Millennium Entertainment via Everett Collection
There are some days when all you need a movie to be is light and cheerful, but then there are others when all you want to do is wallow in sadness for a little while and have a good cry. For times like those, you need a film that will rip your heart out. Our Netflix Hand-Picked Flix recommendation for this week's Bluesday Tuesday pick, What Maisie Knew, will do just that, and then probably stomp on it a few times for good measure.
The film chronicles the bitter and toxic custody battle between Susanna (Julianne Moore) and Beale (Steve Coogan), told from the perspective of their observant their 7 year-old daughter Maisie (Onata Aprile), who is starting to understand how selfish and immature her parents can be. Luckily, she has some support from her step-parents, her former live-in nanny Margo (Joanna Vanderham) and bartender Lincoln (Alexander Skarsgard), who are just as much a pawn in this game as Maisie is. The film is an unflinchingly depressing look at the toll that such a dysfunctional relationship can have on a child, who the parents begin to treat more like a bargaining chip than an actual human being. The film also features a wonderfully harsh performance from Moore as the self-obsessed, slightly delusional mother.
However, What Maisie Knew is anchored by Aprile, whose Maisie doesn’t throw tantrums like her parents, but is instead quietly heartbreaking as she begins to process where she stands in her parents’ priorities. The ending is somewhat divisive, but whether you love it or hate it, the film will leave you completely devastated – which, sometimes, is exactly what you need.
What Maise Knew is available to stream instantly on Netflix.
Phase 4 Films
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Iron Man 3, Man Of Steel -- 2013 was another big year for big movies. But it was also a great year for independent film as movies like Don Jon and Fruitvale Station received critical acclaim and much love from audiences everywhere. In one way or another, these were all great films, all deserving our attention. However, there are many smaller productions that didn't receive quite as much buzz, but still captured the hearts of many-a-moviegoer. In case you missed them, here are five indie films you definitely should have seen in 2013, but probably didn't.
Ain't Them Bodies Saints
If there ever was such a thing as a romantic crime drama, this would be it. A beautiful, searing, poetic Bonnie & Clyde-esque tale starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, direcor David Lowery's third feature film was easily one of the best films of the year.
The English Teacher
Julianne Moore, Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins, and Michael Angarano round out the fantastic cast in this one. The horrors of high school have been the basis for countless movies over the years, but in The English Teacher even the adults are like a bunch of horny adolescents. Oh, and the brilliant Nathan Lane plays the drama teacher you totally wish you'd had back in the day.
It's actually frustrating that this was not one of the more talked-about films of the year. Spike Lee called it "the #1 NYC movie of the year" and the bottom line is, Newlyweeds is absolute hilarious. We didn't know we were looking for a romantic stoner dramedy for the ages, but we're glad we got it.
Eden (or The Abduction of Eden)
An unfrogettable film based on the horrific true story of a teenaged girl who was kidnapped and sold into prostitution, Eden stars former MTV Real World star Jamie Chung. Chung proves herself to be a wholly capable actress with her performance alongside veterans like Beau Bridges and Tantoo Cardinal.
What Maisie Knew
Another great indie feature from Julianne Moore, the actress plays an aging rocker/neglectful mother, but the story is really shown through the expereinces of her daughter Maisie (played by Onata Aprile). Maisie becomes a pawn in the cruel games of her immature and irresponsible parents, but eventually finds familial love under some very strange circumstances. Oh, and then there's the Alexander Skarsgård aspect of it all.