Showing posts with label I'd Like to Introduce You To.... Show all posts
Showing posts with label I'd Like to Introduce You To.... Show all posts

Monday, August 1, 2016

I'd Like to Introduce You To......The Selfish Giant

by Michael Drinan

British filmmaking has been on the decline for the past few years, with very little British films being made and between 2003 and 2010 only 7% of British films made a profit.  Most of this has to do with British dramas being tougher to sell to British audiences, and big budget action flicks appeal to British entertainment studios because there is a better chance for profit.  However, with the success of films such as this one being highlighted and Philomena, just a couple of British films that have garnered rave reviews along with awards, maybe films that pack an emotional punch will get more attention with British studios.  Personally, I like emotional movies because I can relate to them, they’re more “human” and there’s a lot of modesty to them.  Also, the acting is usually superb.  I’m not talking “chick flicks” like Steel Magnolias or Beaches, those films are just too over the top for me to the point where I stop believing them.  When movies try too hard to get their audience to cry, for me its usually the opposite, I just end up rolling my eyes and dismissing the film.  When films trust the story progression with its characters without going straight to the waterworks, it blends itself into a perfect human story.  With that, let me introduce you to The Selfish Giant.

The film takes place in Northern England and centers around best friends Arbor and Swifty.  Arbor suffers from ADHD, angry outbursts and, along with his mother, shoulders the burden of his older brother’s drug debts.  Swifty is the oldest of eight in his family who lives in a house that doesn’t have basic needs, with a father who rents furniture and then sells it in order to support his family.  Both children long for affection and validation and find it in each other.  Arbor who has a short temper and is constantly in trouble leans on the always reliable Swifty, who is a gentler soul but is a rock of support for his friend.
The two boys come across a money making idea of rummaging the neighborhood for scrap metal and electrical wiring and selling it to Kitten, the local junk dealer who races street horses as an extra means to make money.  After he loses a race, he becomes aware of Swifty’s keen ability to handle his prize horse and enlists him to race him.  At the same time, Arbor sees the thieves making more money and begins to follow their lead.  The two rely on each other as they struggle to survive.  Dealing with his brother’s drug debts, Arbor feels a responsibility to help his mother as does Swifty with his family.  Arbor’s desire to make more money and going to any lengths necessary in order to obtain has him tip-toeing a fine line between honorable and being flat out dumb.  This runs up against Swifty’s belief that they shouldn’t push the envelope too much or else trouble will find them and take its toll.  Its in this conflict where the punch to the great lies.
The Selfish Giant is a gritty, realistic and human story that centers around the themes of friendship, capitalism, greed and the struggle to survive against the odds.  Its a grim tale that, in the end, opens you up and forces you to feel.  When I saw this film, I couldn’t help but cry and be touched by this film.  It was one of the best films I’d seen last year and continues to renew itself as such each and every time I watch it.
There isn’t a lot of action to this but the characters are clear and vibrant and the performances are just fantastic.  It won heavily at film festivals around Britain and the two boys portraying Arbor and Swifty both won for Best British Newcomer because the jury refused to separate them.  The film is highly rated holding a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.  Even though its a British film, I highly recommend the subtitles since the accents are thick and heavy to the point where it reminds you of Brad Pitt in Snatch.  The story is a moving portrayal of the friendship that exists where merely living seems bleak and pointless.  I challenge you not to feel something with this movie.

The Selfish Giant is streaming on Netflix.

Check out the trailer people!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I'd Like to Introduce You To.....A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

Welcome back to, where we once again present I'd Like to Introduce You To.....from Michael Drinan.  It's a series dealing with lesser-known cinematic gems that you should go out of your way to find.

I feel like this post should come with the disclaimer: “Beware: this post will praise Shia LaBeouf’s acting.” 

