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timecrimes

10 - Los Cronocrímenes (pictured above)

Directed by Nacho Vigalondo, 2007

The first of two time travel mind-benders, Timecrimes is layer upon layer of just-right plot twists and smarts in a style very reminiscent of old episodes of The Twilight Zone.

09 - Volver

Directed by Pedro Almodóvar, 2006

Pedro Almodóvar is one of the great directors of our generation. He sports a resume full of great films dating back to 1980.   Penelope Cruz is one of the most under-appreciated actresses around.  These two Spanish heavyweights get together to craft a quirky feel-good story about incest, death, and the supernatural.

08 - Primer

Directed by Shane Carruth, 2004

Break out your pencil and notebook - you’ll need a page or two full of notes and diagrams to keep up with Primer.  Actually, I’d recommend just watching it 3 or 4 times.  Attempting to digest exactly what happens in this movie is near impossible in a single viewing.  In a nutshell - two dudes accidentally invent time travel.  Paradox ensues. Alot.  This is the ultimate low-budget, no budget sci-fi flick.

yiyi

07 - Yi Yi: A One and a Two (pictured above)

Directed by Edward Yang, 2000

What I think I love most about Yi Yi is that it’s many plot-lines are all so engaging and believable.  It’s so easy to feel something (usually sympathy)  for each these characters.   After sitting through this 3 hour tale, I found myself wanting another hour or two.  This was also  one of the very first foreign films I ever saw as a young college kid exploring independence for the first time, so it definitely has added meaning to me for that.

06 - Fa yeung nin wa (In the Mood for Love)

Directed by Kar Wai Wong, 2000

Far more than for its characters or its plot, I love this movie for it’s visuals. You can almost watch this with no subtitles and still have a good idea what’s going on.  Every camera angle, every room and corridor portrays the secrecy and lust and deception that is central to the story.

05 - Hable con ella (Talk to Her)

Directed by Pedro Almodóvar, 2002

This time with feeling: Pedro Almodóvar is one of the greatest directors of our generation.  This movie gets off to a pretty slow start, but you’ll be rewarded with a story about human emotion and relationships (minus the preachiness you might expect, given the subject matter).

once

04 - Once

Directed by John Carney, 2006

The music.  It’s all about the music.  Also, the charming Markéta Irglová.  But mostly the music.  This might be my all time favorite romance - boy meets girl, boy and girl make beautiful music together.  The on-screen musical and interpersonal harmony feels so genuine because it is genuine.  Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová are dating and performing together as The Swell Season (were I to put together a list of great music of the decade, both Swell Season albums would definitely find their way onto that list).

03 - Oldboy

Directed by Chan-wook Park, 2003

This movie draws you closer and closer to the screen with compelling characters, interesting visuals, gritty toughness, and amazing fight coreography just so it can give you a good solid slap across the face with it’s completely unexpected final act.  Definitely see this before the long-rumored American remake finds it’s way to the screen.

02 - Das leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others)

Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2007

Set amidst a landscape of suppression, surveillance, fear and mistrust, The Lives of Others tells an engaging and delightful story with one of the least cheesy feel-good endings around.  The acting is top-notch, the drama is powerful, the characters are well drawn - this is just an all around great movie.

4m3w2d

01 - 4 luni, 3 saptamâni si 2 zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days) (pictured above)

Directed by Cristian Mungiu, 2007

Remember how it felt to watch the last 10 minutes or so of Requiem for a Dream?  Remember how it left you emotionally drained and unsettled?  This movie is that feeling drawn out for a solid 80 minutes.  I absolutely love how this movie tells a story in a very natural and realistic way - things happen that are never explored or explained, things do not wrap up neatly, many many questions remain - Just Like Real Life™.  Every character and every setting adds to the palpable tension, even the happy and carefree family celebrating a birthday around an overflowing dinner table (an image, by the way, which is a very interesting contrast to the image at the ending of the movie…).

Quick disclaimer - this is the movie I saw most recently, and it definitely left  a very strong impression.  If I had seen this 2 years ago, would I still rank it #1?  I don’t know, but I’d like to think so.

Remember how it felt to watch the last 10 minutes or so of Requiem for a Dream?  Remember how it left you emotionally drained and unsettled?  This movie is that feeling drawn out for a solid 80 minutes.  I absolutely love how this movie tells a story in a very natural and realistic way - things happen that are never explored or explained, things do not wrap up neatly, many many questions remain - Just Like Real Life™.  Every character and every setting adds to the palpable tension, even the happy and carefree family celebrating a birthday around an overflowing dinner table (an image, by the way, which is a very interesting contrast to the image at the ending of the movie…).
Quick disclaimer - this is the movie I saw most recently, and leaves a very strong impression.  If I had seen this 2 years ago, would I still rank it #1?  I don’t know, but I’d like to think soRemember how it felt to watch the last 10 minutes or so of Requiem for a Dream?  Remember how it left you emotionally drained and unsettled?  This movie is that feeling drawn out for a solid 80 minutes.  I absolutely love how this movie tells a story in a very natural and realistic way - things happen that are never explored or explained, things do not wrap up neatly, many many questions remain - Just Like Real Life™.  Every character and every setting adds to the palpable tension, even the happy and carefree family celebrating a birthday around an overflowing dinner table (an image, by the way, which is a very interesting contrast to the image at the ending of the movie…).
Quick disclaimer - this is the movie I saw most recently, and leaves a very strong impression.  If I had seen this 2 years ago, would I still rank it #1?  I don’t know, but I’d like to think so.

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