At the Gate of the Ghost, directed by ML Bhandevanop Devakul
First of all, in a move that was sure to get films buffs up in arms, it should be noted that this is a remake of Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon, which has long been considered a masterpiece. Attempting a re-make was fraught with peril. It was certainly obvious that director, ML Bhandevanop Devakul, knew of these perils when he decided to stay relatively in line with the original. A reviewer at Japan Cinema seemed ready and eager to dislike the film but, in the end drops his fists and is won over, conceding " If you are a fan of Kurosawa, however, you might want to give this a look to see his masterpiece through the eyes of another director."
Fred Won't Move Out, directed by Richard Ledes
With levity and sadness, two grown children and their aging parents struggle with the decision whether the older generation should stay in the house where they have lived for fifty years. Shot in the house where the director's parents lived for close to fifty years shortly after they moved out, the film's semi-autobiographical story is acted by a small ensemble cast led by Elliot Gould.
In the New York Times review critic Stephen Holden states "The movie gets almost everything right about the uncomfortable moment when grown children are forced to be their parents' parents"
Going by the Book , directed by La Hee-Chan
Sam-po is a small town with a major problem. Its banks are increasingly targeted by armed robbers, and local law enforcement's efforts to address the issue have been nonexistent. Incoming police chief Lee Seung-woo initiates an ambitious plan to send a message to the criminals and win the confidence of the townspeople. Every member of his force will participate in a bank robbery simulation, unscripted training involving bank personnel and customers, plus a lone cop playing the role of the crook. By-the-book patrolman Jung Do-manis dismayed to find he has been personally selected for this role. But when the dedicated officer is told to "do his best," what was meant to be a simple role-playing exercise quickly spirals into a nationally televised event.
Subversively hilarious, this film was released theatrically way back in 2007 but is just now seeing it's DVD release in the U.S.
I Killed My Mother, directed by Xavier Dolan
First of all, don't worry, this isn't a film about matricide. It is, however, a movie about the complex relationship between a single mother and her teenage son. Directed by 20 year Xavier Dolan (he wrote it when he was a teenager!) The film attracted international press attention when it won three awards from the Director's Fortnight program at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. After being shown, the film received an eight-minute standing ovation. It was also a New York TImes critic pick when it was released theatrically in the US earlier this year. You can read the glowing New York Times review here and watch an interview with the director as well.
Johnny Guitar, directed by Nicholas Ray
Saloon owner Vienna battles the local townspeople headed by Emma, the local sexually repressed, lynch-happy female rancher out to frame her for a string of robberies. Johnny Logan is a guitar-strumming drifter with a dark past who was once in love with Vienna and has been offered a job in her saloon.
In this bizarre Western that manages to transcend the genre the women are far tougher than the men and some critics have viewed it as an allegory for the McCarthy era Red Scare. The lead cast, Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden and an absolutely twisted Mercedes McCambridge are all amazing. The usually straight-laced film critic Leonard Maltin called this movie "the screens great kinky western."
Life is Sweet, directed by Mike Leigh
Directed by the master Mike Leigh, this film, originally released in 1990 is a portrait of a working-class family in a suburb just north of London, an irrepressible mum and dad and their night-and-day twins, a bookish good girl and a sneering lay about.
Leigh made many films in the UK prior to this but "Life is Sweet" was the film that broke him in the United States and has now received a deluxe re-issue courtesy of the folks at Criterion. The film is both tragic and funny and features great performances from Leigh regular Jim Broadbent and by Jane Horrocks as the bitter and reclusive Nicola.
Mike Rogers, writing on rogerebert.com, calls this re-issue a "cause for celebration."
Lore, directed by Cate Shortland
Left to fend for themselves after their SS officer father and mother, staunch Nazi believers, are interred by the victorious Allies at the end of World War II, five German children undertake a harrowing journey that exposes them to the reality and consequences of their parents' actions. Led by the eldest sibling, 14-year old Lore, they set out on a journey across a devastated country to reach their grandmother in the north. After meeting the charismatic Thomas, a mysterious young refugee, Lore soon finds her world shattered by feelings of both hatred and desire as she must learn to trust the one person she has always been taught to hate in order to survive.
Obselidia, directed by Diane Bell
George is a librarian who in his spare time poses as a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman as he writes The Obselidia, a compendium of obsolete things. George believes that love, among other things, is obsolete. In his quest to document nearly extinct occupations, he befriends Sophie, a beautiful cinema projectionist who works at a silent movie theater. Sophie believes that nothing is obsolete as long as someone loves it. This quiet and somewhat quirky film won the 2010 Sundance Film Festival's Alfred P. Sloan Prize, awarded each year to an outstanding film focusing on science or technology, or featuring a major character who is a scientist, engineer or mathematician.
Reality, directed by Matteo Garrone
A darkly comic look at Luciano, a charming and affable fishmonger whose unexpected and sudden obsession with being a contestant on the reality show Big Brother leads him down a rabbit hole of skewed perceptions and paranoia. So overcome by his dream of being on reality TV, Luciano's own reality begins to spiral out of control. Garrone approaches the story with a light heart, part fable, part satire. The film won the 45-year-old his second Grand Prix at Cannes last year. Here's an interesting take on the film from UK's The Guardian.
Seconds, directed by John Frankenheimer
More post-McCarthy paranoia from the late 60's. This one features Rock Hudson as a disaffected middle-aged banker who wants to start a new life. So much so that he agrees to undergo a strange and elaborate procedure that will grant him a new life. As Edward Tenner states in this piece about the film from The Atlantic, not only was "Seconds" ahead of it's time, it also went from abject failure to cult classic. It seems that Rock Hudson fans initially wanted more romance and less "probing philosophy." This one is an entertaining head-scratcher.