Now that 2013 is officially behind us and we have begun delving into 2014, I thought I would take a look back at the previous year (a year which was filled with a far larger quantity of phenomenal films than usual) and give mention to a few select films that were some of my favorites this year and which I also felt got little or no attention or respect when they more than deserved it. Hit the jump to check out the five titles I have selected, and make sure to check back later this month for our ‘Best Films of 2013’ list when it finally hits. It should be a fairly hefty list this year.
Please note that while I realize there are a number more films released in 2013 which definitely fit the bill here, I have narrowed the choices down to five titles that I felt were really overdue some attention. You will definitely be seeing all five of these titles on our ‘Best Films of 2013’ list as well.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist (IFC):
‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ tells the tale of a Pakistani man named Changez (Riz Ahmed) who leaves his home country and ventures to America where he finds himself quickly climbing the corporate success ladder on wall street and finding himself easily at home in a world so unlike the one he grew up in and even falling in love with a beautiful woman (Kate Hudson). Then, once 9/11 occurs, everything changes for him. The film is told in the form of an interview that Changez is giving to a reporter named Bobby (Liev Schreiber) that details all of the events of his life, from the time he left for America, to the current moment where many suspect he is involved with kidnapping an American citizen.
‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ is a powerful, gripping and moving film that shows what so many dealt with in a time of horror, and while so many decided to hate an entire culture based on the acts of one group, most of us don’t really have any idea what the innocent members of that culture had to endure and lose simply because of the hate and unjustified conclusions of many. =READ FULL REVIEW=
The Iceman (Millennium):
Inspired by actual events, the film covers the career and personal life of notorious contract killer Richard Kulkinski, who at home is a kind earted family man who would do anything to provide for and take care of his family. Outside of home, he lives another life entirely, acting as one of the most ruthless contract killers around.
Ariel Vromen directs this masterpiece of a film, and Michael Shannon shines in the lead role of Kuklinski. Michael Shannon is one of the finer actors working today in my opinion, and he is at top form here. He tears through each scene like the beast of an actor he is, and it amazes me how so many people still don’t even know this amazingly talented man by name. While Shannon unquestioningly steals the show, all of the performances are extremely powerful. Winona Ryder does a truly amazing job next to Shannon as his wife and is almost unrecognizable as she so fully consumes this role. Ray Liotta is always a pleasure, and Chris Evans is fantastic as usual. I continue to be impressed by Evans’ work, and ever since the masterpiece ‘Sunshine’ I have found him to be a truly impressive up and coming name in the list of my favorite actors. =READ FULL REVIEW=
Welcome To The Punch (IFC):
Going in I had no real knowledge of ‘Welcome To The Punch’ aside from a few actors known to me and a mostly positive word of mouth from what little I have heard spoken about the film. What I got was a gorgeous and intense action thriller in the vein of ‘The Matrix’ in many aspects such as the green color scheme and the amount of shrapnel and debris all over the place during and in the aftermath of the gun fights. Whether you already had any knowledge of this film and were contemplating on whether or not to check it out, or if you have never even heard of it before, I highly recommend all fans of well done and stylistic action films make it a priority to check this one out. I’m fairly certain you won’t regret doing so. =READ FULL REVIEW=
No One Lives (Anchor Bay):
This is a very clever horror/thriller that takes things in an unexpected direction from the general genre formula, and the result is one bloody good time. This film will have the gore hounds out there quite satisfied with the level of carnage presented throughout, and the overall creativity and concept of the film is phenomenal and plays out remarkably well. Everything comes together remarkably well for this film (including a director who is really starting to make a name for himself in the world of American horror) and as a result we are presented with a brutal, twisted and incredibly fun ride which horror fans there certainly won’t want to miss out on. It is directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, who made his American directorial debut with ‘Midnight Meat Train’ and stars Luke Evans in a tremendous performance. =READ FULL REVIEW=
Pawn Shop Chronicles (Anchor Bay):
This is one of those rare treats in filmmaking that are truly rare these days. It takes the anthology style with the intersecting stories and pulls it off magnificently and without a hitch. The cast is full of a ridiculous collection of well known actors and there was barely a person in the film I didn’t recognize or know by name. It focuses on three different stories, all revolving around a pawn shop in a small country town. This is one film I would very strongly urge everyone to check out as soon as possible. It’s edgy, clever, raunchy, intense and hilarious. At this point I’m pretty certain it will end up in my list of the best films of 2013 and I know at least one friend and fellow writer who would wholeheartedly agree with me.
The film is directed by Wayne Kramer, probably best known for writing and directing the incredible ‘Running Scared’ also starring Paul Walker. He also wrote ‘Mindhunters’ which I personally love and think is quite an underrated film. ‘Pawn Shop Chronicles’ includes a truly amazing cast, including Paul Walker, Brendan Fraser, Vincent D’Onofrio, Elijah Wood, Thomas Jane, Lucas Haas, Norman Reedus, Matt Dillon, DJ Qualls, Chi McBride and a number more. The performances are brilliant all around, though the most notable to me would certainly have to be that of the late Paul Walker (who does a phenomenal job as a white trash tweeker), Matt Dillon (who proves yet again that he’s definitely still got what it takes to play front and center with the big boys and more than hold his own), and Elijah Wood who is truly disturbing in what is likely one of his finer roles. =READ FULL REVIEW=