Saturday, August 13, 2011

16 Days of Birthday, Day 7: Little-Seen Movies That I Love

Year after year, there are those huge blockbusters that everyone sees, and then there are those awardsy indies that all of us film people see. But what about the films that only a select few of the world's population have seen? Okay, so these aren't the most obscure choices. Because the only 'obscure' movies I have access too are those that are in the preview drawer...and they are so obscure I can promise you that you would have to be Sherlock Holmes to sniff them outside of a video store. I like to watch little-seen gems a lot more than I like watching the more popular stuff (because, even though I don't want to admit it, the popular stuff sucks). Here are ten which I especially liked:

Cemetery Junction - Maybe it was popular, maybe it wasn't. But I don't actually know anyone else who has seen it, apart from my friend who was forced to watch it by me. It has everything going for it in the 'popular' side of movies: it's written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, it has a pretty good cast (including my main man Ralph Fiennes who is as menacing as ever, like usual), and it's a movie made for the young (because they can relate to it) and the old (because it'll take them back). Cemetery Junction wasn't exactly well-received, nor was it widely scene, but I really enjoyed it. Plus, it looks like Felicity Jones, who plays the love-interest, is headed for big things, now.

City Island - I'm quite a fan of little independent comedies. Especially ones that deal with families. City Island does this almost perfectly. Sure, it gets pretty ridiculous at points (I would actually love to know if half the shit that happens in this movie has ever happened to a family in real life), but it does have some perfectly realistic points. The acting is pretty brilliant too - Andy Garcia gave an Oscar-worthy turn, I thought.

The Disappearance of Alice Creed - There are three characters in this movie. Only three. And if I remember correctly, there are only three different settings (around about). This movie is pretty minimal, but it shows you don't need a hell of a lot of stuff to make a film work. It's a taut and intense thriller with a few unexpected twists and turns and a bravura performance from my current girl-idol, Gemma Arterton. She, who has starred in many blockbusters where she's just made to look pretty, basically looks very dirty in this movie. In fact, she looks like a normal person, which was refreshing.

I'm Here - Okay, it's a short film. But now I've told you about it, there is absolutely no reason why you can't see it: it can be find here on Youtube. This devastating sci-fi short is directed by Spike Jonze and stars Andrew Garfield (who still manages to be cute even though he is a robot) and Sienna Guillory. The love story is so cute and really makes you think about how far you would go for the one you love. This film achieves so much in 29 minutes. It really must be seen.

Mary and Max - On second thought, maybe this is more popular than I originally made it out to be (it's in IMDb's Top 250). But if you haven't seen it, you pretty much need to. This isn't the kind of animation that is done for kids. It follows a couple of pen pals, one being a young girl in Australia who has an alcoholic mother and a birthmark on her face; the other being an overweight man living alone in New York, suffering from Asperger's disorder. Obviously, it's a pretty bleak little movie, but it's a pretty interesting take on a different sort of friendship.

The Messenger - Yeah, it was nominated for a couple of Oscars last year. But it took freaking forever to get to New Zealand shores (and even longer to be released in UK cinemas). This film, which looks at a couple of soldiers who go around notifying families that they have lost their loved ones in the Iraq war, is a minor revelation. Not only does it feature mindblowing performances from Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson and Samantha Morton, it is a perfectly realistic film. In a world where war movies generally take a look at all of the action going on, this one looks a what happens to the grieving families back at home - and it does it amazingly well.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - Yes, I've gone on about this movie a lot. I'm sorry, you're probably all sick of me harping on about it. But I absolutely love this movie. It's pretty much a fluffy romantic comedy, but it's not the kind that you see the likes of Kate Hudson or Katherine Heigl starring in. This is one that is superbly well-acted, with both Amy Adams and Frances McDormand giving beautiful performances. It also handles the back-drop of the oncoming World War II quite well. Also, it's worth seeing the film just to hear Amy sing 'If I Didn't Care'.

The Poker House - Y'all know Jennifer Lawrence, right? Yes...she's the one who starred in a little indie flick called Winter's Bone, which scored her an Oscar nomination at the young age of 20. After that, her career sky-rocketed, because everyone knows that she's pretty much going to be the best actress of our generation. But if you're looking for some Lawrence before she became the 'next big thing', look no further than The Poker House, a biopic written and directed by Lori Petty. It's the perfect look at the life of a teenager who has it rough...and believe me, she has it rough. I was pretty damn angry by the time I finished watching this movie. Oh, and I should point out that this has Chloe Moretz in it, pre-Hit Girl days.

