Monday, May 26, 2014


Hey all! The guys at the Syndromes & A Cinema podcast were kind enough to have me on as a guest/co-host on their most recent episode with legendary filmmaker Nick Zedd! Not all of you may be familiar with the cinema of Nick Zedd, but if you've seen any kind of transgressive, surreal or weird movie, chances are you've been exposed to his signature style.
Listen as we chat with Zedd about comedy, snuff films, mexico and a quick encounter he had with Quentin Tarantino in a men's room once...

Also, be sure to check out past episodes from this excellent podcast when you have the time. I came across it last year while searching for Claire Denis-related podcasts (great episode, guys!) and I've been a fan ever since...

Friday, May 23, 2014


I really want to love this film just as much as all the other art-house conesiuers did a few years back (the reviews were generally positive and it did win the grand jury prize at Cannes in 2011) but I just can't. It's not that I dislike the Dardenne's latest coming of age tale but I feel like I'm one of the very people aware of the film's existence that hasn’t put it on a pedestal since its release over two years ago. The Kid With A Bike is ok overall but its also pretty uneven. I've seen this coming of age story on the big screen numerous times already, especially in the case of the Dardenne Brothers. Why has no one ever called them out on essentially making a slight variation of the same story since Rosetta? I'm really not trying to sound like a dick, but if you're familiar with their work you know what I'm talking about. Almost every one of their films is the story of a lonely troubled teen (or immigrant prostitute) with shitty or no parents, living among the Belgian lower class trying to survive. And half the time there’s always a positive surrogate/parental figure trying to help the young teen in some way. The Kid With A Bike isn't any different...
The Dardenne's latest is the story of "Cyril" - a troubled pre-teen living in a foster home. On the weekends he stays with his part-time foster mother; "Samantha" (played by the wonderful Cecile De France) - a hairdresser with a heart of gold who genuinely cares about Cyril even at times when he makes her life a living hell. Although Cyril has a positive/non-dysfunctional parental figure in the form of Samantha, he still tries to seek out acceptance from the wrong people like his deadbeat father (played by Dardenne Brothers regular; Jeremie Renier) who clearly wants nothing to do with him and a local teenage criminal who takes Cyril under his wing.

Cyril has a strong attachment to his bicycle because it's the only gift his father ever got for him...

The Bicycle has become somewhat of a staple in arthouse cinema starting with the obvious Bicycle Thieves all the way up to more recent stuff like; The Cyclist Beijing Bicycle. The Kid With A Bike actually has a similar vibe to Bicycle Thieves so it's bound to make you think of the classic Italian film.
Although Cyril's bicycle becomes less important as the story goes on, it's what initially bonds him with Samantha (his parental figure). By a chance meeting early on in the story they cross paths with each other and Cyril takes a liking to her. Eventually he asks her to be his weekend foster parent and she agrees.
This is a part of the film that I found to be a bit random. I understand the instant bond that the Dardenne brothers wanted to create between Cyril & Samantha but it just seemed a little sudden that she would become his foster parent so quickly. 
...But maybe that part of the story doesn’t need an explanation. Perhaps I'm being picky. She could just be one of the rare human beings out there with a good heart and a soft spot for troubled kids.

This may quietly be Cecile De France's best performance. I get that she's most known for films like High Tension, The Spanish Apartment, Mesrine & Hereafter, but in terms of acting, she's pretty brilliant & natural in The Kid With A Bike. Her acting seemed effortless. This is the kind of female performance that could have easily been played way too emotionally with tons of crying & screaming but Cecile did the opposite.
No matter how many times Cyril pushes Samantha away or breaks her heart (especially towards the end of the film when he goes too far) she still remains strong & resilient and tries her best to show him love.

