FILMS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEEDED TO SEE 5
It is once again time for us here at THE LIST to perform our public service. Not because we want to… because it’s court ordered. Damn my need to recreate Mel Gibson rants whenever I’m around law enforcement! But I digress…
To perform this much needed service, I have once again called in some fellow bloggers to help me. Here’s who we have on tap:
And, of course, ME… your friendly neighborhood Kaiderman.
Here’s the idea behind this post:
There are several movies out there that don’t necessarily get the same recognition or promotion as others. Films that at times can be quite good. Films that are currently collecting dust in the “Favorites” aisle at your local video store. We here at THE LIST have taken it upon ourselves to bring these films to the forefront and present you, the movie going public, a list of FILMS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEEDED TO SEE. Here they are:
ACROSS THE HALL (2009).
So, this is one of those straight-to-DVD movies Brittany Murphy did before she died… I know! That’s what I said. Still, I gave it a look after hearing Nick Jobe, from the blog Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob, give it a positive review. And I gotta say, I’m glad I did. This is a murder mystery, featuring a love triangle, set in a hotel… simple enough. However, the segmented storytelling and ending are what makes this film so good. Don’t let the straight-to-DVD movie starring Brittany Murphy steer you away!
Here’s the idea behind this one: Trapped in an isolated gas station by a voracious Splinter parasite that transforms its still living victims into deadly hosts, a young couple and an escaped convict must find a way to work together to survive this primal terror.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t one of the best Horror films I’ve ever seen but it sure is a fun watch. If you’re a Horror movie fan, you’ll have a good time with this one!
MARILYN HOTCHKISS BALLROOM DANCING & CHARM SCHOOL (2005).
My money says the fellas will be all over this one based on the title alone. So, for the ladies…
The premise is simple enough: A man who’s convinced he’ll never find happiness again has his life changed when he stops at a car wreck to help a dying man and sets out to keep a date with the man’s long lost love. I had a chance to see this film and have a drink with the director at the Temecula Valley Internation Film Festival a few years back. I approached him because the film kind of blew me away. I think it’ll do the same for you. If that doesn’t convince you, take a look at the cast: Robert Carlyle, John Goodman, Danny DeVito, Mary Steemburgen, Sean Astin, Marisa Tomei and Donnie Wahlberg (in a hilarious supporting role). Definately worth your time!
Code 46 (2004).
I’ve been ringing the bell for this one for years, with minimal success. Michael Winterbottom paints one of my favorite pictures of the future here with a minimal budget and a lot of imagination. Tim Robbins stars as a fraud investigator who travels to Shanghai on a case, where he meets and eventually falls in love with Samantha Morton. Only…there’s something forbidden about their love. Love or hate the story – and the slow pace of it all, which usually throws people off – it’s the tiny glimpes into our multi-culti near-future that turn me on, most notably the mashed-up language that everyone speaks.
Box of Moonlight (1996).
Now that everyone in the world (ok, the movie blogosphere, anyway) knows who Sam Rockwell is, it’s high time you all go back and check out one of his underseen past performances. Indie director extraordinnaire Tom DiCillo directs Rockwell, as well as other 90s-era indie forces John Turturro, Catherine Keener and Dermot Mulroney in this fun little slice of life about a man (Turturro) who’s facing a mid-life crisis. Working on an out-of-town contract job (not unlike Code 46, actually), he collides with The Kid (Rockwell), an off-the-grid hippie of sorts who helps him to discover what’s really important in his life. Certainly quirky, but pretty charming, too.
The Nines (2007).
Interested in an out-there Drama Mystery Sci-Fi Fantasy (according to IMDb)? John August, longtime collaborator of Tim Burton and writer of one of my favorites, Go, wrote and directed this head-scratcher of a movie that stars Ryan Reynolds, Hope Davis and Melissa McCarthy, all playing multiple roles. This film will have you discussing its meaning (and plot) long after you’ve finished watching.
Punishment Park (1971).
