The stunning, otherworldly images created by Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado are showcased in this captivating biographical film. Featuring segments that focus on Salgado’s various collections of work, including depictions of the victims of some of the most horrific events of the past, the film manages to be both emotionally devastating and awe inspiring.
First time director Ramon Zurcher was inspired by both Kafka’s short story “Metamorphosis” and musical composition when he structured this very unusual and original film. Several of the characters’ personalities may have been inspired by Gregor Samsa’s resulting alienation after being inexplicably turned into an insect. Part of the enjoyment of viewing this film is interpreting the overall meaning of its variety of mysteries that perhaps lack a definitive explanation. A small apartment begins to fill up with a variety of family members, living creatures, and objects that move about in a carefully orchestrated and choreographed visual and aural mise en scene. The title is part of the puzzle since the cat is neither little nor strange. This winner of multiple international film awards is a pleasurable cinematic diversion.
This critically acclaimed erotic gay thriller doesn’t play by the rules of a typical suspense film. The build-up of suspense is almost overwhelmed by the endless stream of naked men and a variety of explicit sex scenes that are often playful and humorous. Although it has been described as “Hitchcockian,” that description is only appropriate if you view it as 10% Hitch – 90% cock. However, the ending is shocking, unnerving, and unique. (available on DVD, Blu-ray, iTunes, and Netflix streaming)
Dreams of a Life (2012)
In 2003, the body of 38 year old Joyce Vincent was found in her studio apartment. She had been dead for over two years. This film, part documentary-part dramatization, attempts to discover why her friends and family made little effort to contact her, and explores how this tragedy could have happened.
(available on DVD and Netflix streaming)
Bleak House (2005)
A visually stunning, wonderfully unorthodox version of one of Dickens’ most acclaimed novels. The miniseries was originally shown on British television in 15 parts to match the serialized form of the original publication of Dickens’ novel. Features many familiar actors including Gillian Anderson (X-Files), Carey Mulligan (An Education, Great Gatsby), Charles Dance (Game of Thrones), Anna Maxwell-Martin (Philomena), and Burn Gorman (Torchwood, Pacific Rim).
George Eliot’s novel is considered one of the greatest novels of all time, with a rich narrative complexity that is impossible to adapt to film. However, this miniseries manages to successfully portray the story of Dorothea Brooke, Dr. Tertius Lydgate, and the other residents of Middlemarch who attempt to find love and a vocational purpose.
Our Mutual Friend (1998)
One of Charles Dickens’ critically acclaimed lesser known novels is adapted into a compelling miniseries. A millionaire’s son pretends to be someone else to test to see if the woman who he has to marry to gain his inheritance really loves him. The cast is comprised of familiar actors including David Morrissey (The Walking Dead), Timothy Spall (Harry Potter films) and Peter Vaughan (Game of Thrones).
The Insider (1999) An almost unrecognizable Russell Crowe plays famed whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand, who agrees to expose the unethical practices of the tobacco industry to 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino). When CBS declines to air the complete story for fear of a lawsuit, Wigand and Bergman fight to save their reputations and to air the entire story.
Even after 15 years, this film still packs a powerful punch, exposing the ramifications of the fear of legal retribution when journalists attempt to expose illegal and harmful actions committed by powerful corporations.
Russell Crowe’s Oscar nominated performance remains one of his best performances of his entire career. Also featuring excellent performances by Al Pacino as Bergman, Christopher Plummer as Mike Wallace, and Diana Venora as Liane Wigand. Directed by Michael Mann. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) An exploration of the career and personal life of the man considered to be the greatest sushi chef in the world. Jiro became world renowned with only a 10 seat restaurant located in a subway station in Tokyo, inspiring loyal customers to make reservations months in advance and pay high prices. You’ll be wishing you can sample his sushi while watching this delightful documentary.
John Cleese’s Wine for the Confused (2004) The Monty Python alum guides you on a journey of wine appreciation for the novice. Offers some of the best pieces of advice you’ll ever need to enjoy wine such as: just because a wine expert gave the wine a 99% score “won’t make it taste any better to you” and “do not let anyone else tell you what wine you should like.”
Kings of Pastry (2011) This delightful documentary about competitors for the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman in France) proves to be a suspenseful and exhilarating exploration of the fine art of pastry making presented as a three day battle between 15 of the best pastry chefs.
Somm (2013) An entertaining exploration of hopeful sommeliers preparing for the Court of Master Sommeliers exam. Wine lovers will find plenty in this film to satisfy their palates. Even if you have no interest in wine, this film is a compelling, amusing, and suspenseful examination of other people’s obsession with it.