Kirshner’s Movie Recommendations

Jaden Kirshner, Movie Reviewer

First and foremost, I hope everyone is staying safe during these difficult and confusing times. You, like many others, may start to feel bored and disconnected from your fellow peers. Many of you are locked in your house running out of Office episodes to rewatch. I thought that by recommending some of my favorite movies every week, I could introduce you to new films and genres, give you an activity through which to spend your afternoons, and get the whole HM community watching and discussing the same movies. I hope you enjoy! And let’s stay strong HM!

 

Monday- Family Night

Movie: Rudy (1993)

Genre: Sports, Biography, Drama

Rated PG

Plot: This film tells the true story of Daniel Ruettiger (Sean Astin). He has always dreamed of playing for Notre Dame football, but people have always told him he is too small, not smart enough, and not good enough. He refuses to listen to all his haters and is determined to prove them all wrong.

Review: In a difficult time like this, Rudy is the feel good movie people need to watch. Watching the spirited and big hearted Rudy try to defeat all odds is inspirational for audience members of all ages. This is the perfect family movie because its emotional weight resonates with everyone, no matter your age or how much you like sports. It’s a pop cultural icon with several famous film moments. This is one of my favorite sports movies because it is really about someone chasing their dreams against all the odds.

 

Tuesday- Try a Foreign Language 

Movie: The Invisible Guest (2016)

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller

Rated R

Plot: A wealthy businessman is accused of murder when he is found unconciouss next to his murdered wife in a hotel room with every exit and entrance locked from the inside. He claims he did not do it, but his defense attorney argues that there is no way anyone could have left or entered the room. They have three hours to figure out what really happened and come up with a story to present to the court.

Review: Mystery/Crime/Thriller are my favorite genres of films, and this Spanish murder mystery is near the top of all the ones I have seen. This film intertwines different structures, story elements, and plots to produce one of the most unique mystery films I have seen to date. The film’s director, Oriol Paulo, and cinematographer Xavi Giménez control the tone, structure, and narrative of the film through the use of color, extremely close/far shots, and giving space for the actors to perform. I promise that you will get over the subtitles very quickly because of how entertaining this film is (and some of you Spanish speakers won’t even need the subtitles). This is a great foreign film to watch if you have seen very few because the story is very well written and easy to understand, a lot of the information is conveyed through visuals, and it’s on Netflix!

 

Wednesday- Edge of Your Seat Film

Movie: Panic Room (2002)

Genre: Thriller, Crime, Drama

Rated R

Plot: A divorced woman (Jodie Foster) and her diabetic daughter (Kristen Stewart) are trapped in their newly purchased house’s panic room when three men break in searching for a missing fortune. One problem, the fortune is in the panic room.

Review: A well plotted, edited, and shot thriller, which hooks the audience from the start through its elaborate camera work and set design and keeps us on a string until the end credits roll. The film is carried by the stellar performances of Jodie Foster and a young Kristen Stewart. We feel their anxiety, fear, and claustrophobia, which amplifies the effects of the surprises and suspense. My favorite aspect of this film is that when one problem is solved, another one arises. It forces the mother and daughter to use their wits and skills to overcome their fears and the bad guys. If you are looking for a nail biting, high stakes, clever no way out thriller, this is a great pick.

 

Thursday- Comedy, We Need The Laughs Right Now

Movie: Meet The Parents (2000)

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Rated PG-13

Plot: Nurse Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) meets his girlfriend’s parents before proposing, but everything he can imagine goes wrong.

Review: This movie is one of the most iconic and hilarious comedy films of its time, yet it isn’t as well known among our generation as films like Clueless, Anchorman, and Groundhog Day. The cast includes Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Teri Polo, and Blythe Danner all performing at the top of their abilities. De Niro plays the tough father that Greg Focker tries to impress. Focker’s failed attempts lead to both visual and verbal comedy. This film isn’t short on jokes and gags, but what separates this comedy film from other funny ones is this film’s focus on characters’ relationships. The funny moments never feel forced and they always make sense within the context of the story and the characters interacting. This is a 20 year old comedy that can still make people laugh and smile to this day.