Cyril clutches to Samantha
Another gripe that I have with this film is the ending....or should I say endingS. For a movie that’s under 90 minutes, I don’t understand how it took so long for it to come to a close. It's difficult to talk specifics without giving away too much (this film is still fairly new and I'd prefer more people watch it while it's still streaming on Netflix) but there were two different places where The Kid With A Bike could have ended but The Dardenne's just kept going. The very last 10-15 minutes of this film went from being chaotic, to depressing, to happy, then suspenseful and then we finally got that abrupt Dardenne Brothers-style ending. They went in & out of too many moods too quickly to the point where it makes you feel schizophrenic. I also felt the young criminal character who takes Cyril under his wing was very transparent, cliché and bordered on feeling like an after school special. I wish the Dardenne's focused more on Cyril's father (there's only two scenes with Jeremie Renier). The Samantha character is also in a romantic relationship that starts to fall apart to due to Cyril's presence. Maybe they could have gone in to that a little more.

I still appreciate any film or filmmaker that shines a realistic light on youth and shows them as, to quote Todd Solondz from his 1996 Charlie Rose interview; "the complex human beings that they really are." No matter how many issues I have with the Dardenne's I still recognize that their intentions are good. They're one of the few filmmakers left that don’t portray children & teenagers as over-the top caricatures. 

There are other elements in the Dardenne's work that I love like the guerrilla/documentary-style cinematography and the presence of Olivier Gourmet (one of my current favorite actors and the Dardenne's most frequent collaborator). I also like that their cinema represents a working/lower-class society in a country that's often overlooked by outsiders when it comes to cinema. Let’s be honest, when it comes to French-language cinema, France obviously gets most of the attention. Sometimes I come across reviews of Belgian films that are incorrectly labeled as French films. The Dardenne's are an important voice for their country. I just think that if they tried something completely new from time to time and took a break from the depressing coming of age/"teens on the outs" genre that they wouldn’t seem so one dimensional and The Kid With The Bike would feel more fresh*. 
I remember back in my early 20's the Dardenne brothers felt like those important modern filmmakers I was supposed to like. I'm embarrassed to say this, but I used to kinda force myself to like their movies. They won all these awards (one of the few directors to win best picture at Cannes twice), Olivier Gourmet gave a great performance in The Sonand Rosetta, something I came to realize was extremely overrated a few years ago, did have an impact on Belgian culture outside of just cinema (the film, about a young teen girl working a minimum wage job, inspired the Belgian government to pass a new law which allowed teen workers to be paid higher wages). 
But a few years ago I found myself watching The Child (their 2005 Cannes best picture winner) and it just hit me - their movies are boring. That's a pretty shallow reason for not liking someone’s work but I'm sorry, I just can’t get in to their cinema like others do. Plus, if you know anything about me, you know "boring" movies usually don’t faze me. In fact, I often embrace them (See: PINNLAND EMPIRE Boring Masterpieces). But The Dardennes are usually the bad kind of boring. To confirm my newfound distaste for their work, The IFC Center just so happened to be doing a retrospective of their work a couple of years ago (in conjunction with the release of The Kid With A Bike) and I went to see Rosetta on the big screen. I used to love that movie in college. I thought it was a representation of what was "real" in Europe (I read a review back then that compared their cinema to John Cassavetes so that instantly made me a fan). But now that I'm in my 30's, it just all feels flat to me along with just about everything else they've done (with the exception of The Son). When I start watching something by them now I find myself wanting to watch a Maurice Pialat film instead.

I eventually came around to finding more legitimate reasons for not being crazy about the Dardenne Brothers (as you've already read) but it was The Pink Smoke's Chris Funderburg's scathing rant about The Child one night last year that pretty much hit the nail on the head for me. Obviously I don’t remember word for word what he said so I had him recreate his rant for this write-up...

The main crux of my argument is that they seek to advance a leftist/progressive social agenda that romances the poor and poverty at the expense of being honest about the nature of their characters. Their main method of getting an audience "on their side" is to have their difficult main characters be monosyllabic and frequently pursuing a single noble motivation (like looking for a job, trying to find their parent) while being passive in almost all other aspects of their life. They romance the notion of working class struggle at the expense of creating interesting and/or realistic characters - they make their characters quiet, inexpressive and inscrutable with opaque mental lives as a cheat. Audiences don't have to then deal with what human beings are like in real life and can say "aw, everybody should have the right to work" or "foster kids just need a compassionate system" - I don't precisely disagree with them, but they essentially lie to make their argument. - Chris Funderberg 11/09/13

Chris' rant also ties in to some other subconscious (borderline unfair) issues I have with The Kid With A Bike. In it, Jeremie Renier plays Cyril's father. Years before that, Renier played an immature teen dad in The Child (at one point in the film he actually tries to sell his baby). As I watched Renier be a horrible father in The Kid With A Bike I couldn't help but think he was playing an older version of the same character he did years ago in The Child which causes me to think that character never matured and it makes me hate The Child even more.

