What’s wrong with everyone?

We all run into films every so often that seem exceptional in a deep-down way. And not just in a particular-personal vein but smacking of some kind of profound life-lesson and/or greatness of theme that seems to reach out and strike a universal chord. Or they deliver an emotional connection that seems to reflect our commonality in some rich and resonant fashion. And yet — here’s the rub and the shock — much or most of the world doesn’t agree. Almost everyone you know and nearly every other critic seems bored, unmoved, mocking, snide.
And it just throws you into a funk. What’s going on here? I know this film nails it — why isn’t this more widely recognized? There are some who fell heavily for Phillip Kaufman‘s Quills, Gus Van Sant‘s Finding Forrester and Steven Soderbergh‘s Solaris…and they must have felt terrible when the world pretty much sneered and turned its back. Maybe we can hear some stories along these lines. Everybody’s got one or two or three.

117 thoughts on “What’s wrong with everyone?

  1. Mr. Gittes on said:

    The New World was an amazing movie that no one seemed to like or saw. I don’t rememeber what you thought of it Jeff, but I thought it was very unique and visually stunning.

  2. I remember being so excited to see “The Right Stuff” that the next night I went back to see it again with my wife, but her reaction was underwhelming. It did no business and was considered damaged goods because it made so little money. To this day I just don’t get why it didn’t connect.

  3. “The Beautiful Country” also comes to mind. It never even played in my area, but I rented it on DVD because of Jeff’s rave review. A wonderful, deeply touching movie, but mostly ignored by the public.

  4. The Right Stuff is fantastic.
    I seem to be the only one out there who found School of Rock much more profound than it aimed to be.
    I also expect to be left in the dark this year, as my #1 film of the y ear (debuting at Toronto – so I can’t write about it) is head and shoulders above the rest for me, but I somehow doubt very many other people will respond to it the way I did.
    I think such films have a lot to say about where you are in your life when you saw them. That’s the beauty of subjectivity, it isn’t limited in its scope.

  5. John Sayles’ “City of Hope” and Boaz Yakin’s “Fresh.” I walked out of each of those films — at two different Sundance Film Festivals — so excited that I wanted to grab the first person I saw and shout: “Holy Christ! I have just seen a GREAT movie!!!!” Each bad or indifferent review I read after the fact was like a lance to my heart.

  6. I realise it got mostly good reviews, but I’d have to say Chasing Amy which I think is close to a great film…to the extent that with every piece of criticism I see concerning Ben Affleck I just wanna shout “Dude! He was in Chasing Amy for fuck’s sake, give him a break.”
    Ditto Garden State, but to a lesser extent. It’s got its flaws all right, but I fucking adored it.

  7. Melinda and Melinda was almost my #1 movie last year. I think it’s in Woody Allen’s Top Five. Obviously, this is not a popular opinion!
    This year, my fave so far is Soderbergh’s Bubble. But again, no one else is tooting its horn. Oh well..

  8. I know its 6 hour length would automatically prohibit it from being financially fruitful, but “The Best of Youth” was the most compelling, deeply moving, and altogether unforgettable film I saw in 2005. It unfolded gradually, hooked me in, and by the time the end credits rolled I wanted MORE. When is the last time anyone could say that about a 6 hour film? Watching it was like reading a great book and becoming so immersed in the characters and their lives, that you wanted it to go on and on. At least A.O. Scott got it right when he named it the best film of 2005. “Crash” is an absolute joke compared to “The Best of Youth”. And as far as this year is concerned, yes, I admired the daylights out of “United 93″, but my two favorite films so far in what has been a horrendous year thus far are a 2003 Greek film, “A Touch of Spice”, and “Ask the Dust”, which grows and grows on me the more I think about it. Collin Farrell, to me anyway, was a revelation with an astonishingly tender performance. He reminded me of a young Tyronne Power, and he and Salma Hayek had more sparks onscreen than any other couple in recent memory. When she looks up at him after they make love and says, “don’t let go, please don’t let go”, it’s enough to break your heart. Those that dismiss the film as “boring and inconsequential” are not people I would want to meet for coffee or a beer. I’ll take a thousand “Ask the Dusts” over the junk food elephantineitis of “Pirates of the Caribbean” in this universe or the one next door.

  9. Caught Birth on DVD recently. Had avoided it because I am not usually a big fan of Nicole Kidman’s mannered, icy, weak voiced acting, and the reviews at the time were so bad. But I loved it. First rate from the opening shot til the last, and the whole cast give some of their best work… Ann Heche / Danny Huston / Lauren Bacall. Even Nicole was a good fit for the role.
    I bet actors must often be surprised themselves. No doubt they were already rehearsing their oscar speeches for this one until the first festival screening.

  10. I’ll throw a second on FRESH. I saw that and dragged everybody in the house back to see it the next day. And it just kind of. . .nothinged. Giancarlo Esposito is wonderful in that and I still quote Sam Jackson’s run-down of the chess greats to this day. And Sean Nelson turned in one of the best young actor performances I’ve seen.
    My additions to the list are BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA and BUCKAROO BANZAI. (I remember reading the review of BB in my local paper and it was so bad it broke my heart.) I saw them before they achieved the healthy cult status they have today. It was a lonely time out there for a while.
    I also have a love for 8 MILE that seems to surpass the understanding of those around me, though it got pretty good reviews.

  11. I never did get why Defending Your Life wasn’t a bigger film for Streep or Brooks…Also, Satoshi Kon’s Millennium Actress was probably the best animated film in recent memory, but for some reason, it got forgotten. And why the hell didn’t people take to Baron Munchausen?! It’s got better-looking special fx than Willow, and a more original story. Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy was also one of the best satires of the last decade, but the Truman Show stole its thunder.
    Arran: Chasing Amy actually did pretty well for itself, considering the budget, the R rating, and the limited release.

  12. Well…this is interesting. Jeff, I’ll just quote the e-mail I sent you a while ago about Soderbergh’s ‘Solaris’, your response to it on the site, and my counter-response, which you didn’t publish on the site:

