The Mixed Tape

5 Films This Summer You Probably Didn’t See by Nolan Wilson Goff

This past summer featured the fantastic (J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek) and the awful (Michael Bay’s Transformers 2). Amongst the successful box office hits, were many hidden gems that may have escaped the public eye.

Here are 5 films this summer that found critical success, despite their limited releases.

The Hurt Locker


A near lock for a Best Picture nomination, Kathryn Bigelow’s brilliantly paced Iraq war thriller awed everyone who saw it. It featured fantastic characters with fantastic performances by Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie. “The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.”

(500) Days of Summer


This film is the best representation of post-modern love ever seen on screen. The performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, have been widely acclaimed, and for good reason. “This is the story of boy meets girl…but I must tell you up front, this is not a love story. It is a story about love.”

The Stoning of Soraya M.

Stoning - IMG_5887

Wow. As heartbreaking as this film is, it is a story that must be heard.  The title says it all, and this film must be seen. You will be awed by the power of this true story, and the importance of journalism. The Stoning is a true example of the mistreatment of women in Muslim society, and Shoreh Aghdashloo’s breathtaking performance will floor you. “Voices of women do not matter in here. I want you to take my voice with you.”



Starring Sam Rockwell and the voice of Kevin Spacey, Moon is the terrific directorial debut of Duncan Jones.  Moon is much like a interesting, action filled version of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.  The film is essentially a one man show, but Rockwell’s performance grabs ahold of audiences and grants us entry into the psyche of his character. Aditionally, Clint Mansell’s score is the best of the year. 250,000 miles from home, the hardest thing to face…is yourself.

Sin Nombre


The Sundance Film Festival darling, and directorial debut of Cary Fukunaga, is a foreign road movie detailing the trevails and passions of those venturing to the American border. Complete with gang violence and love, the story is a tragedy exploring themes of atonement and sacrifice. The greatest sin of all is risking nothing.

What was your favorite film of the summer?

-Nolan Wilson Goff

Picture Sources:


War is a Drug. by Nolan Wilson Goff
September 25, 2009, 12:12 am
Filed under: Film, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , ,

“The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.”

The Hurt Locker picSource: UGO Movieblog –

And thus begins The Hurt Locker, a powerful examination of the psyche of a soldier, and the consequent addiction that ensues. The story follows Bravo Company, an elite Army unit, with a dangerous task before them. They defuse bombs. Emphasis on the plural. It is vital that they operate as a team, but newcomer Staff Sergeant Will James has other ideas. He would rather stare death in the face, with his renegade attitude.

You will most certainly find this film on numerous Top 10 lists for the remainder of the year. Sure, it’s not your typical Oscar contender. It’s an independent war thriller, that’s gritty, and has no major stars (with brief appearances by Guy Pierce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse, and Evangeline Lilly). And since when has there been a good depiction of the current war in Iraq? Well look no further. The Hurt Locker is the Iraqi conflict film everyone has dreamed about. Critics are calling the film “the first real Oscar contender of 2009.”

And I’ll tell you why:

1. Pace: Many would argue that the film progresses slowly, and I couldn’t agree more. But that, my friends, is the beauty. Kathryn Bigelow‘s masterful direction allows the pace to steadily increase as each scene progresses, until it reaches its peak, and explodes. It is quite possibly the most intense film I have ever seen.

2. It Is What It Is: The Hurt Locker never pretends to be something it isn’t. Is it politically charged propaganda? No. Is it unbiased storytelling? Yes. It simply presents life-like characters in life-like situations, with no ill-conceived notions or jumbled plot points. The film never tries to say too much.

3. Characters: Sure it has its action, and certainly has its intensity, but The Hurt Locker succeeds where most films fail. The audience meets each character and carefully discovers what the character wants. The character development is at the heart of the story, and Bigelow never forgets that. Neither do the actors, who all satisfy the audience’s appetite with visceral performances.

Critics are correct, in calling this film an Oscar contender, thanks to Bigelow’s direction and the stunning performances, not to mention the cinematography.

The Hurt Locker is structured as if it were a bomb. The characters light the fuse as the story progresses, and the addiction begins to set in. The life they once new becomes foreign to the uncertainty of the streets of Baghdad.

The question is, at what point does the bomb explode?

-Nolan Wilson Goff

Source: Youtube –

P.S. I’d expect multiple nominations come Oscar night, including Best Picture and Best Director. Jeremy Renner could be a darkhorse for Best Actor as well. Marco Beltrami’s subtle, but effective, score should also be noted.