Memento

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Many of today's moviegoers know Christopher Nolan for the Batman trilogy and Inception.  I chuckle when people think that The Dark Knight (2008) or Inception (2010) are his best films.  I personally think we would have go back to a little, gritty film called Memento (2000).  Starring Guy Pearce and Carrie Anne-Moss, Memento is a mystery thriller about a man (Guy Pearce) with a short term memory loss disorder trying to find his wife's killer.  Though it is not as slick and big as Nolan's current films, it is definitely big on it's ability to stick with you once you've watched it.

Battle Royale

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I saw this film many years ago, and I have included it because, though it is very violent, I think it speaks to the human condition and how we, as a society and individuals, deal or don't deal with fear.

The Best Years of Our Lives

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When any film about Word War II comes out, I always think about one of my favorite films,
 The Best Years of Our Lives (1949).  Most war films are directed by filmmakers who have never been to war so sometimes the films have an overt patriotic spin without much truth about the war experience.  Not this film. This is director's William Wyler first film after returning from World War II as a major. He took war footage and made two documentaries one of them was about the last flight of the Memphis Belle, lost hearing in one ear caused by his experience flying in the B-17, and one of his camera crew passed on from gun fire while shooting air battle.  So needless to say, he experienced the complexities of war first a hand.  What is interesting is that Wyler made a film prior to going to war called Mrs. Miniver and for those of you who are filmmakers (or not) you should actually watch that film first, because it has the kind of filmmaking of a director who has yet to experience war and exhibits the overt patriotic spin I am speaking about.   Wyler's direction of The Best Years of Our Lives is by someone through his experience was able to capture the trials and tribulations of the post war experience.  The story slowly unwinds and peels away to a core that is anything but a pretty, stylistic, slick flick with catchy one-liners.  No, this film hits hard at the core of the human condition and all of its proclivities as it pertains to the cutting, bitting truth about war and more subtly about as it pertains to gender roles post war.  

Amélie

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Beautifully shot, wittingly crafted, Amélie (2002) is a French film that connects to the soul.  The story centers on the title's character, an imaginative, shy waitress who stumbles upon a mystery which ultimately propels her to secretly meddle in lives of the people around her, opening their world to new possibilities and in the process, greatly affecting her own life.


The Treasure of Sierra Madre

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"We don't need no stinkin' badges!" is a famous line that did not originate from Blazing Saddles as many people think it does.  It actually originates from a film made during the golden age of Hollywood, starring Humphrey Bogart called The Treasure of Sierra Madre and that famous line was articulated by actor Alfonso Bedoya.

Cocalero

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Evo Morales in Cocarela   Photo by: Jorge Manrique Behrens


Cocalero is a documentary by Alejandro Landes which follows the 2005 Bolivia presidential bid of Evo Morales, an indigenous, coca farmer who rose in popularity when he defended the staple crop against the United States eradication policies as part of the "War on Drugs."

Raising Renee

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Sisters, Beverly (background) and Renee Mc Ivar in Raising Renee. ©West City Films, Inc

At this year's Syracuse International Film Festival, I had the pleasure to screen the Best Documentary winner, Raising Renee, by directing duo Jeanne Jordan & Steven Ascher.  This is the third part of the documentary series trilogy, Families in Trouble