10 Great Films High On Films Recommends: 3rd Edition
Here are the 10 films that made it to the 3rd edition of our ‘HOF-Men Recommend’ Series. You can check out the 1st and 2nd Edition at the end of this post.
1. The Wolfpack  | IMDb: 7.1/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
“Are you gonna bark all day little doggy, or are you gonna bite” As one of the Angulo Brothers says Mr. Blonde’s lines while they were enacting the whole climax of Reservoir Dogs, my first reaction to it was exactly like Samuel Jackson in Pulp Fiction when he was told that hash is legal in Amsterdam, “oh man, I am going” he said out of excitement, I was almost that excited. Only later I realize, this is not some celebration of being a film buff, but a real story of a family confined in Cinema. It is sad yet fascinating which never asks for sympathy, instead comes out as a compassionate story that makes a heartfelt connection.
The Wolfpack is a documentary about the Angulo Family led by Oscar Angulo, who confined his seven children for many years in their apartment in the Lower East Side of the New York City and all they did for years is watched movies, thousands of movies. Why did Oscar Angulo do that and what happened when the children rebelled? Oscar Angulo, decided that the society will harm his kids and so he put them in confinement and the kids and their mother obeyed. The Wolfpack introduces us to this New York oddball of a family that is weird but intriguing and at times behave like freaks. However, strangely for a film buff, half of the things they do will seem normal enough to you. Of course, they went out on the streets sometimes, “sometimes we’d go out 9 times a year, sometimes once and at one particular year, we never got out at all” recalls Mukunda, the eldest of the seven children.
2. The Sea Inside  | IMDb: 8.1/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
7 years ago, I watched The Sea Inside [Spanish Title: Mar Adentro], obviously, I liked it back then but it was only when I watched it last week, I realized the underlying subtext of this masterpiece and how great this film really is. To Summarise it in a sentence, The Sea Inside is a profound demonstration of the struggle that lies between Life and Death. Following a Diving Accident at the Sea at a young age of 25, Ramon Sampedro became a quadriplegic. The film is about the true story of his campaign against the legal system of his country for 28 years for the right to end his life.
The core of the film is based on the morality of the question if it is right to kill yourself when there is no freedom and dignity in your life. At the same time, it also tries to raise a question if we really are in a position to take a decision for another person. Maybe, it is best if we don’t take sides of this very ‘moral question’ because either way, it was Ramone at the receiving end of it.
3. Blow-Up  | IMDb: 7.7/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up is a work of art. One that holds even today. It’s an influential film which needs to be seen for the way it jabs into the various movie-making forms and just lets them sync in, without striking a wrong note. It’s one of those films that vibrant, uptight and subtle for its own good. There are scenes where you see the protagonist munching around the various things that shout and speak to him. There is no sign of stress in his mind and things seem all in place, but quite like life Paranoia and mystical things are around the corner.
On one of his regular (or at least it seems like regular) moving around the town trips, Thomas (David Hemmings) stumbles upon a couple fooling around in the park. Regardless of the risk, he starts clicking pictures which, with a series of event leave him completely lost out of sight and sense. Antonioni’s film has a protagonist who doesn’t defy the conventions but he certainly fascinates with his jazzed-up involvement in the mediocrity of the world. You see him burning his clothes and buying propellers from random antique shops, just because he could.
4. Do The Right Thing (1989) | IMDb: 7.9/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
“One hand is always fighting the other hand”, says a character in this Spike Lee joint.
What is right? What is wrong? Who gets to be on the wall? Who doesn’t? Who deserves to live? Who gets to die? Who is black? Who is white? In Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, the camera moves faster than the slang being said. The film investigates and moves through the life of a sad neighborhood. While the sun is taking the toll, people are busy getting their head and life boiled in agony. Do the Right Thing is Spike Lee’s way of proving that violence doesn’t give you satisfaction in any way. When the chips are down, all you are left with are breadcrumbs which looked way better when they weren’t breadcrumbs.
Do the Right Thing doesn’t give you to the quintessential truth to get by in life, it just tallies all the things that happen unceasingly in the world. Like while the two hands fight, it’s not always love that wins, it’s not always the drunk who gets shot, it’s not always the procrastinators that complain when everything comes crumbling down, and also the fact that if you look closely at the drawings on the ground, they will show you the truth, ruth.
Mark Hunter (Christian Slater) is like every single one of us when we go to a new school or even a new place. We have that one girl in our sight who seems like the love of our life, and a constant reminder in our head that we have to make a mark, we have to bring on a change. While most of us fall prey to the constant ramblings of masters and so-called ‘well-wisher’ a bunch of us step on the gas tank and push up out limits.
Pump Up The Volume is a coming-of-age tale in it’s most vigilante form. Allan Moyle’s film stands tall on two important things: It’s youthful writing and Christian Slater’s delivery. Pump Up The Volume is one of the most underrated high school movies out there. I know it is far relevant for the American teenagers but the entirety of its substance stands tall on all fronts. What’s the use of the right to speak when you don’t know how to use it judiciously? If you’re good at something, let that churn inside you, it will come out eventually. People will shout, people will comment, what matters is, you, constantly thinking “SO BE IT.”
