"A hilarious study in the gentle art of murder."

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
Directed by Robert Hamer, not rated, 106 minutes

Kind Hearts and Coronets is a classic, devilishly dark and utterly hilarious dark comedy about the poor, distant relative of a Duke, who plans on becoming the Duke by killing all the heirs who are higher up in the line of succession. Despite being over fifty years old, Kind Hearts and Coronets is still hilarious, thanks to a great premise and the sly and subtle humor. Alec Guinness masterfully plays all eight heirs, but it's Dennis Price who steals the show with his calm demeanor and sharp wit. This film is funny from beginning to end, and the end is one of the best endings ever. You'll Like it if: You like dark comedies, British humor, Alec Guiness or The Ladykillers.

A Strange and Stunning Film

Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Directed by P.T. Anderson, rated R, 95 minutes

Punch-Drunk Love is a beautifully filmed romantic comedy about a repressed man with seven sisters, who begins a weird and wonderful relationship with one of his sister's co-workers. Adam Sandler proves he can really act with this disturbed but desperately, sweet character. The score by Jon Brion is absolutely amazing, and really drives the film. And, there can't be too much praise for P.T. Anderson's innovative and creative direction. This is a sweet but not sappy, truly marvelous film. You'll like it if: You like romantic comedies, character driven movies, Adam Sandler, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Magnolia.

5 Very Good Foreign Films from the Last 15 Years

5. The Lives of Others (2007) Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, rated R, 137 minutes
The Lives of Others is a sad German film about an agent of the secret police in East Berlin, who conducts surveillance on a writer and his wife, and becomes increasingly involved in their lives. The film works so well because of it's incredibly interesting story, and it's intense atmosphere. You'll like it if: You like espionage movies, sad movies, slow-burning dramas or The Conversation.

4. Three Colors: Red (1994) Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski, rated R, 99 minutes
Red is the final installment in Krzysztof Kieslowski's French trilogy Three Colors. Red, arguably the best of the three, is about a French model who finds out her neighbor likes to invade people's private lives. Irene Jacob is terrific as the French model, and director Krzysztof Kieslowski never disappoints. Red is as visually interesting as the story of the relationship between these two very different people. You like it if: You like movies about relationships between people, movies about fate or French cinema.

3. Insomnia (1997) Directed by Erik Skjoldbjaerg, unrated, 96 minutes
Insomnia is a dark Norwegian film, about a detective who has to solve a complicated murder case in a town in the arctic circle. The film has a unique feel, since it is set during the summer in the arctic circle, where the sun is up all the time. This dark and unusual neo-noir thriller is interesting from start to finish, and will definitely keep you guessing. You like it if: You like neo-noir movies, dark crime movies, the American remake from 2002 or Seven.

2. La Haine (1995) Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, rated R, 96 minutes
La Haine is French, black and white film about the difficult lives of three teenage friends from a multi-ethnic housing project in the suburbs of Paris. The film bravely takes a look at the social issues of France, but the lessons learned apply all around the world. La Haine is an undoubtedly effective and smart film. You like it if: You like movies that deal with violence, French films, Boyz n the Hood or Do the Right Thing.

1. City of God (2003) Directed by Fernando Meirelles & Katia Lund, rated R, 130 minutes
City of God is a near-perfect Brazilian film about two boys growing up in a slum, one becomes a photographer while the other becomes a drug dealer. This raw look at different way of life, is exhilarating, sad and authentic. You can't help but become completely involved in the storyline. The writing, directing, cinematography and acting are all done extremely well: this is an absolute must see. You'll like it if: You like movies about growing up, crime/gangster movies, Slumdog Millionaire or The Godfather.

