A biopunk, cyberpunk story about a grim future, and disenfranchised punk kids living in the corpse of the progeny of human society. It's obviously a lot more than this, but I don't want to speak too much about the movie because I feel like it's one of those movies that needs no explanations. All you need to know is that Geinoh Yamashirogumi did the music, and that it's punk and critical of society.
A wonderfully powerful visual experience with set design by H.R. Giger. A sexual assault survivorship narrative. A hallmark of feminist cinema. An anti-capitalist critique. A three hour slow burn with atmosphere you can really get lost in. This movie was ahead of it's time, and nothing can quite scratch the itch it leaves you with.
At the height of the conservative panic against a crisis of "juvenile delinquency" in Japan, which was mostly just a harsh and authoritarian punishment of children for unrelated, systemic societal problems, Battle Royale was created, and didn't shy away from making a brutal story that reflects that reactionary callousness in an intense and visceral way. It's about a society that makes children pay in blood for what governments refuse to fix, lest their exploitative societies be torn down in favor of something more ethical. And exactly that is alluded to in the end of the story and it's sequel.
Dawn of the Dead
In case you haven't noticed, every George Romero movie, every single one of them, is rife with political commentary. Dawn of the Dead is the most dramatically pronounced, being a movie that's set in a mall, in the midst of societies collapse. I feel like it does a good job comparing zombies to consumers without blaming the consumer. They didn't choose to become zombies. It was inflicted upon them. What inflicts this condition where people become single minded in their consumption to a point of morbidity? We'll Never Know.
The Last Unicorn
An animated coming of age story about the titular last unicorn. She's the last one. It's a very emotionally powerful movie about the trauma of the loss of innocence that all girls invariably are forced into because of the darkness of society and harsh realities of the real world. You can adapt and change, but deep down there's always something in you that's lost that you can never get back, and that's far more horrific than any of my horror film recommendations, and deeply depressing in a way no tearjerker can approach.
The first of a franchise, often overlooked because compared to it's sequel, its a very weird, slow burn that doesn't concern itself too much with the aesthetics of the apocalypse. No, it's a movie where the end of society is in it's infancy, and is about two characters. Goose, a guy who's slowly being outmoded by the new state of the world, and Max, a normal person who snaps and becomes a misanthropic shadow of who he used to be due to the end of society. It's a story about the loss of humanity, and it's particularly cold and has a lot of mood.
Mad Max: Fury Road
A complete masterpiece of cinema in general. Has refined its cinematography to perfection, color schemes, set design, costume design, everything aesthetically about this movie is unparalleled. And the writing is a legitimately feminist story that isn't patronizing, is legitimately empowering, and offers a lot of speculation and conversation about the details of the world, the inner minds of the characters, their motivations, etc. Also, truck race in a giant sandstorm.
Stop me if you've heard this one before. The society you live in is simply a visage that has been created by people in a class far above you, using this system in order to keep you in order and maintain their system of power. The Matrix is not subtle, but interesting flew over everyone's heads. In addition, it has a lot of pro-trans theming within it that were harder to spot before the directors came out as trans, but in retrospect it's so obvious. The Matrix is ultimately a liberation narrative, and it's a god damn stylish and fantastic one.
Iran has faced a lot of hardships. Mossadegh nationalized their oil, resulting in the CIA and MI6 clapping down on them, organizing a coup, replacing him with the Shah. The Shah simply made things worse for Iranians, being a puppet dictator for western society. Then he was overthrown, and what came after was arguably worse. This is the story of a woman in the midst of this upheaval and cultural trauma. I highly recommend you check this out considering recent events.
One of Studio Ghibli's most confrontational movies, about a deadlocked conflict between the infinitely expanding colonialism and ecocide done in the name of human comfort, versus the indifferent world of nature that functions whether it's comfortable for humans or not. Only it's a lot more than that. Humans have a reason for what they're doing, but ultimately have done irreparable harm to nature, and nature must be protected. You see the whole spectrum of the conflict, and the film comes to the conclusion that nature most assuredly is worth protecting. It's a very impactful movie for me.
The Secret of NIMH
An animated film with a lot of dark fantasy elements, and a lot of invocations of challenging animated movies such as Plague Dogs or Watership Down, but rounded off and done exceptionally well. It's a secret world kind of story, while also directly concerned with exploitation of the weak, and working for something for your loved ones in spite of the bleakness. I don't know, there's a lot more going on. It's just really good.
An absolutely ridiculous story that manages to express complex class politics in a relatively simple way. Instead of shoving some dense 19th Century writer in someone's face, just watch this, or maybe Sorry to Bother You or Society in front of them, and they will understand. Or Dolly Parton's 9 to 5. Either way, this is a movie where there are sunglasses that can show people society for what it really is (a bunch of crass ads that condition people, and also a class of people who facilitate this control). If you haven't noticed, this movie is hostile to the idea of Capitalism. It's subtle, but you just might miss it. Also it has a 13 minute fight scene over a guy not wanting to put on the sunglasses. It's fantastic.
Everybody loves this movie because of how perfectly it executes everything, how it's one of the only Post-Lovecraftian movies that's actually executed well. How it perfects makeup design to create an absolutely horrifying monster. How it perfectly nails the tension, paranoia, and anxiety of the situation the cast find themselves in. And they're right. It's pretty much a perfect movie. It doesn't particularly move me in any kind of emotional way, I'm just amazed at how well it works as a full horror package.
It's.. a very ugly movie. Obscene, horrifying, depressing. Every negative human emotion, and too many horrible human experiences find themselves in this movie. I couldn't pull myself away from one second of it. It's a story about a small group of people, but mostly Ewan McGregor trying to pry themselves away from their heroin addictions. Dealing with the disenfranchisement of life in Scotland in general, trying to manage their troubled lives, staying clean for good. It's deeply concerned with portraying heroin addiction as not something anyone should feel okay with, but at the same time sympathizes pretty heavily with people who do suffer. I really feel like it's best as a one time experience, as it's far too painful to watch for any kind of satisfaction.
A period piece horror drama set in the middle ages, themed around Satan and witches. It has a lovely set design, costume design, restrained color palette, cinematography. In every technical way the film exceeds the bar. What really makes the movie special is the convincing performance put on by all of the characters. It's a kind of story about how the oppressive ideas of religion and abuse children face maintain a cycle of demonization. It posits that symbols of evil aren't born, but created. That violence begets violence, abuse begets abuse. Satan really doesn't have much to do with this in a narrative sense.
My partner showed this one to me. It's a josei, or anime directed at adult women, about a tragic relationship with a woman and werewolf, and now she's the sole provider of two werewolf children. It's a very sweet story about love and family and all the things most movies for adults tend to be deprived of. It's very sweet.