*Week 13 – Movie Recommendations from #ADAF

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley (Gary Oldman) steps out of retirement to uncover a Soviet double agent within Britain’s MI6.

Ever heard of John le Carre, the British author of a long list of spy novels? If you haven’t, no one will hold it against you. He doesn’t exactly have the same level of name recognition as Ian Fleming or Tom Clancy. But you may be surprised to hear that several of his books have been adapted into Hollywood movies. The Oscar nominated The Constant Gardener, A Most Wanted Man (arguably, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last movie), and the recent Our Kind of Traitor are all based on le Carre’s written works. Critics may say that his best adapted novel is 1965’s The Spy that Came in from the Cold, but to me, it will always be 2011’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It’s got everything that makes spy movies spy movies: agents, double agents, assasinations, questionable intel, betrayals… things you can’t/don’t see coming. And look at the cast! Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch… all stellar (and all British) actors. To me, Tinker… is a nearly flawless spy thriller, but it comes with one caveat: it’s NOT a shoot’em up, explosive action movie. James Bond and Jason Bourne have got that market cornered. John le Carre’s stories strive on unspoken subtlety and chess-like intrigue. If Ian Fleming’s James Bond is a quick shot of espresso, then John le Carre’s George Smiley is a cup of slowly steeped Earl Grey tea. Sip slowly, it’s hot!

@anotherdayanotherfilm Recommended by Jeremy Yonzon

Wetlands (David Wnendt, 2013)

“It is the most disgusting film I’ve ever seen.” Ooops. I mean, not disgusting.  Disgusting but literally disgusting. Whatever!!! It is a great movie but a little disgusting! I mean gross! Very complicated. Let’s start again. Ok. “Wetlands” is a comedy driven by the main character’s philosophy toward sexual hygiene… or the lack of it.  However, the disgusting parts are never there just to arouse disgust. I found myself having a good laugh a large number of times.

@anotherdayanotherfilm Recommended by Merve Tekin

The Imposter (Bart Layton, 2012)

A documentary about a young man from Spain who claims to a grieving Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who has been missing for three years.

There was an early 2000s movie that nobody saw, a sci-fi movie starring Gary Sinise called “Impostor.” That isn’t the movie I’m talking about here. What I’m talking about here is another movie nobody saw called “The Imposter.” The differences between these two movies go way beyond the spelling of their titles. The main difference? One is really bad and the other is, well, really good. “The Imposter” is a taut documentary skillfully helmed by Bart Layton, a seasoned television director, who’s making his film debut. Here’s the premise and it’s all real: a 13-year old boy named Nicholas Barclay from San Antonio, Texas disappeared in 1994. After a fruitless search by the authorities and his family, he was listed as a missing person. Three years later, just as his family was beginning to accept the harsh reality that he was most likely dead, they receive a phone call from a police station in Spain telling them that Nicholas has been found. Strange? It gets stranger.  The person claiming to be Nicholas Barclay has the same unique features as the missing 13-year old boy (same tattoos, a noticeable gap between his two front teeth), only now he speaks in a heavy French accent and has a different eye color. And let me just point out again, this all really happened. “The Imposter” plays like a tightly wound, David Fincher-esque crime thriller, but with the conventions of documentary filmmaking, like interviewees talking directly to the camera. As they vocally recall the events behind the mystery, we’re treated to expertly photographed, skillfully intercut dramatizations, where actors flesh out the memories of the real persons involved. The real story told by this documentary is so mind-boggling and convoluted that a reviewer or critic can write a synopsis of the series of events, deliberately spoil a full list of all its plot-twisting details, and I bet he or she will still miss a couple!

@anotherdayanotherfilm Recommended by Jeremy Yonzon

Palm Trees in the Snow (Fernando Gonzalez Molina, 2015)

This movie was rated the BEST Spanish movie ever made. Based on the novel by the author Luz Gabás, this film by Fernando Gonzalez Molina has so much passion! This is a story of Kilian (Mario Casas), a young man who travels back to equatorial Guinea with his older brother to work (as a white manager) on a cacao plantation and falls in love with a local native. The film is a quality product you would want to see.

@anotherdayanotherfilm Recommended by Merve Tekin

Denial (Mick Jackson, 2016)

Acclaimed writer and historian Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) battles to prove for the historical truth of the Jewish Holocaust when David Irving (Timothy Spall), a renowned denier, sues her for libel.

Before seeing this movie, I wasn’t fully aware that holocaust denial was even a “thing” that existed. The events that “Denial” is based on happened before the post-fact era we live in now, where fake news and “alternative facts” have a palpable effect on how people perceive reality. So I was unnerved when this movie made me realize that people have always argued for a historical narrative to fit their personal politics. It’s not a new social phenomenon in the world, it’s just more prevalent now. It’s a scary time. It’s a time to push for a more informed populous. “Denial” is a stirring court-room drama that will remind you of the tensest scenes from “A Few Good Men.” Because it deals with the darkest event in human history, “Denial” has the ability to entertain and educate, making its release a case of perfect timing.

@anotherdayanotherfilm Recommended by Jeremy Yonzon

Look Who’s Back (David Surprisingly, 2015)

Based on Timur Surprisingly’s bestselling 2012 novel of the same name, “Look Who’s Back” begins with a simple theory: What if Adolf Hitler magically reappears in a housing project in East Berlin, near the site of the bunker where he killed himself? After a chance encounter with a TV producer, he engineers a plot to become a media star. The Fallen Führer rediscovers the power of television: “What a splendid means of propaganda!” Much of the start of the film centers on Hitler’s surprise about how the world has changed since 1945. The great metaphor of the film is in the scenes where Hitler meets ordinary people. They pose for selfies with the feared Nazi leader and perform the famous Hitler salute for him. Even non-European immigrants seem to be happy to see the Nazi leader. At one point, Hitler declares his intentions to “Make Germany great again.” It does sound familiar, doesn’t it? Suprisingly, this movie was shot almost two years ago. Hitler rising to power in the 21st century seemed like a fantasy, but today, the question isn’t whether or not Hitler is coming back, but if we’ll recognize him when he does?

@anotherdayanotherfilm Recommended by Merve Tekin

Train to Busan (Sang-ho Yeon, 2016)

At the onset of a viral outbreak that turns humans into zombies, a group of passengers fight to survive on a train traveling from Seoul to Busan.

Read the logline for “Train to Busan” and you might immediately conclude that it’s yet another zombie movie made from the same cookie cutter. But this one actually finds a way to break away from the horde. In other words, it plays the tricky genre game of sticking to what the audience expects while simultaneously giving them something new. And this one wins it. Much like another great South Korean movie, “Snowpiercer,” confining most of the plot inside of train cars does the trick. It’s a no-brainer: zombie action festers and builds up much more quickly in close quarters. The movie is filled with harrowing situations and brutal carnage, things you’d expect from a good zombie flick, but in “Train to Busan,” most of the action is claustrophobic. It may not be as character-driven as “The Walking Dead” and it may not be as epic as “World War Z,” but “Train to Busan” bolsters the South Korean film industry by showing the world that it can handle the zombie genre quite well. It may not reach the higher echelon wherein “Oldboy” resides, but then again, nothing quite does.

@anotherdayanotherfilm Recommended by Jeremy Yonzon


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