JCVD (d. Mabrouk El Mechri) - When I first heard of this post-modern, heart-laid-bare action film, which features Jean-Claude Van Damme as a version of himself, I though it must be some kind of disaster. What happens is, Van Damme -- frustrated over his divorce, loss of custody of his daughter, and the trajectory of his career -- goes to a bank in Belgium, and finds himself in the middle of a robbery. Due to an unfortunate mix-up, the police believe him to be the guy robbing the bank, which, for the safety of those inside, Van Damme goes along with. As a crime film (which this is, more than it is an action film), JCVD is a little too loose for my tastes, but Van Damme is the real point of the movie. To put it simply: I had no idea. And it's not just his now-famous tortured monologue, delivered to the camera, and to his fans -- throughout the film, he's so effortlessly moving as a 47 year-old guy, whose career is that of an action film star, and who now believes that his career is not only kind of silly, but maybe worthless, too. He said it, not me, but if Van Damme really thinks that he's never done anything worthwhile with his career, he can think again.
Les Biches (d. - Claude Chabrol) - This film has been on my radar for at least a decade, maybe more, beginning before my knowledge of films was even that deep, because, hey, lesbians. Of course, that kind of content is pretty meager, probably because I just can't win, but Chabrol's highly influential, quiet thriller about two women -- the rich Frederique (Stephane Audran) and the poor, withdrawn Why (Jacqueline Sassard) -- is fascinating in the way it subverts our ideas of who will snap, and the reasons behind it. If you've never seen a Chabrol film, but have read the novels of Ruth Rendell, you'll already be familiar with the sensation of coldly watching a group of people -- who, for the good of all, should have never even met -- coming together like a car-less traffic accident. Quietly, coolly, and perversely compelling.