Whether you’re flaunting your cinephile status or trying to beef up your hipster cred, here are a few movies for the Marvel loving crowd to sink their teeth into starring my personal favorites: Iron Man, Captain America, the infamous lady assassin Black Widow, and the Incredible Hulk. A few of these films lean into art house cinema, meaning it might get weird and you might get uncomfortable with the images presented so:
Charlie Bartlett (2007),
Anton Yelchin stars in this coming of age story of Charlie Bartlett, a teen with too much money and too much time on his hands who is willing to do just about anything to become popular. It is that sort of thinking that has had him kicked out of every private school within the state of California, and heading straight to public school. Oh, the horror! It is not long before Charlie figures out adults just don’t listen, and maybe he can solve this conundrum by playing psychologist in a boy’s bathroom stall and providing prescription narcotics to teens.
Is my cynicism showing? I feel like it is. Honestly, the only reason I sat through this movie was for Robert Downey Jr., and I do not think I can suffer through this tripe twice just to see him again. Downey is the real star of this film. Especially when considering the scene in which his big brown puppy eyes glisten like new marbles as he blurs the line when talking about past addictions, and you’re not sure if he’s talking as Principal Gardner, the character who suffers from a dependency on alcohol, or drawing from his own Hollywood heydays in the 80’s. Downey’s acting chops is the singular redeeming factor in this contrived Gary Sue wish-fulfillment fantasy flick that aims to be the voice of a generation.
How one movie can be so sleek whilst grimy, intense enough to induce heart palpitations but still beautiful to watch, I will never know. It must be the engineering vision of Korean director Joon-ho Bong. Snowpiercer is a visually stunning film that challenges the classist ideologies that keep the ruling class comfortable and blissfully ignorant, and those in the lowest class hungry and struggling to survive. If I told you that this is the French Revolution on train tracks, it would be an oversimplification of all the idiosyncrasies within this film, but the comparison would still be pretty damn close.
In this post-apocalyptic dystopia, an experiment to counteract the dire effects of global warming fail catastrophically as Earth is plunged into a new Ice Age era. Snowpiercer is a luxury train turned Noah’s Ark capable of circumventing the whole globe, and sustain a pretty sizable human population and ecosystem within it’s titanium structure. Those who fled the frost and boarded the train without a ticket soon find themselves paying by means of blood and suffering as the iron fist of the Engineer circles their throats. The poor have one of two options: revolt or be crushed. You think you know the boy in blue, what till you see Chris Evans in this.
Under the Skin (2013)
Watching Scarlett Johansson in Jonathan Glazer’s 2013 film Under the Skin is equivalent to watching abstract art come to life. Johansson remains nameless throughout the film, whether to drive home the ease in achieving anonymity in an urban environment (not New York, Scotland for a change), or perhaps to illustrate that this character primarily exists as a void vacuum of consumption. The film lags in places and it’s only in retrospect that you discover what is missing: the empty chatter. The overtures that people make in everyday conversation in order to attempt to connect with another human being, that idiosyncratic search for similarity within another person that usually will take the form of Twenty Questions. Johansson’s character is placed in social situations in which it demonstrates that if she’s not in control then it makes her highly uncomfortable, because what type of predator socializes with her meal?
I’ll stop here before I give too much away. Go in with a blank slate, without any expectations; allow yourself to be surprised by Glazer’s vision, and Johansson’s big doe eyes as she leads you through a mirrored landscape.
Alternates: Chef (2014), Don Jon (2013)
Begin Again (2014)
Begin Again would be the type of movie Rollingstone would get behind, what with the way music was interwoven throughout the whole of the movie, all without reducing itself to a saccharine musical. It has meat; it has something you can sink your teeth into: heartbreak, disappointment, learning to “adult”.
The press tour for this movie must have been horrendous. This was an impulse watch simply because I knew Kiera Knightly and Mark Ruffalo were in it and I had seen the trailer on Youtube. Imagine my surprise when I see Mos Def pop up on my screen, Adam Levine eventually rocking a very scraggly hipster beard (ew no), and Cee Lo Green rhyming into the air at his spiffy mansion surrounded by his entourage. Consider my disbelief suspended. Love this movie. Please give me a sequel.
Feature image: Andy Roth