I had a unique experience that while in early elementary school a family friend owned a video store. I spent countless hours after school browsing the shelves while my mom and her friend chatted in the back. Fast forward a few years and my family has moved across the state and the family friend, for a few years at least, sends bootleg copies of movies we requested in chicken scratched letters. As the friendship dwindles with distance so do the movies. Fast forward to Junior High, I ask for a VCR for my birthday so I can watch all the $2 VHS tapes I buy from the local Safeway discount bin. I lock myself away in room, replaying old favorites over and over. Fast forward to college in Seattle. I grow an affinity for the independent movie store and larger chains alike. I abuse monthly passes and student discounts. I walk the long way home so I can stop at my favorite one. I methodically browse the aisles, reading staff recommendations and get introduced to the likes of Jim Jarmusch, Wong Kar-wai, and pre Hays Code films.
Fast forward and I’m now living in LA. I haven’t been to a video store in years. I scroll through Netflix, hours and hours are spent watching 20 minutes of this, 20 minutes of that. At least with out the video store I don’t have to commit 2 hours to a dud, Just 2 hours to 6 different duds. But in there, amongst the digital shelves are real winners that you might pass over with out that staff recommendation tag peeking out and glaring you in the face. Well here I am. Consider me your video store clerk and I have a few suggestions for you next time you find yourself aimlessly clicking through the aisles of titles. Please, give them more than 20 minutes.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Tagged the first Iranian vampire western, this little gem by Ana Lily Amirpour is so much more than the horror film it’s billed as. Stylish, endearing, and yes a little scary, this story of a lonesome vampire blends genres beautifully. After watching you’ll want to download the pulpy soundtrack.
This heartbreaking thriller will leave you breathless. Nina Hoss gives an outstanding performance as a holocaust surviver, so disfigured from the experience she is unrecognizable as her former self even to her husband. The mysteries unfold in this to a climatic scene (one of the best I’ve ever seen) that you should do yourself a favor and not spoil. Just watch.
Short Term 12
Brie Larson gives an oscar worthy performance, before she was ever nominated, in this (some times hard to watch) story about a counselor for at-risk-teens. Her own story of self discovery, intertwined with the teens she is helping is one of the most moving films I’ve seen in years.
One of my favorite movies of this past year, Dope is a hilarious and smart adventure though the streets of Inglewood. The movie seamlessly weaves pop culture, self aware humor, and heart. Honestly one of the most fun times you can have watching a film. (with a soundtrack you’ll want to play in your car for days to come.)
If you don’t already love John Turturro you will after this! I am surprised this has as such a low Tomatometer, because this is a delightful tale, that is depicted more as as sex comedy than I think it really is. It is a its center a love story about healing and self discovery. Vanessa Paradis is lovely as the widowed Avigal, finding her passion in a restricted society. This trailer does the film no service.
I hope I was helpful and that my recommendations wont fall short! What was the last movie you stumbled upon that is now a new favorite? If you could recommend anything on Netflix what is a must see?