    Me: “Could you please stop listing Soderbergh’s Solaris in his row of ‘failures’? I get the other titles you mention (even though I sorta enjoyed most of those as well), but I consider his Solaris to be a brilliant film, and I know I’m not alone.
    It’s your opinion, of course, but are you just putting it in there because it failed commercialy? It is certainly an artistic triumph, as far as I’m concerned.”
    Wells to Me: Solaris struck some people as some kind of profound or moving thing, yes. It was spooky — it had an undercurrent. It was made by and for people of some intelligence. But while it mostly took place on a space station it was not really about matters of space travel or exploration or, even in a nominal sense, anything technical or celestial. It was about loss and dark fantasy and then death.
    George Clooney dies at the end, willfully as I recall it, crashing into terra firma with the space station because his beautiful wife (Natascha McElhone) is really and truly dead. Why? What did this achieve in terms of resolving the story or fulfilling themes? It would have been a bit more interesting to me if Clooney’s character had stayed on earth and coped with McElhone’s ghost in his own home.
    Solaris was a lot of very fancy footwork and indications of heavy-osity. But it was obvious to anyone that it was, at heart, an expensive, generally nebulous art film about a dead wife that didn’t add up to a whole lot. That’s why it didn’t make any money. People have lowball tastes, yes, but they aren’t stupid. They took a look and said to themselves, “What the fuck is this?”
    I’m not into suicide, personally. If my beautiful wife is dead, she’s dead, and my being dead won’t bring me any closer to her.
    Death isn’t a membrane that you pass through, and on the other side is some romantic playground in which you can frolic and make love and walk your dog. Death is death…lights out, power off, adios. At best you’re off to your next life as a baby without any memory of your past lives, or you’re an invisible cosmic emissary soaring through the universe. Whatever…no Natascha.
    Me: Hey Jeff,
    Just saw that you put my e-mail up on the site.
    Thanks, I’m honored. But I do think the reason I dig on ‘Solaris’ more than you (and others) is that I read the ending completely different:
    You think Clooney kills himself in the end. Maybe he does, but that is not the effect he gets. I believe by ‘joining’ his wife on the other side, he trancends life, but not in any weird, iffy, methaphysical way. No, I think since McElhone isn’t actually his wife,but something created by Solaris, she is a sort of harbinger of a new age. She is able to give Clooney (and in fact all of humankind) an everlasting life. Hence the dialogue “We don’t have to think like that anymore.” I see the ending as quite similar to ’2001′ and ‘Contact’ (“Small steps, Ellie”); an extremely hopeful finale, looking forward to the dawn of a new
    age, full of possibility.

    And this is not something I intellectualised out of it later on, in an attempt to justify liking it. This soaring feeling hit me right there in the theatre, and I actually got a bit emotional.

    Oh, and this reading of the film obviously means that the space-station setting is not superfluous at all, but vital to the story.

    Sorry for long-ass post, but I just had to make my point.

  13. DZ: I know Chasing Amy did well, but in my mind it still doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It should have had a best screenplay Oscar nom at least (yes, I know it won the Indie Spirit award), and if I had my way Affleck for best actor. For the scene in the car alone.
    And I heartily second whoever said Defending Your Life. Fucking wonderful movie in every respect.

  14. I was a SOLARIS fan, as well.
    I’ll add two to the list: Spike Lee’s HE GOT GAME which, to me, is one of his best; and a film that I believe received ZERO positive notices when it was released: EIGHT MILLION WAYS TO DIE. I know it was taken away from Hal Ashby and dumped by Tri-Star, but I love that sucker.

  15. What a great thread. The rep of Solaris, as mentioned above, always bothered me — as did that of Full Frontal which came out the same year. Neither of them are movies I LOVED so much as liked and admired. But they’re both way better than Erin Brockovich.
    A.I. is a big one for me. The last 20 minutes has its flaws (though I don’t think it fails as spectacularly as some say), but that “if only Kubrick had directed it” crap boils my blood. It’s a stunning, smart, complicated movie. Great performances, beautiful direction, great visuals.
    Not quite as brilliant, but a longtime favorite of mine that few people have any use for: Danny Boyle’s A Life Less Ordinary.
    It might sound silly but I also feel that way about the Star Wars prequels. They’re silly at times, but they’re about a hundred times more fun and inventive than those slow-ass Lord of the Rings movies. I feel like it’s also a case where “conventional wisdom” on the movies sometimes bullies anyone who feels differently. I’ve been in conversations where someone else (besides me) will start to say that they like them, only to be scoffed at or dismissed by people spouting the same tired, quasi-hip rhetoric (they’re not the “real” Star Wars movies, the dialogue is soooo baaaad, Jar-Jar this, Lucas that, blah blah blah). I’ve almost fell victim to it, too: I’ve read reviews from both critics and fans that make me think “hm, I guess they have a point, maybe I just forced myself to like them because I really wanted to.” Funny thing, though: when I actually *watch* those movies, I always *do* enjoy them and remember, oh yeah, this is fun!

  16. This is a minor example, but the handful of people who are ripping ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ a new one this summer kind of mystify me. I wouldn’t call it a five-star classic, but ‘LMS’ stands head-shoulder and torso over virtually every other movie out there right now. How anyone fails to see that is beyond me.

  17. David Lynch’s Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me is one of the saddest, most tragic films I have ever seen. I felt drained emotionally and haunted for days after first watching it.
    I never understood why it was trashed. I can see if you loved the series but were offput by the more graphic nature of the film but even critics trashed it.
    Also I think Scosese’s After Hours is a very overlooked film both for his oeuvre and as just a great black comedy.

  18. Defending Your Life is a classic…Brooks said he still gets 30 to 40 letters a week (this was as of a couple of years ago) about how it affected the writers in one way or another.
    Jeremy Davies singlehandedly killed Solaris. He was painful to watch in that film, and for that reason alone the movie is a failure.

  19. For me, it’s THE LIFE AQUATIC. For 2 years I was looking forward the Wes Anderson movie where Bill Murray played a deep sea diver. That was all I knew and that was all I needed to know to be excited.
    People have complained about Wes Anderson being too similar in everything he does, but I think that’s a good thing. I love that his movies have that similar look; The retro appliances and look in a modern world, the centre framing, the blank expressions etc.
    Another complaint was that it’s style changed too much witihin the movie. Again, that’s wat I loved. After watching Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and Tenambaums, the last ting I expected to see in the Life Aquatic was a fight with pirates complete with gun shots and explosions. Than it turns again with the death of Ned. I don’t know if I’m weird or what, but that is the only time I can remember a movie making me cry.
    And I’ve never understood all the GODFATHER III hate. It’s not as good as parts 1 and 2, but few movies are.

  20. Nicol, Good call on After Hours – I nearly killed myself laughing watching that one.
    As for me, I rewatched Tears of the Sun a couple weeks ago, and I found myself getting really emotional at parts. I don’t recall it getting the most stellar reviews, but I find it to be very well done.
    A few that I like that have been mentioned already – Solaris, Erin Brockovich, and especially A Life Less Ordinary…
    Another Spielberg film to add to AI is Empire of the Sun, which has been my favourite of his stuff for a long time…I remember seeing the clip of it that Christian Bale had introduced at some AFI celebration of Spielberg, and within a week or so I was renting it…I just think it’s a fantastic film.

  21. Empire of the Sun is very good and yes it was a bit of a flop when it came out.
    Yet, almost twenty years later I know so many people that call it Spileberg’s best.
    A glorious Williams score too!

  22. I was completely sucker-punched by Brazil. Though I’ve read “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” a dozen times, I still wasn’t prepared for that ending. I walked out of the theater, walked back to my dorm, got together as many people as I could, and walked back to the theater for the next show. My friends said they “enjoyed” it, but I think they were just trying to be polite.
    I had much the same reaction to Rushmore, which I think has just about the creepiest but most perfect ending to a movie.

  23. Oliver Stone’s HEAVEN & EARTH. It’s just as powerful a film as Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July. It may not be perfect but it didn’t deserve to be as totally ignored as it was. I’d love to see Stone’s original rough cut.

