By Bryant Francis
2008 was certainly a huge hit for blockbuster movies, with films like Iron Man and The Dark Knight making enough money to pay for the tuitions of the entire Ithaca student body, it’s easy to forget the many, many independent titles that were released this year. Here are a few that should go on your viewing list right away.
Directed by Danny Boyle, this film centers on the experiences of Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) as he competes on India’s version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and shows how his life and the search for the girl he loves have led him to this point.
Why should you see it? Why haven’t you? If you missed this Oscar-winning film in theaters, watch it on DVD as soon as you can. The story is heartwarming and gripping, the shots are brilliantly composed, the three central characters are believable and engaging–the film is absolutely sublime from start to finish. It successfully shows the harsh realities of life in India among the lower classes, refusing to gloss over it in any way, shape, or form. If you aren’t grinning from ear to ear by the film’s end, you might not be human.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, made this short film with the help of his friends and family in anticipation of the writer’s strike of early 2008, and wound up deciding to release it for free on the Internet. The titular character, Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris), struggles to both gain entry into the Evil League of Evil and win the affections of Penny (Felicia Day), who is dating his nemesis, Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion). Also–it’s a musical.
Why should you see it? It’s free! Just go to www.drhorrible.com and you can watch the entire 42-minute deal. You don’t have to be a Buffy/Firefly fanatic to enjoy the film–and if you are, I’m surprised you haven’t seen it already. Dr. Horrible pits the term “quality over quantity,” because within those 42 minutes, you might very well laugh, cry, cheer for the villain, and find yourself humming along to the (dare I say it?) horribly catchy tunes produced here.
The Edge of Heaven
(Auf der anderen seite)
Fatih Akin, the German-Turkish director of Head On, divides the movie into three parts to tell the story of Nejat (Baki Davrak), a young man who is searching for the daughter of his father’s lover. The film tells a compelling and interesting story about the struggles of crossing borders and dealing with a way of life that seems strange and foreign.
Why should you see it? The plot’s actually a lot more complicated than that, and audiences will find themselves trying to figure out exactly how the story is going to proceed. The setup of the film, the heavily symbolic camera shots, and the excellent pacing make The Edge of Heaven a must-see for any drama fans.
Other Indie films to check out from 2008:
Synecdoche, New York– Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays a theater director attempting to regain control of his life as he attempts to create a life-size replica of New York City inside a warehouse.
War, Inc.– John Cusack plays a corporate assassin in this satire of the military-industrial complex. While the plot might run all over the place in a few ways, most of the jabs at mercenary companies like Blackwater are spot on.
Let the Right One In–
A young boy plagued by bullies befriends the strange new girl who has moved in
next door, just as a series of mysterious murders begin to plague his town.
Henry Poole is Here- Luke Wilson plays a terminally-ill man who abandons his family to live out what he believes to be the rest of his days alone, only to have his solitude interrupted by a strange “miracle” that appears on the side of his house.