Top: The Son / The 400 Blows
Bottom: L'Enfance Nue / Nenette & Boni

Thomas Doret's debut performance as Cyril is pretty great in my opinion. He's fearless & precocious yet insecure & sad at the same time. With his blank stare (like Nenette in Nenette & Boni), outbursts of rage (like Francois in L'Enfance Nue) & his age (12, just like Antoine Danielle in The 400 Blows), he's like a mixture of every French-speaking coming of age character through the years. But more than anything, he reminds me of Francis from The Son which is the one exception to my indifference towards the Dardenne's work. The character of Francis in The Son almost feels like what Cyril's life would have turned out to be had he not found Samantha in his pre-teens. I guess that's why I don't hate The Kid With The A Bike at the end of the day. It's most connected to the one Dardenne Brothers film that I consider to be a masterpiece.
I'd much prefer The Son be someone's introduction to The Dardenne's but I wouldn't be mad at The Kid With A Bike being an entryway to their work either.

Friday, May 16, 2014


What sets This Is Martin Bonner apart from so many other American indies that are in the same lane is that the director had the balls to take his time and keep things simple. And in keeping things simple, the film brings about many topics of discussion (redemption, faith, family, etc) and gives us interesting characters. There isn't a single moment where someone shouts or screams and there's no scenes of violence. What's crazy is that the story takes place in a fairly grimy/shady place ( Reno, Nevada) and there's no debauchery at all (minus one very quick moment).
As I watched This Is Martin Bonner I kept thinking to myself that whoever made this must have watched old Wim Wenders or Jim Jarmusch films (that's the only example I could think of. Please don’t watch this at my suggestion expecting to get the equivalent of Kings Of The Road or Stranger Than Paradise). This Is Martin Bonner also has some of the same polarizing shots as Buffalo '66 or 2002-2007 era Gus Van Sant. In doing a little research I came to discover that the man who directed it, Chad Hartigan, was the first ever winner on the cancelled IFC show; Ultimate Film Fanatic. Not only did I used to watch that show (and do pretty well as I played along) but I remember this guy! I think it's great that a genuine lover of cinema with a ton of movie knowledge went on to become a good filmmaker (according to IMDB he made another film prior to this, Luke & Brie Are On A First Date, which I have yet to see). I wonder if Chad Hartigan used his winnings from the IFC game show to fund his filmmaking career. This reminded me of a time when I was in college and I saw an episode of The Price Is Right where a filmmaker made it to the main stage and was in the position to win $10,000 and he lost it all in the end. He looked devastated. You could tell by the look on his face that he needed that money to make some kind of short film or something and he lost it all...

This Is Martin Bonner may not be a road movie like the other films (actually, calling Gerry a "road movie" is a bit of a stretch) but it still has the same simple/minimalist vibe as road stories like Kings Of The Road & Stranger Than Paradise. All of these stories have the same kind of ambiguity and open endedness too...
Kings Of The Road (1976)
Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
Gerry (2002)
This Is Martin Bonner (2013)

If you refer to my review of Nebraska (a film I like to think takes place in the same universe as Martin Bonner) you’ll read about my disappointment in how some filmmakers these days don't really seem to be cinephiles anymore. Chad Hartigan is definitely an exception. If you watch This Is Martin Bonner and are familiar with the cinema I compared it too earlier, you might think I'm crazy at first but if you watch it a few times you'll see where I'm coming from. Hartigan focuses on the sparse landscapes of the American west which might remind you of how Wenders shoots Germany in Kings Of The Road or Portugal in The Shape Of Things. The few moments of humor in the film are dry & deadpan and there's lots of quiet moments just like in Stranger Than Paradise or Permanent Vacation. Again, Hartigan's latest film may not be on the same level as the aforementioned works but in my opinion it still deserves the comparison.