In the 1960’s a young film maker called Peter Watkins devastated British television with the Culloden and The War Game. Both films looked at their subjects (the titular battle and Britain’s ability to cope with a limited nuclear war) through the lens of dramatised documentary and, along with the work of Ken Russell, changed the face of television.
Where Russell’s rebellion was based around imagination, Watkins’ main drive is anger (political and cultural) and a commitment to give film ownership to those depicted and so we have Punishment Park, a scathing indictment of the American state. The set up sees groups of radicals tried by a citizens’ tribunal and given the choice of jail or Punishment Park, where the detainees have three days to reach an American flag whilst being pursued by police and national guardsmen. Reach the flag and you go free, fail and you go to jail. This is firebrand stuff that uses a cast of non-actors to produce true rage and deserves to be held up alongside the flood of great cinema released at the start of the 70’s.
The Music of Chance (1993).
I love James Spader, he is possibly the sexiest man ever to grace the big screen. Sure your Brad Pitt, Jude Law and Bradley Cooper might be decent slabs of man-flesh but Spader, no matter what the film, is relentlessly sexual. Robert Downey Jr. has this edge to him but in a family friendly way (hence Tony Stark), whilst Spader just can’t escape it (hence his oddness in Stargate).
In The Music of Chance, Spader is a sleazy gambler picked up at the side of the road by Mandy Patinkin. The two men end up playing cards against a pair of wealthy bachelors and, finding themselves unable to pay off the debt they accrued, submit to indentured labour building a meaningless wall. This multi-layered piece is an odd little gem, the type of film that starts past midnight and makes you forget the 6 a.m. start you had planned… oh and, as ever, Spader steals it.
Breaker Morant (1980).
Whilst Paths of Glory is often held as the standard for films about injustice in war, I would argue that Breaker Morant, although not as technically impressive or overtly polemic as Kubrick’s film, is the deeper, more affecting drama. Based on the true story of the titular character, Beresford’s film sees three Australian Army officers face a court martial for murder during the Boer War. Although the film takes aim at the ruling military class (British) that ensure a guilty verdict for political ends, it never loses sight of the fact that the men are soldiers who take part in the dirty business of war.
These men, especially Morant who is played with a convincing harshness by Edward Woodward, are not innocent but the film has the confidence to argue that their actions do not make them guilty and even allows Breaker a well deserved final instruction to the firing squad as good as any two-fingered salute.
Lucas is exactly the kind of movie for this kind of list. It’s a movie that has long since seemed forgotten, but it was a film that always resonated with me in a really profound way. It’s a fantastic coming of age story about your typical kid nerd who doesn’t fit in and is constantly picked on by the big dumb jocks, and stereotypical seniors. What sets this movie apart aside from the sincerity of Lucas is the most popular boy in school is the nicest guy to Lucas. The problem is, though this guy is great, he and Lucas fall for the same beautiful girl. It was this honesty of the characters, straying away from stereotype that made the other mindless jerks in this story very different from most movies in this genre. The pathos it’s realism delivers is what defines it so specifically and makes it so tangible. It has true and honest sweetness and a genuine nature that has stayed with me years past. If this is one you haven’t seen, I highly recommend it.
Regarding Henry (1991).
Regarding Henry stars Harrison Ford who plays Henry Turner, a balls to the wall cold blooded attorney at law. The film sets you up to Henry being pretty much a jerk to people in general, with his a family that despises him, and his clients and job his number one priority. He’s shot in a liquor store and loses all his memory. His recovery time is spent with his daughter whom he gets to know, and his wife whom he falls in love with all over again. He is an essential stranger to them and becomes a very different man. When he discovers what a horrible person he was before, he is wrought with despair. This is still one of my favorite Harrison Ford performances, and is often forgotten over years of playing iconic roles that are much more shinny in comparison. It was a low key, quiet movie, about the simplicity of the actors, the genuine emotions from them all, without any crazy twist or revelation, just a mans story, and was Ford at his ultimate best. There are some lessons about taking things for granted, and life’s priorities, etc, but nothing that gets shoved down your throat. At the end it just makes you want to hug the ones you love that much more.
