FILMS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEEDED TO SEE 4
For those of you new to the site, here’s the idea behind this post:
On a boring Tuesday morning, of a week with no good new releases, I decided to rent a film I stumbled across that I had never even heard of. That film was Oldboy and it proceeded to blow my mind. Since then, I have lent the film to several of my friends and their experience mirrored mine.
This post was put together in an attempt to recreate that experience and hopefully present you with some films that may have flown under your radar. Films that are collecting dust in the “Favorites” aisle of your local video store… waiting to be checked out… and make you say, “How the hell did I miss this film?”
To help me, as always, I’ve called some friends in. Fellow bloggers whose work I enjoy. Helping me today are:
And, of course, me… your friendly neighborhood Kaiderman. Normally I’d go last but then I remembered it’s my blog and I CAN DO WHATEVER THE HELL I WANT! haha… so, I think I’ll kick this one off!
Kai B. Parker:
Those of you that thought Splice looked interesting need to check out director Vincenzo Natali’s ealier classic CUBE. The premise is simple enough… 7 people wake up inside a room in the shape of a perfect cube. There are 6 doors in the cube. One on the floor, the ceiling and each of the walls. The cube is one of many cubes that make up one giant cube. There’s one way out and they need to find it. Only problem? Most of the cubes are rigged with deadly traps. Will they work together to find a way out? Or will the madness overcome them? I’ll just say it’s well worth finding out!
Are you a fan of straight to DVD movies based on famous serial killers? If you are, you’re in luck because there are hundreds of them out there. However, if you want to see one that is actually good, this is the one for you. Dahmer actually debuted at Sundance and, as I’ve said on the site before, was my first exposure to a young Jeremy Renner. His performance in this film is what kicked off his career as he turns in a stellar performance playing the lead in this creepy and disturbing film.
THE HAMMER (2007).
I’ll admit that I wasn’t a big fan of Carolla’s when he was doing Love Line and The Man Show. So, when he took over for Howard Stern out here on the West Coast (AKA. The Best Coast), I was less than excited. Big shoes to fill after all. However, he quickly won me over with his sharp humor and nasally drones. Still, when this film came out and people were calling into his radio show to tell him how great this film (which he co-wrote and stars in) was, I thought they were merely kissing his ass. Well, I was wrong!
The Hammer is a great little RomCom with heart and a ton of laughs. Amazing that it was made for around 800k. Well worth a viewing and don’t let the R rating fool you. The MPAA screwed Carolla on the rating which was given for using the F word twice… one of which, I didn’t even catch!
OLIVE (with a focus on Irish films):
Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not Colin Farrell’s biggest fan. But, Intermission is one film where I’ll make an exception. The drama/comedy also stars Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later) who plays John. When John breaks up with his girlfriend, to “test her”, his plan backfires and triggers a chain of events affecting everyone in their town, including Oscar his shy best friend, an overzealous detective Jerry (Colm Meaney) who spends his days chasing after a criminal, Lehiff (Collin Farrell). Intermission explores how our lives intersect and the power we all have to affect the lives of those around us. It also contains some pretty good dark comedy.
THE SNAPPER (1993).
Snapper is based on another book by Roddy Doyle, who also wrote “The Commitments.” The latter is probably more famous outside of Ireland , but the former is one of the best Irish comedies ever. Sharon Curley is 20 and living with her parents and several brothers and sisters. When she becomes pregnant and refuses to name the father, she becomes the talk of the town. Rumours about his identity fly around the place, driving everyone crazy. It stars Colin Meaney as Sharon’s bewildered father. Hilarious comedy, which also contains some heartfelt moments.
THE GENERAL (1998).
The General is based on Martin “The General” Cahill who was a real-life Dublin criminal and indeed folk hero, for want of a better word. There is another film based on Cahill, “Ordinary Decent Criminal” with Kevin Spacey. However, it’s dismal compared to Gleeson’s portrayal of the man who eluded capture by the Gardaí (police) and wound up stealing over $60million until the IRA decided to put him out of business once and for all. Gleeson is brilliant as the multi-layered Cahill, who enjoyed taunting the authorities including Inspector Ned Kenny, (Jon Voight). Cahill was quite the character, who married his childhood sweetheart, while also fathering her sister’s children. Interestingly, both women seemed okay with this. Fascinating stuff!