Social work plays a big part in this film. I've never been a social worker but I've been around that field my whole life. My Dad has been a social worker in almost every capacity for almost his whole life. He's worked with drug addicts, he taught prisoners on rikers island and saw to it that people with physical & developmental disabilities got a fair shake at employment. Before teaching high school kids, my mother worked as a teacher at school for abused children. My girlfriend works in public health and two of my closest friends (who happen to be brothers) have worked with underprivileged youth in Chicago & Miami, respectively, for their continued education. I guess that's why some of the characters & events in This Is Martin Bonner seemed so familiar to me...
Again, this is a film set in Reno with some characters who are ex-cons & prostitutes yet Hartigan didn't craft the typical story that you'd expect with these kinds of cinematic prototypes.

This Is Martin Bonner is the story of a divorced 60-something year old father of two (...Martin Bonner) who used to work for a church (on the financial/business end) but had an unexplained crisis of faith and stopped believing in god.

I just woke up one morning and decided I didn't wanna go to church anymore – Martin Bonner

Martin's son & daughter, who we never actually see, are grown (he has a good relationship with his daughter who he calls regularly, but we never see him speak to his son even though Martin makes an effort to reach out to him). He lives alone in Reno working in some kind of a halfway house program for recently released prisoners. Martin eventually forms a bond with one of the new ex-cons in the program ("Travis") who was in prison for 12 years for vehicular homicide (he killed a guy while driving drunk). Like Martin, Travis is also having a crisis of faith and is trying to mend his relationship with his daughter while adjusting to life on the outside.

Richmond Arquette's performance as Travis is an interesting one. He plays him in a vulnerable, almost childlike way. I'm a little conflicted because he represents that "hey, we all make horrible mistakes in life but I'm really a good person"-character, but part of me doesn't wanna feel sympathy for him (which Hartigan clearly wants us too) because he's an idiot who killed a guy while drunk driving. There's just something about me where I don't have much sympathy for that. But then I question if that's fair given my sympathy for the Josh Hutton character in Hal Hartley's Unbelievable Truth who also killed someone while driving drunk.
Richmond, whose one of the lesser known Arquettes, is probably most known for his small roles in the films of David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, Benjamin Button & Zodiac). This Is Martin Bonner is his first "major" starring role that I'm familiar with and he does a good job.
Paul Eenhoorn’s performance as the title character is a bit wooden & subdued but still effective (it's kind of required that his character be a little subdued & calm). Hartigan gives us just enough info to piece together the basics about Martin then leaves little hints for us to come to our own conclusions about other aspects of his life. Was the divorce between him & his wife ugly? Why don't we ever see Martin speak to his son? Why did he stop being a musician?
I know the crisis of faith thing is one of the most run in to the ground themes within indie & art house cinema but this felt different. There isn't a very strong religious presence weighing down on the story. We get a few minor supporting characters in the film who are religious but they aren't a huge part of the story in my opinion.

This is one of those films that could easily get overlooked (I mentioned it briefly in my end of the year wrap-up) but thanks to popular cinema podcasts like Filmspotting: SVU & The Cinephiliacs, This Is Martin Bonner is getting some deserved attention.

I definitely recommend watching this on a lazy Sunday afternoon...



I don’t normally post about upcoming Criterions because ever since I started this blog I haven’t been too excited about much new stuff they’ve put out. Obviously there have been a few exceptions (Thief, Repo Man, Breaking The Waves, The Long Day Closes) but generally speaking, whenever new Criterions are announced I end up shrugging my shoulders in indifference. But THIS calls for a celebration! Love Streams, John Cassavetes’ unofficial "last film", has been one of the biggest speculations on all the criterion forums for many many years, but after years of no solid evidence I started to give up all hope. But actually seeing the cover art above (which could be a little better if you ask me, but whatever…) just gives me goose bumps!

