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7) True Story
True Story tells the true tale of Michael Finkel, a New York Times reporter, as a murderer uses his identity to manipulate him into helping orchestrate his escape. Christian Longo (played by James Franco) killed his family, and this film explores with precision and a sharp eye for detail the way this affected not only Finkel—whose identity he used—but also his family, and the devastating consequences of his actions. Being based on real events, a lot of the film takes place in the prison environment, but through the use of Longo's illustrations and the brilliant acting of Jonah Hill this film is far from dull. A thought provoking glimpse into the mind of a criminal, this film depicts Longo in unmissable clarity.
6) Sunset Boulevard
An old classic from 1950, Sunset Boulevard is the tale of a film director who has lost his way. After befriending Norma Desmond, a retired silent film actress, his life becomes more vibrant. However, with Desmond's gradual slip into insanity, his relationship to her becomes a risky position. We witness her demise into insanity as she struggles to come to terms with losing the fame she acquired as a younger actress. In heart-wrenching scenes, we see Desmond's insanity protect her from the truth about her career. Dark humour is sprinkled over choice moments, and this film noir is a valuable piece of cinema.
5) Mulholland Drive
David Lynch's masterpiece, Mulholland Drive, definitely belongs on any list of must-see movies. Its dark intrigue and twisted plot will penetrate your thoughts for a long time as you try to figure out the complex connections between the characters. Set in Los Angles, the camera angles and scenery is enough to enchant you all by itself. Following the life of Betty—which gets increasingly complicated—we feel her hope and her pain, invested in what will become of her. As her character morphs and changes shape over the duration of the film, out emotional reaction to her changes. This audience manipulation by Lynch is truly masterful.
4) Total Eclipse
Staring Leonardo DiCaprio, this film actually gave him his first ever on-screen kiss. Playing the character of poet Arthur Rimbaud, and tangled in a complicated romance with another poet, his acting in this film is telling of his career. This film is full of memorable quotes and wise words. It is also filled with scenes of both tension and humour, a perfect mix to keep viewers interested. The fast pace changes in setting and time make what could otherwise be a fairly standard film more intense. The character development and growth over time means that there are many moments where it's possible to relate to the feelings of the characters, especially when they experience change and heartbreak. This film covers so many themes and interests that there is likely scenes that appeal to all viewers.
Staring Jessica Brown-Findlay and Felicity Jones, Albatross is a heartwarming film about two very different teenage girls who manage to help each other in remarkable ways. Through deception, friendship, heartache, and loss, there are many relatable moments during this film. Albatross is a perfect feel good film, which tackles serious issues with just the right amount of humour. Watching this film is sure to put a smile on your face, and is very enjoyable even as light entertainment—despite the themes it covers, if you aren't in the mood for a heavier movie.
2) Secret Window
Johnny Depp stars as a downtrodden author. After being confronted multiple times regarding plagiarism claims, and during a difficult separation from his wide, Mort Rainey muddles through eating Doritos and napping. However, once we feel affection towards his character, cracks in his persona emerge and things take a disturbing direction. Watching the drama unfold and the events take place Secret Window provokes excitement and it's very hard to look away. In its thrilling conclusion, Secret Window will leave you feeling exhilarated and satisfied.
1) Donnie Darko
With one of the most magnificent soundtracks and a film both easy to enjoy, but also one which will also keep you thinking for months afterwards, Donnie Darko is a classic gem. This film follows the life of Donnie, and explores with him time travel, feelings surrounding death, and relationships. Alongside the numerous serious storylines, humour, quality music, and vibrant characters appear throughout.