MCN Blogs
Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar Voynar@moviecitynews.com

Independents

There are some good independent films in theaters right now that I want to talk about, all of which are highly recommended.
First up, Steve McQueen’s Hunger, about Irish Republican Army hunger striker Bobby Sands. This film blew me away when I saw it at Cannes last year, and I really felt it should have won the Un Certain Regard category over Tulpan. The direction by Steve McQueen, making his theatrical directorial debut, is taut and remarkably assured, and the dramatic tension in the film kept me on the edge of my seat. Michael Fassbender’s performance as Bobby Sands is powerful, and while the film has been criticized in some quarters for only showing one side of the long-standing conflict that led to Sands and the other IRA members being in prison to begin with, Hunger isn’t an historical account about the IRA, it’s specifically about the human rights issues around how the prisoners were treated at that time.


Also in theaters right now is Tokyo Sonata, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s beautiful film about a Japanese family. The patriarch of the family has lost his job and, ashamed to tell his family what happened, continues to leave the house every day as if he’s going to the office. Meanwhile, his young son has a gift for music, but his father has forbidden him to take piano lessons; the boy uses his lunch money to secretly pay for piano lessons and pursue his dream. Tokyo Sonata is gorgeously shot, and it’s great storytelling that takes an ordinary family and examines it in an extraordinary way. This was another of my favorite films from Cannes last year — completely unexpected, subtle filmmaking from a director better known for the horror genre (Pulse, Retribution, Loft).
Christine Jeff’s Sunshine Cleaning, starring Emily Blunt and Amy Adams, is also still in theaters, and is an enjoyable film about two sisters who start a business cleaning up crime scenes. Underneath that (admittedly interesting) conceit, though, it’s really about how Rose (Adams), once the cream of the high school crop, the perky, cute head cheerleader who dated the star quarterback, has to come to terms with a post-high school life in which she cleans the houses of richer people — including former classmates — and is having an affair with her high school boyfriend, who’s long since been married to another classmate. It’s also about the complicated relationship between Rose and her younger sister Norah (Blunt), who Rose has had to care for since their mother’s death when they were very young, and both sisters relationship with their father. This film looks to me to have been signficantly tightened up since I first saw it at Sundance a couple years ago, and it’s well worth catching.
Jan Troell’s Everlasting Moments is still in theaters, and I’d strongly suggest seeing it on a big screen, the better to appreciate the gorgeous cinematography. The story is about Maria Larsson, a turn-of-the century woman struggling to maintain a marriage to an alcoholic, abusive and philandering husband while raising a pack of children. Maria wins a camera in a lottery, and when she finds she has a talent for photography, she finds a measure of freedom in her creative pursuits that makes her difficult life more tolerable.
And lastly, while I’ve still not seen it myself, Sin Nombre is also out, and I’ve heard good things about it from many people whose opinions on cinema I respect. It’s great that there are so many solid independent films in theaters right now … catch them while you can.

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One of the great movies. Charles Bronson, great, Charles Bronson. Great movies. Today you can’t make that movie because it’s not politically correct, right? It’s not politically correct. But could you imagine with Trump? Somebody says, oh, all these big monsters aren’t around he’s easy pickings and then shoot.”
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