Waitress - This is one movie which I enjoy watching often, even though it pains me every time. Written and directed by the late Adrienne Shelly, this is a charming and often depressing story of a pregnant waitress with a horrible husband who is trying to have her last attempt at happiness, even though she feels that having a baby isn't the way of achieving that. Waitress is pretty funny, but you should never watch this movie on an empty stomach. Every time I watch this I wish I was good at making pies, because the ones you see in this look delicious!

Waterloo Bridge - Of course, me being Vivien Leigh's biggest fan, I've seen most of her films. Waterloo Bridge is one of my absolute favourites. It's such a tragic love story, made even more beautiful thanks to the fact that there's a lot of Tchaikovsky. There's also a lot of similarities between this and Black Swan, which go further than the fact that both Nina Sayers and Myra Lester both happen to be participating in a production of Swan Lake. As far as I know, this film can be found on Youtube, but if anyone could track it down on DVD for me, I'd be eternally grateful!

So, what do you think of these movies - if you've seen them? Any little-seen movies that you love?


  1. hey stevee. i loved cemetery junction, city island, miss petigrew and waitress. but despite your clearly awesome taste i cant say i have much interest in the others on the list. apart from i'm here. maybe.

    im having a love affair with adrienne shelley right now, watching the early hal hartley films she starred in. did you see trust and unbelievable truth yet?

  2. Max and Mary played at the NZFF a few years back and yep I saw it. It really did get critically acclaimed but being an indie that means no one took much notice unleas they actually saw it!
    A good film and utterly original.
    Miss Pettigrew is a good film to and one I thought more popular than it appears to be. A good cast and script, a quiet gem. I haven't seen Cemetry Junction even though I have picked up several times at my local video store. I know its there so will get to it one day.

  3. Correction, don't you mean Samantha Morton?

  4. blahblahblah Toby - Glad you loved those films!
    I haven't seen either of those films, but I'll get around to it! I love Adrienne Shelly.

    Brent - Mary and Max is a good film and it is utterly original.
    I thought Miss Pettigrew would be more popular too, but no dice. Cemetery Junction is surprisingly good.

    thevoid99 - Yes I did. Thanks!

  5. Wow, you listed some great ones here, especially The Poker House and Cemetary Junction, two personal favorites of mine. If I did a list like this, it would be pages long. Like 80% of the movies I watch at the moment are independent/foreign and not very widely seen among mainstream circles. I think they're even better than Hollywood movies, definitely. Ten times better. I do LOVE lists like these.

  6.'ve seen The Poker House?! My goodness, I think I actually love you. I'm sure if you did a list like this it would be pretty long. And yes, they're all better than Hollywood movies!

  7. Whoa... Okay, um... Thanks?

    Yes, my list would be insanely long, but I don't want to overpower my readers with too many films at once.

  8. I've seen Mary & Max and Miss Petigrew lives for a day. I liked both, although i don't think i loved Miss Petigrew as much as you.

    As for me, Franklyn is one little known movie i really loved. I also recently saw a movie called DIary of a Nymphomaniac which i also fell in love with

  9. Tyler - Seriously, I haven't heard of anyone who has even heard of that movie!

    Julian - I don't think anyone likes Miss Pettigrew as much as me!
    Franklyn is a film which I've heard so many good things about, but I just haven't got around to watching it. I will soon, though!

  10. I am in love with Waitress! Watching that movie, knowing all about the creator and her tragic death, just made it all the more bittersweet. So sad that she never got to enjoy the success of her first movie, which is a really sad/happy romantic comedy that I watch at least once a month!

    Plus, Nathan Fillion is amazing and he makes me happy.

  11. I only saw Waterloo Bridge and Miss Petigrew. There are some that I would love to see like Mary and Max and The Poker House.

  12. Michelle - I could watch Waitress at least once a month too! It makes me so sad to see what happened to Shelly...because Waitress was amazing and I wished she could have seen how successful it was!

    filmgeek - Same :)

    Lesya - Definitely check those two out!

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