As a Blue Mountains resident with below average internet speed, Netflix and Stan are a dream for the future. Despite the closure of nearly all video rental shops, there is still one saviour, the Blue Mountains Library Network.
I recently discovered a bunch of movies I had never heard of, many with big name actors and directors. Not all movies make it big at the box-office and many aren't even distributed at the cinema in Australia, but that doesn't mean they should be dismissed. Here's ten movies worth seeking out from the Blue Mountains Library DVD range.
Just Before I Go (Drama, black-comedy)
Directed by Courtney Cox and starring Sean William-Scott.
Ted Morgan (Sean William-Scott) has had enough of life, after his wife leaves him and so he heads back to his hometown to make amends with his past, before planning to commit suicide.
In his effort to tick off boxes, Ted finds that life has a strange way of proving no matter what it throws at you, it's not always bad. One of the reasons to watch this is its realistic array of relatable characters.
As with any movie that attempts to discuss suicide, it's going to be a tough sell. Putting Sean in the lead role meant many viewers would be expecting a comedy, however what this movie succeeds in, is turn a depressing drama, into a black-comedy, culminating into what is ultimately a feel-good flick.
Directed by Marielle Heller and starring Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgard and Kristen Wiig.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl is based on the graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner about a sixteen-year-old sketch artist, discovering her sexuality, by sleeping with her mother's boyfriend. It's set in 1970's San Francisco and in keeping with the time period, it features a stellar soundtrack of rocking guitars, funky beats and beautiful lyrics.
The performances are captivating and in real-life, a teenage coming of age story, is not always straight laced and vanilla scented. Kristen is the alcoholic mother who discovers her daughter's antics but it's the performance by Bel Powley as teenage girl Minnie who outright owns the movie.
Directed by Kern Saxon, starring Mark Hamill, Noah Hathaway, James Duvall and Cortney Palm.
From the start, there's no denying Sushi Girl is a homage to Quentin Tarantino. The camera angles, the soundtrack, the single location shoot and of course the overt gore. It's refreshing to see someone else use lessons in cinema from Tarantino.
Fish (Noah Hathaway) gets out of prison and is treated to a lavish dinner celebration but the gang he helped rob a bank, has ulterior motives and is also looking for their missing loot.
Mark Hamill is virtually unrecognisable as the camp, Crow and Noah Hathaway (the boy from the Never Ending Story) easily proves he's not a has-been kid actor anymore. Occasionally it's slow going, but stick with it till the end, it's totally worth it.
God's Pocket (Drama) Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Turturro and Christina Hendricks. Directed by John Slattery.
God's Pocket is Philip Seymour Hoffman's last completed movie and was released with little fanfare. Set in the suburb of God's Pocket in New York, it's gritty, languid and should have received much praise, if not Oscar nominations.
Mickey's (Seymour Hoffman) step-son is killed in a suspicious accident at his construction job and he tries to hide the truth about what really happened, Richard Shellburn (Richard Jenkins) is the newspaper reporter determined to find out the truth, in a hostile, close-knit community.
What I loved about this movie was the subtle acting and excellent casting choices. They really played up to the dark tones of a blue-collar neighbourhood and the soundtrack perfectly matched the movie. There's something captivating about watching an actor's last ever movie.
God's Pocket. Image courtesy of the Blue Mountains Library website.
Adoration (also known as Adore) (Drama, romance)
Starring Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Sophie Lowe, Ben Mendolsohn, Gary Sweet and Jessica Tovey.
Adoration is the unconventional love story of two best friends who grew up together; who end up falling for each other sons. It's based on the short story by Nobel Prize winner, Dorris Lessing. The film is set in a beautiful beachside location (filmed in Seal Rocks, Northern NSW) Lil (Naomi Watts) & Roz (Robin Wright) seem to have the idyllic life which is turned upside down when desires overcome logic and morals.