  24. I loved Rob Reiner’s “The Story of Us” – LOVED that shit! I was able to overlook the sitcomy bullshit because he got so many LITTLE things right about how a marriage can disintegrate. Little things like always driving around on almost empty (the look Michelle Pfeiffer gives Bruce Willis after looking at the gas gage is priceless) and also how, sometimes, loving someone IS enough. It was universally vilified, but Rob Reiner on the DVD track says that it is the one film (even more than Stand By Me, Misery, and A Few Good Men) that people tell him is their favorite. I am one of them.

  25. Nicole Holofcener’s films – Walking & Talking, Lovely & Amazing, Friends with Money – were all well-received, but if she were a man, she’d be getting the mid-’70s Paul Mazursky treatment, or mid-’80s Albert Brooks.
    Her films are so smart and honest about capturing human (not just female) behavior (not just female), and the ways in which so much interaction is ruled by individual insecurities. (Jeff, I know you hate the scene in Friends with Money where Catherine Keener confronts her neighbor and does an about-face, but I disagree.)
    And she does gorgeous work in high-definition digital.

  26. Can I also add the Slaughterhouse-Five movie? While it didn’t get the book completely, due to its weird early 70′s ending, it captured the essence of the book more than most adaptations.

  27. I’ll put up another vote for AI. The movie is a flawed gem, but still facinating.
    I’m going to put up a vote for STARSHIP TROOPERS. It gets a hot of heat because it isn’t really an adaptation of Heinlein’s novel and it seems shallow on the surface, but the subtext of the propaganda machine in the film rises it above what most people think of the film.

  28. Lost In Translation is the most important American movie of the last 10 or 20 years. It is a stunning example of a sea change. LIT is a movie for thinking, sensible human beings. It has 2 performances that illustrate a new kind of American acting: natural, without artiface. The dreamily askew cinematogrophy by Lance Accord is also ground-breaking.

  29. God, there are some horrible movies listed here – and some people are obviously not getting the concept (“Lost in Translation” was everything BUT underpraised, for Christ’s sake. And “The Right Stuff” was nominated for Best Picture – and yes, it deserved to win).
    People actually liked “Solaris?” “The Story of Us?” “A Life Less Ordinary?” “Melinda and Melinda?” Obviously, what makes us interesting is differing tastes, but sheesh… (Yes, I know that IS the point of the thread).
    Of course, I’ll add my own for others to mock. “Joy Ride,” “Lord of War,” “Shattered Glass” and “The Salton Sea” are recent to semi-recent films that I feel deserved more recognition. And God help me, I thought “The Island” was far and away Michael Bay’s best film.
    I remember being very dismayed when “Fight Club” made almost nothing theatrically, but home audiences seem to have salvaged its reputation.

  30. Oh, the movie GLOOMY SUNDAY….I saw it, walked out of the theater walking on air, I had seen something PERFECT in every way. In a daze, I passed the cashier and couldn’t resist…”THAT WAS THE BEST MOVIE I HAVE SEEN IN MY LIFE”…she says…”A lot of people are saying that…”
    SO WHY HASN’T ANYONE EVEN HEARD OF IT? It played at my local theater for almost 2 months due to word of mouth, then nothing….no DVD 2 years later, only imports from Europe….

  31. “Kundun” is one of those movies for me. I came away from it feeling like Scorsese was trying to grasp and portray something totally alien to him, and I loved the adventurous approach to narrative (& lamented the fact that so few seemed to get it). In its structure and form, the film literally blossoms, and I felt like it was still blossoming in my head for days after I saw it.

  32. Best of Youth. Just an incredible movie. So moving and true. I agree with the other poster. After 6 hours I didn’t want it to end.
    I also liked Spike’s “Crooklyn”. a small sweet movie.
    Out of Sight. the critics did love it but I think it was released at the wrong time.

  33. For me it was Julian Schnabels “Before Night Falls”, as well as “The New World” (the later, final cut). Although I realize those two are very similar in their serene beauty and how they refuse to adhere to some Hollywood conventions.

  34. The curious thing about Starship Troopers is that I know hardline right-wing military “let’s bomb them” people who love it for the propoganda, as it’s stuff they’ve completely bought in to wholesale. They really think everyone is out to get us and are just as single-minded as the lead characters in the movie.

  35. SCHOOL OF ROCK was terrific, one of the best of its year. But it got rave reviews and did great box-office, so it was hardly ignored. But easily Linklater’s best.
    Also great from the same director, BEFORE SUNSET. Never even saw the first one, but thought this sequel, which obviously stood on its own, was superb. Mature, adult, character/dialogue driven filmmaking. Hawke never better.
    And yes to AI, one of Spielberg’s best. It will be rediscovered and reevaluated one day. Audiences seemed to be wanting another ET when it came out. Boy, were they surprised!
    Finally, A SIMPLE PLAN, an absolute masterpiece. Raimi’s best, unforgettable performances from Paxton and Thornton (B. Fonda, also excellent). No one saw it, hardly. But if you haven’t, rent it immediately, one of the best dramas in the past 20 years.

  36. The mention of “A Simple Plan” brings to mind two criminally underrated films: Bill Paxton’s “Frailty” and Billy Bob Thornton’s “Bandits,” both of which deserved wider audiences.

  37. I really like Schindler’s List; thought it was one of Speilburg’s better pics:)
    No, Snow Falls Onto Cedar, Gattaca, Before Sunset, The Dreamers…wait, was Ethan Hawke in The Dreamers?

  38. kundun, before nite falls, the best of youth. all wonderful…..sorry josh, had to say I think LIT is UNDERPRAISED…..IT IS A SEA CHANGE MOVIE.
    coppola is underrated. MA is brilliant also, and most critics and movie goers do not see it. including jeff….

  39. wow…movies that I absolutely love that everyone else shits on…where do I start: The New World, Jarhead, Domino, Ask the Dust, The 25th Hour, Gattaca, Running Scared…I am sure I could think of more but these are just some of my recent favorites that nobody else seems to enjoy.

  40. Yes, 25th Hour is a masterpiece, by far my favorite Spike Lee “joint”…though it’s actually a film. A brilliant one.

  41. Josh,
    Totally agree about Paxton’s FRAILTY, best thriller of that year.
    Bad title, though, which I think kept audiences away. Too bad.

  42. Wow, I can’t believe it…the film I was going to post about has already been mentioned. That is Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Although the film had some things working against it, such as narrative and tonal expectations based on the existing tv show, I can’t think of any other film that better depicts the pain and loneliness of the abuse cycle and the terror of being completely disconnected from your unconcious. Brilliant tone piece that does truly haunt for days.

  43. Nicol, Good call on After Hours – I nearly killed myself laughing watching that one.

    As for me, I rewatched Tears of the Sun a couple weeks ago, and I found myself getting really emotional at parts. I don’t recall it getting the most stellar reviews, but I find it to be very well done.

    A few that I like that have been mentioned already – Solaris, Erin Brockovich, and especially A Life Less Ordinary…

    Another Spielberg film to add to AI is Empire of the Sun, which has been my favourite of his stuff for a long time…I remember seeing the clip of it that Christian Bale had introduced at some AFI celebration of Spielberg, and within a week or so I was renting it…I just think it’s a fantastic film.

