Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden? (2008) Morgan Spurlock
I'm two years late to this inspiring personal piece, but it could be a film that simply won't grow old. Filled with Spurlock's unique blend of humor that can turn on a dime into a deep well of conversation, the search in the title isn't really for Bin Laden after all, but rather for a dialogue with part of the world we westerners would probably do well to better understand. Instead of cruise rides and Disney Land for our next big vacation, I wish we could take a trip like Spurlock and meet this colorful cast of tribes and smiling nations from all over the Middle East -- people who are as interested in peace and goodness as we are. (And none of them have a clue where Bin Laden is, either.)
Erasing David. (2009) David Bond and Melinda McDougall
Building on quite the same concept as Spurlock's film, wherein David must stare down what he's obsessing over while awaiting the birth of a child -- which caused each of the men to be away during filming, adding another layer of longing into developing, living storylines -- David Bond discovers how his privacy has already been corrupted by both the government (UK) and companies that know way too much about him, and he longs for life off the grid. Not even certain this is possible, he develops an experiment and hires two private eyes to track him down in Europe, having not even seen him and only knowing his name, and having thirty days to accomplish their mission. It turns into a film not all that different from a spy game, and is a total enjoyment, full of anxiety and paranoia, as David aims to elude his captors and find life post-the web.
Battle in Heaven. (2005) Carlos ReygadasEasily the best of the three Reygadas films released here in the U.S. (the others being Japón and Silent Light), it is the story of a man and his wife who together have made a huge mistake, and their different paths in dealing with the guilt and the consequences. At first, the man finds a coping mechanism in escape through sex, both inside his marriage and out, but his abuse of the act for his own selfishness only exaggerates the issue, heaping further guilt on a heart which can no longer take how far he's strayed from God. The sexually explicit nature of the film is unrivaled and not for the squeamish, however, I can't imagine this particular film being made in any other way. It's one of those that I will some day attempt to dive into and dig into the microscopic details, making it as personal for me as it seems to be for Reygadas.
The Crazies. (2010) Breck Eisner
Call me crazy, but I found this zombie-sans-the-zombies feature as wonderfully well-stated as the genre is supposed to be, hailing back to the black in Night of the Living Dead. Here we have a virus, a government cover-up, a contaminated water supply in small-town Iowa and a band of folks on the run. Making it more compelling is the fear of said folks being two-fold: the crazies on the right, the military and their containment camp on the left, and yet again, personal to my recent viewing habits -- a pregnant wife stuck in the middle. When the virus goes airborne, there is only one real solution. It's something I never considered before, but the more I think about it, the more real it seems to be for an Outbreak kind of situation.
I won't spoil it, I don't want to give it away -- but the idea is scarier than the film in afterthought. It is a zombie film, no matter what they tell you, and as such you don't need a whole lot: zombie/killers, people running for their lives, and a stunning socio-political message to drive it straight in the viewer's face. The Crazies is better than most are giving credit.