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Friday, April 12, 2024

It’s turning out to be pretty rainy summer in Florida, so you’re probably spending some quality time with Netflix your laptop and some fuzzy blankets. It’s hard to sort through the junk, so here are some movie suggestions for putting your brain to work while you’re busy being a couch potato. 

  1. Upstream Color (2013) - If you’re in the mood for sci-fi with an indie feel, check out director Shane Carruth’s latest, which was just released for streaming and is one of the most respected indies of the year. In the film, a woman is drugged with a bizarre worm that allows a thief to control her mind and steal her money. With no money and no job, she finds comfort in starting a relationship with a man who underwent the same experience. As they slowly discover what happened to them, the film explores the shaky nature of identity and our sense of self. It’s the kind of movie that makes you say “What the hell just happened?” and want to watch it a second time.
  2. John Dies at the End (2013) - A dark cult comedy and horror film by director Don Coscarelli, “John Dies at the End” is a genuinely weird tribute to trippy B-movies. Lead character David Wong tells a reporter of his exploits dealing with a drug called “The Sauce,” which creates hallucinations and strange psychic powers in its users. He meets frozen meat monsters, inter-dimensional travelers and evil sentient computers along the way, but it’s best not to reveal more. The twists, surprises and oddball scenarios are what make this a fun late-night flick.
  3. The Brother from Another Planet (1984) - This fish-out-of-water story about an alien slave on-the-run who escapes to Harlem is a funny, sweet look at how we deal with outsiders. The “Brother” in the film happens to look like a black man, but since he’s an alien only realizes this while interacting with others. It’s not a perfect movie, but its social satire and light sci-fi premise make it worth watching.
  4. The Names of Love (2010) - Romantic comedy fans won’t have much to see in theaters this summer, so if you need a fix try the French film “The Names of Love.” The film touches upon ethnic, racial and religious issues in France by pairing a left-wing daughter of an Algerian and a conservative Jewish Frenchman, but it does this with plenty of humor. The lead female character is on a mission to sleep with as many conservatives as possible to turn them over to the left. But she falls for one in particular, and it’s in their clash that they learn of the difficulties of seeing the world in a different way.
  5. Holy Motors (2012) - One of the most critically praised movies of 2012, “Holy Motors” is a fantasy drama film about a man who travels between multiple lives or characters. Driven around Paris by a slender blonde in a limousine, the man takes on different roles for reasons that are unclear at first. It’s a bizarre fever dream, a movie about making movies and art, and it’s best to go without expectations. Check this one out if you’re in the mood for something really experimental.
  6. Old Boy (2004) - This is the movie to see if you love thrillers with insane twists. A Korean man named Oh Dae-su wakes up one day locked up in a prison cell for what appears to be no reason at all. He hasn’t broken the law. With nothing but a TV set to keep him company, Oh Dae-su spends 15 years wondering who has imprisoned him. Suddenly, he’s released, and his journey to get revenge is a mind-bending tale about how people hurt each other, intentionally or not.
  7. Lagaan (2001) - This cute Bollywood movie has everything you could want: history, romance, dance numbers and an underdog story. Clocking in at almost four hours, it seems very long, but Bollywood movies breeze by since they’re basically several movies in one. The plot involves a poor Indian village in 1893 that is ravaged by drought that has to beat the British at cricket so that their taxes won’t be tripled. With its straightforward story and excellent musical numbers, it’s worth spending an afternoon on it.
  8. Undertow (2009) - This Peruvian film is an interesting look at what it’s like to be gay in Latin America. Miguel, a fisherman supporting his pregnant wife, is having an affair with an artist in his tiny village. Santiago drowns one night and his ghost haunts Miguel, telling him that he can’t move on until their relationship is revealed to the town. As signs of their relationship are found, Miguel has to come to terms with his past.
  9. The Fartist (2013) - There’s plenty of stand-up comedy specials on Netflix, and Brian Posehn’s latest hour is a good place to start. A nerdy metal aficionado, Posehn does great sets that draw from his feelings of being an outsider. In “The Fartist,” Posehn changes gears a bit to talk about fatherhood and aging, and while Louis C.K. does this material better, Posehn’s woolly mammoth persona is more laid-back and something different from C.K.’s more frenetic comedy.
  10. The General (1926) – It seems like the test of a true movie lover to consider watching a silent film these days, but “The General” is a great example of why you don’t need 3D glasses to find a quality movie. While many silent films age badly because of overacting, Buster Keaton is a master of the genre and known for his reserved and sincere performances. Set in the Civil War, “The General” is about a young man, played by Keaton, who must impress his love Annabelle by participating in the war. What results are a series of funny mishaps as Keaton plays an honest man navigating a crazy world.
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