This gives me hope for another major speculation that’s been on the radar of many criterion junkies for years…

The Wim Wenders Road Trilogy (Alice In Cities, The Wrong Move, Kings Of The Road)

Love Streams comes out on August 12th (my birthday is August 7th, but I’ll accept a late gift)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


I recently made a guest appearance on one of my favorite podcasts (The Schlock Treatment) to shoot the shit about The Running Man and promote the site.
Listen as Kirk Howle, PINNLAND EMPIRE contributor Doug Frye and myself discuss everything from Arnold Schwarzenegger's grunting to Maria Conchita Alonso's all around awkward screen presence.
There's a few episodes of The Schlock Treatment that I've had on heavy rotation for quite some time (The Miami Connection, Dangerous Game & Street Fighter) so it was an honor to be on the show.


Also be sure to listen to the latest episode of You Hate Everything where they discuss my forever changing top 10...

Blue Velvet
Taxi Driver
The 7th Continent
The Piano Teacher
The Mirror
Beau Travail
Stranger Than Paradise
The Shining

honorable mention:
Nenette & Boni
Welcome To The Dollhouse
Coup De Grace
George Washington
The Belly Of An Architect 
Trouble Every Day
US Go Home

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


The Unknown Known is Errol Morris' latest documentary on the political career of Donald Rumsfeld. Like anything I’ve seen by Morris so far this is an excellent film, but whenever I mention it to my friends & co-workers, I usually get the same general response – “oh god I hate Donald Rumsfeld. I can’t sit through a whole movie about that guy.”
This says two things: 
1). People are still clearly not as familiar with Errol Morris as they should be, and aren’t aware of his ability to make just about anyone seem interesting. Hopefully his appearance on The Colbert Report last month will get him a little more notoriety.
2). This defiance towards seeing a Donald Rumsfeld documentary also shows how close-minded some folks are. Do people really just hear “Donald Rumsfeld documentary” and think it’s going to be some positive film dedicated to all the work he’s done over the years? Do these same people think Idi Amin was a documentary made to put the Ugandan leader in a positive light? I wonder if they also think Downfall is a film made to tell Hitler’s side of things...

I give Donald Rumsfeld respect for essentially stepping in to what could have been a lion’s den. Not only is Errol Morris on the opposite political spectrum, but this documentary's core audience is mostly made up of people on the political left (like myself, I guess). But for some strange reason, Rumsfeld was completely cooperative and allowed himself to be interviewed.
I also give Errol Morris a lot of respect. He had the upper hand as the filmmaker and could have easily edited & manipulated the documentary to misrepresent his subject but he didn't. Not to throw shots at Michael Moore, because at the end of the day I guess we are on the same team (we just sit at opposite ends of bench), but his brand of filmmaking sometimes falls in to that category of heavily edited material and sensationalism (along with other filmmakers like Nick Broomfield). And what's funny is that when you have such a slow moving target like George W. Bush (it's no mystery that Michael Moore spent close to a decade of his life going after GW), you don't need to rely on heavy editing. Just let the cameras go and Bush Jr. is bound to make himself look like the idiot he really is. 

Most political films these days have a left-leaning agenda (especially documentaries) so I'm surprised Donald Rumsfeld was so cooperative. What would make a major conservative figure like him open up to a filmmaker like Morris with a fan base of mostly liberals? Towards the end of the film, Morris, off camera, bluntly asks Rumsfeld; "why are you talking to me?" to which Rumsfeld responds; "...I don't know." I know we're only in May but that quick exchange may go down as one of my personal favorite movie moments of 2014. 
Whether you like him or not (I'm certainly not a fan), Donald Rumsfeld is an intriguing guy with plenty of stories to tell. He was right there when Gerald Ford was shot at, he was a onetime vice presidential candidate, he served as secretary of defense during two separate terms, Nixon described him as a "tough little bastard" and he was at the center of the abu ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. Like it or not, he’s a small part of America's political history. 

The Unknown Known is bound to draw some comparison to The Fog Of War (Morris' academy award winning doc about another secretary of defense; Robert McNamara). I have to give some credit to my friend Chris Funderberg as he made an immediate comparison (and contrast) between the two films after we saw it. Donald Rumsfeld is a far more interesting subject than McNamara. He's a complex guy. At some points in the documentary Rumsfeld comes off totally clueless and/or in denial about some of his missteps & blunders while at other points in the documentary he comes off as witty, intelligent and very calculated. 

