In a brilliant inversion of crime drama tropes, International Emmy Award winner Accused reveals the unlikely perpetrator in the first moments of the episode. What we don’t know is what was done or why. Each story begins with a prisoner awaiting his or her verdict, and then we are dropped into an earlier seemingly ordinary day in the accused’s life. It isn’t, of course. Unfolding events reveal a tipping point at which a situation spun out of control. What could turn an average citizen into a criminal awaiting a verdict? No two answers are the same, and neither is the degree of guilt. Boasting spectacular performances by a Who’s Who of British character actors, Accused is provocative television at its finest.
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At this point society knows that if you are in a secluded cabin cut off from civilization you don’t read mysterious Latin books found in a basement out loud, and you absolutely never split the group up. In Cabin in the Woods, five college students break these rules and more as they spend a weekend away at a cabin and fall into every horror movie stereotype there is. What starts off as a funny yet clichéd film quickly turns into a mind-blowing experience as writers Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard toy with viewers’ expectations. Just when you think the film is ending, you learn it’s only beginning. Hilarious, yet still with scare factors, Cabin in the Woods is for horror movie lovers and horror movie hesitators alike.
Emilio is facing a harsh reality. A distinguished former bank manager, he didn’t foresee a time when the trappings of age and illness would transform him into a burden on his family. The one saving grace to his placement in an elder care facility is that he shares a room with the roguish Miguel, a new friend who refuses to accept that growing older has anything to do with growing up. Wrinkles, a tender and unblinking look at late-stage life, dabs humor amidst the adjustment to new routine. Martin Sheen nimbly leads the English language cast, and traditional hand-drawn animation balances safe distance with childlike charm. Bette Davis once said that “old age ain’t no place for sissies,” and Wrinkles keeps the twinkle in that truth.
Before Homeland there was Prisoners of War, and though they share a general premise, you cannot assume you know what to expect. In the original Israeli series, two POWs return home after seventeen years in captivity. Seventeen years. Time enough that one soldier faces teenage children who don’t know him at all, while his comrade is confronted with a fiancée who has since married his brother. A third hostage returns in a coffin, but his sister sees and hears him as if he survived. Extraordinary in its quiet, tense moments, Prisoners of War is a complex and provocative exploration of the effects of torture, suspicion, and the struggle to reintegrate into both family and society.
“I just love finding new places to wear diamonds,” said Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 musical comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Director Howard Hawks’ style and Jane Russell’s sharp delivery, with Marilyn’s iconic performance of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” make this female buddy film a lighthearted pleasure.
Adapted from Jules Feiffer’s play, 1971’s Little Murders is a pitch-black paranoid satire which follows a couple and their supremely dysfunctional family through an absurdly (and disquietingly) chaotic New York City. Don’t miss Donald Sutherland’s legendary extended cameo as an unorthodox wedding officiant.
Prior to making one of the best films of the 1990s (Rushmore), Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson introduced their blend of sweet-tempered humanism and low-key comedy with Bottle Rocket. Ostensibly a heist flick, Bottle Rocket is in actuality an exceptionally laid-back tale of adolescent camaraderie and small ambitions. Fresh from a stay in a mental hospital, Anthony is recruited by his reality-challenged friend Dignan in an absurd plan to become master criminals. However, after another friend becomes involved, the trio’s schemes begin to disintegrate into aimlessness. Affable performances from the Wilson brothers turn Bottle Rocket’s gently ambling pace and charming comedic quirks into a picture one can’t help but like.
Vivian Maier was an area nanny whose ubiquitous camera captured life in Chicago in the mid-century. Her rich, evocative work remained unnoticed until 2007 when thousands of negatives were purchased at a storage unit auction. Curiosity in the woman and appreciation for her work have since skyrocketed. Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows offers a glimpse at her talent, and the new DVD Finding Vivian Maier attempts to shed light on the artist.
For a Hollywood love story about a marriage on the rocks, Two for the Road is structurally complex: throughout the film, the story seamlessly cuts back and forth across four different time periods. These sometimes-abrupt shifts follow Joanna and Mark Wallace (Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney) during four road trips through the south of France spanning a twelve-year period. Frederic Raphael’s clever script uses this device to place the banter of early courtship alongside the pointed barbs of a troubled later marriage, and what emerges is a refreshingly multifaceted portrait of how both people and relationships can change over time. Supported by Raphael’s incisive dialogue and a novel editing scheme, Stanley Donen’s surehanded direction reveals an engaging chemistry between Hepburn and Finney in moments both comedic and dramatic.
The anime and manga series Attack on Titan is an action-packed and unique story. Set in a world where huge man-eating giants called Titans terrorize the earth, this story follows a group of young people who are sick of living in fear.