The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.
Run Lola Run [1998, dir. Tom Tykwer]
Oh, this was good. Tom Tykwer’s stylish film is like a shot of adrenaline with its frenetic techno soundtrack and its stop-start videogame-like structure. By the end of it, I had so much energy that I wanted to run until my body gave out. Yeah, it has that kind of impact.
Franka Potente is the eponymous Lola, who does in fact spend much of the film running. After her boyfriend calls her to inform her that he lost a bag of money that was meant to go to his mobster boss, Lola frantically starts running to fix this problem within the next 20 minutes. Multiple scenarios are presented, some more logical than others, but all of them reach satisfying conclusions. Perhaps most interestingly, every path shows how one simple and seemingly random interaction will change the lives of strangers. These moments are ever so brief but provide fascinating glimpses into the futures of those who interact with Lola during her high-energy sprinting.
What’s amazing is that all of this takes place in just 80 minutes. It’s the type of film where you don’t want to blink simply because you might miss something. In short, I loved the hell out of this movie, and it was the perfect jolt of caffeine I needed in between my recent focus on epics. 8/10
The Orphanage [2007, dir. Juan Antonio Bayona]
The Orphanage is a creepy Spanish horror film that has a great way of getting under your skin. It’s not necessarily scary per se, but it does an incredible job of drumming up suspense while maintaining a truly eerie atmosphere.
Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (and “presented by” Guillermo Del Toro), the film focuses on a mother named Laura (Belén Rueda), who moves her family to the abandoned orphanage that she once grew up in. She has plans to get the orphanage up and running again, but those go awry when her young adopted son, Simón (Roger Princep), goes missing. Simón had made some imaginary friends at his new home, and Laura begins worrying that he has somehow run off with them. Startling visions of young children — including one who wears a burlap sack over his head — start to give credence to this theory.
In many ways, The Orphanage feels like a familiar ghost story, but it is elevated due to its haunting presentation and strong storytelling. Some may not like the resolution — it will leave you feeling like you have been sucker-punched — but it’s one tale I will not soon forget. 8/10