Friday, January 31, 2014

You're Next [USA, 2013]

Nine Things about the Film You’re Next

1. This is a quirky little horror comedy. There’s not much to it, but it’s fun.

2. It’s about a group of killers that invade a family reunion and start picking off the people one by one.

3. It’s really low-budget. I think most of the money was spent on the blood and gore effects. It certainly wasn’t spent on actors or the script.

4. It was filmed in four weeks, during nights, at a mansion in Columbia, Missouri.

5. Even with the low budget and amateur feel, it has an energy that is missing from a lot of Hollywood movies.

6. The plot doesn’t make much sense. There would have been easier ways to accomplish what the killers are trying to do.

7. In a refreshing change of pace, it’s a woman that has the brains and ability to lead the fight against the killers, not a man.

8. There are some nifty and fun kill scenes. It gets pretty bloody, what with all the blades and bludgeoning.

9. The kill scenes get goofier and goofier as the movie goes on. Can we please stop using blenders as weapons?

Driller Killer (USA, 1979)

Nine Things about the Film The Driller Killer

1. This movie is about a New York artist named Reno who can’t handle the daily pressures of life and has strange visions.

2. When Reno sees a commercial for a portable battery pack, he buys one and uses a power drill to kill homeless people and relieve his stress.

3. This movie is interesting mostly for historical purposes. It’s the first movie that underground director Abel Ferrara directed, and he also stars in it. Also, it serves as a bridge between the early 70’s slasher films like “Halloween” and the 80’s interest in gore.

4. It’s super low-budget, with terrible acting and a terrible script. And random lesbian scenes.

5. But it also has a genuine punk rock sensibility that really works in its favor. It’s an early, grungy, punk version of “American Psycho”.

6. As a horror film, it’s pretty boring. There’s a lot of talking, and even more scenes of rock bands playing and rehearsing. Perhaps the movie’s biggest value is in it’s depiction of the late 1970’s New York punk scene.

7. While mild by today’s standards, the kill scenes are more brutal than I was expecting.

8. The movie was officially banned in Britain until 2002.

9. People who are interested in the evolution of the American horror film need to see this. Otherwise, there’s not much point to it.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Captain Phillips [USA, 2013]

Nine Things about the Film Captain Phillips

1. Based on a true story, this is about a merchant mariner on a cargo ship that gets hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009.

2. It was directed by the guy that made a couple of the “Bourne” movies.

3. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture of 2013. But I’m not sure why. It was decent, but it wasn’t Best Picture of the Year material.

4. Half of the movie takes place on a cramped cargo ship. The other half takes place on an even more cramped lifeboat. This isn’t exactly epic.

5. It was filmed on exact replicas of the real ship and the lifeboat.

6. It’s really interesting in terms of seeing how modern-day pirates operate, and how the US retaliates.

7. The story itself is pretty predictable. You’ve got the Good Guy, the Bad Guy Who Isn’t Really Bad, the Real Bad Guy, and the Teenager That’s In Over His Head. The fact that the Good Guy is Tom Hanks takes away a lot of the suspense about who is going to live. I didn’t know the real story, but I knew how the movie was going to end about halfway through.

8. Tom Hanks does a good job, but he’s always the same. In this movie, he’s just Tom Hanks with a Boston accent.

9. The real standout actor is Barkhad Abdi, who plays the Somali pirate captain. He was excellent and deserves an award.

Monday, January 27, 2014

We Are What We Are [Mexico, 2010]

Nine Things about the Movie We Are What We Are

1. The idea for this movie is pretty interesting, but it doesn’t play out quite as well as I hoped.

2. It’s about a family that stays close by performing cannibalistic rituals.

3. The movie starts out with the death of the father. Then the eldest son, Alfredo, decides he must take over as head of the household. He plans on proving his worth by finding the next human to bring home to eat.

4. The bulk of movie follows the escapades of Alfredo and his brother trying to capture various people to kill. They visit homeless kids, prostitutes, and gay bars. But their quest doesn’t work out quite as well as they planned.

