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Recommend Currently Under-appreciated Films

  1. Nov 19, 2004 #1

    Les Sleeth

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    I used to collect films, and I was surprised how often I’d stumble across a good movie I'd never heard of. Film lovers, post your gems for people today who might not have checked them out. Tell us a little about the film, stars, why it is good, etc.

    My contributions:

    1. "Paths of Glory." I watched this Stanley Kubrick movie one day because Kirk Douglas was in it. It is a black and white ‘50s film based on a true incident that happened in the French army in WWI, where an ambitious general orders men to attack in a hopeless situation, and so is really ordering men to commit suicide. When the men refuse, the French general staff decides three men from that unit are to be executed for cowardice, chosen by drawing straws. Douglas is the commanding officer of the unit, and his ethical angst, commitment to duty, and the resulting tension with his superior officers is numbing drama.

    2. "The Duelists." Fashioned after Joseph Conrad's "The Duel" it is another film supposedly based on a true incident. It has Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine as French officers who fight duel after duel during the Napoleonic wars (Keitel is a major jerk, claiming he's been insulted over nothing). The on-location photography is beautiful.

    3. “Samurai I, II, & III.” An awesome epic, a Japanese equivalent of “Gone with the Wind,” that reveals much about Japanese culture. One of my all-time favorites. The description of the three-part six hour movie can be read at:

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/630296931X/ref=ase_harapanmediatech/002-8615036-0608043


    4. “Gettysburg.” A 271 minute Turner network production that recreates the battle of Gettysburg in exact detail. Great photography, with genuine muzzle loaders used in battles. The smoke and noise while opposing troops shoot at each other mere yards away, along with the in-depth war strategies, make this one of the best ever TV movies. Martin Sheen plays General Lee, and Jeff Daniels is a professor turned Union officer who executes an obscure military maneuver to win a major skirmish. Other stars include Sam Elliot, Tom Beringer and Richard Jordan in a moving performance as General Armistead.

    5. “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Okay, I know this is a strange one. However, Tim Burton’s stop-action animation is one of the most creative works I’ve ever seen. When my wife likes a movie, she will watch it over and over, so I’ve been obliged to watch this movie many times. After maybe 20 viewings (the latest last Halloween), I can still say I’ve never watched the film when I didn’t see something I’d missed seeing in previous viewings. It seems like every second is packed with innovative stuff. I love the music too, with Danny Elfman creating an almost opera-like score. The three ghouls singing “Something’s up with Jack, something’s up with Jack” the morning after he’s been analyzing the chemistry of tree ornaments to figure out the meaning of Christmas is so good!

    6. “The Civil War.” The “Elegant Universe” not withstanding, I still think Shelby Foote’s 12 hour film may be one of the best documentaries ever made. The narration in his southern drawl and humble-voiced delivery, the reading actual letters of servicemen, and the use of background music of the old South recreates the tragedy very realistically. When the 12 hours were done, I was disappointed there wasn’t more.

    7. “Beauty and the Beast.” French director Jean Cocteau’s classic in black and white recreates a sense of mystery and fantasy like no other film I’ve ever seen.

    8. “Henry Fonda films.” This is obviously not a movie, but I wanted to suggest checking him out because he tended to sign on for some of the most intense drama ever made. His roles in “Twelve Angry Men,” “The Oxbow Incident,” My Darling Clementine,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” “The Wrong Man,” “Fort Apache,” “Failsafe” (keep your heart medicine handy), “The Boston Strangler,” and “Midway,” prove him to be one of the all-time greatest dramatic actors.

    9. “The Potemkin.” A silent movie and true story, it is a stunningly gripping recreation (by Russians) of a part of the 1905 Russian Revolution when sailors on the warship Potemkin have to decide which side to support in the revolution. The scene on the Odessa Steps is mind blowing. The Russians really know how to do drama, you’ll never forget it.

    10. “Buster Keaton’s works.” His physical humor is amazing (all his early stuff is silent). No stuntman does his stunts, so what you see is him performing truly life-threatening feats, such as dropping several stories through window awnings and trusting they will sufficiently retard his momentum to allow him to survive. His daring along with his deadpan look makes him hilarious.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 19, 2004 #2
    second the nightmare before christmas, I have a hat with jack on it!
     
  4. Nov 19, 2004 #3

    plover

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    Re: 6. "The Civil War" :
    Do you mean Ken Burns' Civil War documentary? On the other hand, Shelby Foote did write a huge multi-volume history of the Civil War, are you saying there was a documentary that went with it?

    Henry Fonda was also in "Once Upon A Time In The West".

    Both Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast" and pretty much anything by Buster Keaton are wonderful.

    I'm not quite sure that "Paths of Glory", Henry Fonda, or Buster Keaton count as under-appreciated though, at least not by the people who vote on IMDB.
     
