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Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Fascinating and unique movie
People overuse the word "quirky" or "offbeat" but those terms are probably how most folks might characterize this movie. It's a romance with moments of extreme violence, it's touching and sweet yet excruciating and cruel at the same time; it's beyond easy description. If you're looking for a trite boy-meets-girl chick flick with cardboard characters and sitcom dialogue, this movie isn't for you. But if you want a movie that will charm your eyes, engage your brain as well as your heart, and offer you things that you haven't seen a million times before onscreen, "Punch Drunk Love" is a movie you need to see.
Sure, it's probably not for everyone, which should be reason enough to see it. If you thought you didn't like Sandler, give him a try. His performance is complex and always intensely watchable, and Emily Watson makes you take back every insulting remark you've ever made about dumb actresses. She's wonderful.
I'd see this movie again in a minute, and was utterly charmed by every moment of it.
Panic in Year Zero! (1962)
Growing up in L.A. in the '60s, this movie really meant something!
Sure it didn't have a huge budget or major-league stars, but it's a bleak and realistic little drama that has an authentic tone and a sense of desperation that feels utterly genuine. There's undoubtedly a "you-had-to-be-there" reaction that I had to it, being from Los Angeles and knowing the mountain area and easily being able to imagine seeing that mushroom cloud in my own mind. I was eight when this originally came out -- not sure if I saw it in the theater but it's possible -- and that creepy Conalrad radio tone is still in my head after all these years.
Nobody -- except maybe Charlton Heston -- can look quite so anguished and masculine and bearing-the-weight-of-the-world-on-his-shoulders-in-the-face-of-civilization 's-downfall as Ray Milland does in this movie.
It looks like we dodged the nuclear war bullet back in the 1960s, but I'm sure that anybody living today can still identify with the terrifying prospect of a devastating nuclear war and what could happen if you were one of the lucky/unlucky survivors. This may not be "The Day After" but it's a plucky low-budget version of the same theme and worth seeing alongside other 60s nuclear nightmare movies.