Here are ten movie rentals that you’ll find fascinating, inspiring, scary, touching but, most of all, very memorable.
10. Whiplash This 2014 drama will have you glued to your television set. Literally. In fact, any smoke detector alarms blaring in your house or Facebook notification chimes on smart phones will go completely unnoticed during these shocking 105 minutes of music boot camp. The always energetic J.K. Simmons won his Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in this mind-blower, which costars Miles Teller. “Whiplash” was nominated for five Academy Awards–including Best Picture–winning for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Supporting Actor (Simmons). Parents wanting to discourage children from taking up drums may want to purchase this instant classic.
9. 1408 There are two versions of this horror flick out there; the theatrical version and a Director’s Cut. I would recommend the latter. Based upon Stephen King’s scary novel, this tense film stars John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. Cusack plays the author and researcher of paranormal activity, taking his page-turner sales to Q & A book sessions with devout believers in the community. He’s also one of the biggest skeptics of ghosts (“Never seen one”) until called upon to check out unusual activity at a haunted Dolphin Hotel in New York City. What makes this a great movie rental is the slow build-up to paranormal activity registered on Cusack’s EMF meter and full-range spectrometer. No amount of infrared cameras will be able to keep viewers from covering their eyes.
8. Meru Just a couple of minutes into this documentary, the wife walked by and asked what I was watching? “It’s a mountain climbing story…” I explained. For the next 88 minutes we watched in complete amazement as less than a handful of climbers attempted the impossible…Mount Meru, the summit marked by a “Shark’s Fin” 21,000 feet above the Ganges River in northern India. To see these dreamers pursue one of the ultimate adventure prizes, in a career filled with overachievers, is exhilarating! At least three times during this film, I was sure the camera was going to catch one of these explorers losing their lives in an unpleasant descent down to thicker air locales. When famous climber Jon Krakauer (author of “Into Thin Air”) has a serious man-crush on these stars of “Meru”, you know that you’re watching something special. Very special. The modern era’s most significant climbing movie. A film you will remember for the rest of your life.
7. 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets Anyone who carries a concealed weapon today must watch this HBO documentary film about one man’s legal jeopardy after a fateful stop at a Florida convenience store. This movie walks viewers through all the ramifications of someone breaking leather with their handgun…from the trigger-puller’s Stand Your Ground defense, to the victim’s family and their desire for punishment, to all the law enforcement, judicial professionals and bystanders brought into the fold. All sides are presented in this emotional story and its methodical presentation of the facts. Rightfully so, “3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets” shines the light on the laws surrounding concealed carry permits and the use of deadly force. A strong supporter of gun rights, this film should be required watching for all concealed carry training and card holders.
“3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets” is available for streaming on HBO Go.
6. Noble A glass full, overflowing with emotion, movie. The film brings hope to the homeless and answers to the faithful. The true story of Christina Noble, a strong, spirited and determined woman who overcomes adversity and poverty on the streets of Ireland growing up. During her youth, she experiences dreams of Vietnam and understands that her life’s calling is in that country. However, in order to fulfill her desire, she must first survive impossible odds and struggles no person should ever endure–particularly a child. Smartly, she also begins a conversation with God, asking Him why she’s been dealt so much, so early in her life. The answer to that question can only be found in Vietnam. An uplifting and heartfelt story!
5. 13 Hours An intense, action-packed true story of bravery. It raises adrenaline from a growing threat and through violent battles–with some graphic war wounds depicted. The film closes ranks and gives us an up-close, first-hand account of the heroic men doing our nation’s heavy-lifting down range. It methodically walks Americans through the multiple pleas for support that emerged from Benghazi as the State Department’s compound and CIA annex erupted in gunfire. It properly identifies those terrorists behind the preplanned attack on September 11, 2012. This movie exposes the news reports and smokescreens from inside the Beltway…the false narratives put out by so many. And that’s the film’s most glaring feat–honoring, as a nation, those who lost their lives that night and getting the truth out there for the families involved.
“13 Hours” is available to rent or purchase via Amazon.com, Google Play, iTunes, and other venues.
4. We Are Marshall Based on the recommendation from my father-in-law, I finally checked out this Matthew McConaughey true football story a few months ago. Set at Marshall University in 1970, McConaughey plays head football coach Jack Lengyel as the school attempts to rebuild its program. To go much further will spoil your movie experience. Just know that it’s a great cast, an inspiring film about actual events and will be enjoyed by sports enthusiasts and non-sports lovers equally.
“We Are Marshall” can be rented at Amazon.com, iTunes, Netflix and VUDU.
3. A War In one of the most realistic and thought-provoking illustrations of contemporary war found in recent years, this movie embeds viewers inside a Danish Army unit deployed to Afghanistan to foster peace within the local tribes while attempting to rid that country of Taliban killers. Dangerous foot patrols outside the wire and the relative safety of base camp pose unforeseen challenges to these soldiers, where life and death decisions must be made instantly and without hesitation. Within that struggle, we learn of the sacrifices and hardships that the burden of war places upon one family in particular. The seriousness that “A War” strikes with the viewer is heartbreaking. We see how military families cope with long deployments and separation. We see good, selfless men and women operating in a strange land, attempting to help fellow man—even at the risk to their own lives. And when their good intentions are challenged in the legal arena, we find ourselves shocked by the system and those placing judgement upon others without truly understanding their plight or circumstances.
Rarely has a film captured the sacrifices and hardships of military members and their families like “A War” does so effortlessly. The audience gets thoroughly invested in Claus and Maria Pedersen, their long-distance relationship and short, nondescript phone calls. With that understanding of this family’s character the charges bestowed upon Claus as a war criminal ignite dismay and sympathy. A must-see for anyone who’s deployed or had a family member serve down range.
2. Concussion A spectacular Will Smith confirms for us that there are no coincidences in life. Like Dr. Bennet Omalu, Smith uses his own vast talent to expose and highlight the dangers caused from repeated head trauma. Not only does this exceptional actor bring needed awareness to cognitive and intellectual impairment, but Will Smith does so with a flawless performance in the Steel City of America.
Smith’s stellar job is complimented by a team effort of all-stars and unknown draft picks. Albert Brooks shines as Smith’s boss and mentor, willing to shield his protégé with timely downfield blocking. David Morse gives the performance of his career–believable and compelling as Mike Webster. Worthy of Oscar chatter is British star Gugu Mbatha-Raw, splendidly portraying Will Smith’s sidekick and biggest supporter.
“Concussion” is not a movie about the National Football League. Rather, it’s a story about a brilliant Nigerian immigrant, thankful for his many opportunities in America. His reverence towards our ideals and principles get tested by the very system he relishes. We should all be thankful for professionals such as Doctor Bennet Omalu–willing to do his job fully and unapologetically, without taking shortcuts. And that’s all we can ask for.
1. Grizzly Man A 2005 documentary film on wannabe grizzly bear Timothy Treadwell using 100 hours of Alaska video footage he left behind after being mauled to death along with his girlfriend in campsite. Treadwell’s premonition early in the film that his head would be separated from his torso by a bear is the best “called shot” since Babe Ruth’s in the ’32 World Series. Sadly, he felt he was protecting these animals from humans but, in reality, it was the grizzlies protecting him from society. A fascinating movie about Treadwell’s struggles at fitting in and the consequence of isolation in the wilderness–both of which led to his downward spiral mental state by the last salmon run. This man’s compassion for bears was only matched by his hibernation from reality and angry mindset.
A train wreck you know is coming but can’t take your eyes off of. Nor will you want to.
© 2016, Patrick. All rights reserved.
"Patrick, you are my go-to guy when it comes to the box office". - Judy O.