The two films above can be summed up in three words. Pitch perfect authenticity. Mixing poverty, isolation, raw performances, professionals combined with non-actors, and a beautiful ending. If you managed to see Nomadland or The Florida Project in the cinema then I envy you. But only to an extent. Yes, both films at times have spellbinding cinematography that makes you want to eat the images… Yet they’re both so intimate with their stories and characters that they can work perfectly fine in the comfort of your own home. Very few films are masters at both platforms and these two certainly are front runners.
Music biopics have been having a resurgence over the last several years. 2005’s Walk the Line took the genre to the next level and everything’s snowballed since. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon’s chemistry is electric and it never once felt like they were acting. Much can also be said of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in 2018’s A Star is Born. Each film has an incredible soundtrack performed by their leads juxtaposed with some of the most emotional scenes I’ve had the privilege of experiencing. The style is restrained, giving enough room for the actors to play and not be judged. Both are intimate masterpieces.
After a quadruple feature of four heavy pictures, we might want to loosen up with this action-packed one-two punch. In 2012 Alex Garland brought us a very slick, new take on the Dredd storyline. And it is the definition of badass. This and 1998’s bad-tempered Blade probably have the coolest, most entertaining opening scenes of any action movie. However, both aren’t JUST braindead, action movies. There’s a visual subtext to each of them that makes them stand out in ways other films of the same genre dream of. Blade and Dredd are near perfect in my eyes and have extraordinary casting that pretty much leaps out of their source material.
Might seem like an obvious choice considering each deal with teenagers and Harmony Korine penned both. Though, if you look beyond the surface, they both deliver the same material from two different angles. Kids is an intimate experience told from the inside out. Spring Breakers is more of a surface-level experience told from the outside in. If I were you, I’d start with watching Kids to get an ice-cold, disturbing outlook on the realities of youngsters and their behavior. It will knock you on your ass HARD. Then when you’re looking to be brought out of your medicated state, Spring Breakers will wake you up with its color, music, and booty shaking. JMO.
Very few directors understand how to channel Adam Sandler’s inner rage into something brilliant. The Safdie Brothers and Paul Thomas Anderson are certainly three of them. Uncut Gems and Punch-Drunk Love could not be more different as far as pace, style, dialogue… But they both have one special thing in common. Sandler in two of his finest performances to date. Every so often, Sandler reminds us that he can be a wonderful, striking actor when he wants to be… The only problem is he rarely wants to be. So if you ever find yourself hating on Sandler’s lowbrow comedies, watch Uncut and Punch-Drunk back to back and I promise you, you will be turned.