five things: films



In a perfect world, I can write detailed posts about all the movies I love, take lots of screencaps, and share my thoughts about each of them. Unfortunately, I just don't have enough time to do that regularly but I really do want to talk about a few of those movies here. I watched most of them during film festivals early this year and I hope that you can also see them whenever you get the chance. And I must warn you, this post is long. Here we go.

Trishna (2011), written and directed by Michael Winterbottom
Gorgeously shot that each frame is like a photograph (see images above), this film is based on Thomas Hardy's classic novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Set in contemporary India, Trishna is a poor rural girl who falls in love with the son of a wealthy British property developer who came to oversee one of his father's hotels in the country.

Whether you've read the novel or not, it is easy to predict where their relationship is going but what sets Trishna apart is the almost detached quality that the film is looking at its characters. Even in the midst of tragic events, there is no hysteria or overwrought music, rather it uses the colors and scenes of India as a framework for its unfolding. In a different world, they'd probably make a great couple, but set in the context of class and gender divide, their story was already doomed from the start. But oh, what a story it was. I could not stop thinking about it.

Starring Frieda Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) and Riz Ahmed. Watch the film trailer here.


Monsieur Lazhar (2011), written and directed by Philippe Falardeau
This French-Canadian film moved me so much that I was shamelessly crying inside the theater. Perhaps because I also work with children at the schools or because I deal with grief the same way that most of the characters did in the movie, something about it resonated deep inside me.

The story takes place in a private elementary school in Montreal when an immigrant teacher, Monsieur Lazhar, took over a class who's previous teacher had committed suicide. During the course of a year, Monsieur Lazhar must take on the difficult task of teaching students who are still coming to terms with their traumatic loss while dealing with his own personal issues at the same time. It is a tricky emotional terrain to navigate and this film gets it right, especially the pitch perfect performance of the main character and the child actors. You will feel grateful for having watched it and hope that the world will never stop making movies like this.

Monsieur Lazhar was one of the nominees for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Oscar Awards. Have a look at the trailer here.


Your Sister's Sister (2011) - written and directed by Lynn Shelton
This movie is described as a romantic comedy but for me it's really more than that. It is hard to write a synopsis without giving away the plot so I'll just say that it's about relationships - between sisters, best friends, lovers - and all its messes and entanglements.

Watching Your Sister's Sister was like having an intimate dinner with friends. The acting and the script is so natural that you actually feel alongside them. I laughed, I cringed in embarrassment, then laughed some more, and I didn't want it to end. There is really nothing like a good film that makes you want to spend more time with its characters even after the credits had stopped rolling. And one more thing, the cinematography is absolutely lovely. It made me consider living in the Pacific Northwest and that's saying a lot because I hate being cold.

Starring Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass, and Rosemarie Duwitt. Watch the movie trailer.


Liberal Arts (2012) - written, directed, and starring Josh Radnor of How I Met Your Mother
This movie was a surprise screening for the members of the San Francisco Film Society so I had no idea what it was all about. Ten minutes into the film, I was already smitten. Or let's just say that if I had an ideal guy he would probably write a movie like this one. The dialogue is so delicious and witty, I wanted to have a copy of the screenplay as soon as we got out of the theater. Plus, there is something about a nerdy and introverted guy falling for an outspoken and vivacious girl who is so much younger than him that makes me giddy.

He is a bookworm, she makes him a mixtape of classical music, they exchange handwritten letters while they live in different cities. And despite their age difference, they can talk about anything and everything, including a lengthy discussion about books and reading. So yes, definitely a movie after my own heart. (And I do have a history of falling for film majors, natch.)

There is no official trailer yet but Liberal Arts is scheduled for release in September, via IFC Films.


I Wish (2011) - written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
I feel inadequate to describe this movie in words, but if I have to, it is probably these - pure joy. I want to hug it and keep it close to me so that when I feel sad, I can watch it and take comfort in its beauty. And once again, acclaimed Japanese director Kore-eda has convinced me that he is one of the best filmmakers of our time.

I Wish is about two brothers who were separated after their parents' divorce and their belief of a kiseki or miracle to reunite their family, along with the construction of a new bullet train in their region. This movie is gentle and observant, with little dialogue but a whole lot of heart. It is also very realistic, allowing us to take a small adventure with the kids and realize that the outcome doesn't matter so much as the change that happens inside us while taking this journey.

Here is the trailer. It is also my wish that you can all watch this special film.

P.S. Has any of you seen these movies? Or do have recommendations that I must watch?


  1. thanks! a couple of new films for me to checkout. enjoyed these short reviews!

  2. These look so good!

    You know, your review of Liberal Arts made me realize that I've seen so many films about nerdy, introverted guys and outspoken eccentric girls - do you know of any films about the opposite dynamic (introverted girl and zany guy)? I'd love to see some!

    1. Hi Sally, to be honest I can't think of any right now. But you are right, it's usually the introverted guy + the crazy girl. Hmmm...maybe because these movies are written by men? Something to think about. And yes, I will let you know if I can remember a movie with the opposite dynamic. :)

  3. Thanks for recommending some new films for me. Those last three sound especially great!

  4. I love your movie recommendations Odessa! Can't wait to watch them all. I recently watched "Cherry Blossoms" and "Cafe de Flore" and loved them both.


    1. Thanks, Camila. I love the titles already! There's a Cafe de Flore in my neighborhood, too. :)

  5. Hi Odessa and thank you for these film picks. Unfortunately I couln´t see all the images though. I hadn´t heard about any of these but I think I will try to check some of these out.

    1. Hi Niina, I'm sorry you can't see the photos. Let me see if I can fix the Flickr settings.

  6. Oh, Liberal Arts sounds like it's exactly the type of movie I love. Hopefully it will be released internationally.

    1. Amelia, I hope so too. It deserves to be seen by a wider audience. And good to see you here, thanks for leaving a comment. :)