Happy New Year all. January as we know is a difficult time of year; it’s dull, it’s wet and it’s probably freezing and windy outside, so you may as well stay indoors and watch some movies. Also you probably have no money left whatsoever so why not look at a few films that got made for practically no money at all.
Blue Ruin – dir. Jeremy Saulnier – ★★★★½
Macon Blair plays a vagrant who returns home after hearing someone from his past is getting released from prison. What follows is a fantastically paced bloody revenge thriller that manages to mix hardcore violence and deadpan comedy about as well as you possibly can.
There are some amazing gasp-inducing scenes that are skillfully done, especially for a low budget indie (total budget near half a million dollars I believe), especially the more violent moments. Also Buzz from Home Alone is in it, all grown up!
Locke – dir. Steven Knight – ★★★½
Tom Hardy plays Ivan Locke who on the eve of the biggest day of his career gets some life changing news and then sets off for London in his car. Yes that’s right, all we see is Tom Hardy in a car for 80 odd minutes, I’ll admit it sounds exhausting but it really does hold your attention for most of it, thanks obviously to Hardy’s mesmeric performance but also Andrew Scott and host of others who literally phone in their performances (BOOM!).
Bit of triv’ by the way, director Steven Knight, as well as writing the scripts for “Dirty Pretty Things” and “Eastern Promises”, used to write for Jasper Carrott but more bizarrely also co-created “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” so he probably could have covered the $1.5 million budget himself to be fair.
Short Term 12 – dir. Destin Cretton – ★★★½
Short Term 12 is a compelling account of a foster care worker, played brilliantly by Brie Larson, who works in a facility/shelter for troubled kids all the while trying to keep her own life on track. The film works best or feels more natural when it’s at the shelter rather than some of the external subplots and while sometimes it can feel a bit overwrought in places, it does manage to make everything fit or pull together in the end.
Director Cretton was a social worker himself for a while and had previously made this as a short before getting together the small budget (less than a million dollars) to make the feature length version.
Tiny Furniture – dir. Lena Dunham – ★★★
See where it all kicked off for Lena Dunham in this tale of a graduate struggling to get her life together after college. While it’s not the most original premise Dunham brings her own personality and even family to the table, her real life mother and sister play those roles in the film. It’s funny, deadpan and well observed and feels like she’s drawing from her personal experiences just like with “Girls”.
The film was made for $65,000 dollars she borrowed from her folks and shot on a cheap digital camera, which interestingly she said was a huge factor in taking on directing the film rather than dealing with a massive crew in the documentary “Side by Side” (also worth checking out but not on Netflix sadly).