Entries Tagged 'Quirky Independent' ↓


In this powerful yet quirky celebration of mother/child love, a single mother and her mute, grief-stricken mute daughter, Amy, hide out from child welfare. When eight-year-old Amy starts to hear music and responds by singing, it’s the stuff movie magic is made of. [australia, 1997]


The director of Delicatessen brings us this delightful fairytale story of Amelie, a shy waitress who plots random acts of kindness. Amelie decides on her mission after witnessing the joy she brings to an older man by anonymously returning a box of his childhood treasures. Other acts include sending a garden gnome on a world tour, matchmaking, videomaking, and bestowing justice on behalf of a slow-moving grocer’s assistant. Finally, karma catches up with her, and Amйlie must decide whether she’s brave enough to realize joy in her own life, not just through creating joy for others. Magic realism and the engaging pixie-like quality of lead actor Audrey Tatou make this perfect holiday fare. [france, 2001]

friends with money

Four friends, three with money, one without struggle with relationships and fulfillment in modern-day L.A. The ease and chemistry of this phenomenal cast (Jennifer Aniston, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand) makes the movie feel like your best (and worst) girlfriends riffing on a Saturday afternoon. The film focuses on Jennifer Aniston’s character, a loser who smokes a lot of pot to make it through her days as a housecleaner. The others both condescend and try to help, while ignoring their own issues. [us, 2006]

babette’s feast

A group of religious zealots living in an aging and isolated community discovers a lesson of love and forgiveness when a quiet maid prepares a lavish and extravagant feast for them. The stark, barren landscape, and puritan houses provide bas relief to Babette’s earthy and sensual banquet. 1987 Academy Award winner for best foreign film. [denmark, 1987]

the spitfire grill

Perry, an ex-con, becomes the subject of much speculation and gossip when she takes a job at a small grill in an even smaller town. Tough cookie, Hannah runs the grill, and isn’t worried about Perry’s past, but local busybody/businessman Nahum Goddard sends his wife (played by Marsha Gay Harden) in to keep an eye on Perry. As expected, strong bonds form between the three women. Excellent performances by the female leads keep this emotional drama from becoming maudlin. [us, 1996]

whale rider

Pai, a young Maori girl teaches her seaside community about family, leadership and faith in this magical tale that seamlessly blends myth and reality. When a fractured family struggles to keep itself together after suffering a tragic loss, the grandfather trains all the young boys in martial arts and mysticism in hopes of finding a new leader. Meanwhile Pai, banned from the sessions because she’s a girl, trains in secret and succeeds in invoking the legend of the Whale Rider. [New Zealand, 2003].

mystic pizza

Two sisters and their best friend come of age while working at the pizza parlour in their small hometown of Mystic, Connecticut. This is Julia Roberts debut movie and she displays her trademark horsey charm as a small-town girl who takes up with a wealthy young man. Since this is pre-stardom for Julia, the film is actually more of an ensemble piece with strong performances by the other two leads, Annabeth Gish and our favorite, Lili Taylor. An intelligent film for the tween and teen set. [us, 1988]

the secret of roan inish

10 year-old Fiona Connelly is sent to live with her grandparents on the Donegal coast. She and her older cousin become obsessed with the island where her family lived for generations, and continually try to visit it. Fiona is also convinced that her younger brother Jamie who was swept out to sea as an infant is alive and being cared for by the seal people of her grandfather’s fables. Beautiful wild Irish scenery, and a not-too sweet story make this children’s story a cut above the usual fare. [uk, 1994]

boys on the side

A buddy road movie for women. Here two straight women on the lam from vicious lovers hook up with a black lesbian club singer. Together they tear across the country until they reach a small Southern town where they get kicked in the face with the heavy stuff: love, illness, pregnancy and a murder trial. The movie lays it on a little thick, but if you’re in the mood for an emotional rollercoaster, just make sure you pack the Kleenex. [us, 1995]

my brilliant career

Judy Davis stars in Gillian Armstrong’s portrait of a headstrong, young woman determined to become a writer in turn of the century Australia. Davis’ character, convinced of her own brilliance, is forced to make a choice between love, marriage, and family with the earnest Sam Neil, and pursuit of her own writing career. This film is both beautiful to watch and captivating. Based on a true story. [australia, 1979]