Yeah, I know you’re skeptical of this ever since you took your lady out on a date to see Disturbia (also known as the poor man’s Rear Window), but you’ll just have to trust me on this.  After he put himself on people’s radars with Holes he bounced around with small roles in some pretty big films, and then in 2006, he dug deep, grabbed some insecurities and emotion, and went indie.  Let me introduce you to A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I'd Like to Introduce You To.........Mean Creek

Bullying happens in schools all across the country.  It seems to make the news cycle everyday, occasionally reporting a tragic ending for the bullied.  If you’re like me, an anger tends to bubble up inside you while reading these stories and interviews, and you think how sweet it would be for the bully to get a taste of their own medicine.  Eye for an eye.  Nice, satisfying idea right?  Well, what if it goes wrong?  Let me introduce you to the film Mean Creek.

Rory Culkin (younger brother of Macaulay and Kieran) plays Sam, a kid who is constantly getting bullied at school by George, a bigger kid whom no one in the town seems to care for.  Fed up with the bullying, Sam turns to his older brother Rocky (played by Trevor Morgan, who is the asshole kid in The Sixth Sense as well as Mel Gibson’s asshole son who gets shot in The Patriot) to hatch a plan to give back to George what he dishes out.  Rocky turns to his friends, bad boy and criminal in the making Marty, and Clyde, and decide to lure George to the woods, under the guise of it being Sam’s birthday, and undress him and leave him in the woods to walk back home naked and humiliated, exacting Sam’s revenge.  Sam’s “girlfriend” Millie comes along to help sell George on the birthday idea.

Things begin to go wrong almost right away when everyone but Marty begins to see George as a good guy, just misunderstood.  It causes Sam to want to call off the prank, and everyone obliges until George begins prodding everyone, mocking Clyde’s personal secret or bringing up Marty’s troubled family history which causes Marty to snap and go ahead with the plan.  Things come to a head and the group of friends find themselves in an unimaginable position that would continue to shape, and haunt, the rest of their lives. 

This film really scores points with sympathizing with its characters.  As much as I knew George was a scumbag bully, I even began to feel sorry for him, seeing him as just a lonely kid with no friends, simply misunderstood.  I found myself nearly in tears at the thought of Sam and Millie’s young relationship crumbling at the feet of tragedy.  The future implications of all the characters are very intriguing, and hinted at constantly near the end of the film.  Can Sam and Millie ever amount to anything more than friends with this incident standing between them?  Will Marty take this as a sign that avoiding a life of crime is inevitable, and give into it?  Will Sam and Rocky be closer as brothers or will this moment cement a resentment? 

In this day and age when bullying is an issue and the normal thought of revenge tends to slip into the minds of reasonable people, no one thinks of it going wrong or of the unintended consequences.  Everyone feels in control.  Mean Creek is a reminder that no one, and no one thing is ever in control. 

Mean Creek is streaming on Netflix.

Check out the trailer!

Monday, May 23, 2016

I'd Like to Introduce You To: Short Term 12

Welcome back to, where we once again present I'd Like to Introduce You To.....from Michael Drinan - a series dealing with lesser-known cinematic gems that you should go out of your way to find. 

Typically, films have plots that involve characters to help move it along.  However, some of my favorite films of all time are those with characters that ARE the plot.  My love for movies started as a kid and stemmed from the various characters I had seen in movies such as Back to the Future, Eddie and the Cruisers (way underrated movie), and the Indiana Jones trilogy (there is no fourth).  I didn’t just see these characters as they were, I saw the flaws in the characters and became fascinated at the realization that these fictional people could be me, my family or my friends.  The realism, plus the association of their qualities, enhanced the film for me and it became the basis for what I look for in a good film.  Very rarely does a character film come along that is hypnotic in its backstory as well as its development throughout the movie.  Let me introduce you to Short Term 12.

The film takes place mainly in a juvenile treatment facility and mainly focuses on Grace, the staff’s supervisor, played by Brie Larson (you might remember her as Envy Adams in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World or as the sister that is always texting in Don Jon).  Grace works alongside her boyfriend Mason as they, along with two other lesser staff members, deal with emotional and often violent outbursts from the children they oversee, the bureaucracy of the system that these children are a part of, and more importantly, the emotional and personal stress of their lives.

