Ran (1985)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

This is Akira Kurasawa’s samurai adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear. I was a twelve year old Japanophile back when this came out, and begged my mom to take me. It was not at all what I expected. I was probably hoping for something closer to Revenge of the Ninja. However it left an impression on this future cinema nerd for sure. This is a deliberately paced, epic drama, with some impressive fight and battle sequences. The title translates to “chaos,” and there’s a lot of that too. Other than the fact that this is a nearly perfect work of filmmaking, there is one part that makes this absolute Anomalous Cinema. A pitch black post-battle sequence that is so morbidly beautiful that it absolutely blew my mind the last time I watched the film. The imagery, along with Tōru Takemitsu’s fantastic score, make for one of the most powerful scenes I’ve ever experienced. I feel sorry for my mom, but it wasn’t nearly as traumatic as when she took me to see Full Metal Jacket. I’m positive she regretted that choice.

Blu-ray available from Lion’s Gate.

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The Painted Bird (2019)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

The Painted Bird is one of the nastiest art films I’ve seen in recent years, and I admire that. Based on the acclaimed book, a boy is trying to survive on his own during WW2. He runs into every kind of weirdo and sadist you can imagine along the way. The plot reminds me of Sade’s Justine, and the cinematography owes much to Andrei Tarkovsky (particularly one of my favorites, Ivan’s Childhood). If you can’t handle simulated violence against animals, definitely skip this movie. The poor creatures are dispatched right from the beginning, and the mayhem continues throughout. The kid gets abused nearly as bad. You’ll see several famous actors in small roles. I found that (and the use of a Wilhelm Scream) a little distracting, but I imagine it helped get this crazy movie made. You can read an interview with the director here. I look forward to seeing what he does next.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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The Rape of Europa (2006)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

We all know Hitler was an asshole. Did you know that the cherry on top of his asshole behavior was stealing and destroying great works of art? It’s true. You can learn all about it in this excellent documentary. I honestly I give The Rape of Europa my highest recommendation.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Black Book (2006)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Who would have thought that the man behind RoboCop and Showgirls would go on to make an excellent fact-based World War II movie? Not me. I’ve been a fan of most of Paul Verhoeven’s output, but I was still absolutely floored at how good this movie is. I give it my highest recommendation.

Available on Blu-ray from Sony Pictures.

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Beasts of No Nation (2015)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

Beasts of No Nation is an excellent drama about a West African boy who is made into a child soldier. The movie is brutal, but tells an important story. Here’s one interesting bit of trivia, at one point in the film the colors all shift to ultra-violet. This was a reference to visual artist Richard Mosse’s series “The Enclave.” I got to see his stunning multi-screen video installation at the Portland Museum of Art in 2014.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Mosul (2019)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

This is a flat-out excellent documentary on the Iraqi fight against ISIS in 2016-17. The camera is actually IN the battle at one point. Need I say that squeamish folks should avoid this one? Nah. You know that by now. As harsh as this films is, it’s a real eye opener and highly recommended.

Available on Blu-ray from Gravitas Ventures.

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.