by Patrick Bromley
Heavy (1995, dir. James Mangold) I haven't seen this film since it was in theaters back in 1995, and in the interest of full disclosure I should mention that I was very susceptible to the growing indie movement of the '90s Sundance boom. My recollection of this movie is that it is quiet and still and very, very slow, but also beautiful and sad. James Mangold has gone on to be a pretty interesting director -- much more commercial-minded than his debut would suggest -- working in a whole bunch of different genres and trying to take an approach that's at least different and interesting each time around. I probably saw this in 1995 primarily because I was in the throes of a mad Liv Tyler crush, but I'm glad it brought me to this one. At least, I think so. It's been 20 years so I have fucking idea.
The Midnight Swim (2014, dir. Sarah Adina Smith) I'm still trying to figure out exactly how I feel about this one in that I know I liked it, but I can't yet decide how much. It's an incredible feature debut from Sarah Adina Smith, a filmmaker I can't wait to follow over the coming years. I would love our own Cait Cannon to watch this one and write something about it, as I'm sure she could find really smart and interesting graduate thesis-type things to say about it that I can't because I'm too busy writing about Charles Bronson and watching fucking Basket Case 3 for the second time. I'm the worst.
The Family Man (2000, dir. Brett Ratner) Ok, so this week you're getting three good indie dramas and then this, a super slick piece of commercial nonsense that is still totally watchable by holiday movie standards (which, I must admit, are decidedly lower than other movie standards for some reason). Nic Cage gives pretty good normal and Brett Ratner was still in the early stages of his career when he was making competent films with no authorial stamp, but surrounding himself with incredibly talented people and making himself look good as a result. Something like The Weather Man is a much better Nicolas Cage character drama, but I can watch this variation on It's a Wonderful Life whenever it's on.
Felt (2014, dir. Jason Banker) I really like two thirds of this movie, which is a kind of indie film take on a young woman who feels alienated and expresses herself through avant garde art projects. It's well photographed and the lead performance (from a non-actor, I believe) is nuanced and well-observed. It's only when the movie goes into more predictable territory in its last act that it loses steam, but there's enough really strong work from everyone involved to be well worth watching.
And now a guest recommendation from Mark Ahn!
Ip Man 3 (2016; dir. Wilson Yip) I wrote about this one earlier in the year as Donnie Yen says goodbye to the series and kung-fu movies in general. Oh, and he fights Mike Tyson.