The Act of Killing (2012)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

So there’s this documentary where real-life Indonesian death squad members re-stage their crimes for the camera, including lavish song and dance numbers. No really, this exists, and is probably the most Anomalously Cinematic doc made in the last 15 years. I try to avoid Oscar nominated films here, but this is just too perfect to not share. I caught myself with my mouth hanging open several times while trying to absorb the multiple levels of crazy on display. I give The Act of Killing my strongest possible recommendation. Also check out director Joshua Oppenheimer’s follow up The Look of Silence, which is not as over-the-top, but well worth watching.

Available on Blu-ray from Drafthouse Films.

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Bully (2001)

Streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Larry Clark got his start by taking photos of fellow juvenile delinquents, which made up his fantastic book Tulsa. After years as an acclaimed art photographer, he directed the agonizing, but highly regarded film Kids, about the same topic, set in ‘90s New York City. Later he made Bully, which is based on a real life murder perpetrated by, you guessed it, juvenile delinquents. This is Clark’s best film by far. It pushes almost EVERY button, so sensitive folks should flat out avoid it. Bully is so shocking that I am honestly impressed that it has been made available on streaming services in our current “trigger warning” times. In spite of its controversial content, this film managed to receive a lot of critical acclaim at the time of its release. Unfortunately Larry Clark did not continue making films of the same quality. He’s following his obsessions with smaller movies, which I admire, but Bully shows all elements falling into place to make a near-perfect film.

RIP Brad Renfro. I wish we could have seen what movies you’d go on to make.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Goya’s Ghosts (2006)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Most people missed that the director behind One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest made a very good historical drama revolving around “the father of modern art” Francisco Goya. It stars Stellan Skarsgård, Natalie Portman, Javier Bardem, and Randy “Cannibal Father Knows Best” Quaid. As I often say, it isn’t perfect. However Goya’s Ghosts is a solid choice if you’re looking for a movie off the beaten path.

Blu-ray available from Samuel Goldwyn Films.

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The King (2019)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

Here’s a damn good historical drama based on Henry V. It’s got all the top quality elements in place: production design, cinematography, soundtrack, and performers. The film also features knights in full armor doing battle in graphic detail. I don’t recall anything else I’ve seen using period accurate (to my layman’s eye) outfits in combat like this. The movie is a bit on the long side, but don’t let that deter you. I didn’t fast forward even once.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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The Photographer of Mauthausen (2018)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This movie revolves around World War 2 Spanish prisoners in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Here’s another history-based drama that tells an interesting story I was totally unfamiliar with. The lead actor is Mario Casas from The Invisible Guest, who does a fine job. As you will imagine, this film is very dark. It is also, at times, brutally graphic. There are moments that feel a bit cheesy, but overall it’s an effective movie that I fully recommend.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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A Twelve Year Night (2018)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is a very good historical drama about the struggles of a group of political prisoners in Uruguay. It is just as grim as the name indicates. I have to give credit to Netflix for making a lesser known piece of history available to a wide audience. A Twelve Year Night features solid acting performances and some excellent sound design and soundtrack work. Highly recommended.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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Becoming Bond (2017)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

This is a very entertaining Hulu original documentary on George Lazenby. It’s a funny look at his becoming James Bond for one film in spite of having zero acting experience. This is NOT a PG rated Bond film, so watch it without the kids around.

FYI – In case you think Lazenby is a one-hit wonder, check out the excellent giallo Who Saw Her Die? It’s available on Blu-ray from Arrow or streaming rental from YouTube or Apple TV.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

If you’ve never seen anything from Werner Herzog other than his many documentaries, this is mandatory viewing. The two standout components of the film are Klaus Kinski’s amazing performance and the beautiful score by Krautrock legends Popol Vuh. Pay close attention to one of the early scenes of a seemingly endless line of people winding around a narrow mountain path. I have no idea how Herzog managed to pull off this shot. It’s one of the most beautiful moments in the history of cinema. Please note that at first the film may appear cropped, but the nearly-square aspect ratio (1.37 : 1) is how it was originally filmed.

Available on Blu-ray from Shout Factory.

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Nico, 1988 (2017)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

I have become a big fan of the music of Nico in recent years. This docudrama is very enjoyable if you are also a fan. It may not be of much interest for other people. The choice of Trine Dyrholm to play the lead was daring as she doesn’t look much Nico, and only vaguely sounds like her. However she’s a fantastic actress and did an impressive job of doing her own version of the tragic musician. A sad story, but a beautiful movie.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Tom of Finland (2017)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

Fantastic bio-pic about erotic artist Touko Valio Laaksonen. If you’re not a homophobe, you need to see this. If you are a homophobe, take a flying leap.

Available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider supporting the site over on Patreon. You’ll get exclusive content every week, and help in the creation of a book version very similar to what you see here.