Friday, October 23, 2009

Hidden Gem Films - 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days (2007)

During the final days of communism in Romania, two college roommates, Otilia and Gabita, are busy preparing for a night away. But, rather than planning for a holiday, they are making arrangements for Gabita's illegal abortion and unwittingly, both find themselves burrowing deep down a rabbit hole of unexpected revelations.

The fascination of the film comes not so much from the experiences the friends have, however unspeakable, but in who they are, and how they behave and relate.

This is a raw, gritty masterpiece. 9/10.

Hidden Gem Films - Hard Candy (2005)

Geoff "Patrick Wilson" is a 30ish, successful, high-fashion photographer who meets 14-year-old Haley "Ellen Page" on the Internet. They arrange a date at a coffee shop and then head back to his house. What follows is a spine-chilling nightmare, and Geoff has no one to blame but himself.

On one level, it's a revenge picture about a 14-year-old girl who entraps a 32-year-old pedophile on the Internet, gets herself invited to his home, and quickly has him strapped down and helpless. On another level, it plays into the classic porno scenario in which a dominating female torments her victim.

The tension is ramped up in this psychological thriller. 8/10.

Hidden Gem Films - Drugstore Cowboy (1989)

Gritty drama, set in the early 1970s, about a band of superstitious, drug-addled misfits who live by their wits and rob drugstores.

The movie stars "Matt Dillon", in one of the great American movie performances, as the leader of a pack of two young couples who are on the prowl in Washington and Oregon. It is 1971, and they are the rear guard of the love generation. They drift from one rented apartment or motel room to another in an aimless migration in search of drugs.

Director "Gus Van Sant" spins a tale with a thread of insane logic that makes it one of the most absorbing movies in a long time. 8.5/10.

Hidden Gem Films - The Last Seduction (1994)

A conniving New York woman cons her medical-student husband into engineering a lucrative drug deal, then flees with the loot, hiding out in a small town in upstate New York. Devising an insurance scam, she talks a lovestruck claims adjuster into murdering her vengeful spouse.

John Dahl's "The Last Seduction" knows how much we enjoy seeing a character work boldly outside the rules. It gives us a diabolical, evil woman, and goes the distance with her.

"Linda Fiorentino" is excellent in this cool, sexy thriller. 8.5/10.

Hidden Gem films - Little Children (2006)

In a suburban town full of perfect parents devoted to rearing their children for Harvard futures, a stay-at-home mom has an affair with an ex-jock, stay-at-home dad who rebels against his wife's wishes that he become a big-bucks lawyer.

This unnervingly funny and quietly devastating film -- director Todd Field's first since his smash 2001 debut with "In the Bedroom" -- pulls you in like a magnetic-force field. It's more than a moral fable about the traps we set for ourselves by not growing up.

Most films fade from memory, this one will stay with you. 8/10.

Hidden Gem Films - The Devil's Rejects (2005)

Ambushed at their isolated home by Sheriff Wydell and a squad of armed men, the Firefly family wakes up one morning with guns blazing -- yet only Otis and his sister, Baby, manage to escape the barrage of bullets unharmed. Hiding out in a backwater motel, the wanted siblings wait to rendezvous with their errant father, Captain Spaulding, killing whoever happens to stand in their way. But as the body count mounts higher, Sheriff Wydell decides to take the law into his own hands.

Rob Zombie ("The House of 1,000 Corpses") continues where he left off with this relentless, exceptionally violent, deliciously twisted road movie/torture chamber. This movie is not for the squeamish but if you enjoy this genre you will be more than satisfied. 8/10.

Hidden Gem Films - Cache (2005)

Georges (Daniel Auteuil), a television talk show host, and his wife Anne (Juliette Binoche), are living the perfect life of modern comfort and security. One day, their lives are disrupted in the form of a mysterious videotape that appears on their doorstep. On it they are being filmed by a hidden camera from across the street with no clues as to who shot it, or why.

As more tapes arrive containing images that are disturbingly intimate and increasingly personal, Georges launches into an investigation of his own as to who is behind this. As he does so, secrets from his past are revealed, and the walls of security he and Anne have built around themselves begin to crumble.

"Cache" is a intelligent thought-provoking film that will stay with you long after the closing credits. 8/10.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hidden Gem Films - Old Boy (2003)

An ordinary man named Oh Dae-su, who lives with his wife and adorable daughter, is kidnapped and later wakes up to find himself in a private makeshift prison. Dae-su makes numerous attempts to escape and to commit suicide, but they all end up in failure. All the while Dae-su asks himself what made a man hate him so much enough to imprison him without any reason. While suffering from his debacle, Dae-su becomes shocked when he watches the news and hears that his beloved wife was brutally murdered. At this very moment, Dae-su swears to take revenge on the man who destroyed his happy life. Fifteen years later Dae-su is released with a wallet filled with money and a mobile phone. An unknown man calls Dae-su and asks him to figure out why he was imprisoned.

This film will grab you & won't let go. "Old Boy" is a gritty, violent & unforgettable ride. One of the best revenge films I have seen. 8/10.

Hidden Gem Films - Let the Right One In (2008)

A fragile, anxious boy, 12-year-old Oskar is regularly bullied by his stronger classmates but never strikes back. The lonely boy's wish for a friend seems to come true when he meets Eli, also 12, who moves in next door to him with her father.

The story of "Let the Right One" In follows Eli and Oskar as they start to bond, and Eli insists that Oskar should fight back against the bullies. When Oskar finds out that she is a vampire, he takes it all in his stride as only a child could.

"Let the Right One In" is not a gore-fest, nor is it packed with action and tension, but the story of these two characters is somewhat mesmerizing.

A very fresh take on the genre. 8/10

Hidden Gem Films - Transsiberian (2008)

Set on the legendary express train as it travels from China to Moscow, follows an American couple who board the train and make the acquaintance of a Russian police inspector on the trail of the killers of a drug dealer. The couple soon find themselves embroiled in a murderous plot with no escape.

This is the latest from director Brad Anderson. (The Machinist) "Transsiberian" is a tense thriller with big dose of suspense. It is a solid piece of work that puts a talented cast in the right position to successfully navigate through a Hitchcock-like tale. Anderson turns a routine train trip between China and Russia into one of sheer terror for two American passengers.

Roy (Woody Harrelson) and Jessie (Emily Mortimer) are a married couple from the United States who decide to take the Trans-Siberian Railway back to Russia after a mission trip in China. Things start out wonderfully until they're paired with another couple -- Carlos (Eduardo Noriega) and Abby (Kate Mara), shady globetrotters who turn out to be drug dealers.

They mix paths with a KGB agent named Grinko (Ben Kingsley) and find themselves in a fight to survive.

Search this film out, it is well worth the ride. 7.5/10.