KRVS

Andrew Lapin

There are precious few victories to be found in Give Me Liberty, and yet the film feels victorious all the same. This madcap day-in-the-life indie about a medical transport driver, shot in Milwaukee with a cast of almost entirely nonprofessionals, walks a fine line between exuberant comedy and stress-inducing nightmare, yet ultimately endorses the idea that surviving another day in America is enough to feel good about.

The pictures are probably what you remember: shrieking witches and half-melted skulls leering out from jet-black pages; hideous creatures snarling on leashes; and tree branches lurching like tentacles from tombstones.

Jennifer Kent's historical revenge drama The Nightingale is a film we're not accustomed to, and one we'll not soon forget. Set in early 19th-century colonial Australia, it depicts acts of horrific brutality. Yet it's not a brutal movie. Scenes of murder, rape, and enslavement unfold in front of the camera not just to shock you, but to confound you; to make you think about the fates of nations forged in violence and cruelty, and of the humans at the receiving end who must endure all of it.

Beneath the washed-out, drab setting of The Mountain is a vein pulsing with rage. Set in the 1950s, the movie follows a veteran lobotomist, played by Jeff Goldblum, as he sets up shop in mental hospitals across America, snipping off chunks of his patients' brains through their eye sockets and leaving them in near-catatonic states. In the film, such procedures have reached the end of their era, on the verge of being replaced with psychotropic drugs amid mounting evidence the surgeries are causing serious widespread harm.

Richard Billingham grew up in a squalid tenement home in Thatcher-era Britain, in a region outside Birmingham commonly referred to as the Black Country. And true to its name, his upbringing was the blackest of circumstances. Billingham and his younger brother Jason wrestled with an alcoholic, withdrawn father and a violent, short-tempered mother, both habitually unemployed: a household constantly perched on the edge of chaos.

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