I think most film-goers will agree that the first half of 2014 has been on-point with quality releases. Long-standing director favorites like Wes Anderson, Lars von Trier and Jim Jarmusch have all bestowed us with their unique and entertaining tales, while an array of various new-comers gave us another mix of impressive works. It was hard to select just a few of our top choices among so many goodies, but here are 5 of our favorites.
1. Cold in July
Jim Mickle creeped us out last year with his dark horror flick, We Are What We Are. Now he’s back with Cold in July, and it’s once again filled with chilling subject matter (and Dexter’s Michael C. Hall with a mullet!). The best part, however, might have been the music; as the film takes place in 1989, Mickle appropriately had his frequent musical collaborator Jeff Grace produce an awesomely moody and synth-heavy score that sounded like it could have been lifted from one of John Carpenter’s films.
2. A Field in England*
I went to see this film because it was the only thing playing at Nitehawk that I hadn’t already seen. My go-to movie friend was like, “There’s this trippy black and white film about the English Civil War that we could see,” and the premise seemed so odd, I figured it was worth a shot. It was kind of like, The Holy Mountain meets The Blair Witch Project, as told by the Brits, or something. But let your curiosity guide you through this totally wacky war movie because it will surely be unlike anything you’re used to.
3. Only Lovers Left Alive
Everything about OLLA was so incredibly awesome — the music, the clothes, the myriad references to old British literature — that it basically epitomized the word ‘stylish.’ And the love story between Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston was so perfect.
4. Under The Skin
For a while, I felt as though Scarlett Johansson was kind of a ‘mehh’ rom-com actress but lately, she’s been appearing in a lot of more diverse and convincing roles. In Under The Skin, Johansson plays an alien seductress and she does a truly amazing job. The film has been praised for its haunting and unconventional direction by Jonthan Glazer.
5. Stranger By The Lake*
Stranger By The Lake is a beautiful Hitchcockian thriller about lust, love, morality and taking risks. Not for the faint of heart — there is a lot of nudity, a lot of explicit sex, and some scary surprises — this creepy psycho-sexual thriller is definitely not a film for passive watching, but it’s certainly worthy of your time and patience if you’re looking for a weird examination of human desires.
* Technically released in 2013, but to the general public in the US in 2014
By Nicole Woszczyna. Follow her on Twitter @nicolewozc.