An Amazing and Weird Comedy

The Big Lebowski (1998)
Directed by Joel Coen, rated R, 118 minutes

The Big Lebowski is an immeasurably hilarious, neo-noir cult comedy about an unemployed slacker and bowling enthusiast, who ends up involved in a complex kidnapping case. The film is filled with an endless stream of bizarre and funny characters. The whole cast, including Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Peter Stormare and Phillip Seymour-Hoffman, is fantastic, but John Goodman gives perhaps the finest comedic performance ever. The Big Lebowski is guaranteed to entertain you with it's brilliant dialogue and unique style. You like it if: You like neo-noir films, cult comedies, John Goodman, Fargo or Raising Arizona.

Dark and Effective Thriller

Seven (1995)
Directed by David Fincher, rated R, 127 minutes

Seven is a smart and disturbing detective thriller about a retiring homicide detective and his replacement, who investigate a series of bizarre murders. The two detectives are played by Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt who both give authentic performances that really make you care about their characters.
Director David Fincher, who went on to make Fight Club with Pitt, makes every scene as visually interesting as the plot. Seven is raw, dark and brooding: it's everything you could want in a thriller, and is easily one of the greatest serial killer movies around. You'll like it if: You like detective movies, horror movies, Brad Pitt, Fight Club or Silence of the Lambs.

Exhilarating and Artistic Documentary

Man on Wire (2008)
Directed by James Marsh, rated PG-13, 90 minutes

Man on Wire is an incredibly interesting and even suspenseful documentary about Philippe Petit's high-wire walk between the World Trade Center Twin Towers. The film, which won the Academy Award for best documentary, hinges on the thoroughly entertaining antics of Philippe Petit. You can't help but be amazed by his story of just trying to set the high-wire up, let alone walking between the towers. The film is filled with Petit's ridiculous and crazy acts, making Man on Wire one of the more interesting documentaries around. You like it if: You like documentaries, wildly unpredictable protagonists or heist movies.

Engrossing Low Budget Gem

11:14 (2003)
Directed by Greg Marcks, rated R, 86 minutes

11:14 is a comedic thriller about five interconnected stories that all climax at 11:14. The film works because its clever and engaging script, that doesn't linger too long. Despite it's low budget, the film stars Hilary Swank, Patrick Swayze, Ben Foster and Colin Hanks. The movie does seem a little pointless, but first-time director Greg Marcks keeps the movie interesting. 11:14 is a very fun movie to watch unravel and will keep you absorbed to the end. You like it if: You like dark comedies, movies about interconnected stories, Fargo or Big Trouble.

"Intelligence is relative."

Burn After Reading (2008)
Directed by The Coen Brothers, rated R, 96 minutes

Burn After Reading is a wildly funny dark comedy about dumb people. Two gym employees try to make some money off a disk containing CIA intel that's left in their gym. The entire cast is marvelous: Brad Pitt really lets loose, and John Malkovich is darkly hilarious. The Coen brothers craft a very funny, and interesting film, populated with hilariously stupid, but enticing characters. You'll like it if: You like dark comedies, movies about the CIA/espionage, Fargo or John Malkovich.


Harold and Maude (1971)
Directed by Hal Ashby, rated PG, 91 minutes

Harold and Maude is a beautiful, dark cult classic about a bored young man who falls in love with a 79 year-old woman. Despite the age difference, Harold and Maude's love story is more compelling and beautiful than nearly every other romantic comedy I've seen. Bud Cort does a first-rate job as Harold, and Ruth Gordon goes all-out as Maude. Harold and Maude manages to be simultaneously dark and depressing, and truly inspiring and life affirming. By the end you can't help but be inspired to live life to the fullest. You'll Like it if: You like romantic comedies, cult comedies, The Graduate or Being There.

Nonstop Laughs

Death at a Funeral (2007)
Directed by Frank Oz, rated R, 90 minutes

Death at a Funeral is an obscenely funny British comedy about a chaotic funeral, where a man threatens to expose a secret about the recently deceased family patriarch. All the members of the dysfunctional family are played well, especially Alan Tudyk, who is given classic material by writer Dean Craig. The comedy is dark, but relentlessly hilarious, with a fantastic mix of slapstick and dry British humor. You'll like it if: You like British humor, dark comedy, Robert Altman or comedies about family.