I’m surprised I enjoyed The Unknown Known as much as I did. I'm pretty jaded & apathetic towards most films concerning the Bush Administration, 9/11 or the Iraq war (it's no mystery that Rumsfeld is synonymous with all those things). Between Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 9/11), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty & Hurt Locker), Oliver Stone (World Trade & W), the random guy who made Loose Change & Morgan Spurlock (Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden) all the life & energy has been sucked out of that subject matter to the point where I find myself sighing and rolling my eyes just hearing a synopsis of a film about anything Bush and/or 9/11-related. This must have been how baby boomer cinephiles felt with all the Vietnam war films still going on well in to the early 90's. It's like once Apocalypse Now came along there was really no reason to explore that territory anymore (with the exception of the first 45 minutes of Full Metal Jacket).
And what's worse is that all the films I listed earlier are either overrated (Fahrenheit & Zero Dark Thirty), "ok" I guess (The Hurt Locker), pointless (Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden) or just awful (World Trade Center & W). 
There's this unspoken thing with half of these films where Michael Moore, the loose change guy & Oliver Stone felt like their work was going to be impactful and they were going to "expose" Bush and everything/everyone associated with him. But it’s all over. With the exception of the mess that's still going on in Iraq (still a very relevant topic), all that stuff is over. Bush didn't get impeached and 9/11 wasn't a fucking inside job. Either find a new angle to attack (which Morris certainly did) or find new topics to make films about.
These days, the only post-9/11 cinema I can stomach is Team America: World Police and Hal Hartley's films of the late 90's-early 00's (which were actually made before the 9/11 attacks).

a reoccurring image on PINNLAND EMPIRE - An eerie image of the twin towers in Hal Hartley's The Book Of Life (1998)
Morris didn't really seem to have an agenda with Donald Rumsfeld (and if he did, he hid it pretty well). At no point in the documentary did I sense Morris was attacking his subject. He certainly drilled Rumsfeld with questions and lightly challenged him occasionally, but not in an attacking way. Instead, he makes Donald Rumsfeld seem like a normal guy. The Unknown Known is full of political insider jargon and the film spans every president Rumseld served under, from Nixon to Bush Jr., but its more about Rumsfeld the person. 
There are moments where Errol Morris does expose some of Rumsfeld's contradictions (like the confusion he & the Bush administration tried cloud the American people with when it came to making a case for going to war with Sadam Hussein instead of focusing Bin Laden) but that stuff felt secondary to me.

Errol Morris has faced a bit of criticism with The Unknown Known. Some people feel he didn't "grill" Rumsfeld hard enough on issues concerning war, torture practices and the weak reasons the Bush administration used to go to war with Iraq. But these criticisms bring me back to that jadedness I expressed earlier. We already know the reason Bush went to war was bullshit. Why do we need another film, book or exposé on the subject? What good is that honestly going to do now? It reminds me of how people like Tucker Carlson & Bill O'reilly criticized John Stewart for not grilling his political guests with tough questions (clearly they don't know The Daily Show is a fucking comedy show and not a real news source).

On a side note, I don't want the tone of what I'm writing to come off as completely apathetic. Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, GW and plenty more folks in office between 2000-2008 completely fucked us (Americans) over. I'm not asking anyone to forget. I hope every generation going forward questions & challenges those in power no matter how "cool" or progressive they may seem. But to still make films with the hope off exposing or shaking things up (which is clearly what political filmmakers want to do) seems irrelevant. You'd swear some filmmakers still thought Bush & Cheney were in office long after 2008.

As always, there's plenty of "Morris-isms" here that make his films what they are (quick awkward moments of silence from the interviewee, a few funny moments here & there and scenes that straddle the line between eerie stock footage and reenactments/moments of fiction).
I was surprised to see that Danny Elfman did the music for Morris this time around instead of Philip Glass. Between my gripe with popular film scores these days (specifically 12 Years A Slave) and the complete dismissal of film scores that are actually pushing the art forward (namely the work of Cliff Martinez & Shane Carruth) I'm quite sensitive to music used in film these days. The score for The Unknown Known could have been worse (and little less loud) but at the end of the day it wasn't too distracting like Elfman's traditional music for Tim Burton (it was actually reminiscent of the The Thin Blue Line score from time to time).