5. There are a couple of cops that are trying to figure out who the family is, and catch them, so that they can be famous.

6. The family is so weird that it’s hard to really relate to anyone in the film. You watch the movie, but you don’t really feel it.

7. The biggest problems in the movie are the uneven acting, and the fact that some parts don’t really make sense. Characters seem to know where to go without being told, and they don’t always seem to have a reason for doing things.

8. There are some pretty violent and gory scenes. It is a cannibal movie, after all. But it’s not as gory as you might think. It could have been much worse.

9. The moral of the story seems to be, if you are going to kill and eat someone, get it right the first time. And don’t ever swallow a whole finger.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Big Ass Spider [USA, 2013]

Nine Things about the Movie Big Ass Spider!

1. This enjoyable, ultra-low budget Z-movie is kind of like those movies made for the SyFy Channel, except better.

2. It’s about, well, a big ass spider.

3. A spider eats it’s way out of a dead body at a hospital, and goes on a rampage, growing really fast, making webs, and spitting acid on people.

4. A goofy exterminator named Alex and a Mexican security guard named Jose find themselves competing with the military to find and kill the spider.

5. The movie clearly wasn’t trying to take itself serious. It knows exactly what it is, and revels in it. As proof that the director knows what he was making, Lloyd Kaufman has a cameo (if you don’t know who Lloyd Kaufman is, don’t worry about it. It would take too long to explain).

6. The budget is so low that apparently the director actually cast the film from his Facebook friends. The special effects are pretty bad, except for the spider. I think all the money went to making the spider. It looks pretty cool.

7. It’s also really funny. The main characters, Alex and Jose, have a great chemistry and comic timing.

8. It’s an homage to other monster movies, and you can find references to many other films here.

9. If you are expecting an actual horror monster movie, you will hate this. But if you’re in the mood for a stupid-smart, good-natured monster comedy, then this is something you’ll want to check out.

Philomena [United Kingdom, 2013]

Nine Things About the Movie Philomena

1. The movie poster for this film is one of the biggest misrepresentations of a movie I’ve ever seen. It makes the movie seem like some kind of screwball road-movie-romantic-comedy for retired people. This is absolutely NOT what the movie is.

2. Based on a true story, this is a charming but heartbreaking comedy drama. It’s also simultaneously heartwarming, but without being sappy or saccharine.

3. It’s about a young troubled girl, Philomena, who goes to live with nuns in Ireland in the 1950’s. But this is not “The Sound of Music”. Not by a long shot.

4. Philomena is pregnant, and she is one of thousands of pregnant girls who work in convents almost as slaves, while the nuns sell the children.

5. As an older woman, Philomena decides she wants to find the son that the nuns took from her and sold to rich Americans. She teams up with Martin, an unemployed journalist, to help her solve the mystery.

6. What Philomena discovers gives proof to the old saying “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

7. Martin is an atheist, and Philomena is a devout Catholic. They have strong words for each other at different stages of their quest. It’s a fascinating partnership, and give an extra layer of depth to an already interesting story.

8. I’m used to seeing Judy Dench play smart, strong female characters. It’s pretty shocking to see her play such a timid, simple, religious woman going far out of her comfort zone to look for her son.

9. The movie is very critical of the Catholic Church, and rightfully so. The book that the movie is based on uncovered some very cruel and hypocritical activities of the Church in Ireland.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bronies [USA, 2013]

Nine Things About the Movie Bronies

1. This little documentary was much more interesting than I expected. I actually watched it twice in one week.

2. It’s about how the show “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” was created to use the classic My Little Pony characters as archetypes for various positive character traits, and challenge female stereotypes. It was aimed at little girls.

3. What nobody expected is that guys got obsessed with the show, too, and began to call themselves “bronies” - which is a combination of “bro” and “pony”. Their favorite form of greeting is the fist bump - which they call the "bro hoof".

