How many movies do you see a year? You may be the one that is first in line at the box office every time a blockbuster is out, or, your laptop could be just stuffed with illegal flicks from The Pirate Bay (the site is not dead by the way. God bless us outlaws!), or your home DVD collection could be hell of a pride. But let’s face it, there are more movies than you can ever see. More than WE can ever see. Thus we now rely on the critics, the IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes and tons of tweets and facebook comments to help decide which movie is gonna be a three hour torture, and which one is just totally worth a shot. Well, they do help. Still, there are gems you could hardly find among all those shiny high-budget studio works – the silence that you have to really pay attention to perceive among all the squeaky sounds. Here is a list of movies I believe you should come pick up and start to enjoy, as they simply did not find a way to approach you before.
(A film by Ryan Fleck, starring Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps)
Ryan Gosling’s most critically acclaimed performance to date is, surprisingly, in an independent movie that easily was one of his least successful ones in term of box office. That is not necessarily a problem though: Half Nelson earned Ryan Gosling an Academy nomination for Best actor in a leading role that year. Portraying an inspiring middle school teacher slash basketball coach, who at the same time was struggling with his own drug addiction, Gosling totally pulled off a unique kind of protagonist: vulnerable, problamatic, unstable, very flawed, but likeable. If you have seen him as no more than a “photoshopped body” or just that guy from The Notebook, well, you’d be in awe. This kind of role explains why Gosling, being Hollywood’s hottest sex symbol, garners respect and credits from the critics.
Vertical Rays of the Sun
(A film by Tran Anh Hung, starring Tran Nu Yen Khe, Nhu Quynh, Le Khanh)
Tran Anh Hung is the director that would make you say “He’s truly an artist.” His movies are simply works of art. Beautifully capturing the beckoning summer of Hanoi, Tran Anh Hung’s Vertical Rays is a magnificient and vibrant painting of the ancient city’s lifestyle and people, where their love, their hope and despair seem to melt into the sunlights that are embracing them. Trinh Cong Son’s music adds a sense of nostalgia to the movie that no other music could have done that perfectly.
(A film by Duncan Tucker, starring Fecility Huffman, Kevin Zegers)
Weird, funny and witty, Transamerica finds an amazing way to wrap its sensitive theme and heartbreaking incidents inside a comedy. A comedy about LGBT sounds like it would end up a sexist and offensive cliché, but Transamerica proves that it could go far in portraying dramas in a very pleasant way. The movie centered around Bree Osbourne, a man that is going through the last stage of turning into a woman; he later finds out he had a son with a girl he dated long ago, and the boy is now an orphan, lurking around corners prostituing. Through the course of the movie, the chemistry between the awkward father-son pair is the thing that makes this film astoundingly memorable.
(A film by Danny Boyle, starring Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans)
High-functioning addicts seem to be a creative mine for film makers, since there are many layers to explore about the character. Years after Gosling’s Half Nelson, Chris Evans took the role in movie Puncture as Mike Weiss, also an addict struggling in his profession as a lawyer. Evans’ performance also was a pleasantly surprising revelation of his true talent, and that he’s so much more than a teen flicks hottie, or comics book superheroes. Mike Weiss could be considered Evans’ best acting so far, but it is still second to his best, though very little known, work in Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. Released before the director’s big Oscar hit Slumdog Millionaire, this sci-fi movie did not gain as much recognition as it truly deserved, though it is regarded by many film bugs as Danny Boyle’s best work, and even one of the best sci-fi movies ever made. It is about a crew of seven astronauts with a critical mission whose result would end or save the world: reactivate the then dying Sun with a nuclear bomb. Many twists and dramatic turns happen during two hours of the movie, including situations that challenge humanity and compassion, which perfectly reflect human psychology and inner thirst. If you think Interstella was great, well, it was, but you just have not seen Sunshine.
(A film by David Fincher, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo)
Did you see the names of the stars? Before making blockbusters, Downey had always been the apple in the critics’ eyes. He is just a genius. Zodiac is a thriller based on a true story, the kind of movies that would give you goosebumps and haunt you long after seeing it. The fact that it did not become a big hit as it should have simply just makes people who have seen it feel more proud “I’ve seen it. It was awesome. You just don’t know.”
The Place Beyond the Pines
(A film by Derek Cianfrance, starring Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper)
Gosling and Cooper packed into one movie – do I hear the world swooning? Well, Gosling was steamingly hot in a very James Dean kind of way, but apparently his role is not supposed to be the perfect man, and so is Cooper’s character. Shaking up the cinematic doldrums of early spring, The Place Beyond The Pines is an epic film centered on pivotal moments in the lives of the working-class who “wake up every morning and go to bed each night with the same question hanging over their heads: how are they going to make ends meet?” Derek Cianfrance seems to know well how to touch greatness with this theme, since his devastating drama Blue Valentine, also a collaboration with Gosling, was a sad and heart-breaking song about working people, too. Dạ Ly