Last night, a friend and I decided to embark on a journey through the independent movie section on Netflix. We were both looking for a quirky watch and we ended up with three of them. As luck would have it, they turned out to be a perfect range of the spectrum (speaking only in terms of ending, based on personal preference) – one terrific, one tolerable, and one terrible. I would now like to share with you three movies that you have never heard of, but should watch sometime soon.
1. Liberal Arts (2012)
Why we chose to watch this movie: it stars Josh Radnor, otherwise known as Ted from How I Met Your Mother, and it takes place at a small liberal arts college (title makes sense, huh?). As I attend one of those, I was anxious to see how many stereotypes they could toss in the mix and how many of these were accurate.
Quick synopsis: Ted appears in this film as a thirty-five-year-old English major who works in the admissions department at a college in NYC. He doesn’t appear to have much of a life outside of excessive reading and loving (hating) his job. Then, his rigorous daily routine is interrupted by a phone call from an old professor from his alma mater, inviting Jesse – unfortunately for Jesse, I called him Ted for the whole movie – back to the school (which I don’t recall, now that I think about it, as being given a name…) for his retirement party. When he arrives, he is a bit too happy to be returning to the place where he last felt he controlled his life. In the company of the professor, he meets a sophomore name Zibby. It’s short for Elizabeth, and it’s already a perfect indication of how much the character irritates me. They connect, and the remainder of the movie focuses on the confusingly uncomfortable love affair of a thirty-five-year-old and a nineteen-year-old.
What made this movie interesting: it was clearly supposed to make a point about, not only the people who graduate from a liberal arts college thinking that those two words put them three steps ahead of the rest of the world, but also the people who believe that life is limitless but never bother to test it. Ted is both of those people in this movie, and his character’s growth from beginning to end is genuinely inspiring and heartening. Also, Zac Efron appears as a hippie (probable stoner) and it was a very satisfying surprise.
How the ending concludes the plot (because I’m mostly comparing these movies by the way that they end – no spoilers, just some ambiguous comments): very, very, very, very, very well. A+. Perfect conclusion and just a wonderfully joyous ending. Please watch this movie because if you’re a dork for love like me you’ll be very gratified.
2. Beginners (2010)
Why we chose to watch this movie: I will watch anything with Ewan McGregor in it, and he’s the star of the show here. In fact, this movie even further confirmed my claim that he is my favorite actor not only for his dashing looks and boyish charm, but his fantastic ability to play a complex character. We decided on it, however, because the plot intrigued us. Observe…
Quick synopsis: my love comes in the form of Oliver Fields in this dramatic and artistic movie that was a bit confusing to watch the first time, but in hindsight was pretty well put together. Present time is telling the story of a lonely Oliver who meets a lonely Anna, and tries to keep the spark from fading like the rest of his relationships. But amid the chunks of plot, we get to see the last few months of his father’s life playing out as well. Oliver’s mother died five years prior to when the movie’s timeline begins, and his father came out as gay six months later. We find out right away that his father has been dead for a few months, but then fill in the blanks along the way.
What made this movie interesting: as with the first selection, this movie was about the characters. Both Oliver and Anna are loners, but the ways that they isolate themselves from the world (and at times, each other), contrast. Oliver finds himself alone in the company of others, while Anna keeps herself physically isolated to avoid the mental isolation. The purpose of the father’s overlapping story, I believe, was that while we saw Oliver struggle with his life and his own self, we saw his father growing in the end of his life, and learning to come out of the isolation.
How the ending concludes the plot: I guess it’s okay. As I have said many times before and will say many times more, I’m a hopeless romantic and I don’t like open-ended stories. I like to know that they had their happily ever after. Not to say that there isn’t one, but it’s a suspended storyline and I personally don’t like that. Overall though, it was a quality movie and it’s certainly worth watching.
3. TiMER (2009)
Why we chose to watch this movie: It was 12:30 in the morning, and when we read the description, we gasped simultaneously and immediately got comfy for movie number 3. The plot just had so much potential, and it was enough to keep us up for another 2 hours and 10 minutes (1 hr 40 min for the movie, 30 min for discussion).
Quick synopsis: So basically, in this world, there is a thing called a TiMER that someone can have installed on their wrist, which counts down to the day that a person is supposed to meet their soulmate. Then, when they make eye contact with “their one” for the first time, their timer will beep. FASCINATING plot basis, to me as a writer. There are so many possibilities and storylines and ugh it makes me happy. Main character Oona has a blank timer – meaning her soulmate hasn’t gotten one yet – and she’s sure that she needs to find him via process of elimination. Then she meets Mikey, a cute guy who already has a timer, and she’s faced with the idea of enjoying a fling with someone she knows isn’t her one.
What made this movie interesting: well, the plot. Also no one wore a bra, but that’s beside the point. It was like watching a choose your own adventure – it was an entire universe of possibilities. The concept is obviously not directly relatable, but it did raise some pretty realistic thoughts about relationships. The idea of knowing that there’s only one person in the world that’s your “one”, and everyone else until then is just a temporary distraction is kind of strange. It makes you wonder – would you get a timer? In case you were curious, I wouldn’t. I don’t think that there’s only one possibility, you know?
How the ending concludes the plot: it doesn’t. It sucks. I’m so sorry but this movie has the worst ending ever and it’s just because they had a perfect opportunity to give it a universally satisfying end and they took it and destroyed it. But you might like it. If you hate love. Until then, though, it’s a pretty good movie.