Save the Last Dance
Save the Last Dance is a surprisingly well-thought out film. Although it is primarily concerned with dance, it also deals with some big issues. Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas are great as two dancers with completely different backgrounds who come together to merge classical and hiphop dance styles. Lots of fun, great music, and some serious issues.
Shakespeare in Love
Written by Tom Stoppard (author of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead) and Marc Norman, this 1998 film is both a comedy and a romance–and it is very successful at both. Great performances by Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, and Judi Densch fuel this terrific comedy and unpredictable romance!
The Silence of the Lambs
When a serial killer dumps the bodies of several young women into various rivers between Ohio and Pennsylvania, with parts of their bodies skinned, newspapers anoint the unknown assailant as “Buffalo Bill.” The head of Behavioral Sciences at the FBI recruits a beautiful young agent-trainee, who is earmarked for his division, to help him out by interviewing one of the most notorious serial killers of all: Hannibal Lecter, a cannibal.
Silver Linings Playbook
This delightful comedy/drama was written and directed by David O. Russell, adapted from the book The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. Centered around two quirky people, both at a crossroads in their lives, the film presents bi-polar disorder as a condition that can be overcome. Jennifer Lawrence gives an Academy Award performance opposite Bradley Cooper, with Robert DeNiro, Jacki Weaver, and Chris Tucker.
Here’s a 2004 film that really went under the radar. It was screened at Sundance and aired on Showtime and Lifetime, but I’d never heard of it. Based on the novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, it tells the story of a high school freshman, Melinda Sordino, who is brutally raped at a party by a senior boy. Starring Kristin Stewart in a wonderful performance.
The Spectacular Now
The Spectacular Now aims much higher than any run-of-the-mill teen romance and its success in achieving a film that goes beyond the limits of genre is to be highly commended, yet there are problems in the movie and it would make the film an excellent study for any film theory class.
Sunshine Cleaning is a delightful comedy and drama, with a great cast, a strong script by Megan Holley and crisp, clean direction by Christine Jeffs. Although it hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, the two performances at the center of it by Amy Adams and Emily Blunt really propelled the two actresses to the acclaim they so richly deserve.