3 Best Movies to Watch by Dan Li

Staff & contributors
Revealing the gaps in the social safety net, I, Daniel Blake, is a tale centered around a blue collar worker navigating the welfare system in England. At a time where class and social mobility could not be more politically salient, this film calls into question the notion of the “citizen” and exposes the inaccessibility to the social protections in which one presumes entitlement. At the forefront of this, is a heart-warming parable of paternal companionship between Daniel (played by Dave Johns) and a single mother – Katie – (played by Hayley Squires) who is wading through similar terrain. The acting in the film is unfathomably raw which cultivates the deepest source of gut wrenching compassion. Ken Loach has created a film that exposes the true power of empathy, leaving you feeling helplessly human.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Briana Shann, Dan Li, Dave Johns, Dave Turner, David Murray, Dylan McKiernan, Hayley Squires, Kate Rutter, Kema Sikazwe, Ken Loach, Li Dan, Malcolm Shields, Mickey Hutton, Micky McGregor, Natalie Ann Jamieson, Rob Kirtley, Sammy T. Dobson, Sharon Percy, Shaun Prendergast, Stephen Clegg, Steven Richens, Viktoria Kay

Director: Ken Loach

Rating: R

Thirty years after its release, the first ever Chinese language Palme d’Or winner has finally been made more accessible through Criterion Channel through its uncut 4K restoration. Farewell My Concubine is one of those classical epics that is considered essential viewing, but even with its near 3 hour runtime, the film still holds up all these decades later with its startlingly heartrending love story and depiction of the tumultuous shifts of 20th century China. Director Chen Kaige masterfully balances both sides, tapping into the pain Dieyi (Leslie Chung) chooses as he clings to the classical opera, the very art form that allows him a sliver of his unrequited love to be realized, but that is also limited depending on whichever government is in charge at the moment. It’s possibly one of the most beautiful and most miserable films ever made.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Dan Li, David Wu, Fei Zhenxiang, Ge You, Gong Li, Huang Lei, Jiang Wenli, Lei Han, Leslie Cheung, Li Dan, Lu Qi, Shen Huifen, Yang Lixin, Yin Zhi, Ying Da, Zhang Fengyi, Zhi Yitong

Director: Chen Kaige

Rating: R

With phone scams becoming more elaborate, it’s easy to understand and empathize with the wrath Jason Statham as The Beekeeper has when his elderly friend gets drained out of her entire life savings. It’s thrilling to see him punch his way into the scammers’ headquarters and burn the whole place to the ground. And when director David Ayer uses his extra hour to dial up the low stakes tech scheme into a nationwide scandal that implicates the entire U.S. government, it’s ludicrous, sure, but it’s somehow wildly entertaining. That being said, your mileage of the film highly depends on your tolerance for randomly dropped bee facts and silly bee puns, but The Beekeeper isn’t a terrible choice to watch.

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Actor: Adam Basil, Arian Nik, Bharat Mistri, Bobby Naderi, Dan Li, David Witts, Derek Siow, Don Gilet, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Enzo Cilenti, Georgia Goodman, Jason Statham, Jay Rincon, Jemma Redgrave, Jeremy Irons, Jonathan Cohen, Josh Hutcherson, Kevin Golding, Kojo Attah, Martin Gordon, Megan Le, Michael Epp, Minnie Driver, Peter Brooke, Phil Hodges, Phylicia Rashād, Rebecca Hazlewood, Reza Diako, Rocci Williams, Sophia Feliciano, Sunny Dhillon, Taylor James, Valentina Novakovic

Director: David Ayer

Rating: R