37/365: The Intouchables

The Intouchables (2011)

dir. Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano

What an incredibly heartwarming film! A+! Wealthy quadriplegic Philippe hires Driss, an ex-convict with a golden heart, to be his live-in caregiver. From that moment on, it was an adventure for the two. It’s a great story about friendship in the most unlikely situations, treating persons with disabilities like persons and not their disabilities, and the importance of opening up ourselves to life despite our shortcomings. Based on a true story. People like them make this world a better place. And doesn’t François Cluzet look like Dustin Hoffman? All French men are starting to look like Dustin Hoffman to me.

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36/365: Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine (2013)

dir. Woody Allen

Cate Blanchett always looks refined and put-together, so seeing her tragically unravel in Woody Allen’s latest film is a little disconcerting. Blanchett plays Jasmine, a high maintenance broad, whose cheating husband gets thrown in jail for shady business. Broke and jobless, she moves in with her sister. They share nothing in common. On one hand, I wanted to be annoyed at Jasmine for being so fussy about everything, but on the other hand, I felt so sorry for her. She literally had the rug pulled out from under her feet. It’s a beautiful film with an engrossing character…but very sad.

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35/365: Her

Her (2013)

dir. Spike Jonze

The interesting thing about Her (2013) is its plausibility. In the future, people might just start developing genuine relationships with their operating systems. If we do away with the taboo and logistical strangeness of intimate interaction with software, does the connection become more real? Do our feelings make it real for others? Is it even Real? Spike Jonze has something special here: a beautifully, wonderfully written and directed film ripe with all the feelings we may or may not have felt before, and particularly relevant in these technologically exciting times. God, the powerful feels on this one. Goddamn it, Spike.

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34/365: Welcome to Dongmakgol

Welcome to Dongmakgol (2002)

dir. Park Kwang-hyun

North Korean and South Korean soldiers in war find themselves in a mountain village called Dongmakgol that’s so remote, the villagers think rifles are big sticks and grenades may be potatoes. The North-South confrontation leads to an incident that blows up a year’s supply of the village’s food. What follows is a funny and touching tale of cooperation and friendship to save Dongmakgol from starvation and an impending military threat. This film warms the heart after a long day at the office. Prepare for crying. You also might suddenly crave for roast boar with a side of potatoes and popcorn.

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33/365: Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

dir. Jean-Marc Vallée

Something must’ve happened to Matthew McConaughey after Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009) because he’s finally showing really serious acting chops. His days as a tanned, macho pretty boy cliché seem to be behind him! His performance in Dallas Buyers Club (2013) was amazing. He plays a homophobic, drug-addicted, alcoholic rodeo cowboy who discovers he has HIV/AIDS. The last time I saw physical transformation like this was Christian Bale in The Machinist (2004). Supported by a wonderful cast (Garner and Leto), McConaughey showed a profound understanding of Ron Woodruff’s struggle and turned it into a moving, sincere cinematic accomplishment. 5 stars!

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32/365: Blue is the Warmest Colour

Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)

dir. Abdellatif Kechiche

Oh, mon Dieu. Mon Dieu, mon Dieu, mon Dieu. I’m going to enrol myself in French classes, so Léa Seydoux and I whisper sweet somethings to each other. My poor face was fire engine red while watching this film. NSFW and movie nights unless everyone’s comfortable with heavy girl-on-girl action. Despite the no-holds-barred sex scenes, this film was tastefully done. I loved that every scene had something blue in it. Kechiche’s interpretation of Clementine and the conflict between Adele and Emma were different from the book, but I think it all worked out in a modern, just way. Beautiful film.

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31/365: Ender’s Game

Ender's Game (2013)

dir. Gavin Hood

Watched it four times in one day. Exactly how the story played in my mind when I was reading the book. Hell, it was even better. Asa Butterfield nailed it as Ender. Moisés Arias and Harrison Ford’s performances are noteworthy, too. I think the producers downplayed Alai’s importance a bit, but that’s okay. The book had always been a challenge to adapt because of its philosophical ideas, but I think the film was able to capture the essence of what Card intended to convey. Loved it! 100 words are not enough to show how much I enjoyed this movie! *FANGIRLING*

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30/365: Chronicle

Chronicle (2012)

dir. Josh Trank

Chronicle (2012) follows three high school boys who mysteriously acquire telekinetic abilities. They deal with both the thrill of their new gifts and the dangers such powers pose. The film adopts the found-footage visual style, using Andrew’s recordings of his life with powers and various camera perspectives (a news camera or another camcorder). It was pretty great. It looked like it could have happened in real life, exactly as it is. The darker moments of the film were refreshing—a nice break from gimmicky and clichéd movies with more or less the same plot. My kind of teenage superpower film.

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29/365: We Are What We Are

We Are What We Are (2013)

dir. Jim Mickle

We Are What We Are (2013) focuses on a family that practices ritualistic cannibalism. Town officials soon become suspicious of their behaviour as their skeletons are literally coming out of the closet. This film had me hiding behind my pillow, pausing it to ready myself for the worst, and loving Julia Garner more. When it comes to screen horror, demons and exorcisms scare me the most, probably because I’m Catholic. The rest—poltergeists, the incubus, vampires—are mere myth to me. However, true horror lies not in ghouls and ghosts but in the inhumane things people do to each other.

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28/365: Cutie and the Boxer

Cutie and the Boxer (2013)

dir. Zachary Heinzerling

Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, two New York-based Japanese artists, have been married for nearly four decades as of filming. Ushio (“Bullie”) has been a struggling artist for decades, known for his avant-garde sculptures and boxing paintings. Noriko (“Cutie”), a painter, met him when she was just 19. It’s interesting to see these two go on, both knowing that art is their top priority, even after years of poverty and strain on their family as well as their art. Cutie and the Boxer (2013) is one of the most tender enduring love stories I’ve seen on film. Love is a roarrr!

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