Explore the world of original plots and unique storytelling with Sylvy, a film major and chronic indie fan. She will steer you toward the best that independent cinema has to offer at home and abroad, past and present.
Now go get the popcorn ready…
By Sylvana Fernandez
Director: Martin Hynes
Release Year: 2007
Imagine you’ve just stolen a car from your friend’s car wash. You’re driving out of town and just as you reach city limits, a cell phone left inside it starts to ring. This is the situation Mercer White (Lou Taylor Pucci) finds himself in five minutes into The Go-Getter. His mother died eight months ago and on an impulse inspired by being forced to read Huckleberry Finn in AP Lit, he decides he has to find his older half-brother Arlen, who he hasn’t seen for 14 years, to give him the news. The phone call he gets is from Kate (Zooey Deschanel), the unconventional 24-year-old who owns the car he took. She offers him an interesting deal: she won’t report him to the police as long as he calls to tell her about his trip. Mercer agrees, making his way through the oddest places (he even winds up in Mexico), meeting colorful characters from his and his brother’s pasts, and listening to an audiotape Western, which subtly seems to mimic his dreams and fears, all the while talking on the phone with Kate.
In theory, it would seem like these conversations would be boring and make scenes drag on, but in practice Hynes avoids this in a very creative and meaningful way – the unlikely friends play “20 questions” and he sometimes places Kate in the back of Mercer’s car, sometimes in Mercer’s imagination, visually representing the forming of a bond that, though endearing, never gets overly sentimental. Tracking down Arlen ends up being a harder task than Mercer expected and distractions abound, the most significant one provided by Joely (played by Jena Malone, of Saved fame), Mercer’s middle-school crush who manipulates him into driving her to Reno and then ends up betraying him. I won’t give away the ending, but needless to say both Mercer’s journey and ours as viewers are rewarding in an unexpected way.
Full of humor and dialogue that seems improvised judging by its authenticity, The Go-Getter rounds off it’s appeal as a perfect road movie by adding gorgeous, sun-drenched footage of the West and music by indie favorite M. Ward, including a collaboration with Deschanel that led to the release of an album under the stage name She and Him.
Fa Young Nin Wa
(In the Mood for Love)
Director: Wong Kar Wai
Release Year: 2000
Wong Kar Wai is easily my favorite Chinese filmmaker and is recognized as one of the best living directors. He’s made plenty of masterpieces, but of those I’d have to say In the Mood for Love is his best work. Set in 1962 Hong Kong,Maggie Cheung plays Su Li-zhen Chan, a married woman who relocates to a new apartment complex. She moves in by herself because her executive husband is busy working. That same day, Chow Mo-Wan (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) is moving in alone as well because his wife is away.
As the weeks pass, and despite the social stigma associated with it, Su and Chow form a friendship, united by their loneliness. When both find out their respective spouses are having affairs, they help each other cope at first by pretending they’re having one too, and eventually falling in love yet never acting on their feelings. The notion that you’re not totally aware of everything that’s going on, the impression that the truly interesting things are happening a door or a block away, is what drives the entire film and makes it brilliant.
Carefully placed camera angles and shots reflect the main characters’ subconscious and their constraints. The star-crossed lovers never even touching, despite the strong emotional connection they form, makes for a tragic tale like no other – hands down one of the most romantic stories ever told on celluloid.
Bon Cop Bad Cop
Director: Erik canuel
Release Year: 2006
Bon Cop Bad Cop is a fairly easy movie to describe – think Hot Fuzz, set in Canada. When a murdered hockey executive is found hanging over a billboard between Ontario and Quebec, two police detectives with an immediate and very much culturally-fuelled dislike of each other are forced to work together on the case. With a tagline that goes “Shoot First, Translate Later,” it’s easy to see that hilarity ensues.
The extremely French-Canadian David Bouchard (played by Canada’s own Brad Pitt, Patrick Huard, who also penned the script) has a tendency to make his own rules and abuse his authority, something appalling to straight-laced Torontonian Martin Ward (Colm Feore). More murders start occurring, each victim appearing with tattooed hints to the next crime.
Soon David and Martin start warming up to each other. Maybe it’s due to bonding over the shared trauma of blowing up a suspect’s house – along with the suspect himself (Bouchard threw him in his car trunk because he was late to his daughter’s ballet recital). When the puzzle begins to become clearer and the killer kidnaps David’s daughter, the men decide to unite and take him down.
Ridiculous and funny from beginning to end, Bon Cop Bad Cop incorporates staples of the American cop-buddy film genre – the “edgy” camera effects, the angry department heads, a hard rock soundtrack – with a distinctly Canadian feel, poking fun at both sides of the country and it’s national sport in a clever way. The result? An excellent way to spend two hours.