The Harbinger Online

Blog: The Best Films from Break

One of the best things about winter break is catching up on all the things you haven’t had time to do otherwise. The three ranking highest on my list this past break were sleeping, reading and watching movies (all very rigorous). After sleeping for 18 hours straight and reading two and a half books, I finally got around to catching up on the ol’ Netflix Instant Queue.

“SLC Punk!” (1998)

First on my list was a film that, due to its cult following, I had been itching to watch for a little over a year and just nevergot around to doing so. “SLC Punk!” (1998) takes place during the mid-80s in Salt Lake City, Utah, the home of Mormons, red-necks and some very angsty punks. Stevo (Matthew Lillard) and Heroine Bob(Michael A Goorjian) are two of the only punks in one of the most conservative cities in the U.S and, now out of college, are trying to keep punk, anarchy and basic rebellion alive any way they know how.

Because the film plays out like a series of comedic mini story lines it kept my attention even during the more boring parts. One of the most endearing stories involves a young Jason Segel (“The Muppets”) as Mike, a hard-core punk that dresses like a nerd and just wants to save the environment. Though a huge fan of Jason Segel, it was a pleasant surprise to see him outside his usual sweet, funny-guy character role.

The satirical piece finds a way to poke fun at the punks and at the same time support them without question. Using Stevo’s anti-establishment yet stereotypical take on the world gives the film the biting humor and interesting take on society, friendship and growing up that make it a winning comedy.

“Wristcutters: A Love Story” (2006)

The next film was a spur of the moment choice and is now a new favorite. “Wristcutters: A Love Story” (2006) focuses on Zia (Patrick Fugit), who, after a bad breakup, finds himself in a world set aside for those that commit suicide after taking his own life. As he tries to get along in a punishment far worse than Hell (another version of Earth) he learns that his ex, the very one that caused his depression, has also killed herself and sets off on an adventure to find her.

Along the way he meets Eugene (Shea Whigam), a Russian musician and begins a roadtrip to search for Zia’s ex. Soon after they find themselves joined by Mikal (Shannyn Sossaman), a hitchhiker that claims there has been a mistake and is determined to find the fabled “People in Charge.”

A dark comedy to say the least, “Wristcutters” handles the serious subject of suicide with a graceful comedy that may not be overt but is still effective. The story alone is whimsical, focusing on a second chance at life, a love story and even a few “miracles” along the way.

“Attack the Block” (2011)

On Christmas eve my family and I gathered around the fireplace channel on cable and argued over what movie we should watch. Dad and Sam said “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” while my mom and I wanted to see “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.” Eventually we ended up opting for neither and watching an under the radar British film from 2011 called, “Attack the Block.”

“Attack the Block” stands out because of its creativity and heart, something many films this year have been lacking.

The storyline is pretty easy to follow: aliens begin invading an inner-city part of London so a gang of teenagers decides to try and fight them off. It sounds juvenile but this film has some of the quickest, wittiest, and most quotable, writing of the year and a cast of unknown teenage and child actors that are destined to go places.

But the writing and acting aren’t the only elements at work in the film. The aliens (“big, black, gorilla looking” things) are an entity all their own. Blind but with bright blue, glow-in-the dark fangs that seem to never end, the aliens successfully terrify while simultaneously sparking curiosity.

 

As we get back into the swing of school it’s good to know that my Netflix queue has room for at least three other films and shows. It looks like it’ll be a while until I work my way through the queue but let’s just say I’m counting down the days until spring break when I can get knee deep into “Portlandia.”

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