A Stunning and Sad Film

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Directed by Isao Takahata, unrated, 89 minutes

Grave of the Fireflies is an immensely powerful and unflinching animated film about young man and his little sister who struggle to survive on their own in Japan, during World War II. The story is amazing and interesting as these two young people struggle against the horrors of war, but it's the growth of the main character from a boy to man that really elevates the film. The animation is top notch, and despite it's grim story, contains moments of true beauty. Grave of the Fireflies is not your average animated film, and its gut wrenching story and wonderful characters leave a lasting impression. You'll like it if: You like animated films, Japanese cinema, sad films, Spirited Away or All Quiet on the Western Front.

"Right now, the world needs a hero."

Observe and Report (2009)
Directed by Jody Hill, rated R, 86 minutes

Observe and Report
is an extremely dark, but incredibly funny cult comedy about a bi-polar mall cop who will stop at nothing to catch the mall's flasher, but he has to compete with the real police in his effort to catch the man. Seth Rogen ditches his usual everyman character, and jarringly, but aptly takes on a dark, twisted but still likable character. The story takes notes from Taxi Driver, but is filled with hilarious bits and memorable dialogue. Observe and Report is definitely not for everyone, it's filled with very dark, controversial and tragic moments, but it ends up being one of funniest and most unforgettable comedies in recent memory. You'll like it if: You like dark comedies, controversial movies, films about loneliness, Seth Rogen, Taxi Driver, Pineapple Express or The Foot Fist Way.

"An Existential Comedy"

I Heart Huckabees (2004)
Directed by David O. Russell, rated R, 107 minutes

I Heart Huckabees is a quirky and charming comedy about a poet/activist who goes to a pair of "existential detectives" to investigate his coincidental meetings with a tall African man. The film is an ensemble piece (including Dustin Hoffman, Lilly Tomlin, Jude Law, Naomi Watts, Mark Wahlberg and Jason Shwartzman), and each actor gives a great performance, partly thanks to their lovable and funny characters. The story does a get a little too philosophical in the end, but every moment is filled with exciting visuals, wonderful characters and hilarious dialogue. I Heart Huckabees is an incredibly fun and original cult film, that brilliantly mixes quirky humor with existential philosophy. You'll like it if: You like indie comedies, Wes Anderson's films, Charlie Kaufman's films, Magnolia or The Royal Tenenbaums.

"In the Interest of Civilization... Conform."

Human Nature (2001)
Directed by Michael Gondry, rated R, 96 minutes

Human Nature is a delightfully weird and decidedly abnormal cult comedy about a scientist and his partner, a naturalist, who find a man that has been living in the woods who believes he is an ape. They take the man to their lab and attempt to acclimate him to human civilization. The story is bizarre and surreal, but it makes for a very enjoyable and funny ride. Human Nature is a incredibly fun and oddly memorable film, filled with idiosyncratic characters and both over the top and subtle jokes. You'll like it if: You like wacky comedies, Charlie Kaufman's films, Tim Robbins, Being John Malkovich, Be Kind Rewind or American Beauty.

"They Called Him 'Fast Eddie'"

The Hustler (1961)
Directed by Robert Rossen, not rated, 134 minutes

The Hustler is a bleak and entrancing film about a small-time pool hustler, with plenty of talent, but a cocky attitude, who attempts to make some real money with the help of a new manager. Paul Newman is unbelievable in the lead, you can't help but root for him, despite his shortcomings. And Newman has incredible chemistry with George C. Scott and Jackie Gleason, each of who deliver biting performances. The Hustler has a incredible story, but it's the fantastic characters, played by perfectly by their actors, that make the film so memorable and powerful. You'll like it if: You like gritty films, films with flawed main characters, Paul Newman, The Wrestler or The Verdict.

"A true story about finding the courage to be yourself."

Boys Don't Cry (1999)
Directed by Kimberly Peirce, rated R, 118 minutes

Boys Don't Cry is an intense and haunting true story about Brandon Teena, a young transgender woman living as a man, who runs away from legal troubles at home to become one of the boys with some new friends in Nebraska. Hilary Swank is captivating and likable in the lead role, but it's Chloe Sevigny, as Brandon's girlfriend, who steals the show with a moving and sorrowful performance. Boys Don't Cry's true story is not easy to forget, and in the end you can't help but be stunned by the way the characters change and the story plays out. You'll like it if: You like true stories, controversial films, Elephant or Monster.

Submitting to Sundance

So after doing nothing but editing for the past two weeks I finished up the movie, compressed it, figured out how to use my DVD authoring software, made the DVD and I'm sending it off to Sundance tomorrow, just in time for the September 25th deadline.

Here's to hoping it makes it in.

Movies reviews are coming back tomorrow.

The (almost) Last Day of Filming and Beyond

The actor playing the main character came back from college, so we were able to film the last day (other a few tiny, tiny scenes). Interestingly enough on this last day we filmed scenes from the very beginning and very end of the movie.

We also filmed scenes where my dad and aunt played parts, which was the first time I really directed adults.

Finishing up filming was bittersweet. It was nice knowing how much we filmed and that we got it all done. But, despite all the headaches some of my actors gave me, filming with some of my best friends was a lot of fun.

Now I'm editing, all day and night, in hopes of finishing up in time to submit to Sundance. Wish me luck.