Teen pregnancy is a difficult topic at best, and “Juno” turns it around and makes it hilarious and yet realistic at the same time. The story revolves around a pregnant teenager grappling with the idea of love and her feelings for her baby-daddy. She eventually gives the baby up in a closed adoption to a woman yearning to be a mother (Jennifer Garner). Ellen Page and Michael Cera’s awkward charm and chemistry as Juno and Paulie make this very sweet and touching in its weirdness.
The indie music soundtrack sets this movie apart and raises the bar for great movie music. Also commendable are the muted shades of yellows and reds used throughout the movie, giving it a distinct warm and inviting tone. Directed by Jason Reitman, this movie is a different take on a common scenario and drives one smoothly through the travails of teen pregnancy. This Oscar-winning movie (for Best Original Screenplay) is a joy to watch.
4. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
As quirky movies go, this one is a real tearjerker. Based on the novel of the same name by Jesse Andrews, it follows the friendship of a teenager named Greg, played by a doleful looking Thomas Mann, with Rachel, played by a luminous Olivia Cooke. Rachel plays the titular Dying Girl who is suffering from leukaemia. Greg, at first a loner who barely acknowledges his only friend, Earl (a droll RJ Cyler), learns to care deeply for Rachael.
Look out for a series of short but delightful parodies of classic movies interspersed throughout the film. The use of shorts burst of animation and Claymation which fit into the narrative adds a bittersweet lighthearted touch to the movie.
A Dramatic and the Audience Award winner at the Sundance Film Festival, the movie can be summed up as a coming-of-age story as Greg grows up with the progress of Rachel’s illness. Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, the movie builds to a crescendo that is wonderfully cathartic to watch. One leaves loving all the little quirks that make up each character and feeling rejuvenated.
3. Swiss Army Man
This Sundance winner for Best Director may leave you scratching your head at first, but it plays out as a curiously fun story. Oh, and did I mention a whole load of fart jokes? Daniel Radcliffe plays the Swiss Army Man — or more accurately — the Swiss Army Corpse: a dead but yet animated cadaver with a variety of uses. In an interview with Stephen Colbert, Radcliffe admits that the movie has a reputation for being known as the Daniel Radcliffe ‘Farting, Erection, Corpse’ movie.
It starts off with a depressed, suicidal man named Hank (a brilliantly emphatic Paul Dano) who is marooned on a deserted island. He finds Radcliffe’s corpse washed ashore and finds that it can somehow propel itself through the water with its bombastic farts. Riding it like a jet ski, Hank and the corpse (Manny) start communicating.
Manny has forgotten all about his former life, so Hank starts teaching Manny all about life and love, and in turn teaches himself. Meanwhile, Manny is a veritable Swiss army toolset: water storage, burp-powered BB-gun, fart-powered ambulation, and not to mention an erection that acts as a compass toward salvation.
This strange story that revels in its weirdness evolves into something else as the viewer realises that all is not as it seems. But the story’s appeal is evident as it delves into the depths of loneliness in the human soul. The twist at the end is a shocker and it leaves one to relate to the twists and depredations in a human soul. Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, this movie is infinitely watchable and a breath of fresh air, fart-ridden or otherwise.
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Written by the acclaimed Charlie Kaufman and directed by Michel Gondry, this movie revolves around a couple who erase each other from their memories using newfangled technology. The movie follows Joel, played by a toned-down Jim Carrey, as he goes through a rollercoaster of emotions as memories of his girlfriend start to fade. Clementine, the girlfriend, is played by a grunge-looking Kate Winslet. Joel realizes that he does not want to lose his memories of Clementine as he careens through a kaleidoscopic landscape of memories, giving rise to some stunning cinematography.
The passage of different time periods and moods is showcased by Clementine’s changing hair colours, lending to some interesting visuals and colour compositions on screen. There is a thread of hope that winds through the bittersweetness of the movie as Joel and Clementine find their way back to each other, even after having their memories erased. The movie leaves one to ponder the intricacies of attraction and meaning of success in a relationship.
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Another movie from the reigning king of quirk, Wes Anderson. The pinks, the purples, the pastries! This movie is visually stunning. Ralph Fiennes is oh-so-charismatic as the concierge of a picturesque but fading European hotel, the Grand Budapest. The movie is set in the fictional country of Zubrowka, which at the time of the main narrative (1932) is at the edge of war.
The story follows the trials and tribulations of Fiennes’s Monsieur Gustave H. and his devoted mentee, hotel lobby boy Zero Moustafa, played with nervous energy by Tony Revolori. The movie won a ton of accolades for its visual spectacle and Best Picture at the Golden Globes.
M. Gustav entertains wealthy older blondes and is willed an expensive painting when one of them (a prosthetically aged Tilda Swinton) is murdered, ostensibly by her son, played with dastardly relish by Adrien Brody. Gustav and Zero steal the painting only to be pursued by a hit man and go through a madcap series of adventures. The story is helped along by a strong supporting cast — mostly Wes Anderson regulars such as Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson. A fast-paced plot and brilliant soundtrack pull this movie together and make it a pleasure to watch.
Honourable Mentions: Obvious Child (2014, Directed by Gillian Robespierre), Big Fish (2004, Directed by Tim Burton), Silver Linings Playbook (2012, Directed by David O. Russell), Napoleon Dynamite (2004, Directed by Jared Hess), Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008, Directed by Peter Sollett), Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004, Directed by Wes Anderson), The Brothers Bloom (2008, Directed by Rian Johnson)
Author Bio: Veena Nair is a sci-fi nut and aspiring bohemian. She aims to complete the perfect zombie novel. Follow her on instagram under Urban Veentage.