5 Best Movies to Watch From Playtime

Staff & contributors
Autobiographical in nature, 120 BPM is French screenwriter Robin Campillo's first feature film. It revolves around the Parisian chapter of the AIDS advocacy group ACT UP, which Campillo was a member of in the early 1990s, and the love between Nathan, the group's newest member, who is HIV negative, and Sean, one of its founding and more radical members, who is positive and suffers the consequences of contracting AIDS. Using fake blood and spectacular direct action, ACT UP advocated more and better research of treatment, prevention, and awareness. This was at a time when many, implicitly or explicitly, viewed AIDS as a gay disease, even as a punishment for the gay community's propensity to pleasure and partying. The latter is reflected by the film's title, 120 bpm being the average number of beats per minute of a house track. Arnaud Rebotini's original score echoes the ecstasy-driven house music hedonism of the time with some effective original cuts, albeit with a melancholic streak. Because, for all the love, friendship, and emotion of the ACT UP crew that BPM so passionately portrays, anger and sadness pervade the lives of these young people as the lack of effective treatment threatens to claim the lives of their loved ones.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Adèle Haenel, Aloïse Sauvage, Antoine Reinartz, Arnaud Valois, Caroline Piette, Catherine Vinatier, Coralie Russier, Emmanuel Ménard, Félix Maritaud, François Rabette, Marco Horanieh, Naëlle Dariya, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Pascal Tantot, Saadia Bentaïeb, Sabrina Aliane, Samuel Churin, Simon Guélat, Théophile Ray, Yves Heck

Director: Robin Campillo

Rating: Not Rated

C.R.A.Z.Y. is crazy good, so to speak. A portrait of a French-Canadian family in 70's Quebec that will knock your socks right off, it's the story of a boy struggling with his identity and his relationship with his father. Featuring a killer soundtrack (including but not limited to Bowie, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones), it received Best Canadian Film in 2005 at Toronto International Film Festival. There are many things I would like to say about C.R.A.Z.Y. but I fear it's one of those films you enjoy best when you go into them not knowing much.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Alex Gravel, Anik Vermette, Claude Gagnon, Danielle Proulx, Denis Trudel, Élizabeth Adam, Francis Ducharme, Hélène Grégoire, Isabelle Pagé, Jean-Alexandre Létourneau, Jean-Louis Roux, Jean-Marc Vallée, Joël LeMay, Marc-André Grondin, Marie-Michelle Duchesne, Marie-Yong Godbout-Turgeon, Mariloup Wolfe, Maxime Le Flaguais, Maxime Tremblay, Michel Côté, Michel Laperrière, Mohamed Majd, Natasha Thompson, Pierre-Luc Brillant

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée

Rating: Not Rated

Given the controversial subject matter, there’s something remarkably placid about the way About Dry Grasses proceeds. Amidst the snowy white steppes of Eastern Anatolia, writer-director Nuri Bilge Ceylan slowly lets the plot unfold through multiple conversations, where an accusation of inappropriate contact leads to a he-said, she-said investigation, all centered around a misanthropic protagonist Samet. By focusing the entire film on Samet, Ceylan takes the time to understand this difficult, exhausting character in a detached manner, with the camera oftentimes taking in the whole lived-in, rundown places where Samet lives and works in. It’s an interesting perspective, depicting the ways everyone’s fumbling around, trying to create boxes to understand one’s place in the world, but it’s not an easy one to explore. About Dry Grasses dares to do so, anyway.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Cengiz Bozkurt, Deniz Celiloğlu, Ece Bağcı, Elit Andaç Çam, Erdem Şenocak, Merve Dizdar, Münir Can Cindoruk, Musab Ekici, Nalan Kuruçim, Yıldırım Gücük, Yüksel Aksu

Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan

, 2011

I don't want to go too much into detail, but this film is an acting masterpiece. From start to finish it drags you into the characters' life and really makes you feel for the main character. It shows you how hard it really is for the main character to struggle with what she's going through. I hate being left in the dust to wonder like I was left after Tomboy and this film did it and it really gets on my nerves, but it is so good. A true masterpiece.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Cheyenne Laine, Christel Baras, Jeanne Disson, Malonn Lévana, Mathieu Demy, Noah Vero, Rayan Boubekri, Sophie Cattani, Valérie Roucher, Yohan Vero, Zoé Héran

Director: Céline Sciamma

Rating: Not Rated

An electrifying portrayal of a girl growing up in a poor Paris suburb. This coming-of-age story follows Marieme, a girl struggling in high-school who learns that she will be rerouted out of academia and onto a track where she will learn a trade. Frustrated by the news and fearful of an abusive elder brother, she finds solace in a gang of girls from her neighborhood. Initially she decides against joining them but does so at the prospect of pursuing a crush. Her new friends take her into the center of Paris and to a more violent and crime-driven lifestyle. An undeniably grim movie, Girlhood compensates with an amazing character study - themes of identity and adolescent need for belonging are at the center of a type of a story that rarely ever gets any attention.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Assa Sylla, Cyril Mendy, Damien Chapelle, Djibril Gueye, Idrissa Diabaté, Idrissa Diabaté, Karidja Touré, Lindsay Karamoh, Marietou Toure, Nina Mélo, Rabah Nait Oufella, Simina Soumaré, Tia Diagne

Director: Céline Sciamma

Rating: Unrated