  44. Underappreciated Big Budget flicks IMO to go w/ Starship Troopers include: The Fifth Element, Mars Attacks, Matrix II, and Kingdom of Heaven.

  45. Two of my favorite Bill Murray movies are “Quick Change” and “The Man Who Knew Too Little” – movies that no one seems to like. “Jennifer 8″ is another long-time favorite that gets dumped on.

  46. Well,
    I absolutely adore William Freidkin’s “To Live and Die in LA.” Loved it when I first saw it in Seattle’s King Cinema in October, ’85…and watch the DVD probably every other month. The Wang Chung instramental score is a classic and the title track shoulda’ won the Oscar. Now…I don’t know if my response is emotional so much as just…”wow…this is one cool fucking movie…” William Petersen plays the world’s greatest swaggering asshole in the film.
    BTW…I agree with the love heaped on “The Right Stuff.” Greatest ensemble cast EVER.
    Finally…”Exorcist III”

  47. Man, am I setting myself up for scorn and derision here, but I and my substantially intelligent family (Ivy-League educated parents, included, though I’m certainly not among them)…
    …we laughed our damn asses off at the Eddie-Murphy/Owen Wilson “I Spy”.
    I found it absolutely hilarious, and I wasn’t drunk. Cue the “that explains a lot” refrains, but damnit, I never understood the hositility to it.
    Sure it was a shitty MOVIE, but the actual comedy tickled my bone, yo.

  48. NYC BB,
    I can only assume you’re joking about the abysmal flop I SPY, one of the worst movies either Eddie Murphy or Owen Wilson has made. Glad you enjoyed it though.
    Between this, and your right-wing rantings, I’d say it’s time for you to make good on your repeated “threats” to stop posting. You won’t, of course. You love the attention too much.

  49. “to live and die in l.a.” – wanted to like it. but oof.
    from recent years i’ll go with a few that jeff has championed : “In Her Shoes” & “The Upside of Anger.” I’ll also throw in “Spanglish”. I wouldn’t say I loved all of these films, but I thought they were way underrated.
    I think “Temple of Doom”- which I loved- is underrated. Often considered the worst Indiana Jones movie. That distinction goes-hands down- to the mediocre, generic “Last Crusade.”

  50. I’m not right-wing! I’m just not a lefty. That stands out on this site.
    If there were to be a debate about many social issues, I’d be substantially left-wing in my ideas.
    But I can’t talk about myself or I’ll be scolded, so I’ll just say this: I stand by my “I Spy” opinion, and will bravely weather the perfect storm of derision this opinion incurs.
    The scene with Owen singing “Sexual Healing” while Eddie coaches him via ear-and-eyepieces is a comic delight.

  51. BEST MOVIES OF THE LAST SIX YEARS: Almost Famous … Russian Ark … Irreversible … I Heart Huckabees … V For Vendetta … there are a few others that me like too

  52. NYCBusyBody, you’re far more strident than most of the lefties you never miss a single tiny opportunity to criticize… but dude, I am so with you on I Spy. It’s not a great movie, but it made me laugh. I don’t know if it fits in with Jeff’s original description of a movie that has “it” and you know it and no one else does, because I Spy doesn’t tell me anything about how we live, etc. But if I had reviewed it when it came out, I totally would’ve given it three stars, thumbs-up, etc. It’s the only funny thing Eddie Murphy has done since Bowfinger.
    It starts out pretty awful, but once Wilson and Murphy get together, I laughed a lot. Both of them are recycling the same old persona, but the movie really is a comedy first and an action movie… I don’t know, third? Never? It was sort of marketed as an action-comedy but the great joke of it is that both of the main dudes are pretty much incompetent. Murphy’s ranting about the spyplane he calls the “leafy bug” is hilarious. Plus, Gary Cole!

  53. TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. is a great choice. (Sorry, leeroy. Though I totally agree with your DOOM/CRUSADE assessment.) I especially love it now because it’s a great Dafoe evil performance. You have to remember there was a time pre-PLATOON when it was against the grain to think of him as a hero, much less anything that wasn’t the personification of Satan.
    I’d throw HUCKABEES on the list, too. A movie that’s made to love or hate it, but I love it. (If there’s ever a flipside to this thread and we put up movies that we hate that everyone else seems to love I’d put up Russell’s THREE KINGS for balance.)
    BRAIN CANDY is criminally underloved.
    This is a matter of degrees, but A BUG’S LIFE is one of my favorite Pixar movies and it always seems to be low on people’s lists.
    And lastly SNEAKERS (though I can’t really remember its critical or popular reception).

  54. A movie that I love that I don’t think anyone saw was Zero Effect with Bill Pullman. It’s a great detective story. I heard a couple of years ago that there was a TV show coming out but I don’t think anything happened with that. I agree with The New World also. Recently I really liked Brick. I guess I have a thing for detective movies that change the genre.

  55. The first two that pop into mind for me are The Power of One which only had a so-so critical reaction and Brigham City which had an overwhelmingly positive critical response but nobody else I know who actually saw it cared for it much.

  56. I’m surprised that no one has mentioned “The Brown Bunny”….so I guess that corroborates my inclusion of it in this discussion. I think it’s one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen in years. I remember Jeff feeling more or less the same way.
    I also agree that “A.I.” is one of Spielberg’s finest hours (maybe even #1). But from the looks of this thread, it may not qualify as “underrated” for very much longer.
    I think “Freddie Got Fingered” is one of the absolute funniest fucking movies I’ve ever seen.
    I think “Made” is every bit as good as (and possibly funnier than) “Swingers”; a worthy pseudo-sequel all the way.
    And I think “Manderlay” is the best movie of 2006 so far.

  57. Count me firmly in the Solaris camp; I find it a wonderful, human complement to 2001. I like to believe that the two films have exactly the same ending – both characters go beyond the infinite. In 2001, it means going outside the universe; in Solaris, it means going into a limitless internal universe.
    And since it just got firmly scrogged in another thread, put me down as a huge fan of the resplendent Kundun, which I found moving and deeply poetic. The only way I can see someone not treasuring that film is to harbor a complete paucity of soul.

  58. One of my favorite films that gets no love is Lawrence Kasdan’s Grand Canyon. I never hear anyone talk about it. It has many similarities with Crash but it’s not as preachy or contrived. Plus it has that great five minute monologue from Steve Martin telling Kevin Kline how everything you need to know in life you can learn from watching movies. Other films I’ll ad to the list are “Beautiful Girl” “The Sweet Hearafter” “Quick Change” and the two early 90′s Robert Donwly Jr. afterlife flicks “Heart and Souls” and “Chances Are.” Sure they’re cheasy but I still watch them whenever I catch them on TV

  59. Oh, the movie GLOOMY SUNDAY….I saw it, walked out of the theater walking on air, I had seen something PERFECT in every way. In a daze, I passed the cashier and couldn’t resist…”THAT WAS THE BEST MOVIE I HAVE SEEN IN MY LIFE”…she says…”A lot of people are saying that…”

    SO WHY HASN’T ANYONE EVEN HEARD OF IT? It played at my local theater for almost 2 months due to word of mouth, then nothing….no DVD 2 years later, only imports from Europe….

