Over this summer break, I traveled through the brilliant world that is my computer screen – well, it’s not as frivolous as it may sound. I gained an appreciation for the art of movies, and more specifically, their stories. So here are 6 movies I watched this summer that I would recommend to everyone (note: none of them came out this summer – my bad).
In 2000, a lesser known Christopher Nolan entered cinema with this remarkable, complex and brilliant film. The movie follows Leonard Shelby (played by Guy Pierce), a man who is incapable of creating new memories, his last memory being his wife’s murder. Through a series of polaroids and tattoos, Shelby attempts to solve the mystery and avenge his wife.
If the plot doesn’t sound compelling enough, the way it is portrayed is downright amazing. The “real time” story line moves backwards, while the flashbacks move regularly, which is explained by Nolan himself in this video. This movie had my full attention all the way, it had me solving the mystery with the protagonist, and is truly a work of art. And don’t even get me started on the ending revelation…
Boyhood follows a young boy Mason (played by Ellar Coltrane) as he grows up, and is a film twelve years in the making, following the same actors and actresses throughout. While this may sound gimmicky, excellent direction, very real acting, and strong 2000’s nostalgia cause this film to be nothing other than beautiful.
I absolutely adored this movie. Seeing the characters mature, go through their hardships, and their vivid interactions with one another was truly an experience. Mason’s parents (played by Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke) give excellent performances, as well as the rest of the memorable cast. We gain an intimate, insightful look on the ups and downs of boyhood, but most importantly, the growth.
The Godfather (1972), The Godfather II (1974)
Hailed by some as the greatest films of all time, these movies are truly impeccable. Godfather I tells the story of the Corleone mafia family, and their violent rivalries with other gangs. Godfather II focuses on the growth of the new don, Michael Corleone, as well as showing Vito’s origins.
The concept may seem grandiose, but what makes it such a brilliant spectacle is the characters. Vito Corleone is portrayed beautifully by Marlon Brando, and portrays the character as powerful, yet haunted by mistrust and broken loyalties. However, Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino) is the most memorable. We see him grow from naive to ruthless, from weak to dominant, and the final outcome left me incredulous.
Room is the story of a woman who was held captive for seven years, and her son, Jack (played excellently by Jacob Tremblay), who was born in captivity. Knowing only the room and nothing of the outside world, this mother and son have no one but each other.
Brie Larson’s emotionally vivid portrayal as the mother really got to me. The acting is on point, the shots are beautiful. The movie also highlights the love between a mother and her child, something I feel many can relate to. This movie had my heart pounding at times, and I’m not afraid to admit that I teared up near the end. If you want to watch a movie that will take you on an emotional ride, this is it.
Damien Chazelle (director of La La Land) crafted an absolute masterpiece with this film. The film follows aspiring drummer Andrew Neiman (played by Miles Teller), as he works relentlessly in the guidance of abusive jazz conductor Terence Fletcher (played by JK Simmons).
I could go on forever about JK Simmons’ amazingly terrifying performance, but plenty of articles and an Oscar have done that. Whiplash resonated with me because I related to the concept of wanting something so bad that not many understood, and persisting despite anything and anyone. The movie was gritty, dramatic, and intense, and made me appreciate jazz music a lot more.
Directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese, Silence is a sombre take on two 17th century Catholic missionaries in Japan searching for their lost mentor. They face torture, physical as well as spiritual, as Christianity is constantly admonished in the country.
Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver play their roles with an unrealistic level of realism, and realism is what drives this movie so far. There isn’t a music score, the screams of victims tell you enough. Not only is the film emotionally pertinent, but also philosophically – and it truly leaves you thinking.
Movies are powerful – but truly, filmmakers need to understand that no amount of high budget special effects really mean anything without the presence of a strong, thought out story line, interesting characters, and emotional depth. While this may seem ubiquitous in cinema today, beautiful movies are still being made – and when they come along, be sure to cherish them.