I honestly left the theater wondering what a guy like Donald Rumsfeld does on his personal/down time which is something I'd honestly never given thought to before. If you weren't a fan of Rumsfeld before, this film probably won't change your opinion, but The Unknown Known got me to think about this man on a human level which is an interesting angle to take in my opinion.

Friday, May 2, 2014


Lists used to be a regular thing here at PINNLAND EMPIRE, but for whatever reason I gave them a rest in favor of writing longer articles that most of you probably don't even finish reading once you start. It recently hit me that although its way too early to start deciding what the defining movies of the decade are, there's already quite a few isolated moments from the last 4+ years that are either so visually striking, prolific, heartbreaking, frightening, hilarious or a combination of everything that they deserve to be mentioned.

So, as part of a new ongoing series, we're going to list my personal favorite movie moments of the decade so far.
I put an emphasis on the word personal because its just that. My own personal opinion. This list in no way speaks for anyone else. And please keep in mind that this is ongoing (as you're checking this fifth installment I'll already be putting the final touches on part seven). So if you don't see something listed that you feel should be, give it some time. It may show up eventually. There's no order or hierarchy in what gets listed either.

FYI...three of the seven films represented in this installment are currently streaming on Netflix instant and two are easy to come by on DVD & Blu-Ray just about anywhere, so I don't wanna hear any of that; "no one has heard of or seen any of these movies" (again...I will admit that two films on this list aren't easy to watch or come by on DVD/Blu-Ray)

So, here's part five. Enjoy...

Simon discovers his teacher's dead body (Monsieur Lahzar)
Monsieur Lahzar was one of the more underrated films to come out in recent years but thanks to TIFF, The Lincoln Center Film Society, Netflix and the Oscar Nomination it got back in 2011, it’s getting more attention. When I saw this at TIFF I honestly went in knowing nothing outside of it being about a substitute elementary school teacher and his students, so I really wasn’t expecting this scene (especially so early on in the movie).

A sad realization (Michael)
Talk about a slap in the face... 
Here’s an extremely hard hitting/heartbreaking moment from the 2011 film Michael where a young boy whose been kidnapped by a pedophile comes across a flyer for a missing dog and he comes to the realization that there’s been more of an effort put in to finding a dog instead of him.
What's most memorable about this scene is that this is the first time the young boy shows any real emotion or vulnerability. Due to his circumstances, he gives off a rather empty/dead demeanor in an effort to survive (when you're in his shoes all you can do is remove yourself from reality as best as you can). But in one moment, everything becomes too much and he finally breaks down...

Seizure-inducing intercourse (Hors Satan)
I'm still not sure what to fully make of this scene (or the movie as a whole) but this part, where our Jesus-like character has anonymous (extremely aggressive) sex with a woman, who has a seizure mid-coitus, has been stuck in my head ever since I saw it.

The dance sequences in Attenburg

Bane vs. Batman: Part One (The Dark Knight Rises)
Ok ok ok, listen – I know this movie wasn't that good. The Dark Knight Rises did a backwards domino effect for me and how I view Christopher Nolan’s filmography of convoluted nonsense. But Bane is an underrated villain/character (it's tough to follow Heath Ledger's joker) and I really love this scene...
(I seriously can't stress enough how much I don't want you guys to think I consider The Dark Knight Rises to be a good movie)

Survival... (Essential Killing)
This scene from Jerzy Skolimoski's Essential Killing represents desperation at it's finest. Nothing says survival like holding a random woman at gun point so you can breastfeed from her. After escaping from his captors, who had been torturing him, Vincent Gallo's nameless main character hadn't eaten in days, all while fighting off danger at every turn. In an effort to not die of starvation, he did what he had to do, which is what the film is ultimately about...

"Must be some kind of...Hot Tub Time Machine ..." (Hot Tub Time Machine)


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