6. Peppermint Candy  | IMDb: 7.9/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
While the ‘Nolan brothers’ were receiving acclaim for their mind-bending, revenge thriller cult film ‘Memento’ which is told in reverse chronology, Lee Chang-dong released his drama film ‘Peppermint Candy’ during the same phase of the time that is also told in the reverse chronology. Peppermint Candy begins with a man who commits suicide, and then it is followed by the episodic events that explore different aspects of his life over two decades and look for an answer for his fatal decision. Beneath this layer of a plot, every event of Yong-ho’s life signifies the past fifty years of Korean history as well, a people subject to the influences of forces greater than they.
While the suicide of erratic Yong-ho life raises many questions, and a few of earlier episodes shows how raging and dominant kind of a spoiled person he is; It is until we see a glimpse of his earlier days molding him into what he becomes later. The emotional power of each scene is built on our knowledge of what is yet to come for this corrupted and despairing man. And that power keeps intensifying, reaching an almost unbearable level of sadness and empathy. Peppermint Candy is so unflinching in its despair. Kyung-gu Sol has given an incredible performance that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
7. Le Grand Voyage  | IMDb: 7.3/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
“A tribute to the 97% of Muslims we never hear about in the Western world” is how French writer/director Ismael Ferroukhi describes his honest attempt in showcasing father-son bittersweet relationship during a road trip. A French-Moroccan elder patriarch makes up his mind to go for pilgrimage to Mecca by car, but since he has no driving license and his elder son’s license has been confiscated by Police, he orders his youngest son to drive him to Mecca.
While on the laborious journey, youngest son Reda and his dad meet number of people from different countries and they always learn a thing or two about themselves and their own weak relationship that needs time to understand each other. Their thoughts clashes all the time that sparks the argument between them, but eventually they try to knock the difference either by mutual understanding or in respect of his father, Reda gives up on his piece of argument. It is a feel-good film that has been done in a very typical manner, but it gives great insight into the Muslim lives of two generation and their encounter with different people displays a lot of culture and social behavior of respective countries they cover. While not to miss, the last 15 min shot in Mecca is almost ecstatic and hallucinatory.
8. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!  | IMDb: 6.8/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
The very moment I thought of giving up the hope on this cheap sexually driven violent thriller, I was hooked by its twisted central thrilling plot that throws some great action and performances that will stay with you after end credit rolls. During the most bizarre opening montage which introduces three voluptuous female characters with their breasts popping out, a voice narrates or rather I say warns that “While violence cloaks itself in a plethora of disguises, its favorite mantle still remains: sex.”
Three women race with a guy in the middle of the desert while the guy’s girlfriend act as a referee. After the race goes awry and one of the ‘pussycat’ kills that guy, all the three women kidnap his girlfriend and under some circumstances, they meet the dysfunctional family (All men) on their way. What happens to three women and how they deal with the kidnapped girl and dysfunctional family forms the central plot. It is best B grade cheap thrill movie you can ever see which has strong metaphor and deals violently with the feminist issue. Very strong performances from all and really engaging central plot with lots of twists and turns with strong sexual tone.
9. The Dance of Reality  | IMDb: 7.5/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
After 23 years of hiatus, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s triumphant return to the big screen is nothing less than the resurrection of God. In this semi-autobiographical feature, 85 years old Chilean filmmaker guides us into his boyhood. We see the re-enactment of his adolescence memories through a surrealistic prism. Reality is as fractured as memories attached to it, existing only in bits and pieces, a dance created by our own illusions. Set against the dazzling backdrop of Tocopilla, a coastal town on the edge of the Chilean desert, this psychedelic journey of self-exploration unfolds like poetry, with the perfect blend of personal and communal struggle. Jodorowsky is known for making poetic films that heal the human spirit.
By making this film, Jodorowsky attempts to redeem his inner child, re-establishing his parents as larger than life figures- Stalinist masochistic father and affectionate operatic mother. The movie also unveils the descent of his father, set out on a mission to assassinate the Chilean dictator. Though, not as Jodorowsky-ian as fans might have come to expect, Dance of Reality is director’s most accessible work till date, proving that God of midnight cinema can also adopt conventional and coherent film-making. This visceral coming of age fable has brought a lost legend in limelight again.
10. The True Cost  | IMDb: 7.5/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 57%
We communicate who we are to a certain extent with our clothing. Andrew Morgan’s devastating documentary on the social impact of the fashion industry is sure to change the way we look at our clothes. One would rather roam naked, had he known the horrendous condition of hands and hearts behind those expensive clothes. The fashion industry is the most polluting one, after oil industry. The clothing we produce has increased by 500% in just a couple of decades. Such an excessive consumption of clothing has given birth to ‘Fast fashion’, wherein something new pops up every week in the world of fashion. To meet this exorbitant demand, workers are hampered to the limit where they can’t even afford more than two pee-breaks per day.
America outsources 97% of its clothing from developing countries, and most prominently from Bangladesh. The movie features one of the biggest tragedies of the fashion industry, in which 1000 workers died when 8 story factory collapsed in Dhaka. It was heartbreaking to know that people of the third world are paying a high price for our cheap clothes. Andrew Morgan’s has made an eye-opening documentary; however, it feels over sensationalized at times. Cloths are the skin we choose for ourselves. Let’s not our skin be shroud in someone’s coffin.