SERAPHIM FALLS (2006).
Usually with a Western, you get something formulaic including, but not limited to, a lone gun man, some wild and free riding cowboys or a story about all out vigilante justice. Well not here, and thankfully, not at all, as this is a different animal all together. Seraphim Falls is more a chase movie than a conventional “Western” and there are small but unexpected ties to the supernatural. Yet as far as Westerns go, this, true to the genre, maintains a nearly epic feel in almost every frame. For those of you a little wary about my description above, no this isn’t The Sixth Sense meets High Noon. This is just a new spin on a revenge tale where we find Liam Neeson mercilessly hunting down Pierce Brosnan and I do mean mercilessly. On his quest, the closer he gets to his vengeance the more he loses a grip on his mind and his soul. It’s a tight and engaging thriller (which works so well set against the backdrop of the Old West) that feels refreshingly original and has an ending that you wouldn’t expect.
THE KILLING ROOM (2009).
There are movies with twists, and there are total mind-fuck movies, this has huge helping of both and will literally keep you on the edge of your seat…and sufficiently rack your brain for days to come. But while looking at the cover at the unimpressive cast (especially Nick Cannon) 90% of people would walk away. Yet those remaining 10% would be treated to one of the most impressive unheard of movies of all time. Much like Kai said in his bit about Timecrimes, this is sensational but I don’t want to give too much away. When it’s over you’ll have a new outlook on our country’s defense tactics and just how patriotic people can become…especially when pushed to the edge, then over it. Just keep telling yourself, “It’s only a movie”…stuff like this doesn’t happen, right?…Right??
AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (1945).
For the very best in “a-ha” endings you’ll never find a more cunning and creative film than this. Considered, by me mainly, to set the bar for thrillers and mysteries, this absolute film (and literary) classic should be required reading for any film fan…espeically those who love a “who dun it?“. Simply fine acting all around including Oscar Winner Walter Huston, and Barry Fitzgerald, this has something for everyone. I suspect a good number of kids who grew up watching movies with their grandparents have seen this but for those of you who haven’t it will be sure to please…even if it is a rather old and countlessly remade film. Yet, this was the first and it still stands up as the best. Keeps you guessing like few films from that time are able to do. Simply put, it’s an outstanding film, worthy of the name “classic”.
SHARK ATTACK 3: Megalodon (2002).
This movie is the epitome of Films You Didn’t Know You Needed to See. Not only is this movie so horribly done that it’s awesome, it’s a movie that can be watched over and over again. This “film” follows a group of people in search of gigantic shark that has over a 100 foot wide bite. Yeah, it’s that crazy. From horrible acting, amazingly bad special effects, and one-liners that are out of this world. Including quite possibly the funniest quote I have heard from a movie. This movie reeks of unintentional awesomeness that you can’t help but love.
DEAR ZACHARY: A LETTER TO A SON ABOUT HIS FATHER (2008).
A rather powerful documentary in which an amateur filmmaker compiles the history of his best friend Andrew, so that one day Andrew’s son can learn the story of his father. I am trying to keep this write-up VERY vague, because to me, not knowing a single thing about this film will add so much more to the experience. Knowing a little bit about it won’t ruin the movie, I just recommend going in completely blind, not even reading a one-line synopsis or the back cover. I went in without knowing anything about it, and this documentary received the biggest emotional reaction I’ve ever had to a film. If you allow yourself to become attached to the story, this will be a gut-wrenching yet touching experience that will leave you in awe. I, for one, found my eyes teared up, yelling at the screen, and even pulling my hair. While not a proper documentary because it’s very one sided, I once named this as my favorite movie of 2008. I’ve backed off that a little, mainly because comparing documentaries and feature films gets rather messy, but I would strongly recommend giving this movie a watch.
THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED (2005).