4. The movie follows several different bronies from all over the world, and how they found each other. It also goes into the difficulties they face for being open about how much they like a
“girlie show”. It also shows their journeys to various “BronyCons”, which are huge conventions of bronies.

5. People that are uncomfortable with bronies suspect that they are either gay, or the opposite - they like little girls too much. This movie does a good job of dispelling those myths. One of the more interesting scenes is a gathering of bronies in the military.

6. What’s fascinating is how this show has obviously hit a real nerve among men - this is not an isolated phenomenon. We see people from redneck small towns, couples in Germany, a DJ in Israel, and a British kid with Asperger's Syndrome. This is not an isolated fetish.

7. Some bronies feel this documentary is too one-sided, by making bronies all look socially awkward and prone to discrimination. It also tends to ignore grown women that like the show (they call themselves “pegasisters”)

8. Other bronies are upset that the movie doesn’t talk about clopping - which is the porn part of My Little Pony fandom.

9. I’m not a brony, but I support them. This movie makes the point that men can be sensitive and inclusive and loving. In a world where violence among men is “normal”, but friendship and love is “deviant”, the movie shows that the problem is with the brony-haters, not the bronies.

General Orders No. 9 [USA, 2011]

Nine Things about the Movie General Orders No. 9

1. This mysterious, beautiful film is literally unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

2. Full of ambiguous, almost archetypal images, it seems to have about as many interpretations as viewers. This guarantees that some people will find the movie boring.

3. It starts out like an experimental documentary about Georgia. But it’s not.

4. Then it seems like one of those “people are bad, nature is good” statements. But it’s not.

5. It’s a poem about change.

6. It’s a meditation on the order of things.

7. It’s a prayer of a broken person.

8. It’s a bitter acknowledgment of loss.

9. It’s a surrender.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

her [USA, 2013]

Nine Things About the Movie her

1. This movie is a complex, poetic work of genius. And I NEVER use the word 'genius'.

2. WARNING: This is not really a love story. At least, not in the way you think. Made by Spike Jonze (who also did “Being John Malkovich” and “Where the Wild Things Are”) it’s a science fiction philosophical romantic character drama fable with a transhumanist twist. It’s funny and sad and happy and melancholy.

3. It’s about an introverted, heartbroken man named Theodore who works for a website that writes personal letters for other people. Theodore buys a new artificial intelligence operating system for his computer. Then he falls in love with it.

4. The operating system evolves and grows and starts to fall in love with Theodore, too. Well, sort of.

5. This is a movie about ideas much more than actions. Characters in the movie aren’t really characters, but perspectives on topics. Long stretches of the movie consist of nothing more than Theodore talking to his computer.

6. People that are not engaging with the ideas in this movie, or who can’t connect with its pacing, will find this movie really slow and boring.

7. The movie openly acknowledges the contradictions of advanced technology and human relationships. Jonze shows us a world where technology has freed us to connect with other people, no matter what our private fetishes are – even at the expense of isolating ourselves from most other people. By embracing these contradictions and refusing to take a stand, the movie offers a new definition of connection and intimacy.

8. Always a visual poet, Jonze uses many nonverbal cues to shine a light into the characters' interior lives.

9. There are so many ideas and concepts that overlap and interconnect with each other throughout the movie that it will require multiple viewings to let them all sink in.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Trash Humpers (USA, 2009)

Nine Things About Trash Humpers

1. This was directed by Harmony Korine, and is sort of a companion piece to his first film, "Gummo". I suspect this movie was made for people who thought "Gummo" was too mainstream.

2. Part performance art, part episode of "Jackass", It's about a small group of men and women (that wear rubber masks of old people) running amok in a town.

3. The title of the film is to be taken literally. They really do hump trash. And streetlights. And trees. Sometimes they perform oral sex on trees.

4. They also break stuff, mutilate dolls, and visit friends. Sometimes they torture and kill their friends.

5. That's the whole movie. They do this for 80 minutes. Then it's over. There is no plot, and very little actual dialog. Korine and his cast pretty much made it all up as they went along.

