Entries Tagged 'Drama' ↓

the good girl

If you’re inclined to miss this film because it stars Jennifer Aniston, don’t! After the first 20 minutes you’ll completely forget her celebrity life and that guilty-pleasure sitcom. Aniston turns in a fabulous performance as a small-town working at a dead-end job at a Walmart rip-off and married to a stoner-house painter husband. Escape appears by the way of “Holden”, a broody coworker with whom Justine embarks on an affair, simply to ease her bordem. While at times veering towards maudlin, the film works because the cast is so strong and the camera’s eye is unflinching. Painfully funny and just plain painful—if you’ve ever wondered just how you ended up in the life you’re living, see it. [us 2002]

wonderland

This scruffy glimpse of London working class life finds beauty in the ordinary. Wonderland centres on three working class sisters who stumble along seeking fulfillment. One hopes for love, the other wants stability, the third craves pleasure. Circling around their lives are children, ex-husbands, estranged siblings, one-night stands, future lovers, bickering parents, and barking dogs. It’s poignant and realistic without being grim. And the cinematography makes wet city traffic look better than all the sweeping velds in Africa. [uk, 2000]

rachel, rachel

Joanne Woodward stars in this Paul Newman-directed indie film about a repressed small-town schoolteacher. Rachel is nagged by her lonely mother while she’s haunted by memories of her kind but aloof undertaker father. She’s resigned to her lonely existence until a series of events including a Christian revival meeting and a chance encounter with a childhood friend shock her out of her complacency. Well-acted. Well-shot. A small gem. [us, 1968]

safe

Julianne Moore plays a listless housewife who has it all. Problem is she’s allergic to it all…the sleek furniture, the manicured garden, the jammed freeway, and the dead relationship. Her pursuit for a cure to chemical overload acts as a terrifying symbol for the emotional distress, anxiety, anger, and spiritual vacancy of urban life. Moore plays her soul-deadened housewife with sensitivity and restraint, which makes her journey into the heart of mental toxic darkness all the more eerie. [us, 1995]

boys don’t cry

Pain spills off the screen in this tragic depiction of a boy trapped in a girl’s body. Hilary Swank nabbed an Oscar for her ingenuous high-wire act as boy-girl Teena Brandon, and Chloe Sevigny dazzles as the fierce lover who yearns to escape her no-way-out life. It’s a bleak portrait of trailer park desperation, and yet it avoids the cheap characters typical of White Trash movies. All the players, from the boozing mom right down to the wounded creeps who commit their brutal acts, are acutely drawn. Intense, graphic, sharply shot, and unforgettable. [us, 1999]

suspicious river

Molly Parker gives another eerie performance for Canadian director Lynne Stopkewich (Kissed). This time she’s as a small-town girl who’s fresh complexion belies her shattered inside. In a tale worthy of David Lynch, Molly plays a squeaky clean married gal who works the front desk of the local motel while turning rough tricks in the ragged bedrooms. It’s not long before a sadistic but charismatic creep is guiding her towards her inevitable soul-crushing destruction. Tough to take. [canada, 2000]

dancer in the dark

It’s a love it or hate it film. Love it for the exceptional concept and stunning performance by Bjork. Hate it for the overly melodramatic plot and nausea-inducing hand-held camera. Love it or hate it for Bjork’s soundtrack. It’s powerful, sickening, depressing, and uplifting. Not an easy ride, but definitely worth seeing. [denmark, 2000]

not of this world

A 30-ish nun’s faith is tested when a jogger thrusts an abandoned baby into her arms. Suddenly, her isolated world expands, and she must wrestle with dilemmas faced by real people. The baby’s mere existence tests others as well: a lonely dry cleaner ‘s insular world is shaken when he realizes he might be the father; a young birth mother goes into hiding; and a lineup of hopeful prospective adoptive parents forms around the dream of a family. It’s a quiet movie about ordinary people who’ve withdrawn from the world, and it moves in gentle but profound ways. [italy, 2000]

little voice

Call it a small victory for shy people. Here the mute-like Little Voice or LV lives in a domestic hell cloistered in her bedroom terrorized by her overbearing mother and aching for her dead father. While Ma tries to get her hands into the local slimeball’s shiny pants, LV, who has virtually no speaking voice, belts out tunes by Judy Garland, Billie Holiday, Marlene Dietrich, and other classic divas in her room. Jane Horrocks reprises her stage role singing for real, and pretty much owns the movie. [uk, 1998]

margaret’s museum

A wacky but haunting piece of East Coast Canadiana. The cast of eccentric characters includes Margaret, the snotty nosed whore, a sharp-tongued mother, a dust-infested grand-father who needs a regular thumping, and a bagpipe blowing love interest. It may be bizarre, but it’s also a bracingly original and emotionally compelling portrait of a mining town yoked to its death traps like an alcoholic to his bottle. [canada, 1995]