Drew: The Man Behind the Poster (2013, dir. Erik Sharkey) This is a really beautiful documentary about the life and career of Drew Struzan, the movie poster artist. It covers everything, from Drew painting Beatles posters in art school to all the rock album artwork he did in the '70s, and finally through the work he did for such films as the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Harry Potter films. Maybe more impressive is the number of high profile celebrities that sat down to talk about Drew and his work: Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Frank Darabont, Guillermo del Toro, Michael J. Fox, Leonard Maltin and even Harrison Ford more or less gush over his iconic art. I learned a lot from this documentary, and there are dozens of albums and movie posters and book covers that I've lived with for years but had no idea were his work. I wasn't quite aware of just how much Drew Struzan is responsible for many of the images I associate with some of my favorite movies.
Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay (2013, dir. Molly Bernstein) The subject of some discussion on our recent "Best of the Year" podcast, this film came so close to being in my Top Ten, it hurt. Erich put it on his Top Ten list. Patrick wished the film contained more footage of Ricky Jay actually performing magic. I love Ricky Jay and would gladly watch a ten hour documentary about him. This one is only 88 minutes. Watch it and decide for yourself. Then go on YouTube, where you can literally spend an evening watching short clips (of various video quality) of our beloved Ricky Jay performing magic. Now that's an idea EVERYONE can get behind!
New World (2013, dir. Hoon-jung Park) This movie was inches away from making my favorite 10 for the year, but I didn't feel good about including a movie that a lot of people didn't have much of a chance seeing before the year was up. The director is best known for writing the screenplay for Ji-woon Kim's I Saw the Devil (which is also on Netflix), and the intensity of that movie is definitely here. New World will bear lots of comparisons to Infernal Affairs or The Departed, in that it has cops and robbers and double-crosses, but it's definitely stands on its own, and not as a cheap knockoff or remake of something else. It moves right along from one scene to the next, although the action doesn't kick into high gear until later, after all the layers of the relationships are explored first. Make this the first gangster movie of your 2014.
Narc (2002, dir. Joe Carnahan) You've probably already seen Narc, right? Good job. Those of you that haven't, NOW IS YOUR CHANCE. Narc is terrific, and Joe Carnahan succeeded in making the kind of character-based cop movie that used to be a fixture in the '70s. Just the opening sequence alone will kick your ass, but see it through to the end if only for a GREAT Ray Liotta performance. This is one of the best cop movies of the 2000s. You could also check out The Last Stand, last year's Arnold Schwarzenegger/Kim Jee-woon joint that I just named as one of the most underrated movies of 2013 and is now on Netflix Instant.