Entries Tagged 'Quirky Independent' ↓

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]

life is sweet

An early film by Mike Leigh, champion of working-class British life, this often hilarious portrait of a slightly off-beat family. Dad’s dream, much to the chagrin of his family, is to own a chip wagon. The teenage twin daughters can’t stand each other. One twin who refers to everyone as “fascist” is also a border-line anorexic. Jane Horrocks [Little Voice, Career Girls] is perfect as the fascism obsessed teen. Believe it or not, this is a wonderfully uplifting film, and true to it’s title, life is sweet. [uk, 1990]


Another Jane Campion film, this time her directorial debut, with the story of the dysfunctional relationship between two sisters. Sweetie is the obsessive, demanding, and coddled sister who is the catalyst for all family dynamics, but the story is really about how the other characters deal and interact with her. Quirky and offbeat, this film shows the beginnings of Campion’s immense talent. [nz, 1989]

the incredibly true story of two girls in love

A quirky, light-hearted tale of first love — only here it’s between two young girls. In a nice stereotype switch, Randi is a wrong-side-of-the-tracks white girl who lives with her granola-eating aunts while the graceful Evie is a wealthy black girl who lives in a manicured neighbourhood and is enroute to Harvard. The film moves fast, and Go Fish director Maria Maggenti, ably depicts the goofy excessiveness of teen love without getting political. [us, 1995]

when the cat’s away

When the solitary Chole loses her adored cat, she is forced to get to know her Parisian neighbourhood. During her search (the beginning of her personal awakening), she meets a self-centered drummer; a dim-witted man who devotes himself to the search; a network of eccentric, gossipy old ladies full of life despite rapidly changing storefronts and threats of eviction; and finally the prospect of love. Slight, charming and unusually ordinary. [france, 1997]

citizen ruth

Laura Dern is all jangled nerves, boozy chatter and bad girl intoxication as Ruth, a pregnant glue-sniffer who gets caught in the cross-fire between the pro-life and pro-choice movements. Jabs are taken at all sides as Ruth finally works the game her way. A provocative and hilarious satire that offers no easy answers. [us, 1996]

career girls

Eons away from the perky babes of Friends come two very real English misfits, warts and all. As the two working girls reminisce on their time together as students, each reveals her hurts, disappointments, vanquished dreams and plans for a sunnier future. Leigh exposes the insecurities, self-consciousness, and meanness of early adulthood so jarringly, it’s amazing to think any of us survived, let alone are able to laugh at the absurdity of it all. [uk, 1997]


Amid greenish-hued cubicles and syncopated musak four office temps try to break out of the office-caste system and become “full-time.” However, in this acme-inspired company being a temp means you’re unreliable, untrustworthy, and mostly dispensable. Indie queen Parker Posey teeters on the edge of insanity as the “veteran temp.” If you’re working at a McJob, this film might just be the impetus to get out while you can. [us, 1997]

welcome to the dollhouse

Director Todd Solondz sure understands what it’s like to be an awkward, annoying, and oblivious 11-year old girl. This film is so real it’s painful. As Dawn “Weiner-Dog” Weiner, Heather Matarazzo grumpily stumbles around puberty, while her tutu-wearing younger sister charms everyone. Guaranteed to bring back all scenes of humiliation from your childhood. [us, 1995]

muriel’s wedding

A blaringly ugly politician wannabe narcissist who has mantraized life for his children, “You’re lazy, stupid, USELESS,” introduces us to Muriel Heslop. Plain, plump and cowed to near nothingness, Muriel lives in a safe world of fantasy and ABBA music, believing that marriage alone will restore her lost dignity. We follow Muriel as she pursues the magical event, a fascinating adventure of living on fabrications and wedding gown shopping. Despair and hilarity are woven masterfully together for all of this movie’s compelling characters, and the truth wins out for most. We all part sadder but wiser. [australia, 1997] ~ reviewed by nancy brown