1984 (1984)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

This is an excellent adaptation of George Orwell’s essential dystopian novel. It’s also the last appearance of Richard Burton, and he is fantastic. You would never know he struggled to get through each take because of his health. This is also my favorite John Hurt performance. The movie looks amazing thanks to Roger Deakins (DP on Sicario, Fargo, and a ton of others). A rare “bleach bypass” film processing technique was used for that grim, desaturated look. It’s amazing that some scenes were shot on the exact days referenced in Winston Smith’s diary. A ton of care and detail was put into this film, but please read the book first.

Available on Blu-ray from Criterion Collection.

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In the Earth (2021)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer 

This is a divisive film. From what I can gather, fans may have found this a little too experimental, and critics a little too much like Ben Wheatley’s previous A Field in England. That said, if you want a straight-forward, fast paced horror film, or a totally new Wheatley masterpiece, skip this one. I loved this movie. I will admit that I am a bit biased to what’s on offer here. You already know I’m a fan of the director, as I’ve recommended almost every film he ever made. More than that, I am a sucker for dark psychedelic visuals, and a fan of experimental music (which is prominent in the second half of the film). Ben Wheatley does it again, but not for everyone.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

A young sailor joins a yacht cruise, and ends up involved in a murder plot. This is a near perfect slice of film noir that only exists because of a desperate situation. Orson Welles needed $55,000 to stage a production with his Mercury Theater. He agreed to make the movie if one of the producers would pay him the needed funds in two days. It all worked out, and we have this excellent work of cinema as a result. This is one if my favorites of the ‘40s, and should not be missed.

Available on Blu-ray from Mill Creek.

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Memories of Murder (2003)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer 

Here’s a dark, beautiful, high quality murder thriller directed by Bong Joon Ho. I have avoided recommending it so far as I thought all the excitement over Parasite would have lead you to watch it already. What? You haven’t seen Memories of Murder yet? Well get on it. 

Available on Blu-ray from Criterion Collection.

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High Life (2018)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

This is definitely not for everyone, so proceed with caution. High Life must be one of the biggest budget art films in cinema history. I’m impressed director Claire Denis was given an opportunity to create on this scale. It’s essentially a sci-fi / drama, with some brief moments of gore and nudity. This movie is very deliberately paced, although not as slow as Tarkovsky’s Solaris. Every shot looks beautiful, and Robert Pattinson is excellent. This is tip-top Anomalous Cinema that will reward the open minded viewer.

Available on Blu-ray from Lion’s Gate.

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Chappie (2015)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

I missed this movie when it first came out. I figure a few of you did too. It’s not as good as Neill Blomkamp’s District 9, but I found this very entertaining. Thankfully Chappie has that same level of high quality CG. Yes, it is a bit cheesy at times. Let that slide and you get lots of R rated action to make up for it. I have to admit that Ninja and Yo-Landi are good in this too. Shockingly good.

BONUS: Check out Blomkamp’s Oats Studio videos on YouTube. There are a lot of great short films available for free.

Available on Blu-ray from Sony Pictures.

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Last Days Here (2011)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer 

The singer from the metal band Pentagram struggles with addiction to get back on stage. I have mostly avoided music documentaries because they can have a very limited appeal. This one rises to a level that can be appreciated by almost anyone who isn’t totally square. Last Days Here is a great movie, and the same crew have made several other high quality documentaries including a personal favorite, The Art of the Steal. One note, the video is on the blurry side, but that is well worth ignoring to experience this story.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Not Quite Hollywood (2008)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

What we have here is a flat-out blast of a documentary about Australian exploitation cinema. It works as a primer on all the excellent weird films that came from the continent, and as an incredibly entertaining experience on it’s own. I was inspired to track down a ton of movies after my first viewing. This is essential Anomalous viewing.

Available on Import Blu-Ray.

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The Game (1997)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is a good early David Fincher film that doesn’t get mentioned often. If you have nothing but contempt for rich people, don’t watch The Game. If you just want to see an intricate thriller that will keep you guessing until the end, you’ll probably enjoy this. It’s not very violent, it’s got zero nudity, but it’s a solid film for adults anyway. Michael Douglas is great, the film has Deborah Unger from Cronenberg’s Crash, and Sean Penn before he went off the rails too. The Netflix version has had the film grain over-filtered, and could really use the shadows and colors punched up, but those are not deal-breakers. The Game is good cinema that can probably be enjoyed in any state of mind.

Available on Blu-ray from Universal.

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