When it comes to movies nowadays, to paraphrase Charles Dickens, “It’s the best of times and the worst of times.”
It seems that every weekend Hollywood studios roll out some generic Visual FX laden flick that seems so bland you’d think the studios were run by paper pushing monkeys. Does anyone really want to see the remake of Red Dawn or Carrie?
On the flip side digital technology and distribution has opened up the gates to a new wave of young filmmakers who are telling original and inspiring stories at a fraction of what it costs to churn out Hollywood junk.
Limited marketing budgets mean that, despite the quality of the content, you might never actually hear about these movies.
Below are a few of the picks. For the complete list check out the No Film School list here.
No, dir. Pablo Larraín
Political dramas are typically not my kind of thing, but No is a fascinating (and funny) story about a Chilean ad executive (Gael García Bernal) who spearheads a campaign to defeat Augusto Pinochet during the country’s 1988 plebiscite. One of the main reasons I loved this movie is its cinematography — the filmmakers decided to shoot on U-matic 3:4, an analog format used in the 80s. -V Renée
Gimme the Loot, dir. Adam Leon
This film was a festival favorite that scored big with an unknown cast, a first-time director, and a budget of $65k — and it’s a lot of fun. Most of the amusement comes from the two young leads, Tashiana Washington and Ty Hickson, as less-than-respected teenage graffiti artists from the Bronx trying to awkwardly finagle funds to tag the Mets’ home-run Apple. Telephoto shots of the two actors mic’ed inconspicuously as they walk past real bystanders in between the Bronx and Greenwich Village give a sense of authenticity and guerilla playfullness to the whole piece. Sure, it underscores grittiness and class inequality, but in a simple, charming comedy about young friends that’s well worth a watch. –Oakley Anderson-Moore
Stories We Tell, dir. Sarah Polley
In Stories We Tell, the story of writer/director/actor Sarah Polley’s complex family history, her brother observes of relationships that love is rarely traded evenly. He explains that one person is always more in love with the other than the other is in return, and the dynamics are always changing. That’s how I feel about my ongoing love affair with documentary and fiction films — sometimes I think I love one more than the other, and then a great film comes along and changes my mind. The great thing about movies, of course, is that we get to be polyamorous, and we don’t have to choose. And sometimes one film satisfies the yearning for both documentaries and narratives; Stories We Tell is one such brilliant hybrid. -Ryan Koo
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