Feeling like 2014 flew by and you have little to show for it? There's still time to be productive, which in CineMunch speak means "see more 2014 movies so you can participate in best-of-the-year conversations, and, you know, generally live with yourself/sleep at night."
Today I offer three humble suggestions, all of which can be found on one streaming service or another, that will entertain you and also counter the myth that 2014 was somehow a bad year for film.
(Amazon Prime and Netflix Instant)
Watch it, and watch it now. This black-and-white post-WWII drama from Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski investigates the human consequences (personal, political, and cultural) of the war in Poland. The two leading ladies turn in performances as elemental and nuanced as fresh cultured butter, continually striking chords of painful human truth. The cinematography portrays the weight of history like nothing else I've seen, with characters' faces often absurdly offset to the bottom of the frame. It's a movie that makes me want to go to film school and write poetry and walk the abandoned battlefields of wars that can't, and shouldn't, be forgotten.
A confession: Anna Kendrick has continued to disappoint me in nearly every role she's played, from Up in the Air (ugh) to the otherwise fun Pitch Perfect. She's never bad, but she doesn't live up to the promise she showed in Camp. Then came Happy Christmas, a holiday family dramedy from writer/director Joe Swanberg, who also stars in the film. Kendrick breathes life and humanity and humor into her character, a young woman recovering from a breakup who hasn't quite figured out how to be an adult. Lena Dunham also delivers as Kendrick's friend and tether to her youth, but Melanie Lynskey is MVP, delivering awkward naturalism at its best. Give her all the awards (he screams to deaf ears).
I have to recommend Enemy, if only as a movie that defies criticism. It may not reach the profundity or cohesion of many other films this year, but does it have to? Nebulous balls of WHAT?! rarely reach cohesion; that's not what they're built for. Think of it as the H.P. Lovecraft of films, maybe not as high-brow as Edgar Allan Poe, but with enough mystery and intrigue to haunt your mind forever. Bonus: Jake Gyllenhaal (times two!) stars, arguably in even better form than his stellar performance in Nightcrawler.