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Film Recommendations

 
  This Issue:
  • The Son (Le Fils)
  • Sherman's March
 
    

I enjoyed "Harold and Kumar" as much as the next guy (really!), but the films I'll recommend are the ones that profoundly moved me and stayed with me a long time.  Let me know if you enjoyed these films.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

Television Picks
 

 

Alright, so I actually don't watch TV.  But I wanted to highlight some British shows I discovered on bootleg and think are brilliant.  Even though the American version of The Office is now on NBC and you can catch the British reruns on BBC America, don't do it.  Rent the three British DVD's (Series 1, Series 2, and the X-mas Special) and watch them like three films.  The first few episodes seem like they might push the "comedy of cringe" too far, but by the end you'll feel a surprising range of emotions.  Another series that's completely under the radar is the more experimental Marion and Geoff, consisting entirely of a dashboard-mounted camera pointed at an emotionally distressed cab driver.  It's both hilarious and heartbreaking to watch our hero deal with his unemployment, divorce, and custody hearings.

 

   

Just Randomly:

 
 

here is the old list from the FAQ webpage that includes many of my favorite films:

  • The Son
  • Rosetta
  • The Eel
  • Henry Fool
  • Monsieur Hire
  • Le Boucher
  • Sweet Sixteen
  • Oasis
  • No Regrets For Our Youth
  • After Life
  • Red Beard
  • Ikiru
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • Dreamlife of Angels
  • Apu Trilogy
  • Brief Encounter
  • Close-Up
  • Ballad of Narayama
  • Kes
  • Barcelona
  • Big Lebowski
  • Office Space
  • Flirting With Disaster
  • Le Trou
  • A Man Escaped
  • Straight Time
  • Pickpocket
  • Los Olvidados
  • Winter Light
  • Yi-Yi
  • Tokyo Story
  • Fat City
  • All About Lily Chou-Chou.
 

  Film Recommendations

   
In each issue of the newsletter, I will suggest two films.  One selection will come from the longstanding list of favorites from the FAQ webpage, and the second film will not.  This week's picks are The Son and Sherman's March.

 

 
 

The Son

 
If I had to pick my favorite living filmmakers, I often think the Dardenne Brothers would be my choice.  After watching The Son, they should at least be your favorite Belgian filmmakers!  Seemingly simple but far from it, the brothers' background in documentaries well serves their brand of tense, naturalistic, claustrophobic, emotionally devastating fiction.  The plot follows the developing relationship between a troubled youth and his trade-school mentor, but I don't want to give away any more.  If you like this film, go back and watch Rosetta (winner of the Palm d'Or at Cannes) and La Promesse (an earlier variation on the premise from The Son). 

 

 
Sherman's March  
    This documentary is often cited as the film that inspired a generation of documentary filmmakers to pursue a career in cinema.  When Ross McElwee won a grant to trace the destructive path of Civil War general Tecumseh Sherman across the Deep South for an historical documentary, no one could have known he would emerge years later with perhaps the greatest personal documentary ever made.  With gentle humor and amazing insights, McElwee ends up portraying his own quest for romantic love and family acceptance in a rapidly-changing South.  Sherman's brutal legacy at first seems to be an afterthought but turns out to be surprisingly relevant and emotional.  Even if none of this sounds interesting, the film's secondary title should seal the deal:  "A Mediation on the Possibility of Romantic Love in the South During an Era of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation".

 

 
   
   

The next issue will explore Asian films.