I've kind of been in a list mood lately, if you readers can't tell by my recent postings, dunno if its a lack of good summer movies to date, or lack of many good summer television shows, I'm not really all that sure, or maybe its just easier then to do then dig through all my archives of stuff looking for something awesome to review, or maybe I just have been running about offline rather hectic like, dunno, either way, I love to do lists, and this one came about by means of a conversation I was having with a newer reader to the blog who had asked me for some movie watching advice and asked that they be "something that doesn't really fit the mold of what most current films fall into.", and well because I love a challenge, I jumped at it. So with out anymore rambling, here we go....
The 10 Best Films You Have Never Seen
and thats my list, I hope I've given you all atleast one film to check out, and maybe discover that you love...
The 10 Best Films You Have Never Seen
10. Waterloo Bridge (1931):This is one of those films I never stop raving about, its got everything you could want if you're a film lover, its the definition of precode high budget sets and design and unafraid directing and scriptwriting combined into a beautifully elegant machine of art in moving picture form, its just brilliantly shot, I find myself in awe everytime I see it. Plus, you can't really go wrong with the combination of underrated early Hollywood director (and personal favorite) James Whale, before he became immortalized for directing Frankenstein, which also teamed him with his leading lady from this film, the forgotten beauty Mae Clarke, who also grew to fame in the 1931 film Public Enemy. Plus, you can't go wrong with a film that was remade twice once in 1940 as "Gaby" and again in 1941 as the more well known version of Waterloo Bridge. Seriously, if you haven't ever seen this version, or a James Whale or Mae Clarke movie, you are really in for a treat.
9. The Commitments (1991):Not unknown to lovers of Irish films, as well as lovers of good music, but generally forgotten and left to collect dust in the back of most dvd stores storage rooms, this part musical, part social statement drama about life in Dublin at the time, and part launching pad for literally every Irish actor and musician who went on to any sort of career from this film, really needs to be dusted off and brought back to the light of day. Its a fun and touching story of a group of down on their luck Dubliners who have shared a life long love of good music and good times, and finally one night in a pub decide to do something about it, forming a old school soul and blues band called The Commitments, which takes them to the heights of fame, and ofcourse, as all movies of bands go, they ofcourse crash down all around themselves. This is one of those great films thats full of great music, great performances, and you can look back at and be amazed at how young a good many actors of note are as they just start out here. Think of it like The Breakfast Club or 10 Things I Hate About You, but for Irish actors. If you are up for it, you could also look up the film versions of the rest of the Barrytown Trilogy too, they don't disappoint either.
8. Suburban Mayhem (2006):I've always loved when a country thats not the united states takes on a concept that here has become boring and tired simply because of how many films on the same idea are made. However back in 2006 when filmmakers started to make the film festival rounds with the Aussie film Suburban Mayhem, my only real complaint was that it never really got a proper release here in the states outside of a limited run in a select few art house theaters, and never had a proper dvd release. Suburban Mayhem tells the story of Katrina a 19-year-old single mum who's planning to do just that. Katrina lives in a world of petty crime, fast cars, manicures and blow-jobs. A master manipulator of men living at home with her father in suburban Golden Grove, Katrina will stop at nothing to get what she wants - even murder. When her father threatens to contact social services and take away her child, Katrina sets in motion a plan to wreak suburban mayhem that will leave a community in shock and make Katrina infamous in a way even she never dreamed of. Its a great film and a really enjoyable ride from start to finish sure its kind of a art house take on white trash but hey, it doesn't matter cuz its awesome, plus its the film debut of Mia Wasikowska who I'm sue many of you are aware went on to prove her muchness as Alice in Tim Burton's 2010 version of Alice In Wonderland.
