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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Hidden Gems of A24 Films

Not all masterpieces make it to theaters

According to a 2014 survey, the average American visits the movie theaters five times per year. Most likely, those five movie tickets are dedicated to big name films that pull mass revenue. But few know of the way to watch the world’s most renowned films at home.

Especially for A24 films, a New York based studio that produces nothing but the best, a majority of their films will only show at select theaters or none at all, opting for an immediate release to the online marketplaces like iTunes or Amazon Prime Video.

For those who are acquainted with A24, they can probably recall the famed “Moonlight” that won the Academy Award for Best Picture back in 2016 (be sure to see Barry Jenkins’s follow-up debut “If Beale Street Could Talk”). Or another, more recent and well-known A24 flick is Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird,” which won a number of Golden Globe awards.

These films hit the silver screen and made tens of millions from the box office for their stellar performances, but a number of A24 films will go entirely unnoticed by the untrained eye as they go directly to streaming outlets. With no other way to find out about these films than simply visiting the A24 website, they will, most often, fly under the radar.

The website has a long list of films to choose from that are linked directly to their streaming platforms. And with a bit of research and a little less scrolling from left to right on Netflix, finding a masterpiece from A24 is quite the easy deed.

Of the most recent releases from the studio, Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed” is one that has seemingly been overlooked by movie-goers. Of course, how can a film that confronts ties between politics, big business oil and the hypocrisies of Christendom in the face of climate change ever reach the fame it deserves? Looking to its unanimously positive reviews on Vox, IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, — the fame this film deserves is indeed one that it has not received.

Starring Ethan Hawke as a reverend of a small Dutch reformed church with a dwindling congregation, a parishioner, played by Amanda Seyfried, asks the reverend for his help in counseling her husband — a radical environmentalist — which plunges the reverend into his own dark past while becoming aware of an even darker future for the planet and his faith. A24 describes the film as “a gripping thriller about a crisis of faith that is at once personal, political, and planetary.”

Also available on Amazon Video is “Good Time” starring Robert Pattinson. Not-sorry-to-say Pattinson does not take shape as a romantic vampire or a contender for the Goblet of Fire, but in this film he is an on-the-run bank robber traversing the deep, dark and hypnotic streets of New York City’s subterranean crime world.

Directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, this film tells the tale of one brother’s race against time to earn the bail money needed to free his younger brother, who has special needs, from Rikers Island prison due to a robbery gone bad. Intertwining brotherly love and criminal chaos, this film is a one hour and forty minute odyssey of what goes on inside the minds of the madly desperate.

A final film that will hopefully spark this potential A24 binge-fest is David Lowery’s “A Ghost Story” starring Casey Affleck as a white-sheet ghost who represents a deceased musician’s spirit. Upon the protagonist’s death, the ghost returns to its suburban home to a past love who it still feels bound to. Now, unbound by time and living in a reality which abides by the laws of nature, the ghost must watch in passivity as history plays out before its eye-holes. On the A24 website, the film is described as a “cosmic journey through memory and history, confronting life’s ineffable questions and the enormity of existence.”

Are any of these films sounding better than Avengers 4? Hopefully, because they don’t require a movie ticket to be enjoyed and they can all be streamed at an instant from any device with a screen and an Internet connection. Not to mention that these films are all cry-worthy and will sit with their viewers long after the credits roll.

To add to the list of killer A24 films, be sure to search iTunes and Amazon Video for the following: “The Disaster Artist” with James and Dave Franco, “Woodshock” with Kirsten Dunst, “The Sea of Trees” with Matthew McConaughey, “Swiss Army Man” with Daniel Radcliffe and “Under The Skin” with Scarlett Johansson.

Hopefully a theme has presented itself here: big name actors, under-the-radar films and unforgettable stories. Not all masterpieces make it to the box offices— much like a hidden mixtape, sometimes it requires a little excavating to find the tracks of gold.

Written By: Clay Allen Rogers — arts@theaggie.org


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