#2: Love Is Strange
On my exceedingly long flight to Europe, Delta Airlines had more movies than you could ever think of watching. From new films like Interstellar and The Imitation Game, to older films like The Godfather and Dog Day Afternoon, there was no shortage of options. Wanting to try and sleep, I decided on a film I had been wanting to see for a while: Love Is Strange. This delicate, melancholy film about a a married couple, Ben and George, who must find a new home after George is fired from his job. Their relatives cannot support both of them, so each goes their separate ways which still has a tremendous effect on not only their relationship, but the relationships between them and their families.
John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, and Marisa Tomei headline the film and they all deliver heartbreaking and real performances. While the film does stray too far into unnecessary side-plots, the chemistry that Molina and Lithgow display as a gay-couple in their twilight years is beautiful. It shows a certain kind of love and tenderness that has not really been portrayed (as far as I know) in LGBTQ films, though that is an area of filmmaking that is only really starting to be acknowledged. Hopefully we can get more of this.
Wes Anderson’s sophomore effort in 1998 (after his debut in Bottle Rocket) represents the true beginning of his genius. Bottle Rocket was a fine film, and you can kind of notice his now-signature style, but Rushmore is when he really established it.
Jason Schwartzman is utterly fantastic in his debut role of Max Fischer, the over-achieving loser who cannot seem to find his way. Rushmore also marks the beginning of the very fruitful pairing of Anderson and Bill Murray. Murray, who plays Herman Blume, might have one of his best roles here as the awkward, bitter, and depressing industrialist who gets caught up in life of Max who is trying his hardest to vie for the love of Ms. Cross, a teacher at his school.
Rushmore is a funny and awkward film that marks the arrival of a force that is still one to be reckoned with.
#4: The Great Beauty
The lush, eye-popping world of The Great Beauty deserved a revisit after watching it for the first time last year. It is an impeccably beautiful film about the realization that a life lived by a man in his 60s is now full of excess, absurdness, and beauty.
Toni Servillo is suave, sexy, and humorous as the 65-year-old journalist who now sees past the veneer of society. Much like La Dolce Vita, The Great Beauty looks into how bizarre the rich, artsy crowd is beyond absurd. There is something truly elegiac, yet hopeful, about this film with its gorgeous cinematography and somber score. I see why, now, how this won Best Foreign Film over The Hunt. It is incredibly dense with inspirations from Malick and Fellini, but also establishes Paolo Sorrentino as a new force in international cinema.