Americano, directed by Mathieu Demy
After receiving news of his mother's death, Martin leaves his girlfriend (Chiara Mastroianni) and home in Paris and sets off for Los Angeles to tie up the loose ends of his rocky maternal relationship. Arriving in the United States, Martin is greeted by his mother's best friend Linda who agrees to help him settle his late mother's affairs. As Martin digs deeper into his mother's past, he discovers she had a hidden relationship with a beautiful woman named Lola ), who he finds at a seedy strip club in Tijuana called the Americano. As Lola recounts her affair with his mother, Martin discovers there may have been more than he ever hoped to know about his mother's sordid past and his own problems with commitment. New York Times film critic A.O. Scott says the film "demonstrates unassuming self-assurance and an admirable willingness to take formal and emotional risks in pursuit of a complicated and elusive truth." You can read the rest of the review here.
Black Butterflies, directed by Paula van der Oest
Poetry, politics, madness, and desire collide in the true story of the woman hailed as South Africa's finest poet. In 1960s Cape Town, as Apartheid steals the expressive rights of blacks and whites alike, young Ingrid Jonker finds her freedom scrawling verse while frittering through a series of stormy affairs. Amid escalating quarrels with her lovers and her rigid father, a parliament censorship minister, the poet witnesses an unconscionable event that will alter the course of both her artistic and personal lives.
Comes a Bright Day, directed by Simon Aboud
Sam is a bright, ambitious, and handsome bellboy at a five-star hotel who has big dreams of one day running his own restaurant. On a seemingly ordinary day, he suddenly finds himself in a life-or-death hostage situation with the radiantly beautiful Mary and her elderly boss. Against the backdrop of an armed jewel robbery that goes badly wrong, hostages Sam and Mary, flung together, discover their true feelings for each other.
Eating Raoul, directed by Paul Bartel
A prudish married couple are feeling put upon by the swingers who live in their apartment building; one night, by accident, they discover a way to simultaneously realize their dream of opening a little restaurant and rid themselves of the "perverts" down the hall. A mix of hilarious, anything-goes slapstick and biting satire of me-generation self-indulgence, Eating Raoul marks the end of the sexual revolution with a thwack. Reissue of the early '80's cult classic.
Enlightened: The complete season 1 , creators, Laura Dern & Mike White
Enlightened centers on Amy Jellicoe (Laura Dern), a 40-year-old woman who returns home to California after a month's stay at a holistic treatment facility, a result of having a mental breakdown at work triggered by her self-destructive ways. Amy returns to her old life with a new cultivated approach and perspective, which includes daily meditation and exhorting the power of self-help and inner healing. Though Amy wants to be an "agent of change" in the world, the people who know her best are skeptical of her latest intentions. This subtle comedy is also notable for its take on office and family dynamics. Stick with it, it takes some getting used to but well worth your time.
La Terra Trema , directed by Luchino Visconti
Italian neo-realism at it's most epic. Originally released in 1948. Sicilian fishermen exploited for their cheap labor vainly strike out on their own. Everything goes well until a storm ruins the family's boat, leaving them with nothing to keep the new business going. Following this disaster, the family experiences several unfortunate events that tests their bonds. For more details, read this excellent overview from the The Movie Projector blog.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, directed by Hayao Miyazaki
From the maker of Ponyo and Spirited Away, this amazing animated films takes place after a global war, and tells the story of the seaside kingdom known as the Valley Of The Wind, which remains one of the last strongholds on Earth untouched by a poisonous jungle and the powerful insects that guard it. Led by the courageous Princess Nausicaa, the people of the Valley engage in an epic struggle to restore the bond between humanity and Earth.
Ruby Sparks, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Struggling with writer's block and a lackluster love life, once-famous novelist Calvin creates a beautiful fictitious character named Ruby who inspires him. But not only does this bring his work to life, it also brings Ruby to life, literally. Face-to-face with an actual relationship with his once virtual girlfriend, Calvin must now decide whether to pen this love story or let it write itself.
The Trench, directed by William Boyd
A group of young British soldiers are on the eve of the Battle of the Somme, the worst defeat in British military history. At the center of the troops is 17-year-old Billy Macfarlane with his older brother Eddie who have volunteered for service. Like their fellow squad members, they are boys dressed as men. Their survival is in the hands of war-hardened Sergeant Winter and bookish Lieutenant Harte. When word comes the squad will join the first wave of attacks, they all face an equal fate.
The Wise Kids, directed by Stephen Cone
Three members of a church youth group struggle to find their identities in their senior year of high school. Well reviewed and highly regarded. Read Roger Ebert's review here.