5. “Dallas Buyer´s Club” (2013) – Jean-Marc Valee
This film belongs to Matthew McConaughey. After years of acting in lightweight romantic comedies, he made an impressive comeback in this convincing AIDS-drama. Supported by Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club” is a moving portrait of a man, who, facing this deadly disease, won´t accept his faith – and decides to help others with unparalleled courage.
It also shows the transformation of an unusual individual who has to overcome his prejudice, in order to survive. McConaughey definitely delivers one of the last year´s finest acting performances: from disbelief through despair to undeviating hope – method acting as its finest.
4. “Mississippi Burning” – Alan Parker (1988)
Alan Parker seems to be an expert on “heavy subjects”. (His breakthrough “Midnight Express”, a film dealing with violent torture practices in prison, could also be on this list.) “Mississippi Burning” is a very unusual 1980´s-film, as it is heavy on content and not recommended for the faint-hearted.
The films portrays racial violence in a small Southern State-community, tries to explain, how racism develops – and sustains, and has, in that sense, a strong political stance. Lead by Willem Defoe and a convincing Gene Hackman, it is a highlight of political cinema.
3. “Requiem for a dream” (2000) – Darren Aronofsky
Several times titeled “The best film you never want to see again”, watching Aronosky´s masterpiece is a truly challenging experience. The dark story of drug abuse, addiction(s), hopeless social environments and “junkie subculture”, crafted in strong pictures and underlayed by a powerful and iconic sountrack, can be called a classic of modern cinema.
2. “The Deer Hunter” (1978) – Michael Cimino
Cimninos breakthrough: The 3-hour-epic starts with beautiful pictures of rural American landscapes – and ends in speechless horror. The maybe most powerful film ever shot about Vietnam stars Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep and Christopher Walken, who won the Oscar for his role as traumatized war-victim.
Memorable, above all, is the scene where a group of American soldiers around De Niro are taken capture by the Vietcong – and forced to play “Russian roullette”. Its full of intensity and gives you the chills, and noone less than Quentin Tarantino has called it one of his favourite scenes in cinema ever. In addition, “The Deer Hunter” is a true masterpiece of the “New Hollywood”-era, that would deserve more consideration among all-time movie-classics.
1. “Before the Devil knows You´re Dead” (2007) – Sidney Lumet
The last film by director-icon Lumet – and one of his strongest. The story is so “on the edge”, that it is hardly bearable. In his own words, Lumet wanted to shoot a “melodrama” that pushes and pushes everything so far, that is barely believeable, but won´t become a caricature.
Philipp Seymour Hoffman shines in his performance as succesful, but desperate family father, who can´t put the “pieces in his life” together (treats himself with heroin), and convinced his unsuccesful brother to rob their parent´s jewerly store.
The premise of this story is strong enough, and leaves enough place for drama. But, whatever you may expect, “Before the Devil Knows You´re Dead” pushes even further. When the film is over, and the ending credits are running over the screen, you can see straight into the abyss.
part 1: ->->-> 10 emotionally challenging film experiences (1)