  60. Closer. I never enjoyed a movie so much, that so many respected friends simply despised. I don’t think they liked what it had to say about love.

  61. Bringing Out The Dead, one of the best films Scorsese’s ever made, IMHO.
    Huckabees, definitely! But most people I know dig it, so…

  62. For me it was Julian Schnabels “Before Night Falls”, as well as “The New World” (the later, final cut). Although I realize those two are very similar in their serene beauty and how they refuse to adhere to some Hollywood conventions.

  63. Jeff: Good call on “Grand Canyon,” especially your comparison to “Crash.”
    Ugh, I hated “Bringing Out the Dead” and “I Heart Huckabees,” and I’m a huge fan of the respective directors. “A.I.” would be a bonafide classic if it ended with Haley at the bottom of the ocean.

  64. Some interesting choices have been mentioned, and I’ll add one more out-on-a-limb pick: Josie and the Pussycats. People shunned this film as dopey teen fluff, but it’s actually a very shrewd satire of how young people are the objects of relentless marketing. (Plus the songs are pretty good.) Don’t let the presence of Tara Reid scare you away — it’s a smart, fun flick.

  65. Gloomy Sunday, never heard of it, just went to look it up. It’s getting a DVD release on Sept 12th… just went to the top of my Netflix list. Thanks for the suggestion!
    I totally agree about Starship Troopers. One of my favorite movies of the 90′s. Most people look right past all the political stuff… which is what makes it such a wonderful film. The action is fun, but it’s that underlying message is what makes it great.
    Also agree with Story Of Us… but that’s for totally personal reasons, it saved my relationship at the time it came out. I hate to go back and see it again, there’s no way it could have the same effect.
    The one that jumps to mind for me right now is The Edge. It bombed that the box office and never really caught on, on video… at least to my knowledge. But it’s an incredible film. Top notch performances from Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin. A wonderful script from David Mamet, full of great lines. “What one man can do, another can do!” “I’m gonna kill the motherfucker.” Really great direction and photography. Not to mention the bear!
    Another one in a similar vein: Ravenous
    I could probably go on all day… but need to get going.

  66. L.B., I agree about A Bug’s Life, and would actually put the “Toy Story” movies in the same list you put “Three Kings” in…I just never got it.

  67. Alright one more… 12 Monkeys. It’s one of those films that most cinefiles love, but you mention it to an average joe and they’ve never heard of it. Just might be Terry Gilliam’s best film… which is saying a lot.

  68. And as to the politics of Starship Troopers, the book it was based on by Robert Heinlein was legendarily controversial for its right-wing politics, including very militaristic and anti-communist themes.
    The film, by Verhoeven, was lambasted by many Heinlein defenders for going the opposite way, because Verhoeven didn’t like the right-wing nature of the book.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starship_Troopers

  69. Solaris, AI, A Simple Plan, Quick Change, Empire of the Sun – all among my very favorites. Have to add The Other (which is FINALLY coming out on DVD in October!), Robert Mulligan’s ultra-creepy 1972 thriller. Spoil-sports love to point out that “they saw it coming,” but the incredible performances and period detail will out. And in the same exploitative vein as Starship Troopers, I tip my hat to The Hitcher (1986). Shameless mugging by Rutger Hauer, and just shame from C. Thomas Howell, but Jesus H. Christ it works like a charm! Saw it alone in the theater, dragged a carful of friends the next night – and they all HATED it.

  70. Great thread. I just watched “The New World” and I’ve been telling everyone how great it is and I have to add Malick’s “The Thin Red Line.” It’s too bad it was released at the same time as “Saving Private Ryan.”
    Also want to add another Terry Gilliam favorite, “Time Bandits,” Ralph Richardson as the Supreme Being is fantastic. In the animated realm, “Watership Down” and “The Plague Dogs.” These two films are the antithesis of the cutesy, cuddly Disney style. Also “All Dogs Go to Heaven,” which was pretty much buried by “The Little Mermaid.” Finally, a film I’d never thought I’d ever recommend, “Bring It On.” One of the bonuses of having children is discovering some very good films.

  71. I’m glad to see The New World mentioned a few times. I saw it when it screened in December for Oscar consideration and was stunned like I rarely am by movies. Usually I keep a certain intellectual detachment from what’s happening on the screen but this movie just sucked me in and blew me away. Thinking about the sounds and images alone I would get emotional for days afterward. And the melancholy sense of loss hasn’t left me. I’ve never been able to verbalize exactly why I loved the movie so much and I’ve been afraid to see it again for fear that the magic will be gone. The emperor will turn out to be naked and there will be a little man behind the curtain pulling levers. Oddly though, the fact that only a few critics loved the movie and none of my friends cared for it didn’t depress me like it usually does. It seemed as if the movie belonged to me and no one else and that was ok.
    To this day I refuse to argue with anyone who didn’t like it. That’s fine. It wasn’t your cup of tea. That in no way detracts from my experience.

  72. Just saw Kiss Kiss Bang Bang on DVD and enjoyed it quite a bit. Some brilliant dialogue. Was it even released in theaters?

  73. CJ, I think it’s interesting that Malick films have been mentioned so much on this thread. Love him or hate him, he makes films that do speak intensely to those that love them, like you and “New World”.
    I disliked the themes and story of “Thin Red Line”, but the aesthetic and visceral impact his filmmaking is so seductive, I can see how one could get sucked in. Perhaps I should give “New World” a chance.

  74. NYC,
    I wanted to like Thin Red Line more than I actually did. It was beautiful, but I could never get inside of it. Too elusive and eliptical. The New World on the other hand also defied my attempt to get inside of it, but somehow it inside of ME in a way we all hope a great movie will but they rarely do. I spent the first 15 or 20 minutes trying to grasp what the movie was trying to “say” but I was defeated and I ended up just letting the movie wash over me.
    Sure, in the end it probably had an overly simplistic Innocent-Natural-Native-Good/Imperialist-European-Bad theme at its core and that will trip up a lot of viewers, yet sometimes I think a simple idea beautifully told can be an amazing thing.
    I’d suggest you check it out and on as big of a screen as you’re able. It’s very much an audio-visual experience.
    Mind you, I still haven’t seen the version that ultimately received wide release in early 2006 and is currently available on DVD. It’s apparently some 15 minutes shorter and has more concretely used voice over narration that the edit I saw.
    You may end up calling BS on the whole thing, but I don’t think it would be a waste of your time.

  75. This isn’t perhaps enitrely on topic, but there’s a Dave Foley comedy called The Wrong Guy which I came across on TV one day and is absolutely gutbustingly fucking hilarious. I don’t know why nobobdy seems to have heard of it. As you can probably tell from the title, it’s a parody of Hitchcock-type thrillers. One of the funniest movies I’ve EVER seen.
    To those who mentioned Gloomy Sunday, I haven’t seen it myself but you may be interested to know that it played in at least one cinema down here (New Zealand) for over two years – which, I believe, is some kind of world record. So you guys are certainly not alone in loving it.
    I must also second The Life Aquatic. It’s not up there with Rushmore or Tenenbaums, but it’s still as close to genius as films get these days. Quick Change too…OK, anything with Bill Murray is fantastic (with the possible exception of Larger Than Life).

