Winter break is for watching movies. Or at least mine is… Here are some movies I’ve seen, that I think you should see too:
- The Vicious Kind (2009). Director: Lee Toland Krieger. Starring: Adam Scott, Brittany Snow. “Sometimes people do things that they know are wrong.” When Peter (Alex Frost) brings his girlfriend Emma (Snow) home for Thanksgiving, she meets his dysfunctional family: the father (J.K. Simmons) who constantly flatters her and the brother Caleb (Scott) who does not hesitate to state his opinion that “all women are whores” including his dead mother. The real focus of the film, and best performance is Adam Scott as Caleb. Caleb, who has had his heart broken and life destroyed by the women in his life copes by spouting misogynistic diatribe and acting unpredictably and sometimes even violently, once shoving Emma into the shelf of a grocery aisle, threatening to kill her if she breaks his brother’s heart. He seems a broken and confused person, unable to sleep for days and creeping around his father’s home, taking photographs of Emma. Of course, the overall story is one of redemption and healing, not just of Caleb, but of his entire family. Watch this movie not for the plot, but definitely for the characters.
- Adrift (2009). Director: Heitor Dhalia. Starring: Laura Neiva, Vincent Cassel, Debora Bloch, Camilla Belle. For every child there is a frightening moment when they begin to realize that their parents are not the gods they once thought they were, but deeply flawed human beings. On summer vacation with her family on a beautiful beach in Brazil, Filipa (Neiva) discovers her father Mathias (Cassel), a middle-aged writer, having an affair with a beautiful American woman (Belle), while her mother Clarice (Bloch) drowns her unhappiness by drinking more and more whiskey. Meanwhile, Filipa herself is growing up and discovering how it feels to draw the attention of boys and men. There is a small plot twist near the end that reminds us of just how hard it is to grow up. Ignorance may be bliss, but even children one day grow old enough to understand the truth. I watched this movie for Vincent Cassel’s performance, but Laura Neiva was even more captivating in her first and only film role so far.
- The Edukators (2004). Director: Hans Weingartner. Why should the minority of people own the majority of wealth? And what can we do to change this? Friends and roommates Peter (Stipe Erceg) and Jan (Daniel Bruhl) call themselves “the Edukators.” They break into the homes of the affluent and take nothing, but rearrange all their furniture, leaving signed notes “Your days of plenty are numbered” and “You have too much money.” Jules (Julia Jentsch) is Peter’s girlfriend who moves in with Peter and Jan when she is evicted, unable to pay rent because of a large debt from when she crashed into a rich man’s Mercedes. While Peter is on a trip to Barcelona, Jan introduces Jules to what he and Peter do as the Edukators. However, when they break into a house together, it goes terribly wrong, and they end up in the mountains with a hostage situation. Although political themes persist throughout this movie, the end of the film becomes more about the relationship between the three friends as a love triangle develops, and the captors discover the surprising history of their hostage. The film is clearly sympathetic towards the radicals, who are portrayed well and with great conviction, but it also does not make light of their flaws, pointing out their prejudices and contradictions as well. If you like this movie, I’d also highly recommend The Baader Meinhof Complex, a 2008 film about another radical group, the German Red Army Faction (RAF).
- Anthony Zimmer (2005). Director: Jerome Sale. Starring: Sophie Marceau, Yvan Attal, Sami Frey. If you’ve seen The Tourist, the 2010 Hollywood film that not even Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie could save, then I’m sorry to say that the plot of Anthony Zimmer has been ruined for you. Anthony Zimmer was the original film of which The Tourist was a remake. Zimmer is a genius criminal who has managed to launder millions of pounds legally. He is being chased by the police as well as the Russian mafia for which he worked (they’re afraid if he’s caught he’ll talk). However, no one knows where Zimmer is, or even what he looks like as he’s undergone drastic plastic surgery. His only tie to the rest of the world is his lover, Chiara. When he is supposed to meet her on a train but stands her up, Chiara is given instructions to pick a stranger and befriend/seduce him so that it appears that she did meet Zimmer after all. The unfortunate stranger is Francois Taillandier, a rather bland translator whose wife left him. Taillandier’s life gets turned upside down when he finds himself running from both the cops and the Russian mafia, mistaken for another man.