Best Films I watched in August 2020

I watched 29 films for the first time in August of 2020. Here’s a list of my top 5 in alphabetical order:

1. Begin Again

This 2013 film from Jack Carney (Once, SIng Street) is an absolute joy. Keira Knightly and Mark Ruffalo portray a struggling artist and music manager who are both trying to get to the top while dealing with their own personal struggles and trying to stay true to themselves. The film has lots of great music, which is not a surprise considering Carney’s other work. What really stood out to me about this film is how much the audience really connect with the two leads while we watch them work through the struggles in their personal lives. It’s a feel good movie that might make you look critically at some aspects in your own life, while tapping your foot to the music of course.

2. The Death of Dick Long

I knew almost nothing about this film going in, and I truely think that is the bast way to go about it. In a nutshell, this independent film from last year is a small Fargo-esque mystery directed by Daniel Schienert (Swiss Army Man). It is shocking, weirdly funny, and a bit grotesque. I don't want to give away too much, but I highly recommend it. One of my favorite films I’ve watched all year.

3. Law Abiding Citizen

This high octane action movie is right up my alley. In the film CLyde (Gerard Butler) witnesses his family get brutally murdered. Themen who committed the murder do not get the punishments CLyde thinks they deserve. He soon begins going after everyone responsible for the lack of justice, including the lawyers and other people in the justice system. Jamie Foxx plays a lawyer trying to stop him. It is a very fun action thriller from 2009 with several shocking moments and twists. Definitely a fun time.

4. Magnolia

This is one of the most famous Paul THomas ANderson films. The movie has a star-studded cast that includes Julienne Moore, Tom Cruise and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. The film revolves around several different characters dealing with grief, abandonment and other personal issues. All of their stories intersect by the end but there is also a twist that comes completely out of left field. The writing is unbelievable (like most PTA films) and the film received 3 Oscar nominations including score, screenplay and a nomination for TomCruise. While this is not my favorite PTA film, it is still an amazing piece of filmmaking and I highly recommend it, especially to fellow cinephiles.

5. O

O is a 2001, modern day adaption of WIliam Shakespeare’s Othello directed by Tim Blake Nelson/ If youknow me, you know I love modernized Shakespeare. From The Lion King to Sons of Anarchy, Shakespeare’s themes are powerful, dramatic and the cornerstone of good storytelling. O oozes Shakespeare. It has betrayal, manipulation, merder, love, jealously, everything that is raw and dramatic about Shakespeare. O is about Hugo (Josh Hartnett) who is jealous of his basketball teammate, Odin (Mekhai Phifer). Odin seems to have it all, a beautiful girlfriend (Julia Stiles), talent when it comes to basketball, and the respect of Hugo’s father, who is the basketball coach. Hugo decides to try and get rid of Odin and, like in all great Shakespeare, things go very wrong. O does a great job of moderizing the play without making the drama feel too much like One Tree Hill of The OC. It’s a very underrated film that I cannot recommend enough.

Honorable Mentions:

1. Blow Out

This Brian De Palma film starring John Travolta is about a foley artist who accedently records the sound of a murder. THis discovery puts him in danger and the cover up begins to spiral out of control. A great addition to the Criterion Collection.

2. Green Book

This Best Picture winner is a feel good film starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. The premise may be a bit stereotypical, a recist white man learning the errors od his ways, but it’s still a good film.

3, The Hills Have Eyes

Surprisingly, the only horror film on this list, The Hills Have Eyes is a 2006 remake about a family traveling through the New Mexico desert. The family is attacked by cannibals who were affected by nuclear testing in the area by the US government. It is a fun, gory ride with everything you’d expect from the premise.

Hardest Movie to Watch but I’m Glad I Did:

Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door (2007)

Be warned this iflm is not for everyone. This is a brutal watch about a teenager who is sent away to her aunt’s house to live with little sister after her parents’ death. The aunt and her sons are horribly abusive and torture the girl beyond belief. The movie leaves a good amount to the imagination but there are still plenty of moments where I cringed or had to look away. This is also based on a true story and also portrayed in the TV movie, An American Crime. This is a great movie but I will warn you, it is not uplifting. You will feel disgusting after but that is what the iflmmaker intended.

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