A dark and downbeat indie from one of the better working directors of today, Jacques Audiard, it is also a remake of Toback’s Fingers which starred. It stars Romain Duris, and Duris is one of the main reasons this movie stays afloat. While Audiard’s directing skills are certainly displayed, Duris is able to create a character that keeps the rather grim story going. A very complex and strained character, Thomas Seyr doesn’t exactly hang out with the best of crowds, but at the same time is working under the shadows of his father in the property business. While Thomas doesn’t bother this lifestyle, an opportunity arises in which he could chase a dream of his, and that would be music. But the life of music that he seeks doesn’t mesh well with his old life, which he isn’t in the biggest hurry to get rid of. Sitting back and watching Thomas deal with the decisions that come before him is quite the treat, and is a pretty good lesson on how much just a little fine-tuning by a director can really make a scene, let alone an entire movie.
CADILLAC RECORDS (2008).
Etta James, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf. All are music legends. In Cadillac Records we get the story of them and the man who discovered them – Leonard Chess. Cadillac Records has its issues, director Darnell Martin directs her own script, that tends to border on self-indulgent too often, but when she steps back and gives her actors a chance to stretch their legs there are moments of beauty in this piece. Adrien Brodey is a key example of someone who’s fallen off the radar since their Oscar win. Cadillac Records isn’t the comeback one would hope but Brodey taps into his talent for subtlety once again as he plays this man with a host of latent desire and actors Mos Def, Jeffrey Wright and Gabrielle Union turn in good work alongside him. But it’s no mistake, for me at least, that Cadillac Records shines brightest when Beyonce Knowles is on screen. Still not an excellent actress, Knowles has one thing many actors would kill for – charisma. And as Etta James you can’t look away from her. “At Last” is the song that James is remembered for but when she gives a performance of “I’d Rather Go Blind”, Chess, the other characters (and even Martin) don’t know what to do…they just stand back and let the music play. And in the end, when the story fails at times or the quality of the drama lags when you just let the music play Cadillac Records becomes one that’s worthy of your time.
A MIGHTY HEART(2007).
Ready to see Angelina Jolie give the greatest performance of her career (including Gia and Girl, Interrupted)? Look no further. When the credits first rolled and I thought back on it, I wondered why A Mighty Heart worked…It’s the story of Marianne and Daniel Pearl, and it begins are Daniel has gone missing in Pakistan. We already know he’s not coming back, we already know he’s dead. So, really, the punch line for this perverse joke is already known – why continue looking? Therein lays the beauty of the film. Jolie is supported by a talented mix of actors – American and Indian and the film persists in its steady pace of calmness about a woman trying to find the man she loves. It’s not an exposé; it’s not trying to be. It’s a character study of Marianne Pearl – a pregnant woman as intent on finding her husband as she is the truth and within all this remaining as composed as can be. There are no histrionics here and no stereotypical scenes of stilted grief. In fact Jolie is given one scene of overt emotion that remains as one of the most unmannered and haunting episodes of cinematic grief. It has its issues, but see A Mighty Heart for its ability to keep us interested even when we can see inevitable…and see it for Jolie. It’s legitimate proof that she can stand with the best of her trade.
THE FISHER KING (1991).
When the year 1991 comes up in film chances are everyone will start talking about The Silence of the Lambs. An errant choice of Beauty & the Beast or Thelma & Louise or Bugsy may pop up to make it diverse…yet no one remembers The Fisher King a film I easily consider to be the best of Terrry Gilliam, Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges’ careers. From Gilliam it’s a toned down effort that still retains his penchant for the peculiar, from Williams it’s an excellent comedic performance that doesn’t get indulgent and from Bridges it’s another on of his takes on the everyman that’s more than a little flawed. It follows the life of a disc jockey who finds out just how powerful his words are when it leads to a sudden tragedy, but The Fisher King is a comedy irrepressible and unforgiving that still manages to make a cutting look at the characters of four damaged and lonely people. The two gents are backed up by an in-form Amanda Plummer and an excellent (Oscar winning performance) by Mercedes Rhuel making The Fisher King a little bit of brilliance. Too many superlatives? I suppose, but this is a favourite of mine and it manages to seem realistic even as it leaves you with the feeling that all is possible in the world.
I’M A CYBORG, BUT THAT’S OK (2006).