The first time I saw this film I was a goner.  I fell hard in love with this film.  The writing, the acting, the characters, it was all great.  Also, Brie Larson is unbelievable in this movie and should’ve (in my opinion) been nominated for an Oscar for this role instead of Meryl Streep for August: Osage County, but that’s a whole other blog post.  Her performance carries this film, giving it enough heart, strength and vulnerability to make you care for each character she interacts with, hoping and praying they end up alright.  This film has become her calling card, garnering her more roles in upcoming movies and causing her to be seen as a rising star in the industry.  Her performance is that good and it’s all well-deserved.  She allows herself to be enveloped in the character so much so that she is almost unrecognizable from previous roles in other movies.  You look at her on screen and she looks familiar but you can’t quite put your finger on where you’ve seen her before.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

I'd Like to Introduce You To......Big Bad Wolves

Evening everyone!  Welcome to another piece  from my good friend Michael Drinan.  It's a series dealing with lesser-known cinematic gems that you should go out of your way to find.  Without further ado, here's Mike......


Welcome to the series “I’d Like to Introduce You To…” which will focus on independent and foreign films that aren’t widely known but are high in quality.  Let’s face it, big budget, big name Hollywood films are everywhere and are usually uninteresting, formulaic and unoriginal.

Sometimes you really want to watch a film that will actually make you have an emotional response to it, something out of left field, unique that leave you considering how you felt and what you thought about the film.  We all need something different from time to time to strengthen our love and appreciation for movies and the independent movie scene is prime real estate for just that very thing.  So, without further ado…let me introduce you to Big Bad Wolves.  

Friday, October 30, 2015

I'd Like to Introduce You To: Under the Skin

Welcome back to, where we once again present I'd Like to Introduce You To.....from Michael Drinan.  It's a series dealing with lesser-known cinematic gems that you should go out of your way to find.

I love films that are very divisive with audiences.  It doesn’t even have to be great, just a really well made film will leave the audience split.  These kinds of films are great because there’s no grey area, you either like it or you don’t.  You either get it or it goes over your head.  The independent film scene really thrives on these types of films because they challenge their audience, forcing them to take in an unconventional film that is told unconventionally.  Sometimes it takes a couple of times to see it to help you decide, like 2001: A Space Odyssey was for me.  The film highlighted in this post is exactly THAT kind of film.  It’s confrontational, unconventional, introspective, contemplative and really fucking good.  And with that, let me introduce you to Under the Skin.

Friday, October 10, 2014

I'd Like to Introduce You To.......The Punk Singer

It's time for another review of a lesser-known cinematic gem from Michael Drinan.  Read on.....

I love female punk singers. I love documentaries.  When I heard there was a documentary about Kathleen Hanna being made, I almost lost my mind trying to find information about it.  Kathleen Hanna was a primary figure in the Riot Grrrl movement of the early 90s and the lead singer of the punk band Bikini Kill, kickstarting the feminist punk movement.  After Bikini Kill, she went on fronting the pop punk band Le Tigre.  She fought for women’s rights during the conservative Bush years and continues to be an outspoken feminist activist.  Let me introduce you to The Punk Singer.

If you know nothing about the Riot Grrrl movement, see this movie.  If you think female punk bands were nothing but bratty, angry, man-hating women, then see this movie.  If you think Joan Jett and Patti Smith were the only tough ladies of rock music, then see this movie.  You will re-consider all of those opinions after this film.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I'd Like to Introduce You to......Brick

Michael Drinan is back with his latest column about a little-known movie you should seek out.  So read it, and then DO IT.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt was an actor whom, seemingly by default, everyone loved from “3rd Rock From the Sun” and even more so from the remake of Angels in the Outfield and 10 Things I Hate About You.  Although each of these roles were pretty basic and not out of the ordinary for child actors to be casted in, you could tell this kid had chops.  It was just a matter of time until he found find a role that allowed him to showcase his talent.  He took a break for a couple of years from acting and upon his return, made a conscience decision to be in good movies, which started in 2001 when he starred as Lyle, a teenager who is in a mental institution for violent outbursts.  In 2004, he starred as a gay prostitute who had been sexually abused as a child.  Receiving praise for this role he began to hit his stride and in 2005, in my opinion, really came into his own as an actor and as a leading man...and with that, let me introduce you to Brick.