January 31, 2010
Whether it’s just poorly marketed, or just a small indie flick, there are some movies that for whatever reason just don’t get seen as widespread as they should. It drives me nuts when a great movie slips through the cracks. There are a lot of great movies that people just haven’t seen, or haven’t even heard of. Here are just five of the first that came to mind, in no particular order.
This was writer/director Duncan Jones’s first major film, and a very ambitious one. It saw mild international success with little in the states. It’s likened to Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it stands on it’s own. It’s difficult to make a movie like this and have it be original, I basically felt I knew what to expect getting into it. I was thrown for a loop when I found out the plot was not to be expected. Sam Rockwell was given a roll that really would be difficult for any actor to pull off, and did it in a way that really lets the audience buy into it. This is important because his role gets very surreal and at points it would be easy to loose the audience. Moon is a great movie, and it is a shame that it saw as little success as it did. In 15 years I see it being one of the huge cult science fiction classics. Maybe it is just a little before it’s time.
Public Enemies (2009)
The main criticism of Public Enemies is it’s style. I have to say that I’m inclined to agree, at first. It doesn’t take long for you to get used to it’s style, and once you do it works well. Public Enemies is the story of the cat and mouse gameÂ between the notorious gangster John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and the cop that is trying to catch him. As usual Johnny Depp manages to completely transform into his character, and it’s a nice departure from his usual role. Public Enemies tries to show the no holds barred lifestyle of John Dillinger, and what it takes to maintain. I will warn you, Christian Bale is frustratingly awful in this, but he does get better through the duration of the movie.
Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)
This is a quirky little project that is playfully charming and over the top all at the same time. It makes the viewer completely uncomfortable but laugh hysterically. It’s basically just the day in the life of simple people, and their odd lives. It somehow delivers risky and disturbing content in a way that it seems neither risky nor disturbing. There is not much more to say about it, except that you should see it. You will be pleased, and probably a little stunned.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
This is a movie that was hugely successful with critics, but just didn’t grab a large audience. It’s a gangster movie with a different approach and completely authentic feel. We watch as Jesse James observes, with much amusement, what he thinks is his biggest fan. We watch as Robert Ford comes to realize that reality the Jesse James mythology in which he has come to love, isn’t quite what he had hoped. Unlike your usual gangster movie, this glorifies nothing. We don’t think Jesse James is cool, or that the lifestyle is full of fame and riches. When we see Jesse ride off into the sunset on horseback, we only feel sympathy. This is just a movie about a kid with unrealistic desires, in a glorified lifestyle that he is unprepared for. A neat thing about this movie, is that there are distinct undertones that can potentially change the way you see the movie. I won’t explain these because I think they are interesting to discover on your own, I just want to point out that they are there. This is a long movie, and pretty slow, so it does take a level of patience to watch, but it is well worth it.
Primer is probably the most obscure movie on this list, and the most difficult. With a budget of only $7000 an incredible script is virtually the only trick they had in their bag. Luckily the script for this is incredible. This movie re-defines the idea of time travel in a way that confuses as well as leaves the audience in awe. One of the things I look for in a great movie, is that it has re-watch-ability, as in, if I watch it more then once, will I get more out of it, or do I get it all in the first go around. If this movie has anything, it has re-watch-ability. In fact, it’s required. I guarantee you will not completely grasp the intricate twists and turns that they have constructed on the first or even third watch. It’s a movie that will leave you completely unsatisfied because of how little you will understand, but it will leave you with a strange curiosity to watch it again. That is so unique to this film, it is completely unsatisfying, but you need more of it. This is really a movie that needs to be committed to, and studied, in order to understand, and it is great for that.
On a side note, I swear it’s purely coincidental that there are two gangster movies, as well as two Sam Rockwell movies on this list.
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