Directed by Park Chan-wook, otherwise known as the saint who brought us Oldboy, seems to take a break from his tireless crusade of hardcore revenge–having wrapped his Vengeance Trilogy–to take us, audience, on a tour through a surreal Japan, the Amelie brand of cuteness that might irk some nay-sayers, but to me, it takes a potentially contrived plot and makes it a delightful romp, a look into what makes someone mad, and the surreal dynamics of a relationship between two crazy people. For lack of better words, of course.
Starring Im Su-jeong and Rain as a young woman who thinks she’s a cyborg, bent on revenge against the men in white who took away her grandmother (who thought she was a mouse) and a dude with ‘anti-social behaviour and kleptomania (stemming from schizophrenia)’, both locked up in a technically-voluntary insane asylum. The man, Il-sun, finds himself playing accomplise to the girl, Young-goon’s, various wanderings, while trying to cure her refusal to eat (Cyborgs eat batteries, duh). Probably the sweetest thing is the rather chaste romance between the two (I refuse to say wacky, dammit) cohorts, a rythm and understanding only two crazy people can share.
BE KIND, REWIND (2008).
Michael Gondry is a surrealist above all else, I think. His films thus far, Eternal Sunshine and The Science of Sleep, others, they all revolve in some way around dreams, memories, people within them. So, in a way, Be Kind is a departure and an embodiment of his tropes. Two men, Mos Def and Jack Black, they work in a video rental store that still stands despite the arrival of DVD stores around. The store is run by Mos Def’s maybe-guardian, Danny Glover. One day, Black gets hit by lightening, comes to work, and gets all up against the videos, inadvertantely wiping them. When he and Def discover this, instead of trying to scrounge up some new tapes, or tell their boss, they decide to reshoot the movies themselves, calling the process ‘sweding’. The new films are a huge hit around the neighborhood, success is had trials are head, heartwarming ending, you know the deal.
What I like about this, though, not only Gondry’s direction and Def’s presence, is the shear about of *shudder* heart. You will probably never find a movie any sweeter, any more well-meaning and self-contained, one that lives in an imagined world of New Jersey where you can still trust your neighbors to show up for your big movie premiere, where the obvious faults in your Swede productions are embraced, where everybody still says hello to everyone else, because they all know each other. So lovely and amusing is the script and direction and acting, nobody holds any pretension, they know just what they’re making. Not laugh-out-loud, no, but in the end, you will find yourself grinning from ear to ear, and you won’t be able to place why.
Maybe you heard of this, maybe you didn’t. Starring Cillian Murphy, Susan Surandon, and Ellen Page, a project that has long fermented around the shelves until someone finally gave it a mercy-DTD release, with little fanfare to boot, despite the cast. Centering around a shy-to-the-point-of-autistic bank clerk named John Skillpa, living in a town I’m not sure is supposed to be the fifties, or is just made up to avoid any modern developments, Peacock, Nebraska. His mother died a year ago, and he still lives in her house, wearing old, oversized suits that look as though he simply found them in a closet, going to work everyday, a modest existence as he likes it. Yet, he has a double personality, that of Emma, a personification of his abusive mother, gentler, maybe, I dunno. She shows up in the early morning to do the laundry, cook his meals, clean house and such. But one day, a train comes barreling into the lonely house’s backyard, revealing Emma to the curious onlookers. Soon, a story of her being his wife develops, and he struggles to maintain the illusion and keep what little sanity he has left.
Okay, I’d understand if you were turned off from the direct-to-DVD release. I would’ve too, had I not been waiting for it long before its suffering. So I saw it at a Redbox and I got it. I regret it not one bit, sirs, because it is kind of amazing. I mean, this is simply my opinion, but never have I seen a movie (recently) that pulled off its obvious Hitchcockian traits with such success. Sure, it speeds into the plot with little deliberation, but is that such a bad thing? Cillian Murphy always does best when he’s cross-dressing, it appears, and Ellen Page (a single mother with ties to John’s past) is as-of-recent-uncharacteristically serious (with a very Canadian accent, might I add). It, too, is a self-contained thing, that ties up to a quietly horrifying ending, in a way. So, there’s that.
That’s it for now, Film Fans.
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