Conspiracy Theory (1997).
What has happened to this forgotten film? I remember it’s release at the end of the summer of ‘97 and it lingering for quite some time after. Mel Gibson gets to play this insane character with essentially no restraints, who in his paranoid lunacy makes a strange amount of logic. His character Jerry is certain there are conspiracy’s all around him, lives in essentially fort knox, but has fixated on Julia Roberts character and brings all his delusions of conspiracy to her. Suddenly, it seems like Jerry’s paranoia is more than just delusions. Richard Donnor pulls together a movie full of twists, turns, and seemingly craziness, and unites a plot tthat is suspenseful, smart, and exciting. Gibson is allowed to go crazy in an exciting and vulnerable performance as Jerry, coupled by a Julia Roberts that I didn’t hate for once. This ones gotten lost over time but shouldn’t be forgotten.
WALTZ WITH BASHIR (2008).
When I explain the genre of “Waltz with Bashir,” it will probably sound like an oxymoron. An animated documentary?!? How does that even work? But at some point in history, peanut butter and jelly sounded like a strange combination. Someone had to be bold and try it, and Folman should be remembered as a pioneer of a new style of filmmaking that I really hope will catch on. Using animation in a documentary is a fascinating way to make people’s memories come to life, especially ones that might be too costly or difficult to shoot in live action. Nothing is wasted and no holds are barred.
Folman’s documentary revolves around a very intriguing concept. As a young man, he fought for Israel in the Lebanon War of the 1980s. Fast forward to the present day, and Folman has absolutely no recollection of anything that happened during the fighting save one memory of he and some comrades emerging from water completely naked. He begins to visit some people who might be able to jog his memory, asking them about their experiences. The stories slowly become more and more brutal, and Folman begins to remember.
If you decide to watch “Waltz with Bashir,” prepare yourself. It’s not an easy movie to sit through, but it’s a rich and rewarding hour and a half. Hopefully other documentary filmmakers have seen that Folman’s film is unbounded in its possibilities, and other stories that we could barely imagine will find life on celluloid.
FRIENDS WITH MONEY (2006).
Each of the women (Frances McDormand, Catherine Keener, Joan Cusack, and Jennifer Aniston) undergoes a metamorphosis over the course of the movie’s 88 minutes. Holofcener creates four wonderfully elaborate women whose stories unfold before our very eyes. The character study is incredibly effective and entertaining, largely due in part to the wittiness of the script.
And bring on the puzzled looks – the star of “Friends With Money” is Jennifer Aniston. Her Olivia is by far and away the film’s most complicated character, and in the hands of Aniston, she is completely realized. We can buy every move she makes and feel the emotion behind each line. All you Jennifer Aniston haters out there, watch this movie. You may not be silenced, but it should shut you up for a little while.
CATS DON’T DANCE (1997).
The movie is a celebration of dreams as Danny, the singing cat from Kokomo, heads to Hollywood to light the world on fire. But things are not what he imagined, and he soon finds that life isn’t easy for an animal actor – especially when his co-star is a tyrannical child actor who refuses to be upstaged. He refuses to be crushed, keeping his optimism while bringing together a large group of animals to recapture their dreams. There are some hilarious characters, including a hippo voiced by Jennifer Tilly and a surly goat voiced by Hal Holbrook, as well as some rousing musical numbers (thankfully all are easily found on YouTube).
It may be a movie for kids, but I think it has one of the most profound quotes I have ever heard in a movie of this style: “They can smash your cookie, but they can never take your fortune.” It’s a great helping of nostalgia for me, but I think anyone can enjoy “Cats Don’t Dance.” It really is that disarming.
ATTENTIONS FELLOW BLOGGERS: I need 4 bloggers to contribute to the Halloween All Horror Edition of the FILMS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEEDED TO SEE. It’s scheduled for Halloween weekend. If you’re interested, lemme know!