  5. Nov 19, 2004 #4
    "Fantastic Planet" and "The Triplets of Belleville"

    Two very different animated perspectives on humanity, both visually awesome. The first is thought-provoking, the other hilarious. (Both French, but the subtitles won't bother you.)
     
  6. Nov 19, 2004 #5

    Evo

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    Christmas is coming up and I highly recommend "The Bishop's Wife", starring Cary Grant as an angel, David Niven as the Bishop, Loretta Young as the Bishop's wife. It is a wonderful, funny, heartwarming story. It is a wonderful story about learning what is really important in life.

    National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation!!!! That has to be the best movie ever!!!! Chevy Chase is hysterical!!! Not a single dull moment. :biggrin:

    It's a wonderful Life, the original with James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore. A timeless classic.

    Heaven Can Wait with Warren Beaty is another favorite of mine. A remake of "Here Comes Mr Jordan", a rare remake that actually outshines the original!! Warren plays a football player that is accidently killed by his overzealous rooky guardian angel. It is agreed that Warren would not have been killed (without the angel's interference) and is allowed to take over the body of another person. It's hysterical!!! It also tugs at your heart.
     
  7. Nov 20, 2004 #6

    Les Sleeth

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    It's been awhile since I watched it, but I seem to remember Ken Burns produced (directed?) it. But it was based on Foote's book, who also narrated it.


    True, he was prolific (my movie book lists another 73!!! of his films) . . . I just listed what I thought was some of his most dramatic moments (Twelve Angry Men and Failsafe are so intense).


    Yes, you sound pretty up on movies. I was thinking of the general public who might not check out a movie or artists because they've not heard of it/them.
     
  8. Nov 20, 2004 #7

    Les Sleeth

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    Speaking of James Stewart movies, I was surprised that I made it all through my childhood and most of my adulthood without ever seeing "The Shop Around the Corner." The film is set in Budapest during a snowy Christmas. Jimmie Stewart and Margaret Sullivan are feuding coworkers in a gift shop, who don't realize they are romantic penpals.
     
  9. Nov 20, 2004 #8

    Evo

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    Memento is a really good film. It starts at the end and moves backward in 10 minute increments. It's about a man whose wife was raped and killed and in the incident he was brain damaged and left with ony short term memory.

    This review at amazon.com sums it up nicely.

    Looking back on all the films released in 2001, I cannot help but remember the promising and captivating indie flick, "Memento". The film continues to astound and baffle its viewers with its complex structure and gripping storyline. "Memento" was directed and written by the young prodigy, Christopher Nolan, who derived the movie from a short story that his brother, Jonathan Nolan, had previously written.

    The story of "Memento" revolves around its three main characters, Leonard, Natalie, and Teddy, who are played by Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Joe Pantoliano respectively. The movie follows Leonard as he searches for his wife's murderer. Leonard cannot form new memories since he was hurt during the "incident", rendering him unable to remember anything longer than fifteen minutes. Christopher Nolan uses this disability to his advantage, allowing him to play with ideas of constructed truth and uncertainties as the movie progresses.

    The backward sequence of events is one of the film's most innovative elements and makes certain surprises even more astonishing to the audience. It also forces the audience to rely on their own memory to make sense of the plot, which is a great parallelism that heightens the enjoyability of the movie. The use of "memory" is one of the film's most noteworthy innovations, but it is only second to the film's complex narrative structure and suggestive postmodern themes that truly set it apart from other films.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00003CXZ4/104-5446582-9152747?v=glance
     
  10. Nov 20, 2004 #9

    Evo

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    I haven't seen that one, I will have to find it. Of course "Harvey" was another Jimmie Stewart classic.
     
  11. Nov 20, 2004 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    Oh that movie was really strange; very unusual! I've never seen anything quite like it.

    btw, I swear, I watched this while baby sitting at Lance! :rofl:
     
  12. Nov 20, 2004 #11

    BobG

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    "Blood Simple" - Emmet Walsh is great in this movie. Really have to pay attention to the details (this also makes it good for several viewings). Reminds me of some of Alfred Hitchcock's movies.

    "The Gods Must Be Crazy" - I'm not sure how many saw this in the theater, but I would think a lot of people eventually saw this. Great comedy about an African Bushman trying to return a gift from the Gods that turned into a curse.

    "My Cousin Vinnie" - This plot of this movie is stupid. So why can't I walk away whenever it's on? I guess it has some pretty strong underlying principles - communication classes like to use cuts from this movie.

    While I don't think it was under-appreciated when it was released, another classic is "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". As good as the movie was, the book was even better. Ken Kesey was a great writer before drugs took over his life - his other pre-"Electric Acid Kool-Aid" book was "Sometimes a Great Notion", which I thought was even better than "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest".

    I also second Les's comment about "Gettysburg" - I think this is the best war movie ever made.

