Maze Runner: the Scorch Trials (2015)

This sequel to The Maze Runner effectively plunges its characters deeper into increasingly dark and twisted places that help train them for the ultimate test to be faced in the final installment. The continued portrayal of relationships as mutually respectful and fiercely loyal– absent of any hormone- fueled delusions– more than make up for the […]

The Maze Runner (2014)

Unfortunately, I need to preface this by saying that, despite being both sophisticated and dark, this was supposed to be a kids’ movie. It’s a significant consideration because, for some reason, it seems to garner recurring criticism over the supposedly impossible group dynamic. If we’re going to split hairs, it’s only fair to point out […]

Pieces of April (2003)

This sleeper’s off-beat characteristics– most notably its low budget– allow it to highlight the strained relationships between abrasive characters. April’s oven breaks while trying to cook Thanksgiving dinner for her estranged family, which she is hosting in her tiny city apartment. That the footage itself was shot in a rush serves to reinforce the plot’s […]

The Station Agent (2003)

Describing this gently layered story is like recounting an interaction with traveling companions: you kind of had to be there. No explosions or car chases; just a lonely man with dwarfism, who inherits an defunct train station where he is bombarded/ befriended by a succession of neighbors, each of whom arrives in their own way at their own time. The recurring tall and talkative snack vendor, the grieving mother struggling to figure out who she’s supposed to be and the pretty librarian, who might be more trouble than she’s worth each disrupt his solitude until he’s forced to accept they’ve forged a path through his previous meticulous social landscape.

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

People handle internal feelings in different ways. Children, for example, often create imaginary friends. But what happens when an adult latches on to an inanimate object, which is the only thing that can keep him from becoming a recluse? Furthermore, what happens when his eccentric hobby becomes impossible to hide? No one can agree on how to treat a social pariah; reactions vary from disgust—outrage at challenging accepted convention—to patronizing indulgence—fear of confrontation.

This young man’s transformation finally occurs when he feels the safety of a surrounding community, who will love him through an intense period of inner turmoil. When the strong desire to be right clashes with the strong desire to fit in, the most vulnerable becomes collateral damage. However, everyone benefits when they redirect their efforts towards patience and sympathy for someone, who’s trying to work through past trauma and figure out how to grow up.