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Insomnia (1997)

The sun never sets on Swedish detective Jonas Engström as he investigates the brutal murder of a teenage girl in a small town in northern Norway. Unable to sleep in the glare from the unceasing sunlight, Enström both solves and inserts himself into the crime, resulting in an anything-but-neat resolution. With its taciturn anti-hero cop and bleak setting, this film kicked off the Nordic noir phenomenon that is now so popular. Unsettling and well worth watching.

The Well-Digger's Daughter (2011)

On the eve of World War I, widowed well digger Pascal struggles to raise his six daughters but the oldest one, 18-year-old Patricia, goes astray, falling for a dashing airman who loves her and leaves her in the usual way. This French-language movie, based on the book by Marcel Pagnol, is heartwarming in the best sense of the word: beautiful shots of the lush Provencal countryside, the innocently luminous Patricia, the amusingly gruff but loving Pasal, and assorted charming minor characters.

Death at a Funeral (2008)

If you need some laughs, you'll definitely find them in this dark comedy about a funeral held at an English country manor. Family members and friends gather and the proceedings get more and more out of control as hallucinogenic drugs, family secrets, sibling rivalry, and a blackmailing dwarf cross paths. It's not a spoiler to reveal that there definitely is a death by the end of this funeral, but it isn't the guy in the casket. It could even be you, dying of laughter.

Elena (2012)

Wealthy businessman Vladimir and his second wife (and former nurse) Elena share a luxurious Moscow apartment and argue about their respective children: his scornful and distant daughter; her wastrel son with a wife, two kids, and no job. After Vladimir has a heart attack and decides to write a will that will prevent Elena from supporting her son's family, she makes a fateful decision. This domestic noir thriller feels quite un-American, and that's because it's Russian.

The Artist (2011)

Yes, you should see "The Artist" because it won the Academy Award but, more importantly, you should see this film because it's so much FUN!!!  The storytelling is brilliant and the characters are remarkably robust considering this is a silent film (well, for the most part).  Jean Dujardin plays George Valentin, a silent movie superstar.  Along come "talkies" and George denounces them as a fad.  For newcomer Peppy Miller, the talkies present an opportunity to catapult her to stardom.  "The Artist" tells the story of their interlinked destinies.  Pay particular atte

The Double Hour (2011)

Twisty, suspenseful, sexy, and Italian--what more could you want in a psychological thriller? This one begins with a hotel chambermaid and a retired cop meeting at a speed dating event. Suddenly, an armed robbery alters the course of their budding relationship and from then on, the movie keeps you guessing about who is double-crossing who. Compelling performances by the two principals, Filippo Timi and Ksenia Rappoport.

Trollhunter (2011)

Filmed in a style similar to The Blair Witch Project, this movie claims to be the found footage of several student filmmakers who had set out to make a movie about bear hunters and ended up making a movie about a secret their country has been keeping from the public. Troll hunter Hans is bitter about the lack of recognition he gets for putting himself in such danger and allows the students to follow him.

Russian Ark (2003)

A unique look through Russian history as a man wanders through the Winter Palace where each new room brings a new time period. While the history is fascinating, what makes this movie unique is that it's all one long first person shot so the audience becomes the traveler. Sometimes the subtitling is a little confusing but if you can make it past that the movie is well worth watching for the visuals, the history and the knowledge of just how much work must have gone into making it.

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© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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