Now that November is coming to an end, I thought it would be a good time to maximize the audience for three great independent films. This is the time of year when an abundance of quality cinema become accessible on traditional and emerging media platforms. So if you’re the type of movie goer that appreciates unique and original voices, while at the movie theater or at home on VOD, then I suggest you take a look at these three films:
Love and Mercy; Directed by Bill Pohlad; Roadside Attractions
Set in two different time periods, the 1960’s and 1980’s, Love & Mercy illustrates the life of Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson. It’s always a big risk to have two different settings in any kind of movie, especially in a biographical film. But Bill Pohlad, aided by composer Atticus Ross, creates a visual and auditory narrative to dramatise Wilson’s inner turmoil. Paul Dano plays the younger Wilson in the 60’s and John Cusack plays the older version in the 80’s. While Cusack is good as always, Dano connected more to the character by bringing the audience deeper and deeper into his psychosis. The story that involves Wilson’s manager (Paul Giamatti) and Wilson’s mental state of mind is quite shocking and disturbing. I honestly had no idea that this had happened to Brian Wilson, and I’m glad that the power of cinema brought life and light to this story. Love & Mercy is art that entertains and if anyone needs any further proof that Elizabeth Banks can act then look no further.
Brooklyn; Directed by John Crowley; Fox Searchlight Pictures
IN SELECT THEATERS
It’s rare to see classical filmmaking like this being made today. But while director John Crowley doesn’t necessarily find anything new with Brooklyn, he lays down a platform that should inspire more old-fashioned filmmaking. This is a film with a lot of heart and I mean a lot. It would be easy to say that this is a movie about finding love overseas. It is in fact a coming-of-age story about a young Irish immigrant who makes her way to Brooklyn in the 1950’s in search of a better life. Eilis is her name, and she is played by the incandescent Saoirse Ronan in a powerhouse performance that will certainly earn her a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Her journey is universal, with every laugh and heartbreak that comes with it.
Entertainment; Directed by Rick Alverson; Magnolia Pictures
I’ve been waiting to see Rick Alverson’s Entertainment since its premiere at Sundance back in January. This film is like the black sheep brother of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Oscar winning Birdman. I say this because the “protagonist” in Entertainment, credited as The Comedian, is one of the most unlikeable characters I’ve seen on screen in recent memory. He is played by Gregg Turkington in an astounding performance. I want to hate him and I think I actually do but somehow I want to follow him in his existential quest in finding some kind of self-redemption. This film is asking the audience to see The Comedian as a true, uncompromising artist, who not only won’t sell out but won’t budge from what he sees as his shtick. This guy’s act is certainly not funny, which is obvious in the opening minutes of the film. However, this is what makes me sympathize with him or more appropriately pity him. He’s trying to make a connection with people, which maybe when he was younger he did, but now he’s just a stubborn old fart that is just offensive. Tye Sheridan delivers great supporting work as Eddie, the mime/clown in The Comedian’s desert road-show. Eddie is a foil to The Comedian – young, handsome, charming, everything that he is not. Alverson masters a deadpan tone throughout the film that elicits laughs and cringing simultaneously. Every character seems to be caught in this universal morbid void. Entertainment is devastating and beautiful: a sad indictment of a society filled with alienated individuals trying and failing to connect with each other; and a very pure audio-visual cinematic experience that asks to be felt rather than intellectualized. This is cinematic art in the highest form, making Entertainment one of the best films of the year.