7. I Married a Witch (1942):Now, it goes with out saying, I've always loved the great Veronica Lake, she was after all the original bombshell. And though she's made many a good movie, this overlooked classic to me deserves alot more attention then its ever gotten, its funny, its smart, and its the movie that inspired the classic television series Bewitched, which many years later someone would use their hate of that classic show, as well as their hate of Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrel to create the best forgotten big screen celluloid abortion Bewitched. Though to be fair, after Elf its not really that hard to hate Will Ferrel. Anyway, the plot of this film is pretty simple, but still very funny, a witch named Jennifer and her father are burned at the stake in old Salem Mass. as they're burning, Jennifer curses the puritan judge who's ordered their burning, curses him so that he and all his male descendants marry the wrong woman and are never able to find happiness (haha I love 1940s ideology). Centuries pass and lightening strikes the tree the witch and her father's spirits were trapped in sense the burning, they go around pestering the descendant of the judge though they are only smoke forms, eventually Jennifer convinces her father to make her a human form so she might torment the judge's descendant more personally, the father starts a fire to do so, burning down the pilgram hotel, and thus Jennifer is given a body, and from there, more goofy mishaps and hilarity ensue, 1940s style. This film was great for so many reasons, the twisted tongue in cheek humor; the hotel name, the fact they needed fire to create a body that turned out to be Veronica Lake, making the "she's hot as fire" joke, and even the goofy and silly ending is awesome. Really, you gotta dig this gem up if you haven't seen it and treat yourself to it.
6. They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969):Normally I don't much care for Jane Fonda, I tend to have issues with people who side with the enemy against american prisoners of war once the cameras are off, but wave the stars and stripes when the cameras are on. But I guess like in most things, there needs to be one exception to the rule, and for me, its this mostly forgotten classic, based on one of the greatest books of the great depression era. Set at a fictional dance marathon, where in the competitors dance around a ballroom until there are only two left, these marathons, like in the film, had been known in the great depression to last for weeks at a time. And though that could be a good enough film on its own, the film is really infact an allegory for just how long human beings can sink in life, and how sometimes when you have no where lower to go then where you are right now, sometimes, when that tank is completely empty and there is nothing more, and no where to go, not even upwards, that sometimes, some people take their own lives, the film's title infact is a reference to suicide. Its dark, its depressing, its twisted, but its also probably one of the best lost gems of hollywood from back when they weren't scared to offend anyone.
5. I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932):I mention this film alot, but amazingly, no one's ever seen it, which really battles me beyond belief at times. I argue alot that this might be the greatest prison break film ever made, and that Paul Muni is one of the greatest forgotten actors in American film, but still hardly anyone's ever actually seen this beautiful bit of precode hollywood. And personally, that depresses me. From its brilliant opening scenes all the way to its very last frame, which the director and production staff claim was the result of Muni playing off a light bulb that had gone out as the scene went on, and liking it so much he asked that it be kept in the film's final version this is just brilliant. Its the story of a man who really wasn't a criminal, just down on his luck, who takes a job as a driver for what he later finds out is a bank robbery, even though he's clearly proven to be a first time offender, he is made an example of, just like the rest of the group he's caught with. In prison he changes, he learns how to survive and what he's gotta do to keep himself alive, until he eventually escapes, going underground and resurfacing far from where they'd expect him and under a new name, until he has no choice but to give that life up and run again, this time accepting that he's changed from a down on his luck man in need of a job to a career criminal who has to lie and cheat and steal to survive. Its just so good you really need to see it to fully understand just how good it really is.
4. The Brave One (2007):For those of you that remember the early days of my blog, and my reviewing history long before that, will remember my raving of just how good this film is, and for the rest of you, well, you really are missing out. Alot of people snarkingly say this film is a loosely done remake of 1981's Ms. 45, much in the way 2005's 16 Blocks was a loosely done remake of 1972's The Gauntlet, meaning it has the same basic plot and concept, just written differently, though personally, I don't see that at all. If I had to compare The Brave One to anything, its basically the origin story of iconic comic book character The Punisher, just done with a woman who was pushed to the brink of sanity after her and her soon to be husband were attacked and robbed in Central Park, leaving her in the hospital for almost a month and her soon to be husband dead, its the story of how her fear kept her prisoner in her own home, and when she was finally able to leave, her anger at the world, and at the police for their dismissing her and not even working on finding her attackers finally leads her to buy herself a gun and get her Bernie Goetz on (the Bernie Goetz subway incident is actually the inspiration for one scene hence the reference), her vigilante spree leads her eventually back to the men that attacked her. I often sight that her first run in with a criminal, taking place inside a small corner store is probably the most intense shoot out I've ever seen, and that includes John Woo movies. Think about that...
