Patrick: This past August, I lived in Pamplona, Spain which is directly on the route of “El camino de Santiago”, a famous 800 kilometer pilgrimage route through the Pyrenees to the shrine of Saint James in Northwestern Spain. Every day, I would see “pilgrims” with backpacks as big as they were walking by. Being an ignorant American, I asked a Spanish friend about all of the pilgrims, and he told me to watch the Martin “Seen” movie. After a puzzled look and a few Que?s I realized he was talking about Martin Sheen and the movie The Way.
Recently, I finally watched the Emilio Estevez movie starring his own father which, not coincidentally, is about a father who has lost his son on the camino and decides to do the walk himself to scatter his son’s ashes on the pilgrimage he could never finish. I started to watch the movie out of nostalgia for my short-lived home and to see all the sites again, but continued watching because I genuinely liked it. The movie has somewhat of an Into the Wild feel to it, with a personal journey and the bonds formed and lessons learned on it. Martin Sheen’s Tom relearns the importance of travel, feels more connected to his now-deceased son, and meets some interesting people along the way: Sarah takes the journey to quit smoking; Joost walks the 800 kilometers to lose weight; Jack needs the pilgrimage to beat his writer’s block. Together, they take the journey. And together, they make the journey that is The Way a fun but profound movie, certainly worth the watch whether you’ve lived in Navarra or never heard of it before.
Evan: Blue Ruin by Jeremy Saulnier is a revenge movie. Nowhere in this movie does Liam Neeson appear. No one’s wife or daughter has been kidnapped. Our protagonist was not trained by the CIA/MI6/KGB. Blue Ruin is a true and glorious subversion of the traditional revenge film. Macon Blair plays Dwight Evans, a young man who’s been drifting ever since the death of his parents. When he is informed that the man who murdered them has been released from prison, Dwight is unable to contain his desire for vengeance and takes action. Our protagonist is inexperienced. He has no idea how to use a gun, has never killed someone, and is extremely vulnerable. Macon Blair is fantastic in his portrayal of Dwight and Saulnier uses visual storytelling extremely effectively. My one true problem with this film is that many shots seem to suffer from “the camera always has to be moving” syndrome, which can get annoying at times. Despite this, Blue Ruin is surely a haunting tale worth checking out on Netflix. It’s tense and not for the faint of heart, but it’s rewarding for those who will give it a chance.
John: Hilarious, intense, frightening, moronic…I LOVE Hot Fuzz. The second installment in Edgar Wright’s quasi-official Cornetto Trilogy, Hot Fuzz reunites Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in my personal favorite of the three (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End). Hot Fuzz combines brilliant slapstick humor with grotesque violence; it’s like Quentin Tarantino meets The Office, while somehow bringing the intelligence level up and down simultaneously. As one of the most unique and talented writer-directors working today, Edgar Wright brings the same freshness and brilliant humor to Hot Fuzz that we have come to expect from him.
Although this film is not the first in Wright’s trilogy — but is the only one streaming on American Netflix — I would still advise someone who hasn’t seen any of the three films to go ahead and watch this one first. There is no plot line that runs throughout the trilogy, so there is no need for worry that you might not understand what’s going on or run into spoilers. The Cornetto Trilogy simply consists of three intelligently crafted, tremendously funny films that share similar actors and a certain brand of humor. Thus, I highly recommend checking out Hot Fuzz on Netflix as soon as humanly possible.
Matt: Besides Lilo & Stitch, Cinema Paradiso is the only movie to bring a tear to my eye. There are thousands of movies that dwell on the love of cinema, classics you’ve heard of like 8½ and a few lesser-known gems like Chuck Norris vs. Communism or Torremolinos 73. Cinema Paradiso definitely falls in the former category, but despite that status (and the Oscar-level recognition) the Italian film still gets far less play today, nearly three decades later. Less tangentially: out of all of those thousands of movies about “the power of film”, Cinema Paradiso is the one with the most actual power. Because it’s not just the idea of a movie that Toto loves. At a tender young age, peeking through the back curtain at a showing he could never pay for, Toto sees a packed house laughing riotously; he sees the local priest trying (and failing) to shield his flock from the sex and glamour and romance of the movies; he sees his lifelong friend Alfredo, purveyor of joy perched in the projectionist’s booth. He sees the love of cinema and the cinema of love.