  76. One movie I will NEVER get the widespread appeal of is “Napoleon Dynamite”. The film’s got a smart band of detractors, true, but it’s so beloved in so many circles, and to me, that’s just as tragic as seeing a great film like “Brown Bunny” or “The Life Aquatic” get a poor reception.

  77. Took me a while to think of one– so many movies are at least minority tastes, such as A.I. or The New World– but finally did.
    Johnny Handsome.
    One of Walter Hill’s best movies. A dark, bitter noir fable.
    A masterpiece.

  78. Lord of War.
    A goofy trailer that misrepresented what it really is, almost no theatrical release and then I hired it on DVD.
    A smart, often funny (very black humor) film about an issue that actually matters. Did the NRA protest outside cinemas in the States :)
    I also have to agree about The Right Stuff, magnificent. Another film in a similar vein that I love and few others do is Le Mans with Steve McQueen:
    “Lotta people go through life doing things badly. Racing’s important to men who do it well. When you’re racing, it’s life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting.”

  79. I’ve already posted on this subject, but I had forgotten about GATTACA. That’s a great film, as well as GERRY — Van Zant’s best, I believe.
    I also have to agree with those who think THE BROWN BUNNY is a masterpiece. Here’s the thing, though: I thought the bj scene almost ruined the entire film. It seemed to throw the whole mood of the movie completely off the rails.

  80. O.G.–u are spot on re: Lord of War…that movie was amazing and SO many people misunderstood it. Ebert and Roeper really nailed it with their reviews…that movie was just terrific. The Weatherman (also a Nic Cage movie from last year) is also a criminally underrated movie…Gore Verbinski made some really interesting directorial choices, Steve Conrad’s script was fantastic, and Michael Caine was superb. A little gem that nobody has seen.

  81. Mark: Yeah, Reloaded had better fight scenes, better fx, and more characterization, and it got panned by critics who opted for the complete opposite with Kill Bill.
    berg: V for Vendetta would be better if it was closer to the comic.
    Oh yeah, and why the fuck do I care about Jackie Brown when “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” did the blaxploitation tribute first and better? Plus there’s the underappreciated Wayans gangster parody “Don’t Be a Menace…”

  82. Props also to those who mentioned After Hours, which is probably my second or third favourite Scorsese movie. Has to be his most underrated effort.

  83. Although I was initially bothered by some expository elements in A.I.’s final “non-submersible unit,” Geoffrey O’Brien (writing in the New York Review of Books) and Jonathan Rosenbaum have convinced me that it’s a masterpiece. The fact that Kubrick downloaded this vision into his “mind child,” Steven Spielberg, in order to extend Stanley’s reach beyond his own mortality adds an apt extra-dimension to the experience of the film.
    Tim Burton’s Ed Wood: Yes, a handful of critics and film geeks loved it, but it only made a nickel. I saw it on its opening day; when I went back a week later to see it again, it was already history.
    Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: My favorite Gilliam movie; it was barely released.
    David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ: The Matrix for adults.

  84. I’m glad to see The New World mentioned a few times. I saw it when it screened in December for Oscar consideration and was stunned like I rarely am by movies. Usually I keep a certain intellectual detachment from what’s happening on the screen but this movie just sucked me in and blew me away. Thinking about the sounds and images alone I would get emotional for days afterward. And the melancholy sense of loss hasn’t left me. I’ve never been able to verbalize exactly why I loved the movie so much and I’ve been afraid to see it again for fear that the magic will be gone. The emperor will turn out to be naked and there will be a little man behind the curtain pulling levers. Oddly though, the fact that only a few critics loved the movie and none of my friends cared for it didn’t depress me like it usually does. It seemed as if the movie belonged to me and no one else and that was ok.

    To this day I refuse to argue with anyone who didn’t like it. That’s fine. It wasn’t your cup of tea. That in no way detracts from my experience.

  85. Good topic. I have loved “1941″ and “Osterman Weekend” for years, but am careful who I say that to. And the extraordinary “Ride with the Devil” gets little attention even in the Ang Lee stampede. But here’s a recent film that drew some praise, several violent dismissals, and few paying customers: “Shopgirl” was doing something few American films have time for, a contemplation of a still-forming character. Clare Danes’ performance is deeply empathetic– shots of her walking down a hall are as telling as any speaking scene in the film. And, almost unacknowledged, it has a lush idiosyncratic score by a composer new to me.

  86. NYC,

    I wanted to like Thin Red Line more than I actually did. It was beautiful, but I could never get inside of it. Too elusive and eliptical. The New World on the other hand also defied my attempt to get inside of it, but somehow it inside of ME in a way we all hope a great movie will but they rarely do. I spent the first 15 or 20 minutes trying to grasp what the movie was trying to “say” but I was defeated and I ended up just letting the movie wash over me.

    Sure, in the end it probably had an overly simplistic Innocent-Natural-Native-Good/Imperialist-European-Bad theme at its core and that will trip up a lot of viewers, yet sometimes I think a simple idea beautifully told can be an amazing thing.

    I’d suggest you check it out and on as big of a screen as you’re able. It’s very much an audio-visual experience.

    Mind you, I still haven’t seen the version that ultimately received wide release in early 2006 and is currently available on DVD. It’s apparently some 15 minutes shorter and has more concretely used voice over narration that the edit I saw.

    You may end up calling BS on the whole thing, but I don’t think it would be a waste of your time.

  87. I got a couple more from my DVD collection that are worth mentioning -
    The Peacemaker, which I thought was an above average thriller…I remember the critical reception being cool to say the least. I liked Clooney and Kidman in it though.
    Freddy Got Fingered…I know, I know…it’s pretty much the most base movie ever, but I find it absolutely hilarious. It’s just beyond dumb that it’s brilliant…the ‘daddy would you like a sausage?’ bit is classic.
    Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book is something I thought of while at work today. Probably one of my favourite live action Disney movies ever…it has pretty much nothing to do with the story it’s supposed to be based on, but it’s a great adventure. Stephen Sommers directed it, which is odd, cos it has character and a bit of depth – something his Mummy movies forgot about.
    And speaking of The Mummy, how about some love for Brendan Fraser’s real masterpiece, George of the Jungle?!

  88. Took me a while to think of one– so many movies are at least minority tastes, such as A.I. or The New World– but finally did.

    Johnny Handsome.

    One of Walter Hill’s best movies. A dark, bitter noir fable.

    A masterpiece.

  89. Nice to see the “Freddy Got Fingered” appreciation. People hated it so much, and yet I have no doubt that was the exact point. Why else would they have someone in the movie holding a sign that says “WHEN THE FUCK IS THIS MOVIE GOING TO END?”
    Also, I wanted to mention “The Fisher King.” When I saw this movie in theaters, it just blew me away. Sure, I was a naive high school-age goofball, but it didn’t occur to me until then that you could tell a story so unique and visually inspiring. Any time someone asks me what my favorite movie is, that one comes up first . . . until I remember “Miller’s Crossing.”