What makes this movie worth watching is the rare cinematic story of an older woman, snaring a younger man, which it pulls off with conviction. There's no denying it's an odd love story but with perfect white-sand beaches gushing with turquoise water, overlooked by stunning Vogue-esque houses, it's easy to get caught up in this summer love. Includes a long list of outstanding Australian actors.
Starring Dave Franco, Emma Roberts, Juliette Lewis.
Nerve is high energy, adrenalin filled and has an interesting premise, of an online game where teens find themselves doing dares for cash. The higher the number of online watchers and the more risqué the dare, the higher the prize.
Filmed as though it's in real-time, Nerve certainly has you feeling the excitement and thrill as Vee (Emma Roberts) and Ian (Dave Franco) seemingly cross paths whilst playing the game Nerve.
With Facebook and YouTube live video streams, it's easy to imagine this becoming a real thing and that's part of the movie's attraction. The chemistry between Emma Roberts and Dave Franco feels genuine and it's the realism that made this movie stand out. Sure it's somewhat predictable but with its fast pace, you won't have much time to be concerned about that.
Starring Will Poulter, Charlotte Spencer and Charlie Creed-Miles. Directed by Dexter Fletcher.
You may not recognise the names but Will Poulter (The Revenant, We're the Millers, The Maze Runner - which are also all available at the library) and Charlotte Spencer (Les Miserables) are instantly recognisable.
Wild Bill (Creed-Miles) gets out of prison (on parole) to find his two boys abandoned by their mother, fending for themselves. Community services are wanting to send the boys to a foster home and so Bill has to ignore his wild past to attempt to be a father figure, whilst gaining the trust and love of his boys, which has been lost, since being in prison.
What I loved about this movie was the realistic portrayal of the struggles of parenting, the rich performances by a strong cast and the storyline of an older sibling trying to raise a younger sibling in lieu of parents. It's warm, light-hearted and yet still retains that edgy-urban decay feel.
There's no subtlety that this is a Tom Ford film (of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent) and as such, it looks as though you're watching a 100 minute commercial for suits or stationary. Putting that aside, it is a beautiful film with an undeniably Oscar-worthy performance by Colin Firth.
Firth stars as George Falconer, a gay university professor, coming to terms with his partner's death. Ostracised by his partner's family, despite them being together for sixteen years, depression causes him to be suicidal but life has a funny way of twisting things up when he least expects it.
Julie-Anne Moore is the flamboyant ex-wife who adds colour, and vibrancy to an otherwise sombre and dark moody film. Few movies have so much emphasis put into the look of the set; every detail scrutinized. It really is remarkable.
Starring Naomi Watts, Ben Stiller, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried.
Cornelia ( Naomi Watts) and Josh (Ben Stiller) are a middle-aged couple bored by their friends, life and each other, who find their Life energised through twenty-something hipsters Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried).
Ben Stiller (like Sean William-Scott) has a hard time escaping the comedy tag. On the flip-side, it's a fun movie and any childless fortysomething will relate to the struggles of Cornelia and Josh.
What I enjoyed about this was its quirky comedic moments, accurate portrayals of carefree hipsters and the fluidity of Naomi Watts who seems perfectly suited to smaller roles.
Starring Richard Armitage, Charlie Condue, Aden Gillette, Julian Glover, Will Keen, Amanda Root.
Whilst not a movie per se, but a mini-series made for the BBC, this was created based on letters and events that cover key moments in the Impressionist movement. It covers the relationships between Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne, and Edouard Manet.
It gives an accurate portrayal of how unique each artist was and the struggles the movement had as a whole trying to do something different. It's mind-googling to think that for years, these incredible artists were ridiculed because they were ahead of their time and unappreciated in transitioning from the Realism movement to the Impressionist movement.
Strong casting, intriguing storylines, historically accurate and filmed on location at places where famous paintings were made including Giverny (Monet's house and garden); this series brings a whole collection of artwork to life with the artists' backstories.