Among serious (read: crazy) mountain climbers, Everest is easy mode. The locals call it “the mountain that is slightly taller than the other mountains.” It’s tough, but the base-to-summit climb is way easier to take in stages than most of the “Eight Thousanders (mountaineer lingo for the 14 peaks that reach 8,000 meters above sea level), and all of the camps along the way are better equipped and better established. And even though more people have died climbing Everest than any other mountain, it is not the most dangerous. However, the second tallest peak in the world, K2, has killed one person for every four who has made it to the summit. And in 2008, it killed eleven people in one day. This awesome documentary chronicles the incident how it went down as best as the survivors could determine after the whole ordeal was over with a mixture of original footage, high-budget re-enactments, and interviews with the survivors. It makes for a hauntingly gripping documentary, and damn good viewing.
This documentary takes a look at the controversial website WikiLeaks, it's founder Julian Assange, and the events that brought them to the world's center stage. Featuring archive footage of Assange and interviews with his co-workers and those he interacted with, this film follows the history of the site, and reveals the details behind it's most controversial leak from the actions of Chelsea (Bradley) Manning.
A Danish documentarian (Mads Brugger) goes on a trip to North Korea with two Danish comedians (Jacob Nossell and Simon Jul) who were adopted from South Korea as children. The reason they told DPRK officials for the trip was as a small theatre/comedy group intending cultural exchange. The real reason is to try to get an inside look at North Korea. Although the subject seems to be a pretty lighthearted endeavor, the film pretty quickly becomes dark as hell and genuinely unsettling. Jacob has spastic paralysis and is physically disabled to an extent; DPRK is rumored to have an official policy of killing the disabled so as not to reflect poorly on their hermetic, tightly controlled image. So what it ends up being is a deeply creepy 90 minutes of equal parts fetishizing over and loathing of Jacob and a disconcerting painting of how truly fucked up of a nation North Korea is with regards to the disabled as they parade him around the country for wantonly transparent propaganda purposes.
Michael Caine stars as an ex-military widower attempting to avenge his best friend's death in this gritty revenge drama. Caine is the titular Harry Brown, who lives in a rapidly deteriorating district in London, rife with crime and bored, aggressive punks who attack people for no reason. The elderly Harry decides to take justice into his own hands after his last friend gets killed by said bored punks. What follows is an awesome intersection of brutal revenge and class war raging in the streets; a stellar film that is at once gripping realism and broad-level allegory. And also damn fun to watch.
THE LIFE OF THE PARTY
There are lots of movies coming out showing aging actors doing badass stuff you tend to see younger action actors doing, but they typically try to play it more tongue-in-cheek and comic booky. The end result is the same slow-motion flex-fests, but with more wrinkles. Harry Brown ain't got time for that new-school shit. Harry looks tired as hell the entire movie. Caine plays a talented ex-operative very well. He's relatable and incredibly competent, but definitely too old to be doing this stuff. So it adds a completely different type of suspense to the mix. Additionally, this is just an objectively well-made film. The stellar script is acted very well by good actors, which is never a given in a quasi-action movie. The music is excellent, and it's all shot and arranged very well. And for those of you who like a bit of seamlessly integrated social commentary in your action films, this one will do it for you.
We tend to put party movies on this site for those looking for nothing but laughs, but frankly, this movie is pretty grim. It's got brutally realistic action along the lines of the Bourne series, but is way more straightfaced. It's the type of movie where you really can't tell if the good guy is going to win or not, and the environment is incredibly tense throughout its whole runtime. It is full of action, but I'd also say it's got way more dialog than anything you'd typically call action. So I guess on the whole, this is a pretty dour film that isn't one you cheer along with. I'd say it's badass in the same way Breaking Bad is badass. Take that as you will.
THE ATMOSPHERE: Man Cave, Deep Thoughts
Okay, after hearing all the reservations I had on Harry Brown in terms of it not being the most uplifting of films? That is not whatsoever saying this wasn't a fun movie. It was amazing. It isn't the type of film where explosions happen in slow motion. It's the type of film that is fun that's fun because it's so gritty. The dark, hopelessness just makes Harry look more awesome when he overcomes it, which happens frequently enough to be satisfying. Sure, it's got subtext and is pretty morally grey for a revenge movie, but the bottom line is that it is a really enjoyable, badass film if you have the time to pay attention to it. I'd say put it on as your first movie of the night.
Once when someone gets shot/stabbed
Twice when Harry Gets injured
(Hard Mode) Take a shot every time fire shows up on screen
Christophe Gans (writer and director of Brotherhood of the Wolf) directs a highly atmospheric movie version of the first game in the highly successful Silent Hill series. A mother (Radha Mitchell) takes her daughter (somebody with a name) with severe mental issues to an abandoned town in western Pennsylvania to try to fix her; it turns out to be a fairly bad decision. There is also a subplot about Mitchell’s husband (Sean Bean) trying to find where they went, which explains a lot of the backstory and is helpful to the audience, but is largely unnecessary. If you’re a very serious horror fan or a fan of the series, this can be a very entertaining way to spend over two hours, but if you’re looking to get your party moving, the long runtime and bizarrely graphic violence may not be what you’re looking for. However, if this type of mood horror, graphic violence, and lack of jump-at-you scares is the type of film that really pushes your horror buttons, Silent Hill may end up being one of your favorites that way it ended up being one of mine.
In some incredibly unhappy part of our supposed future, celebrity-worship has reached what I would normally call epidemic proportions, but considering the theme of this film that would be unfortunate. Fans who wish to become closer to their favorite celebrities will now pay exorbitant amounts of money to be injected with diseases from those celebrities' bodies. Our main character (calling him the protagonist just doesn't feel right with me) works for an esteemed clinic providing these services, and also makes money by stealing the various diseases and smuggling them out by infecting himself, so that they may be sold by piracy groups. Unfortunate events ensue.
Viggo Mortensen travels through a post-apocalyptic wasteland (what kind of apocalypse is never mentioned, but my money is on giant meteor) with his son on their quest to reach the coast. But the road is fraught with dangers, from mother nature, roving gangs, and cannibals, forcing father and son to survive by any means possible.
A samurai arrives at the home of a feudal lord, asking that he use their courtyard to commit ritual suicide. However all is not as it seems, as the ronin's true purpose is revealed in this tale of honor and vengeance.
A brilliant mathematician is studying the number Pi to find a pattern in the stock market, and through that a pattern to nature and the universe itself. But he must battle his own growing insanity, as he seeks to find a certain number that can unlock the secrets of life and existence.
Doomsday Book consists of three completely separate short stories having to do with the end of the world. Part one follows the outbreak of the zombie apocalypse in Seoul, and one young man's transformation from a lonely bachelor, into a murdering zombie. Part two deals with a robot who has reportedly achieved Buddhist enlightenment, and man's reaction to the claim. And finally part three follows a young girl who's Internet purchase of an 8-ball (the billiards ball, not a bag of drugs) endangers the entire human race.