  90. Jeez, I just can’t stop thinking of more…
    Anyone else think The Two Jakes was ridiculously underrated? I think it was a very worthy follow-up to Chinatown, even though it’s obviously not quite in the same league. I suppose I had the advantage of not having to wait 16 years for it to come out, thus my expectations were a bit lower than many – I saw Chinatown for the first time when I was about 15, and was able to go rent Jakes the very next day.
    I also have to give massive shout-outs to one of my favourite action-comedies: The Hard Way. So energetic, so funny, genuinely exciting action, and James Woods and Michael J Fox both giving it their all. Still waiting for it to be released on DVD in my country, since my ex-rental VHS copy is fucked.

  91. Two totally different movies that struck a chord w/ me: WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE — Leo’s performance was stunningly accurate; perfect, even and SHOULD have won the Oscar instead of freakin’ Tommy Lee Jones. MAN ON FIRE w/ Denzel — (which I know Jeff was touting when it came out but I didn’t watch until DVD) just kind of. . .got to me. When Dakota Fanning actually “acts” she can be damn effective. And Denzel’s somber, weary, hung-over bodyguard who gets a wake-up call from his self-induced fog and does a slow (violent) burn was a thing of beauty.

  92. If we’re talking about “profound” then I’d have to go with ’25th Hour,’ ‘Empire of the Sun’ and ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’…if we’re talking underrated then off the top of my head I would add ‘Defending Your Life,’ ‘The Life Aquatic…,’ ‘Casino,’ ‘My Blue Heaven,’ ‘American Psycho,’ ‘Contact,’ and ‘First Blood’

  93. I got a couple more from my DVD collection that are worth mentioning -

    The Peacemaker, which I thought was an above average thriller…I remember the critical reception being cool to say the least. I liked Clooney and Kidman in it though.

    Freddy Got Fingered…I know, I know…it’s pretty much the most base movie ever, but I find it absolutely hilarious. It’s just beyond dumb that it’s brilliant…the ‘daddy would you like a sausage?’ bit is classic.

    Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book is something I thought of while at work today. Probably one of my favourite live action Disney movies ever…it has pretty much nothing to do with the story it’s supposed to be based on, but it’s a great adventure. Stephen Sommers directed it, which is odd, cos it has character and a bit of depth – something his Mummy movies forgot about.

    And speaking of The Mummy, how about some love for Brendan Fraser’s real masterpiece, George of the Jungle?!

  94. Yeah, I gotta say, there are scenes in FREDDY GOT FINGERED that made me laugh harder than anything else I can remember.

  95. Here’s one for you…Stone’s “Alexander”–absolutely superb and totally, willfully undervalued because it aspires to a consideration of the makings of civilization itself and there’s little less hip than that. Also, of course, Stone is not afraid to embrace bold melodramatic tactics to communicate his profound observations and that grates many as well. Mark my words, though, time will salvage the reputation of this one, especially if Stone’s final 4 hour cut is the masterpiece I expect it to be.
    Others: Danny Boyle’s “The Beach”, which is another instance of criminal indifference and subsequent misinterpretation tanking a film which has much to say about our time and is especially valuable to look at as a depiction of immediate pre 9/11 attitudes and how they persist. Its surface gloss masks deep ironies.
    On that note, Roger Avery’s “Rules of Attraction”, one of the best horror films of our time–all about characters who are indifferent and completely self-absorbed. Nothing I’ve seen in the last few years matches Kip Pardue’s shocking, hilarious, and mortifying five minute travel video. It sums up the primary problem of an entire generation bred to believe nothing is more important than anything else.
    Speaking of horror, Aja’s “High Tension” is a terrific piece of genre entertainment that becomes something totally different in the end–a pure formalist exercise with a daring political intent. The arguments that this movie’s ending is illogical miss the point that there is another, grander logic at play.
    Mike Figgis’ “Liebestraum” and Bernard Rose’s “ivansxtc” are beautiful works that are little known. There are so many individual images and shots in “Liebestraum” that could and should be studied for aesthetic merit alone. Danny Huston gives a towering performance in “ivansxtc” as a power player stripped of all his props and crutches as he faces death; the final few minutes in that one are stunning to behold.
    Bart Freundlich’s “Myth of Fingerprints” is subtle and so well observed. It’s another family dysfunction picture but one with passivity at its center, as its central issue, really. This choice drew me to the picture but it’s also what repels many others.
    Matthew Chapman’s absolutely brilliant “Heart of Midnight” starring a young and convincingly fragile Jennifer Jason Leigh. Inspired in part by “The Shining” at least in terms of its look, it is a true original that has the guts to combine lurid sensationalism with very real pain and a sense of violation. Astonishing.
    Finally, some great lesser known gems from the 70′s/early 80′s: Richard Rush’s “The Stunt Man”, William Peter Blaty’s “The Ninth Configuration”, Rafelson’s “King of Marvin Gardens”, and Friedkin’s truly great version of “Wages of Fear”, “Sorcerer”.
    A couple notes in closing: the commentary tracks on both “Alexander” and “The Beach” are among the very best I’ve ever heard; not forcing a reading like the godawful one on “Donnie Darko” but rather opening out the possibilities of interpretation with quiet, understated intelligence and understanding.
    Oh, and why in God’s name do we continue to have to argue for the merits of the last twenty minutes of Spielberg’s AI? It’s what the whole picture is about, folks. It’s also the sole moment in Spielberg’s cinema in which he acknowledges the arrested tragedy of his typical longing for familial love–I should say the specificity of familial love. BTW, why would the movie be better if it ended under the water? It’s not because it’s a “darker” ending I hope. For those who believe this, you do realize that the last twenty minutes posit a world in which the human race is dead?

  96. To me, the best part of AI is the ending, AFTER the under the water sequence. And, of course, humanity is no more–or, put more exactly, any vestige of the human race now resides in one “boy robot.” That’s the chilling irony.
    Still, there’s too much narration, an excess of exposition. It isn’t necessary. As is, the ending is effective, of course, and as bleak as can be–but you have to ignore these little voices. Would we want such narration at the end of Kubrick’s 2001? I don’t think so.

  97. Jesse: I’d like Fisher King more if Gilliam cut down on the junkyard scene. I got the point the first time: Robin Williams plays a bum.
    I think I’d like to add the Aviator to the list. I
    assume Marty was hoping that he’d have the same success Crowe and Cruise had with Vanilla Sky, by making Dicaprio into a character who wouldn’t normally have as much appeal as previous roles. Plus it gives a complex portrayal of a guy whom most only associate with a giant plane and urine jars, which is probably why it didn’t catch on: sometimes, fantasy is more important to people than facts.
    John: Speaking of Avary, I don’t get why Killing Zoe is less respected than Quentin’s gangster films. But I’m guessing if it wasn’t for that crappy softcore porn music in the beginning-one of the few positives about Artisan going under-it’d be considered a classic for its dramatic pauses, its careful attention to detail, and its unusual cast of characters. I also never understood why critics hated Silent Hill, when it’s probably the best videogame adaptation and even horror film in recent years.

