Entries Tagged 'Quirky Independent' ↓

mitsuko delivers

“First things first, let’s take a nap” says heroine Mitsuko. This is some advice we can really get behind. Whenever situations get to manic in this   Mitsuko, who is a force to be reckoned with, shares this gem. Mitsko Delivers, a Japanese magic realism comedy (yes there is such a thing), debuted at the 2011 Vancouver International Film Festival . Broke and heavily pregnant by a foreigner (African American no less) and alone, Mitsuko returns to the slum she spent some of her childhood in, and meets her first love. While many might turn to wallowing in their own problems, Mitsuko takes it upon herself to solve everyone else’s instead, to great result. The last 10 minutes of this film might be a bit much for those who are not fans of farce, the previous 80 minutes are a delight, especially to hear Mitsuko deliver her signature line. [japan, 2011]

sunshine cleaning

Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, and Alan Arkin star is this gritty film about a single mother whose best days were in high-school and who keeps making bad decisions—she’s having an affair with her married high-school sweetheart and cleaning homes of her former schoolmates. When her son is expelled from school, she decides the only solution is private school and starts an unlicensed crime scene cleaning company with her unreliable sister to try to fund the tuition. At times touching, gritty, bloody, and funny, this film focuses on the power of family to pull through in tough times. [us, 2008]

you and me and everyone we know

Miranda July as Christine

Miranda July as Christine

Written, starring, and directed by the multi-talented performance and every other kind of artist, Miranda July, this film is a study of the relationship between two awkward people. Christine , a lonely artist and Eldercab driver meets shoe salesman and father of two Richard. In this film the ordinary becomes extraordinary and art is found in the most unlikely places. Conversly, the theme involving internet romance with Richard’s young son is almost common place and played for laughs. What seems menacing never comes to fruition. Spend a few delighful minutes in Miranda July’s world and you insist on more whimsy everywhere. For your daily dose, visit her website and follow a few of her recommended links. [us, 2005]

the kids are all right

Julianne Moore and Annette Benning are pitch perfect as middle-aged couple Jules and Nic dealing with the stresses of long-term relationships, raising kids, careers, and daily life. All of this is thrown into sharp focus when their teenaged children meet birth father, earthy, boyish restaurateur, Paul, played by Mark Ruffalo who is so natural one suspects this might not be an acting stretch for him. To Paul, meeting offspring he didn’t know he had, from fund-raising sperm donations in his early 20′s becomes an opportunity to have an instant family. To Nic it’s a threat. To Jules it’s a way to wiggle out of Nic’s controlling tendencies. Tension and strong performances combine to make this an extremely watchable film. [us, 2010]

fear and trembling

Struggling with the type of identity crisis that happens to those freshly (or not so freshly) out of university, Amelie chooses to return to her childhood home of Japan. She gets a job at a Japanese conglomerate as a translator, but ends up, in this Office Space-ish dark comedy doing the most meaningless of tasks. Her only savior is her rich sense of duty, imagination, and need for belonging and friendship: however, these survival traits also become her undoing. At times tender, bizarre, moody, and funny, this film examination of cross cultural-shock in the working world is worth a look, especially if you think your job sucks. [france/japan, 2004]

june bug

The premise is simple: big city art-dealer Madeline, goes to meet “down-home” family of new husband George. In a twist on the predictable, the main purpose of the trip is to meet a new artist for her gallery, and the family just happened to be nearby. This small independent film is a secure complex, often comic, story of relations, roots, and folk art, where prejudices on all sides are held up to light. Amy Adams was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as Ashley, the hopelessly optimistic, and heavily pregnant sister-in-law who believes family is stronger than just about anything. This seemingly simple film grows on you, just as Ashley does. [usa, 2005]

eve and the firehorse

If Jesus dances with Buddha, who leads? This is one of the images and questions that will stick with you after seeing Vancouverite Julia Kwan’s first feature and Sundance hit. A mix of magic realism, 70s nostalgia, death and religion, the story is told by a nine-year-old Chinese-Canadian born in the year of the fire horse (babies born in this damned year were typically drowned in the river). After a string of bad luck, the Buddhist sisters turn to Catholicism to secure some everlasting glory for the family. But when the two young sisters shoot for sainthood to “save” the family, it takes them down a path that irrevocably changes their family. [canada, 2006]

personal velocity

Personal Velocity presents three tiny perfect stories of three women, each with their own dilemma. Weaving together flashbacks and narration, each story takes its protagonist past confusion to the first glimpse of clarity. In “Delia” Kira Sedgwick plays an aging “class slut” who finds herself mid-30’s with three kids and an abusive husband. In “Greta,” our indie darling Parker Posey is a privileged Manhattanite, who rebels against her philandering father by underachieving and by marrying the antithesis of him. In “Paula” Fairuza Balk is a pregnant two-time runaway who understands her own doubts by picking up an uncommunicative hitchhiker. Our only wish for this film was that the director had trusted the strong performances of her leads and skipped some of the narration and flashbacks, but see it anyway — highly recommended. [us, 2002]

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]

bossa nova

Like a sweating pitcher of Sangria on a sun-baked day, this romance is refreshing but not too sweet. Starring Amy Irving, and produced by her husband as a love letter to her, the film centers on an English teacher in Brazil whose students and casual acquaintances fall in love (often with her). Any romance worth its salt doesn’t run smoothly and this one is full of missed meetings and mistaken identities. Recommended summer, fun bopping along to a syncopated beat. [us/brazil, 2000]