Manic – Fifteen years ago this week director Jordan Melamed released his only narrative feature, a look into the journey of a troubled and violent teen played by Joseph Gordon Levitt who is checked into a juvenile mental institution. This was the first onscreen pairing of Levitt and co-star Zooey Deschanel in a story that felt gritty and true to life, another side to the coin that James Mangold’s Girl Interrupted showed us. The film also features a brilliant performance from Don Cheadle as the psychiatrist tasked with trying to figure out the solution to their breakdowns by finding the root of how society wronged them. The contribution of a great soundtrack including Aphex Twin, Deftones and Sleater-Kinney definitely catapulted this one into the memorable category as well.
The Visitor – Tom McCarthy is known as the guy who made Spotlight in recent memory but ten years ago this week this film hit theaters, one that made the world really recognize actor Richard Jenkins. For me, I knew him already as Nathanial Fisher, the deceased patriarch of a funeral home proprietor family in the HBO series Six Feet Under but The Visitor made him an Oscar nominee. The story is pretty simple in nature, following a travelling college professor who returns home to find an immigrant couple squatting in his apartment. Rather than get all xenophobic, our professor embraces these new tenants, befriends them and takes an interest in their culture and daily life. As far as character growth films go, The Visitor is an astounding achievement and would work beautifully in today’s racial climate. It’s also interesting to note that Danai Gurira plays the lead, an actress enjoying massive pop culture success with The Walking Dead and Black Panther.
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas – I’m so happy to give this movie a mention on its twentieth anniversary week because if it weren’t for this Terry Gilliam adaptation of the classic Hunter S. Thompson book I would only be partially the cinema hungry individual I am today. This film was and is everything to me, a story so complex and crazy that only a madman like Gilliam could take it on, and when you add the performances of Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro to the mix you have a classic film that has been quoted to death by me. This is a film that defines my movie love now and will do so in another twenty years I’m sure.
Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid – One of my favorite of the legendary “no longer with us” filmmakers is Sam Peckinpah, a man whose volatile nature may overshadow his great body of work. There are absolute truths when it comes to his work and that is their ability to set themselves apart from the pack. Look at films like Straw Dogs, The Wild Bunch and The Getaway just to name a small few, all classics in their genres. Celebrating its 45th birthday this week, Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid is no different, a good guy meets bad guy story between two of the biggest personalities in the Wild West. James Coburn and Kris Kristofferson play their respective roles with a brooding brilliance that always keeps me on the edge of my seat, even though I know how it plays out. It’s not just these heavyweights taking the screen but Charles Martin Smith, Jason Robards, Slim Pickens make appearances as well as Bob Dylan who puts the cherry on this Sunday by contributing “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” to the soundtrack. Hell, I think I’ve just pushed myself to rewatch this gem.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – It was a crazily uncertain couple days for the critically acclaimed comedy series as the network it has aired on for five seasons, Fox, gave it the axe in a confusing but slightly predictable move. The very next day NBC made the no-brainer move to save the show and while we won’t see the sixth season until the midseason the entirety of the recently ended season is now on Netflix. If you haven’t gotten on board but heard great things, believe the hype. This cast is incredible, including the proven talents of Andy Samberg, Terry Crews, Joe Lo Truglio and Andre Braugher as well as new favorites of mine Steph Beatriz and Melissa Fumero. Get caught up now and tune in for the midseason so this cancellation stuff doesn’t happen again.