  98. If we’re talking about “profound” then I’d have to go with ’25th Hour,’ ‘Empire of the Sun’ and ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’…if we’re talking underrated then off the top of my head I would add ‘Defending Your Life,’ ‘The Life Aquatic…,’ ‘Casino,’ ‘My Blue Heaven,’ ‘American Psycho,’ ‘Contact,’ and ‘First Blood’

  99. Speaking of Vanilla Sky, there’s another one for my list. I just can’t comprehend why so many people shat on that movie.
    (In the interests of full disclosure, I should state that I’m a Cameron Crowe whore…and yes, I loved Elizabethtown. Sue me.)

  100. Arran: Actually, Vanilla Sky did pretty well, considering the subject matter, and Tom Cruise’s last two dramatic ventures(Eyes Wide Shut and Magnolia) flopping.
    What surprises me is that Todd Solondz movies tackle the same suburban and teen angst of most indies, but don’t seem to do as well with the general public and even arthouse audiences.
    Anyway, why the hell isn’t Monster Squad on dvd? It’s less grating than Goonies and has more action than The Lost Boys, but Paramount doesn’t want to
    put it on dvd, because losing money on MI3 is apparently the preferred alternative.

  101. DZ: I know Vanilla Sky made some decent bank, but…
    Metacritic: 45
    Rotten Tomatoes: 40%
    That’s what I was referring to. A lot of the reviews were flat-out venomous, which is what I never understood. I think it’s Cruise’s best performance (excepting of course Magnolia). Ditto Diaz (which you may argue isn’t saying much, but still…).

  102. Then again, it rates a not-bad 6.8 on IMDB, so I guess the “average person” liked it more than the critics. I’ve certainly never met anyone who loved it as much as I did though.

  103. D.Z., whoa, you liked The Aviator because it was about the facts of Howard Hughes? The World Socialist Web Site disagrees strongly, and I’d thought this type of thinking was right up your alley:
    “Halting at 1947 falsifies Hughes√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ life, which √¢‚ǨÀúflowered,√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ so to speak, in the Cold War and the postwar era in general. It avoids his role as a fanatical anti-communist, who purged his own studio, RKO, of left-wingers, and his campaigns against screenwriter Paul Jarrico and Chaplin√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Limelight; his well-known links to the Mafia; his business and personal dealings with bloody dictators such as Cuba√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Batista, the Dominican Republic√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Trujillo and Nicaragua√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Somoza; his sale of TWA for half a billion dollars and his subsequent bizarre retreat to Las Vegas; his alleged participation in an assassination plot against Fidel Castro; his multifarious and lucrative association with the CIA (according to a biographer, for example, in 1963 the US spy agency linked up with mob connections through a Hughes-connected firm √¢‚Ǩ≈ìto support fascist governments in South America√¢‚Ǩ¬ù); his profiteering during the Vietnam War (the same biographer describes Hughes Aircraft as √¢‚Ǩ≈ìan adjunct … of the American government√¢‚Ǩ¬ù); his buying up of Republican and Democratic politicians alike (√¢‚Ǩ≈ìI can buy any man in the world,√¢‚Ǩ¬ù he boasted); his especially intimate ties to Richard Nixon and his apparent role in the Watergate conspiracy; his drug addiction; and, of course, his descent into hypochondria, paranoia and, ultimately, total lunacy. One might legitimately describe Hughes as something of an American fascist type.”

  104. How did I forget “Vanilla Sky?” I don’t just like that movie, I LOVE that movie. Meaning, I think it’s better than both “Almost Famous” and “Jerry Maguire,” and by quite a bit.
    I’m alone on this, but I don’t care.
    Also, I remember loving “The Myth of Fingerprints” – I gave it an “A” in the UGA newspaper. But nine years later, I remember little about it except the cast.

  105. Oooo, here goes:
    BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA – saw this opening day in 86 and had the best solo filmwatching experience of my life. I dug the film immediately and the minute the heroic trio traded their weapons, I was in geek film love. I dragged everybody to see this while the critics slammed it. Ebert panned BTILC and drooled over THE GOLDEN CHILD. Wrong again.
    AI – a frustrating masterpiece that will someday be viewed as one of the great Sci-Fi films of the 20th century.
    FULL FRONTAL – a smart funny guerilla meta-movie that never aspires to be more than what it really is: a series of one-act plays tied loosely together with a terific David Pierce performance. Why the hate? Throw in SOLARIS too. At least Soderbergh tries to expand himself.
    From the wayback machine:
    THE LAST VALLEY – James Clavell’s spellbinding gritty epic with one of Michael Caine’s greatest roles. Go rent this thing and behold an 11 million dollar movie from 1970 with such heavy themes.
    ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE – flawed but amazing snapshot of personal 70′s filmmaking. Rober Blake is so good you forget he had his wife killed. And one of the great American film final shots.
    TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA – Friedkin’s best film sincE The Exorcist. A tawdry perfect slice of 80′s corruption. Michael Mann only wishes he could capture the visual fumes here.
    DAY OF THE DEAD – Not the epic it shoulda been, but a terrific addendum to Romero’s zombie trilogy. Probably the greatest make-up effects in zombie film history.
    MONKEY SHINES – Romero’s utterly unique and involving treatsie on male-primate connectivity. Terrific acting.
    WAKING LIFE – I know some people love this, but a lot more probably hate it. A beautuful meditation on life at the edge of the century. Linklater has evolved into one of America’s most transcendant filmmakers. BAD NEWS BEARS remake notwithstanding.

  106. I forgot to add one of my all time favorite films, Coppola’s “One From the Heart.” I saw this when it first opened, and stayed to watch the next showing in a mostly empty Studio City theater. To me it’s beautiful and magical. Tne way the music integrates into the story, the theatrical style effects, the sets. I love this film, Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle sound wonderful together. I also am really fond of — despite some of it’s flaws — “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” There are also two films by Marco Ferreri I really like, “La Grande boufee.” The cast includes Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli and Philippe Noiret.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070130/
    The other Ferreri film to check out is 1963′s “The Ape Woman,” an offbeat, and beautifully told love story.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057006/

  107. Changing Lane’s is an awesome flick that nobody EVER talks about. The BEST work from Affleck and one of Jackson’s most controlled and honest and believeable performances. Awesome cinematography as well.

  108. Changing Lanes is an awesome flick that nobody EVER talks about. The BEST work from Affleck and one of Jackson’s most controlled and honest and believeable performances. Awesome cinematography as well.

  109. Christian, good list. Thanks for the reminder about “Monkey Shines,” a terrific film. “Knightriders” is also excellent, with a strong performance by Ed Harris. There’s also “Martin.”
    I’ve forgotten way too many films!

  110. thanks edward. i forgot about KNIGHTRIDERS which i watched every single time it played on HBO back in the day. a beautiful film about the most unlikely subject. the only romero film to make me cry (in a scene between ed harris and tom savini!)i think roger avery picked this as his fave romero film on his excellent DAY OF THE DEAD dvd commentary…

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