On the rocky path to sobriety after a life-changing accident, John Callahan discovers the healing power of art, willing his injured hands into drawing hilarious, often controversial cartoons, which bring him a new lease on life. (IMDb)
Combines the accessible emotional punch of a mainstream drama (without getting sappy) with the unconventionality and boldness of an indie; the wonderfully edited timeline-jumping of the first half creates a uniquely compelling character set-up while the longer dialogues to follow solidify and bring to a tear-jerking climax the powerful yet nuanced redemption arc (see the return to those adorable skate kids). Phoenix is expectedly great, but it’s Hill who’s simply magnetic in a supporting role.
A traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe’s nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening. (IMDb)
It’s a seen-before premise but you don’t really notice because of the unique and masterful craftsmanship (the plot is thin but in an engaging, albeit slightly hard-to-follow way: the visual, in-between-the-lines storytelling is refreshing; the camerawork and editing are consistently creative-loved that taxi title) and strongly written and acted protagonist (the parallel drawn between him and Nina, both just trying to wait out the pain of their existence, is a moving one–see the lake scene).
A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need. (IMDb)
Jonze’s poignantly prophetic near-future world is thoughtfully crafted, as the story subtly showcases its cultural milieu (see the letter writing job, voice-activated tech) and gorgeous, washed-out cinematography captures its streamlined urban isolation. The tenderness and tragedy of the central relationship (Phoenix and Johansson excel), meanwhile, offers more technological intrigue (Samantha’s development is fascinating-almost terrifying) while delicately examining the constructs of love.