    And Evo's comment about "It's a Wonderful Life". I've always loved Jimmy Stewart movies (trivia - while in the Army Air Corp, Jimmy Stewart pinned Bernie Schriever's Second Lt bars on him when Schriever was first commisioned - probably doesn't mean that much to those not familiar with space and missile history)

    "Christmas Story" (with the Red Rider Bee-bee Gun) is another great Christmas movie.
     
  13. Nov 20, 2004 #12

    Les Sleeth

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    First, a correction. Plover is right that "The Civil War" was by Ken Burns. It's been too long since I've watched it.

    Evo talking about "Memento" reminded me of another unusual and captivating movie called "Run Lola Run." Here's a reviewer's article about it:

    It's difficult to create a film that's fast paced, exciting, and aesthetically appealing without diluting its dialogue. Run Lola Run, directed and written by Tom Tykwer, is an enchanting balance of pace and narrative, creating a universal parable that leaps over cultural barriers. This is the story of young Lola (Franka Potente) and her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu). In the space of 20*minutes, they must come up with 100,000*deutsche marks to pay back a seedy gangster, who will be less than forgiving when he finds out that Manni incompetently lost his cash to an opportunistic vagrant. Lola, confronted with one obstacle after another, rides an emotional roller coaster in her high-speed efforts to help the hapless Manni--attempting to extract the cash first from her double-dealing father (appropriately a bank manager), and then by any means necessary. From this point nothing goes right for either protagonist, but just when you think you've figured out the movie, the director introduces a series of brilliant existential twists that boggle the mind. Tykwer uses rapid camera movements and innovative pauses to explore the theme of cause and effect. Accompanied by a pulse-pounding soundtrack, we follow Lola through every turn and every heartbreak as she and Manni rush forward on a collision course with fate. There were a variety of original and intelligent films released in 1999, but perhaps none were as witty and clever as this little gem--one of the best foreign films of the year.
     
  14. Nov 20, 2004 #13
    c'est arrivé près de chez vous...

    raw killing scenes, real intense...for viewers with a strong stomach...

    marlon
     
  15. Nov 20, 2004 #14
    das experiment

    1984

    The "pre-historic" big brother versions...

    marlon

    indeed Lola rennt is a great movie...
     
  16. Nov 20, 2004 #15
    "My Bodyguard" and "October Sky" are two that come to mind.
     
  17. Nov 20, 2004 #16

    jcsd

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    La Haine

    The People Under the Stairs (Tim Burton again)

    Commando ("Please excuse my friend he's DEAD tired")
     
  18. Nov 20, 2004 #17

    Les Sleeth

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    Yes! I'd forgotten that one, a good film.

    Anyone seen "The Exporers" starring youthful Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix? It's a kid movie I guess, but I laughed so hard when they built a space ship out of a garbage can, fly up to meet funny-looking alien brother and sister, and the brother entertains his younger sister by imitating Earth TV shows and commercials.

    One of the scariest movies I've ever seen is the silent classic "Nosferatu" a German film about Dracula. The monster is a boney, almost skeleton-like Max Schreck who really looks nasty. I saw the original version before they restored it with music and brown-toning. I think the original was much better in gritty black and white, and the "music" was just this "dink, dink, dink" sound when Dracula was walking or going somewhere. Really, really eerie.

    I'm surprised how many people haven't seen "My Blue Heaven" where Steve Martin plays a mobster relocated in the witness protection program, and then hooks up with other relocated gangsters in the area to rip off the local little league. Very funny.

    One of the biggest surprises, not so much the movie itself, but IN the movie was some of Annette Bening's scenes in "The Grifters." Whew!!! I wasn't prepared for that. Warren Beatty is a lucky guy.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2004
  19. Nov 20, 2004 #18

    arildno

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    "One of the scariest movies I've ever seen is the silent classic "Nosferatu" a German film about Dracula. The monster is a boney, almost skeleton-like Max Schreck who really looks nasty. I saw the original version before they restored it with music and brown-toning. I think the original was much better in gritty black and white, and the "music" was just this "dink, dink, dink" sound when Dracula was walking or going somewhere. Really, really eerie."
    It's a great film.
    I think it is a Fritz Lang movie; both his "Dr. Caligari's cabinet" and "Metropolis" are great as well, but possibly overshadowed by his chilling, yet empathic portrait of a serial killer, "M".
    Precisely because you are sucked into a state where you feel empathy for the pathetic, fiendish child-killer, the experience gets all the more gut-wrenching.
    One of the scariest and eeriest movies of all time.
     
  20. Nov 20, 2004 #19

    jcsd

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    I'd forgotten about Nostfertau, that's one truly scary film.

    I thought of 'M', but I couldn't rember what it was called! (I've been trying to remember it's name for quite a while actually)
     
  21. Nov 20, 2004 #20

    arildno

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    "M" stands for Murderer, that's how I remember the name..
     
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