6. You know that scene in "Dumb and Dumber" when Lloyd makes The Most Annoying Sound in the World? Well, one of these characters laughs like that throughout the entire movie.

7. This is a portrayal of repulsive, anarchic outsiders reveling in their inability to relate to anyone "normal". Their brief encounters with real people are icky and awkward. I think perhaps Korine was commenting on contemporary America, and our own arrogant, disturbed schizophrenia with regard to the rest of the world.

8. He filmed it on old used VHS tape. This was an interesting choice in the age of HD video. It gives the film a much grungier, unsettling look.

9. Korine is brilliant at evoking emotions that have no names - a sort of beautiful, nervous, sick feeling. And there was a little of that in this movie. Unfortunately, the biggest feeling I got out of it was boredom.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Lone Survivor [USA, 2013]

Nine Things About the Movie Lone Survivor

1. Based on a true story, this is a pretty simple, straightforward, military op movie. It's part drama, part action picture, and totally a commercial for the Navy Seals.

2. That's not to say it's a bad movie. It's interesting, well put together and well told. You just have to know what you're getting. I mean, this isn't "Saving Private Ryan".

3. It's directed by the guy that directed "Friday Night Lights". It has almost the exact same look and feel, especially at the beginning.

4. It's about four Navy Seals who get a dangerous mission in Afghanistan to kill a Taliban leader. Things don't go according to plan.

5. If the title of the movie doesn't give it away, you learn right after the opening credits how the movie ends. That pretty much kills the suspense after the first five minutes.

6. There is no action for the first hour of the movie. We meet the men and witness their bro bonding. We learn about the mission and follow them through the start of it.

7. Once the bullets and blood start to fly (and there is plenty of both), it becomes pretty visceral. There are several scenes that will make you wince or cry out in sympathetic pain.

8. One of the things that bothered me is that the men end up being treated like action heroes, jumping off cliffs with explosions behind them, taking all kinds of bullets and cracked bones, and yet they still manage to spout unintentionally cheesy lines (like "I am the reaper!", and "Tell my wife I died with a full heart" and "You can die for your country - I'm living for mine!")

9. Despite the heavy-handed patriotism and action emphasis, it is one of those rare Hollywood films that actually seems to follow the real story fairly closely.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Resolution [USA, 2013]

Nine Things About the Movie Resolution

1. I didn't know much about this film before I watched it, I just knew that it was getting good reviews as an indie thriller.

2. This is one of those "polarizing" movies that you will either really like or really not like. I really didn't like it.

3. It's about a guy, Mike, that goes to visit Chris, his crack-addicted best friend, who is staying out in the country. Mike handcuffs Chris in his cabin and vows to stay with him for a week until he can get off the crack.

4. While they are staying in the house, they are visited by a bunch of random characters that live in the area. They also start getting even more random clues that some strange being is watching them and filming them. They slowly discover they are in real danger.

5. I appreciate what the filmmakers were trying to do. But it doesn't work. Characters float in for a scene and then are never seen again. Instead of being mysterious, the movie is disconnected and nonsensical.

6. The directors admit that they have no direct experience with crack addiction or withdrawal. They just Googled it. This is extremely obvious. Chris the crack addict doesn't really seem to be very uncomfortable in his withdrawal. It's the worst portrayal of a drug addict I've ever seen. He is really just the comic relief in the film.

7. The crack withdrawal plot really has nothing to do with the real story. The directors added it to the script to give it "structure". Which means they needed to make it longer. This is a decent 30-minute film that was artificially stretched to last 90 minutes, so the whole point of the movie drowns in it's own "mysteriousness".

8. In what should have been the most suspenseful scene towards the end, the two guys suddenly take a break to discuss their friendship and how awesome each other is.

9. The ending is one of the dumbest and most frustrating endings in recent memory.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Here Comes The Devil [Mexico, 2013]

Nine Things About the Movie Here Comes the Devil
1. This Mexican horror film could have been really good. But I ended up being pretty disappointed with it.

