Tag Archives: Borgman

Countdown: Weird Trend of 2014

Weird theme for great 2014 movies: one word titles. The oddest trait we saw emerge in great films this war was the one-word title film. A full 15 of the best films of 2014 had single-word titles – who knows why? Whatever the reason, in no particular order, are the best of the one-word-title films (and some of the very, very best films of the year.

1. Wild: Reese Witherspoon will no doubt garner her second Oscar nomination and quite possibly her second Oscar starring as a woman who walks 1100 miles solo to get her head together.

2. Selma: Ave DuVernay’s powerful, painfully relevant biopic on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the marches on Selma, Alabama delivers all the punch it needs with one word.

3. Unbroken: Angelina Jolie returns to a spot behind the camera for this true tale of Olympic athlete and WWII POW Louis Zamperini.

4. Birdman: Meta-magical-realism at its finest, Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu’s look at the transience and transcendence of fame will scoop up some Oscars this year.

5. Calvary: Woefully underseen, this wry, weary and brilliant look at the affects of Catholicism’s abuses boasts the great Brendan Gleeson’s best performance.

6. Whiplash: Holy shit! JK Simmons gets the role of a lifetime as an abusive music teacher who is either trying to push his students to greatness or is trying to get away with absolute sadism. This may be the most tense film of the year.

7. Nightcrawler: Another amazing film, this one positing a weirdly sometimes likeable sociopath (Jake Gyllenhaal at his absolute best) in the context of local news – what better fit could there be?

8. Frank: Another underseen gem, this one has the great Michael Fassbender hiding inside a giant plastic head in an exploration of madness and music.

9. Foxcatcher: Bennett Miller returns with another masterpiece in understatement, a true crime tale of Olympic wrestlers and insane billionaires that could bring Oscar nominations to the unlikeliest of actors: Steve Carell and Channing Tatum.

10. Rosewater: Jon Stewart proved his mettle behind the camera with this touching, insightful and underseen true story of a journalist jailed during the Iranian elections of 2009.

11. Boyhood: The best film of 2014, Boyhood’s filming spanned 12 years and let us glimpse something no other film has ever captured.

12. Wetlands: Underneath the shock and body fluids is a deeply human story boasting a fearless and nuanced performance.

13. Snowpiercer: The best SciFi in a year of especially great SciFi, the film was sabotaged by its own studio and still wound up wowing audiences everywhere.

14. Interstellar: Not Christopher Nolan’s best, but when his intergalactic epic is working, it is a mind-bending ride.

15. Locke: A one man show that highlights the talents of perhaps the greatest actor of his generation, Tom Hardy. See it. Do it!

Mysterious Strangers for Your Queue

If you somehow missed one of Marvel’s very best superhero flicks, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is available today. Check it out. But for the rest of you, there’s a little seen movie from Netherlands we’d like to recommend.

Borgman updates a Dutch folktale, pitting a vagrant against a wealthy couple in a trippy, mind bending nightmare. Remarkable cinematography, assured direction and wonderful performances help make this frightening trip truly compelling.

Make it a mysterious stranger double feature by taking in the woefully underseen Stoker. Chan-wook Park’s first English language feature follows a wealthy family rocked by the patriarch’s sudden death, the surprising presence of his brother, and his adolescent daughter’s truly unusual behavior. It’s a fascinating twist on Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, marked by subtly eerie performances, gorgeous cinematography and strange turns.

Head Games


by George Wolf

Before hitting the theater for this one, get your head right, because Borgman is gonna mess with it.

Writer/director Alex van Warmerdam delivers a surreal, nightmarish, sometimes darkly comical fable guaranteed to keep you off balance. It is meticulously crafted and deliberately paced, a minefield of psychological torment.

Jan Bijvoet is quietly riveting as Camiel Borgman, a vagrant on the run from a group of armed men who have discovered his impressive underground hideout. Fleeing through the woods, Camiel comes upon the home of an affluent family and reaches out for assistance.

The moment the front door is opened, the family begins to lose control of their lives.

Borgman is the Netherlands official selection for this year’s Academy Awards, and last year it became the first Dutch movie accepted to Cannes Film Festival in nearly four decades. A little background in European folklore will help to understand Camiel’s unusual behavior, and the effect he has on unsuspecting targets.

Still, don’t expect any concrete answers. van Warmerdam channels Michael Haneke but becomes even more cryptic, to a degree that occasionally threatens to derail the film’s compelling nature.

But the skills of all involved ultimately win the day. van Warmerdam offsets his mysterious script with assured, thoughtful direction, buoyed by a fine ensemble cast and crisp, sometimes remarkable cinematography.

Like its title character, Borgman is unique and hypnotic, leaving you with so many different feelings you won’t be quite sure which one is right.