5. In Search of a Midnight Kiss (2007)
“In Search of a Midnight Kiss” is an independent American film that’s described as a romantic comedy, although it really goes a little further than that. It’s filmed in black and white with a reduced budget, without artifice, and full of good dialogues and some really fun situations. This film is independent cinema at his best, made with a very low budget that shows us film in another way.
Wilson is 29 years old and has come to Los Angeles with the intention of forgetting his misfortunes. He has broken up with his girlfriend, his car left him lying around in Arizona and, in addition, his computer was stolen with several scripts on which he was working.
Without plans of any kind, he meets Jacob, his best friend, who recommends he publish a personal ad in the contact section of Craig’s List: “Misanthrope would like to meet misanthrope.” So begins the story of Wilson and Vivian. She is also from Texas. She came to Los Angeles to become an actress and she has just left her boyfriend. Together they will live the last hours of a year that ends and the first hours of a story that begins.
The strength of this film lies in the identification of its characters, demonstrated by dialogues for which no subject is taboo, and the truth does not matter at first, because the most important thing is to laugh at oneself and to understand the other person. But those statements are not alone. The film has brilliant cinematography with a certain contrast and a lot of sharpness. It embellishes what is told in close ups. The owners of the scene are the actors, not the camera movements nor the editing – just the people.
4. Grbavica (2006)
To begin with, this is a film made by and for Bosnians, and more specifically for the inhabitants of Sarajevo. “Grbavica” is a film directed by Jasmila Zbanic, with participation from Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany and Croatia. It’s about post-war Sarajevo.
Esma wants her daughter Sara, who is 12 years old, to have the opportunity to participate in a trip organized by the school. It would be enough with a certificate proving that her father died as a martyr during the war so that she would go for half the price, but Esma always gives the runarounds to Sara when she asks for the certificate. Apparently, she prefers to move heaven and earth to find the money and pay the price of the trip. She is convinced that she’s protecting herself and her daughter if she does not tell her the truth.
The premise is not really known by the viewer until almost the end of the film. It decisively influences the lives of women who suffered these humiliations during the war. The main character acts very well in a content role that modulates her feelings in their right degree.
The depth to which the mother-daughter relationship is narrated turns the story of Esma and Sara into something that’s more than a plea against the war, in a courageous declaration of principles where values and customs are forgotten, and as solidarity between women or respect for memory are claimed.
3. A Moment to Remember (2004)
One of the best and beautifully filmed Korean films of all time, and no, it is not a violent thriller nor an action movie. It is a romantic drama film. Perhaps Korean cinema has struggled through the years with this genre. They had a home run with “My Sassy Girl,” an excellent romantic comedy, but with “A Moment to Remember,” they hit it out of the park.
By a mistake followed by a misunderstanding, young Su-Jin and Chul-Soo cross their lives. Attraction and chemistry arise between them, as well as a problem: Chul-Soo works as a carpenter for her father. It’s something unexpected that will test their relationship. That is the plot of the film, and it is surely better if you do not know anything more about it, because the emotional journey of the plot will crush you.
Technically, the film is excellent and wonderful to look at. The direction is solid, the cinematography is gorgeous and the music choices are really captivating. But the best thing of “A Moment to Remember” is the main couple, played by Jung woo-sung and Son ye-jin. It is unbelievable the immense chemistry that both actors have on screen together. They are both charming and beyond realistic, and that helps a lot when it comes to giving credibility to a story and, above all, getting excited.
Within its genre, “A Moment to Remember” is one of the best films that has ever been made. And without a doubt it is among the best Asian films of this decade.
2. Vendredi Soir (2002)
This is another romantic drama film, this time coming from France and directed by the interesting and acclaimed independent filmmaker Claire Denis. “Vendredi Soir” is an example of showing the simplicity of life and the nature of love at its best.
It’s Friday night, and Laura has packed everything. Tomorrow she will go to live at François’s house. But tonight she leaves the empty apartment, where she no longer feels at home, to go to dinner with Marie and Bernard. She is paralyzed in the middle of a huge traffic jam because there is a heavy strike. But Laura does not care: tonight, here, in her car, is where she really feels at home. It’s hot, music is playing, nothing can happen.
Outside is winter. The pedestrians in a hurry to return home, the clamor of the horns, the nerves and general agitation, except a little further on, a motionless man in a leather jacket decides to interact with Laura.
It seems as though Denis does not explain anything here, but the thing is that images speak for themselves. It is amazing how much meaning and beauty can be shown with these two characters played by Valérie Lemercier and Vincent Lindon just sitting there, in the car, just talking and experiencing the lapse of time.
The intimacy that is achieved between the two protagonists is completely inexplicable, but it is achieved. Perhaps the protagonist has allowed herself a moment of total freedom before returning to her reality. Maybe the film can be seen as an ode to freedom and to the ecstasy of the moment, and it is really beautiful.
1. Eureka (2000)
One day, Makoto, a bus driver, watches a psychopath kidnap his vehicle and kill all travelers except for him and two young children, Kozue and Naoki, who are saved thanks to the intervention of the police. Plunged into a depression after this event, Makoto decides to leave his home and his wife.
On the other hand, Kozue and Naoki have to face two dramatic situations: their mother abandons them to go live with her lover and their father dies in a car accident. When Makoto returns home two years later, he finds that his wife has left, and his family suspects that he is the perpetrator of murders that have taken place in the region. So, he decides to go live with the only people who can understand him: Naoki and Kozue, who live in absolute silence, without going to school and without leaving home. With the arrival of his cousin Akihito, the four will embark on a journey to find the meaning of life.
The part where this film feels smart is that over the course of time, the audience will also face the heroes with different eyes. Like a family man, like a worker, like a friend, like a relative who has a pain, we watch the main character in various perspectives.
“Eureka” is a film that’s as long as it is intense, without feeling long at any time, despite being a long slow-paced film. Full of emotional moments and with an ending that’s as human as it is surprising, “Eureka” is, above all, a magnificent film that deserves greater recognition, and which undoubtedly deserves to be at the altar of best films of the past decade. Really essential.
Author Bio: Pedro Morata is an aspiring filmmaker, but above all things, he is just a normal guy who is very passionate about film. He enjoys Asian films, especially cinema from Hong Kong. His favorite films are Drive, Chungking Express and Taxi Driver. You can follow him on twitter: @PeterPayne9.