3. Magnus (2007):I happen to just love the hell out of this film, its just so good on so many levels, its meaningful, its funny, and it teaches us that life can be worth living if you stop and look at whats going on around you. In a sense its kind of an estonian made version of Harold and Maude, if Harold and Maude was about a boy and his father, instead of a boy and the older woman that teaches him to live. Magnus tells the story of a young boy who's parents weren't really all that great at parenting, and after he gets sick with a possibly fatal lung illness, he starts to see just how pointless life is, and more importantly, how pointless his own life is, eventually modern medication cures his illness, but it can't sure his feeling of uselessness, and after the second time he attempts to kill himself, Magnus' father sets out to try and show him that life is worth living, this leads to many at times funny, and other times touching and sometimes creepy moments that make up this journey, with out telling you how it really ends, you will either get the massage of the film that life is worth living no matter what it looks like for you where ever you are, or you'll feel like you just got donkey punched with a spiked and bladed set of brass knuckles.
2. The Cube (1969):Though often confused with other films by the same name, The Cube is a rarity, a non-puppet related made for television movie that was made by the great Jim Henson, the concept has appeared many times sense, where a man trapped in a cubical white room that anyone else could enter and leave, but which he himself apparently could not leave. The main character, simply named "The Man," is subjected to an increasingly puzzling and frustrating series of encounters as a variety of people come through various hidden doors. But as many remind him, he can only leave through his own door, so he must find it. This was only aired twice, but has become sort of a thing of legend in the film buff world, for it being so good, and working so many different elements of different things together, the first write up i ever saw on the film jokingly called it the greatest Twilight Zone episode ever made even if it was years to late to the party. Most though use it as a way of sighting that the great Jim Henson could not only do more then puppetry, but he could tell a serious story that has you enthralled and curious all the way to the end, plus, it does somethign that many shows at the time were scared of doing, it breaks the forth wall and talks about the viewers directly at one point. Truly a great film.
1. Broken Blossoms (1919):This silent film is probably the lost Hollywood gems of lost Hollywood gems, more times then not over shadowed by other works by Director D.W Griffith combined with actress Lillian Gish, the controversial "Birth Of A Nation" and "Intolerance" normally sighted when speaking of their their collaborations. And though this film's story isn't controversial like Birth Of A Nation, or lavish and grand as Intolerance, Broken Blossoms is a small little love story about a Chinese shop owner who falls in love with the daughter of a cruel and sadistic boxer, he calls her his "broken blossom", whom he first nurses to health after he's beaten in one of her father's drunken rages, its a simple, and at times beautiful, and at other times strikingly sad and graphic, and is the only of Griffith's films that the director claimed till the day he died that he couldn't watch, claiming "the fucking thing depresses me ever so.". The film also has what I, and many others, consider to be the greatest scene filmed in the silent movie era, the scene simply called "The Closet Scene", where in Gish's character running from her father in a drunken rage locks herself in a closet, leaving her trapped and suffering from a very strong case of claustrophobia, and well, what happens once she's in there is pure twisted cinema magic, that when it happened, stopped production on all the films being made around the set, where the screaming and yelling could be heard thinking something wrong, when Gish got out of the closet set, to the shock of everyone thats come by to see what was going on, she looks at the gathered masses, smiles and waves, and goes to sit down, causing Griffith to yell "If you are going to do that shit again, fucking warn me!" followed by everyone clapping. This is truly a thing of beauty, you should see it if you haven't yet.
and thats my list, I hope I've given you all atleast one film to check out, and maybe discover that you love...