Director Ann Hui’s exquisitely realistic A Simple Life, starring Andy Lau and Deanie Yip, won the awards for Best Film, Director, Screenplay, Actor, and Actress at the 2012 Hong Kong Film Awards. Roger Ebert wrote, “It expresses hope in human nature. It is one of the year’s best films.”
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For a long time, bad guys were introduced primarily to add conflict for our heroes, but somewhere along the way, they grew on us. Those of you caught up in the final season of Breaking Bad know what we mean. Especially in the last decade, television has embraced a specific type of antihero, the “unhappy, morally compromised, complicated, deeply human characters who stir both our sympathy and our revulsion.” In Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution, author Brett Martin explores not only signature characters of landmark series but also the show runners – the brilliant and often damaged men driving the programs through the casting, the writing, and the directing. What does the success of these shows have to say about those who craft them? And what does it say about those of us who watch?
Films like Paranormal Activity, The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield are examples of the found footage-style of horror. This subgenre is marked by shaky camera work, characters who talk off screen, and film recordings discovered (usually) after the movie’s protagonists have died or gone missing.
Click here for the aforementioned films and more found footage horror.
You must check out the Danish costume drama A Royal Affair. It is based on the true story of a fiery and forbidden romance between an insane Danish king, his royal physician, and the independent-minded Queen. This affair leads to a revolt that changes a nation.
The best television you haven’t yet discovered arrives courtesy of Denmark, and you won’t be able to look away. Stephen King declared Borgen his favorite show of 2012, and now its crisp ten-episode seasons are available on DVD. You’ll meet Birgitte Nyborg, a working mother soon to become the first female Danish prime minister. She’s a woman of good sense and decency, and one of the most fascinating themes explores whether it is possible to be in power and still remain one’s self. Tensions between professional and personal roles are probed, as well as the delicate symbiotic relationship between politics and the press. Spare, intense, and full of intrigue, this series has already become a sensation in the UK, and American audiences should race to catch up.
There are certain books that are so cinematically scrumptious, you just know they have to get turned into movies or TV shows. There’s a ton of young adult series that you don’t even have to wait for them to be filmed – they’re already on air!
To see what teen books (with adult appeal) are already TV shows, click here.
Hushpuppy is a 6-year-old girl who lives not with her father, but in the adjacent trailer next to his in a Southern Louisiana bayou. Her mother is long gone and her daddy, Wink, loves her as much as his alcoholism allows. Hushpuppy is alone much of the time, but life holds a pleasant balance – until a storm of coastal-changing capabilities sets its course to her home. In Beasts of the Southern Wild, a dreamy, brutal, yet joyful film, Hushpuppy strives to save herself and her father from a natural disaster – only Hushpuppy doesn’t see it as a storm raging toward them…she envisions prehistoric monsters striding to wreak havoc on the Bathtub, her hometown.
Martin Scorsese directed George Harrison: Living in the Material World — a fascinating look at George Harrison’s life, focused on the period after he found success with the Fab Four. Displaying personal strife, finding his spiritual self, and the way he expertly created music, this is a must-see for any fan.
Robert Redford and Paul Newman are charming grifters in the Oscar-winning movie The Sting. Then there’s Steven Martin and Michael Caine as the most obnoxious con men ever in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Whatever swindling style you want to see, there’s a movie on it.
For films on grifters, con men, and scams, click here.
If you like the dark, psychologically deep art of Will Eisner, try the work of Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Tatsumi is a Japanese manga artist. Don’t stop reading! Manga is not only for kids. Just like in America where serious comics want to be acknowledged as graphic novels, in Japan, serious manga is called gekiga – a term Tatsumi originated in 1957 that means “dramatic pictures”. For an introduction to Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s work, watch Tatsumi, an animated documentary about his celebrated career based on his autobiographical manga A Drifting Life. Intertwined with the biographical details are 5 short story segments by Tatsumi that detail not only his life, but post-WWII Japan.