Blue Valentine (2010) Cianfrance - At once a romance and a break-up story, with the two narrative braided together. We see a charming young couple face some hard life situations, and perhaps irrationally decide to marry. In the break-up narrative, it's clear that booze, mild abuse, and disgust have entered the picture and hastened the demise of the relationship. While sometimes hard to watch, I never felt like I might cry (and I cry at everything). It was emotional with being very visceral and never going to the extremes that some critics may have you believe. You might be abele to predict where things are going, but that doesn't mean you still shouldn't watch this...Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling are both amazing actors. This is also the type of movie where it's interesting to have discussions with fellow viewers to see where they lay the blame (I personally think that Cindy was too hard on Dean, even if Dean is a little crazy threatening to kill himself and such...) 4/5
Henry Fool (1997) Hartley - Hal Hartley is so great with his dark, dry humor and stilted yet smart dialogue. This film is about the Grim family consisting of a quiet garbageman (Simon), his slutty sister (Fay) and their suicidal mother. Henry enters their lives by renting out the basement apartment, and encourages Simon to write poetry, while he pursues both of the ladies of the house. Simon's writing turns out to be brilliant if divisive among readers and publishers. He wants to repay Henry for the gift of expression by helping him get his mysterious "confessions" published. Drama. Estrangement. Etc. The only other Hartley film I've seen is Trust, but so far he's 2 for 2. 4/5
Valhalla Rising (2010) Refn - A saturated color spectacle about vikings on a journey home...or perhaps to Hell. This film manages to be deliberately paced while still incredibly gory. The imagery is so interesting and our protagonist is a one-eyed mute. The soundtrack and look and everything about this film was so stylish; I'm very curious to see Refn's other films, in particular the Pusher trilogy and the film Bronson from a couple years ago.