by time; by its order.”  Villenueve is priming us for a thoughtful journey that focuses on time, memory, linguistics, and humanitarianism on a global and personal scale.  I found the techniques that Villenueve used to weave his story together to be refreshing and surprising.  Language plays such a huge roll in this film in both the script and the cinematography.  There is a poetic vision that seems to shine through so many aspects of the film, the landscapes, the aliens, and their vessels, to name a few.  The cyclical nature of the universe also comes across in this film, from the opening shot to the credits there are countless circles, rings, halos.  The screenplay by Eric Heisserer is one of the best of the year.  I can’t say enough about this film except for that it is a must see.  I know I will need to watch it again.

Stand by Me (1986)

There are so many good adventure flicks of the 80’s and this is one of them.  Based on The Body, by Stephen King, Stand By Me is the tale of four boys on an adventure to find a dead body.  As most coming-of-ago movies do, it tells a story of growth and companionship.  The film is a snapshot of life where kids are both learning who they are and challenging themselves to be better.  The cast could not be better with Wil Wheaton as the shy, guarded kid, River Phoenix as the strong and understanding one (despite coming from a family of criminals), Corey Feldman as his usual loud mouth character (only this time with an abused background), and Jerry O’Connell as the chubby kid.  Each character is vividly different from one another and each actor is able to embody their role to a tee.  Rob Reiner, in his prime, created a fun and dramatic story that at first glance would not seem to appeal to an older audience.

Dark Days (2000)

Who knew that under the streets of New York, in abandoned subway tunnels, there were communities of vagabonds, drug addicts, and other transients slowly piecing together homes.  This intense and fascinating documentary shows what life is like for these people living in the most unusual manner and their struggle to make something of themselves. Marc Singer created an intimate experience that is enhanced by the fact it is in black and white.

By living in the community himself, for months, Singer was able to capture a ‘day in the life’ of this underground community that has fallen into complete complacency.  Each individual has their own story and path that brought them there.  However, the “safety” and consistency of the tunnels allows them to put their guard down.  The illusion of safety keeps them in the tunnel and exposed to disease, drugs, danger of getting hit by trains, and anything else the tunnel offers.  If this film shows us anything, it shows us how resilient the human race can be.  The scrappy hustlers living under New York city will be the ones to follow if there is ever an apocalypse.  This may have been dark days for this community, but the film brings an inspirational  and relentless message.

DJ Shadow’s soundtrack compliments the tone and vibe of the imagery perfectly.  DJ Shadow is able to amplify the energy throughout the film whether it be darkness or inspiration.  A soundtrack is such an important aspect of a great film and Dark Days is no exception.

L’Armee des ombres(Army of Shadows) (1969)

I saw the 2006 re-release of L’Armee des ombres and it was my introduction into Melville and French film.  The movie starts off slow and progressively picks up steam, always keeping the viewer on their toes and never knowing who to trust.  Melville’s L’Armee des ombres is a dreary and lonely look at resistance and revolution.  Also, Lino bears a distracting resemblance to Kevin Spacey, or is it just me?  This should be a must see if you are attracted to dark French films or are interested in finding out.