"So you're like... ransom."

Alpha Dog (2006)
Directed by Nick Cassavetes, rated R, 122 minutes

Alpha Dog is a captivating and shocking crime drama about a gang that kidnaps the 15 year old brother of guy that owes them money, and as he begins to enjoy being part of the gang, they're not sure how to cover their tracks. The film is filled with up and coming young actors who all bring a lot of personality to their characters, and surprisingly Justin Timberlake proves he can really act. The dialogue is all realistic and sometimes quite funny, especially Timberlake who brings charm to even his most vulgar tirades. Alpha Dog doesn't draw clear lines between the good guys and the bad guys, which makes this tragedy, based on true events, all the more difficult to swallow. You'll like it if: You like films about teens, crime dramas, Emile Hirsch, Bully, Brick or Zero Day.

"All of a sudden, I miss everyone..."

A Woman Under the Influence (1974)
Directed by John Cassavetes, rated R, 155 minutes

A Woman Under the Influence is a harrowing and powerful drama about a woman whose complex relationship with her ill-matched husband starts to fall apart when she has a nervous breakdown. Gena Rowlands sinks into her painful role, and you can't help but identify with her as she tries to be normal among her friends and family. The film is unbelievably tense, and as the emotions of the characters build, disaster always feels imminent. A Woman Under the Influence is distinct to Cassavetes style, with surprisingly moving, improvised dialogue and an almost documentary style - the film feels real, which makes it hard to, but definitely worth watching. You'll like it if: You like family dramas, impressive female protagonists, John Cassavetes films, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Revolutionary Road or Short Cuts.

"If you kill a whale, you get Greenpeace and Jacques Cousteau on your back, but wipe out sardines and you get a canning subsidy!"

Man Bites Dog (1992)
Directed by Remy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel & Benoit Poelvoorde, rated NC-17, 95 minutes

Man Bites Dog is a depraved and pitch black Belgian mockumentary about a camera crew that follows around a psychotic serial killer as he shows off his craft. Benoit Poelvoorde is perfect as the killer, simultaneously being utterly creepy and earnestly hilarious, making him easily one the most likable film serial killers around. The film is even more effective in this day and age of reality TV, and the stark black and white photography leaves a series of lasting and disturbing images. Man Bites Dog feels convincingly real, which makes it all the more horrifying, and yet in a blink of an eye can make you laugh out loud - which makes this film a unique and fun, if often unpleasant ride. You'll like it if: You like extremely dark humor, comedy-horror, films about serial killers, American Psycho, A Clockwork Orange or Fargo.

"Working for the Man Sucks. Being the Man Blows."

Extract (2009)
Directed by Mike Judge, rated R, 92 minutes

Extract is an understated and witty comedy about the owner of an extract plant whose life starts to spiral out of control when he suspects his wife of cheating on him. Jason Bateman masterfully captures the frustrated everyman with his perfect comedic timing, and Ben Affleck has a small but laugh out loud funny role. The film has writer-director Mike Judge's distinct subtle comedy, but the story is never as absorbing as it could be. Extract doesn't quite live up to Mike Judge's previous films, but it has enough funny lines and characters to make for a fun experience. You'll like it if: You like workplace comedies, deadpan humor, Jason Bateman, Office Space, A Serious Man or The Girl Next Door.

"Time waits for one man"

3:10 to Yuma (2007)
Directed by James Mangold, rated R, 122 minutes

3:10 to Yuma is an exciting, action-packed western about a poor rancher who agrees to take a charismatic, captured outlaw to a waiting train to impress his son who admires the outlaw. Christian Bale and Russel Crowe play off each other masterfully as hero and villain respectively, but it's Ben Foster who stands out as Crowe's loyal but deranged sidekick. The actions scenes are impressively done, with plenty of memorable shootouts, including the unique and explosive ending. Though 3:10 to Yuma is a sort of neo-western, it captures the atmosphere and feel of the classic westerns to make one fun ride. You'll like it if: You like westerns, action films, Russel Crowe, Appaloosa, High Noon or Jackie Brown.

"Run with the crowd, stand alone, you decide."

This is England (2006)
Directed by Shane Meadows, unrated, 101 minutes

This is England is a gritty and engrossing political crime drama about a troubled young boy who becomes best friends with a group of easygoing skinheads, but soon moves on to a group of nationalistic, racist skinheads. Thomas Turgoose, in his first part, gives one of the most impressive child performances ever, naturally capturing his characters desperation and impressionability. The films cleverly starts off rather lighthearted and funny, but as the story moves forward it gets more and more brutal, building to a very tense third act. This is England creates a slew of realistic characters with captivating relationships, which make this an exciting and memorable coming-of-age film. You'll like it if: You like coming-of-age films, British cinema, crime dramas, American History X, Nil by Mouth or If...

"How much does Heaven Allow a Woman in Love?"

All That Heaven Allows (1955)
Directed by Douglas Sirk, not rated, 89 minutes

All That Heaven Allows is a visually magnificent and touching romantic melodrama about an older, upper class widow who falls in love with a younger gardener, to the dismay of her friends and family. Jane Wyman brings a certain charm to her character, and her chemistry with Rock Hudson helps capture the well written love story. Director Douglas Sirk's visuals are absolutely stunning as he brilliantly uses color to build an intense atmosphere. All That Heaven Allows is one of the best "forbidden love" films ever made, as it bravely tackles social issues of the 50's, while still being truly romantic. You'll like it if: You like films about forbidden love, 50's melodramas, romantic dramas, Written on the Wind, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul or Letter from an Unknown Woman.

"Jigsaw. Uh, fragment chief butter. King surgery mind?"

Schizopolis (1996)
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, not rated, 96 minutes

Schizopolis is a wacky and clever experimental comedy that loosely follows a depressed paper pusher who is assigned to write a speech for his boss, a self-help writer who just wrote a cultlike bestseller. The film isn't just non-linear, it's completely nonsensical at times, but it doesn't feel pointless thanks to director Steven Soderbergh's ability to keep everything focused. The jokes are quick and almost always strange, but they are truly hilarious, even when you're not sure why. Schizopolis is like no other film out there, and if you're up for some absurd and smart humor, it doesn't get much better than this. You'll like it if: You like experimental films, bizarre humor, complex wordplay, Being John Malkovich, In the Company of Men or Waking Life.

"Life is hard. Life is short. Life is painful. Life is rich. Life is....Precious."

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
Directed by Lee Daniels, rated R, 109 minutes

Precious is a painful and depressing drama about an overweight, illiterate teen who has to deal with her second pregnancy and abusive parents while trying to put her life on the right track in an alternative school. Gabourey Sidibe, in her first role, captures the deep sadness of her character, and yet retains her charm and warmth, and Mo'Nique is unbelievably menacing and shocking as the abusive mother. Director Lee Daniels adds some artistic flourishes to the harrowing story, and they're hit and miss, but the cinematography sucks you into the story. Precious boldly takes on many controversial issues, but thankfully does so in an honest and mostly non-manipulative way. You'll like it if: You like teen protagonists, depressing dramas, films about child abuse, Mysterious Skin or Little Children.