2. Unfortunately, this movie doesn't know what it wants to be - a serial killer movie, a demonic possession movie, a psychological thriller, or "Paranormal Activity" (I mean, can we stop with the levitating-above-the-bed thing?).

3. It starts out with a lesbian sex scene that has nothing to do with the rest of the movie. Then one of the lesbians gets her fingers cut off. A few minutes later, a mom has sex with her husband in a car while her kids disappear.

4. When the kids come back, they're acting all weird. Like they have either been molested, or possessed. The parents try to solve the problem by taking the matter into their own hands. It doesn't work.

5. There are little clues all the way through to hint at what's going on. The problem is, the clues don't make any sense, either.

6. You know the old horror movie truism that if you have sex, you get killed? This movie teaches something similar, except the lesson is that if a woman enjoys sex, she will either be mutilated or put she will put her children in mortal danger.

7. On the plus side, it does dare to take on subjects that American movies won't. Like middle-school siblings having sex with each other.

8. It's got a nice film style, and some individual scenes are chilling. It just doesn't add up to anything, because it doesn't even know where it's heading.

9. I have no idea what the ending means.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cool World [USA, 1992]

Nine Things about Cool World 

1. This is a silly, creepy, and creative movie by Ralph Bakshi. Since it’s a Bakshi film, you know it will have two things: cartoons and sex.

2. In this case it’s about cartoons that have sex with humans.

3. It turns out that our universe, the Real World, is right next to a cartoon universe, the Cool World. Over there, cartoons are called doodles and humans are called noids.

4. Brad Pitt plays a WWII vet that randomly gets sucked into the Cool World and becomes a cop to stop noids and doodles from having sex.

5. Kim Basinger plays a slutty doodle named Holly Would who wants to have sex with a noid. If she orgasms, she will turn real. No real reason is given for why. Hell, no real reason is given for anything in this movie.

6. Bakshi originally wanted to make a horror movie about a guy that has sex with a cartoon, and makes a deformed baby that wants to kill him. But the movie studio secretly hired the guy that made the “Friday the 13th” series to rewrite the script. He took out the horror themes. Then the studio threatened to sue Bakshi if he didn’t make the movie anyway.

7. Bakshi made the movie, but says it wasn’t worth it. And it’s easy to see why - the resulting movie is a mess. The story makes no sense. Characters just do things. It’s too silly to take it serious, but it’s too dark to be just fun.

8. Visually, the movie is really interesting, though. The mood and setting of Cool World is dark and surreal. There are many animated sequences in the background of scenes that make references to other famous cartoons.

9. Fans of Bakshi, or of fantastic themes in cinema will appreciate the movie. But the studio tried to make a popular hit by walking the thin line between being a kid’s movie and an adult movie; it failed at both.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Eraserhead [USA, 1977]

Nine Things about Eraserhead

1. This surrealist masterpiece by David Lynch is in my Top 10 List of Strange Films. It could be considered an early example of the “body horror” film genre. It also has strong absurdist elements that are sort of funny. Sort of. This is not a comedy.

2. It fills me with a sense of awkwardness, hopelessness, and an undefinable dread every time I watch it. I have to be in just the right mood for it.

3. Visually and sonically, it’s about a man who lives in an industrial dreamscape where it is never sunny and where nothing nice ever happens.

4. The plot has something to do with this man, Henry, who may have gotten his girlfriend pregnant. He ends up raising a deformed child-thing in his tiny apartment and being distracted by a lady that lives inside his radiator.

5. What I just described above doesn’t even come close to explaining what happens in the movie. The less said about it, the better.

6. Even though this is Lynch’s first movie, he has always refused to explain it. One of the consequences of being so unforgivingly surreal is that the movie has about as many interpretations as viewers.

7. One obvious interpretation of the movie is that it is a metaphor for the fears that come with being a responsible father. I used to agree with this interpretation. But there are too many elements that don’t fit.