 

Friday- Mystery/Crime Movie

Movie: Fracture (2007)

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime

Rated R

Plot: Hotshot attorney Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling) is about to get promoted, but he takes one final case that seems to be his simplest ever. The case presented to Beachum is of a husband killing his wife after he found out she cheated. There is a signed conffesion, a murder weapon, and a motive. However, Beachum’s career and life are in jeopardy because the alleged murderer (Anthony Hopkins) is in control and should be feared.

Review: Like most great mystery films, Fracture is full of revelations and plot twists. This film will have you saying “I didn’t see that coming” quite often because it isn’t filled with the conventional plot twists. When watching most murder mysteries, the big twist is usually that the killer is the last person we expected. However, in this film we know who the killer is from the very start, so we don’t know what plot twists to anticipate. The revelations in this film only work well in the context of this story world, which makes them even more surprising. On top of the cunning writing, Anthony Hopkins’ terrifying performance is his best since Silence of the Lambs (won an Academy Award) and Ryan Gosling is perfectly cast as the arrogant lawyer. This is a film that may seem ordinary from its plot description, but trust me, this is no ordinary mystery movie.

 

Saturday- Sci-fi Action Flick

Movie: Source Code (2011)

Genre: Action, Sci-fi, Romance drama

Rated PG-13

Plot: Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in someone else’s body and discovers he is part of an experimental government program that uses time travel to identify wanted criminals. His mission is to identify the bomber of a commuter train, so the government can prevent a second bombing from happening in just a few hours.

Review: Source Code is a tense, thought provoking, and emotional film. Colter has eight minutes to go back in time and find the bomber before the bomb goes off. Once the eight minutes pass, the bomb goes off and Colter is jolted back into reality until the scientists send him back. The eight minutes per mission and mere hours before the next attack amplifies the stakes of our character’s actions by giving actual time restrictions. The ingenious premise of using time travel to help prevent crimes sets up a lot of physical and ideological conflicts. As we learn more about Colter and his backstory, we question the government’s actions. Especially when Colter starts to fall in love with a passenger on the train (Michelle Monaghan), and he has to watch her die every time he goes on a mission. There is so much going on in this film, but the director and writer efficiently present and structure the information, conflicts, and stakes. This is a unique film that sticks with you after you finish watching it and forces you to ask, “do the ends justify the means?” 

 

Sunday- Classic

Movie: The Sting (1973)

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama

Rated PG

Plot: Two con men (Paul Newman and Robert Redford) team up to pull off the ultimate con on a crime boss who murdered their close friend. 

Review: This rightfully deserves to be one of the few crime films to ever win the Oscar for best picture. In my eyes it’s a perfect film. First, the chemistry and charm between one of the greatest on screen duos (Newman and Redford) is unmatched. Their acting just always feels organic because they play off of and react to each other. Second, the story is so clever and the dialogue is so witty, which contributes to the tone of the film. Third, the beautifully composed shots with deep fields of view are so memorable and convey tons of information. And last but not least, the use of music (especially the film’s rendition of “The Entertainer”, a song you probably heard of without knowing its name) makes the audience feel like they themselves are pulling off a con in 1930s Illinois. This is a film that perfectly uses all aspects of filmmaking to create a family friendly classic with one of the best endings ever.

 

If you have seen some of these, here are a few extra films I highly recommend:

The Ghost Writer (2010)– Rated PG-13 mystery, drama

A character driven mystery film with some jaw dropping reveals in the last 20 minutes.

Spy (2015)– Rated R comedy, action

Melissa McCarthy is the perfect person to lead this brash comedy film which mixes hilarious moments with violent ones.

Casablanca (1942)– Rated PG drama, romance, war

Labeled as “the best film of all time,” Casablanca is a powerful and emotional film that all age groups will love.

 

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for next week’s edition!