8. Now, I think it’s about a man who is so alienated and isolated from others that he feels powerless to create the life he wants for himself. Any efforts he makes are either rejected, or are so deformed and shameful, that he doesn’t even understand what he did.

9. Despite being in my personal Hall of Fame, this is a movie that I don’t really recommend to anyone. Like all of Lynch's movies, people need to decide for themselves if they should watch it and what they think of it.

I Am Love [Italy, 2009]

Nine Things About I Am Love

1. This is an elegant Italian film about a wealthy family that completely implodes over the course of a year. 

2. I'm not sure if I actually liked it or not.

3. Tilda Swinton stars as a matriarch that falls in love with someone she shouldn't. Tragedy ensues.

4. The movie does a good job of slowly pulling together various small elements throughout the movie until they crash together at the end.

5. The keyword in the above sentence is "slowly". This film moves at a snail's pace.

6. Taken altogether, this is an character interesting study. Swinton does a great job as someone who knows she should resist her feelings, but just can't.

7. There are some great, almost poetic, individual scenes. And it's an interesting look at the upper middle class from an Italian perspective. The cinematography is wonderful.

8. There are also some scenes that drag things out far longer than they need to.

9. If you like slow melodramas about how passion can simultaneously renew and destroy lives, then you might want to check this out.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Jug Face [USA, 2013]

Nine Things About the Movie Jug Face

1. This strange and macabre little film is hard to classify. I guess it would technically be called a horror film, but it’s also a domestic drama. It really stuck with me, even after it was over.

2. The movie is really low-budget, and the acting is uneven. But it’s a tight, well-paced, atmospheric indie film.

3. It’s about a small group of backwoods families. They are ignorant, abusive, incestuous rednecks that live off of moonshine and roadkill.

4. They also worship some ancient thing that lives in a pit in the forest. It needs sacrifices.

5. One family member is a mentally slow young man that gets messages from the pit about who is to be sacrificed next. A girl discovers she’s been chosen, and tries to get out of it.

6. The pit isn’t happy with the girl’s refusal, and starts retaliating against the families.

7. This could have been a really cheesy movie – it’s hard to explain the story with a straight face. But the script is very well done; it dares to play the story straight and you just go with it.

8. There is not a lot of violence, so when it does happen, it grabs your attention.

9. This movie could be considered a commentary on blind devotion, cults, and religion. Or else it could just be a warning to stay away from families that live in the woods.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones [USA, 2014]

Nine Things about Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

1. They aren’t calling this “Paranormal Activity 5” because it’s basically a spin-off, not a direct sequel. Although you won’t completely understand this movie unless you’ve seen the others.

2. It’s better than “Paranormal Activity 4”. But that’s not a compliment. Staring at the ceiling is better than “Paranormal Activity 4”. This is still one of the worst movies of 2014. When a movie studio releases a movie two days AFTER the holidays, even they know it’s crap.

3. This movie is different than the previous installments in that it’s not set among rich white people. It’s set among poor Latino people (the main character is an 18-year-old boy named Jesse). Other than that, it’s basically the same crap.

4. It takes about 30 minutes for anything plot-worthy to happen. Before that, it’s mostly a couple of teenage boys screwing around with a video camera. But after they break into a dead woman’s apartment, Jesse comes out with a new invisible friend. The invisible friend talks to Jesse through the old Simon electronic game, and catches him in trust falls.

5. It is explained to us that when you turn 18, you are ready for Satan because 18 = 6*3. Which is clearly 666.

6. The first actual sense of supernatural danger happens about 50 minutes into the movie. The movie lasts 80 minutes. You do the math.

7. Since this is another “found-footage” style movie, it means that 70% of the movie is deathly boring, 10% is super predictable, 10% is a collection of random scenes that make no sense, and 10% is when the characters do something really stupid.

8. When something interesting does happen (like the dog scene), they always cut away before you know what happens. Then they restart the camera back at something boring.

9. The last minute of the film is actually sort of clever, and shows a little bit of creativity. If you remember the first movie, my advice is just to watch the last 60 seconds of this movie and call it good.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Stoker [USA, Britain, 2013]

Nine Things about the Movie Stoker

1. This little thriller about an extremely dysfunctional family is one of the best films of 2013.

2. It’s kind of like “Hamlet”, only more modern, gothic, and psychotic.

3. It stars Mia Wasikowska (who played Alice in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”), Matthew Goode (who played Ozymandias in “Watchmen”), and Nicole Kidman.

4. It’s about a girl, India, who celebrates her 18th birthday on the same day her father dies. When her uncle Charlie comes to the funeral, he moves in.

5. Uncle Charlie inadvertently awakens erotic feelings in India. As well as something darker.

6. I thought I knew where the movie was going, but it fooled me.

7. It was directed by Park Chan-wook, director of the famous Vengeance Trilogy (most Americans have only heard of the second film, “Oldboy”). This is his first English-language film.

8. The camera work is superb, as is the soundtrack.

9. There are many moments in the film that have double meanings. As perhaps the best example, finish the film and then go back and watch the first 60 seconds of the beginning again.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dallas Buyer's Club [USA, 2013]

Nine Things about the Movie Dallas Buyers Club

1. Based on a true story, Matthew McConaughey stars as homophobic, coke-addicted rodeo cowboy Ron Woodroof in 1985. He finds out he has AIDS from unprotected sex. Once his equally homophobic friends find out, he is rejected and ostracized.

2. He tries taking a new drug, AZT, which almost kills him. So he starts taking unapproved drugs just to stay alive.

3. When these unapproved drugs work, he starts selling them to others, forming one of the "buyers clubs" that popped up in several large cities in the late 1980's.

4. Matthew McConaughey lost 50 pounds for the role, and is amazing in the part. It’s one of his all-time best performances. You can actually see him wasting away as the movie progresses.

5. Jared Leto (yes, THAT Jared Leto) co-stars as a transgender woman named Rayon. Leto also does a fantastic job. He similarly lost 30 pounds for the role.

6. As Ron and Rayon form a business partnership together, they also become friends. Ron’s homophobia begins to change and grudgingly melt away.

7. The characters of Rayon and Dr. Saks are not real people, but are composites based on interviews of several different people.

8. This is a touching story, but it is not sentimental. There’s no tearful apology on Ron’s part for his past hatred of gays. Neither does it make AIDS patients look like pathetic, helpless victims.

9. Ron’s real-life sister approved of Matthew McConaughey to play her brother; she said he has a similar personality. She did not approve of earlier casting choices Brad Pitt or Ryan Gosling.

Prospero's Books (United Kingdom, 1991)

Nine Things About the Movie Prospero's Books

1. There is no director on Earth like Peter Greenaway. Combining the cinematic and theatrical in difficult ways, he literally makes moving artwork. There's not much of a middle ground with him - people either adore him or hate him. I'm in the first group.

2. Prospero’s Books is his version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest

3. If you don't know the plot of  The Tempest, it’s about a wizard named Prospero that creates a terrible storm to get revenge on his duplicitous brother, as well as find a husband for his daughter. 

4. If you haven’t read this play, the movie will be quite a lot to take in. You will have to both decipher the play and Greenaway’s breakaway interpretation of it. This is not an easy job.

5. One of the liberties Greenaway takes with Shakespeare's play is to interrupt the story with descriptions of 22 whimsical books in Prospero’s library (that's where the title comes from).

6. As a way to imitate Renaissance paintings of mythology, the movie has a lot of nudity, both male and female. It's not done in a sexual way, they're just naked.

7. The character of Ariel is played by four actors, each of which represents a classical element. The youngest actor, a little boy, spends most of his time urinating.

8. This was one of the first movies to really use a lot of digital image manipulation.

9. This movie spins a mesmerizing tale of stories inside of stories and pictures inside of pictures. Part movie, part play, part ballet, part animation, this is an unforgettable adaptation of one of The Bard’s most famous plays.