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15 great movies from the 2000’s you probably haven’t seen

07 Aug

If you’re anything like me, you’re always on the lookout for more films to add to your already-too-large list of movies to watch. However, if you’re anything like me, you’re also very active in your pursuit. You read forum threads, blogs, critics lists of great films and so on. You’re already aware of most of the big blockbusters, most of the year’s critical darlings and everything inbetween. Finding new stuff gets harder and harder. Everybody knows of The Dark Knight. All but the most casual moviewatchers know of Memento. And while the average Joe might not be the slightest bit aware of foreign films like Oldboy or American indies like Winter’s Bone, a movie nut like you already saw them a long time ago. Twice. They’re hardly obscure among film fanatics.

But then there are the films that nobody ever talks about. The casual movie watcher never heard of them. The movie nuts skimmed them over. The critics reviewed them and forgot about them a month later. They rarely if ever pop up in online discussions, or blog posts, or anywhere.

And yet they’re movies I found myself really enjoying for various reasons. So if you’re looking for more movies to add to your watch list, you could do a hell of a lot worse than these 15 films from the past decade.

CASHBACK (Sean Ellis, 2006)

After a bad break-up, art student Ben (Sean Biggerstaff) suffers from insomnia. Not knowing what to do with all his extra free-time, he takes a nightshift job at a supermarket where he discovers he can freeze time at will.

Cashback is a delightfully funny British comedy. Ben’s new co-workers is a colorful bunch that all get their shots at providing laughs, whether it’s his overbearing boss, the kung fu expert or the juvenile slackers. The time-stopping thing mentioned above is not a gimmick the movie uses to base all its jokes and plot around. Rather, it provides time for Ben to reflect on how he views the world, his situation and the women around him. There’s plenty of monologues and flashbacks to flesh out his character, which makes for a nice counterpoint to the movie’s more humorous side. Also featured is a fairly touching romance developing between him and co-worker Sharon (Emilia Fox), as well as plenty of gratuitous nudity. So there’s something for everyone!

THE RULES OF ATTRACTION (Roger Avary, 2002)

Here’s another comedy, but one very different from the humor Cashback provides. The Rules of Attraction follows a couple of college students as they embark on various short-lived romances. Bisexual Paul (Ian Somerhalder) is attracted to bad boy Sean (James Van Der Beek), who’s pursuing the virgin Lauren (Shannyn Sossamon), who’s saving herself for Victor (Kip Pardue), who’s on a crazy vacation to Europe, and so on. But while there’s plenty of sex and partying going on, this is not your typical college sex comedy. This is comedy of the black kind, where every joke is punctuated with the despair and lack of direction that’s plaguing its protagonists’ generation. The characters are not likeable, but then they were never meant to be. It’s the second part of that sentence that differs The Rules of Attraction from most post-American Pie films in its genre.

The film is based on a novel of the same name, penned by American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis. The book (featuring a very rambling and at times incohorent tone and multiple narrators, none of them reliable)  is one that you’d never think could work as a movie when you read it. Director Roger Avary (co-writer of Pulp Fiction) magically pulls it off, though. Highlighting the comedy yet never losing sight of the darkness, he comes up with plenty of clever and unusual solutions on how to present the haphazardly compiled events of the plot. It’s a captivating and isolated world we get to visit, one that will probably make you laugh as much as it makes you feel filthy.

UNKNOWN WHITE MALE (Rupert Murray, 2005)

As far as documentaries go, there are few that make me think as much as Unknown White Male. It’s about Doug Bruce, who in 2003 woke up on a subway train in New York only to realize that he had no idea who or where he is. His memories had been completely wiped out. The documentary, made by one of his old friends Rupert Murray, follows Doug as he rediscovers the world and his life.

There has been discussions about whether Doug’s amnesia is a hoax or not. To me, such debating is missing the point of Unknown White Male. It’s a film that poses questions that make for delicious food-for-thoughts. How much of who we are is determined by our past experiences? Do you have any obligations toward parents you have no recollection of ever meeting? How would you know who to trust when your past is largely in the hands of others? The case of Doug’s particular amnesia is one-in-a-billion at best, but even if he’d come out tomorrow and reveal it’s all a hoax, the questions would still remain. And just because they might be hypothetical doesn’t mean they’re unworthy of consideration.

MAY (Lucky McKee, 2002)

May is what you get when you take “quirky” and apply it straight-faced to the horror/slasher genre rather than comedy. Borrowing some plot points from films like Carrie, this film follows its titular protagonist (played by Angela Bettis in a performance that lingers with you), a strange and awkward girl with no friends as she tries to bond with people.

The film really manages to carve out an identity of its own, largely thanks to the compelling main character. You snicker at May’s awkwardness every now and then, cringe as she clumsily tries to approach the subject of a new infatuation, and feel for her when people mistreat her. As the story progresses into more well-explored territory of its genre, it still maintains it’s unique tone and refuses easy shortcuts. The eventual ending is as well-earned as it is haunting and touching.

ELLING (Petter Næss, 2001)

A Norwegian comedy that scored a well-earned Foreign Language Oscar nomination, Elling has since faded from most people’s memory, at least outside of its native country. The hero of the story is Elling (Per Christian Ellefsen), an anxious and neurotic man who has lived with his mother his entire life. When she passes away, the 40 year-old Elling is sent to an institution where he meets the boisterous would-but-couldn’t-be casanova Kjell Bjarne (Sven Nordin). Eventually, the two are assigned an apartment and need to learn how to live in the real world.

Making a comedy about people with social and/or mental issues is always tricky. It’s easy to make the characters laughing stocks for undeserved reasons. Petter Næss navigates the treacherous waters with skill, however. While we’re certainly made to laugh about Elling and Kjell Bjarne’s unorthodox behaviors, they are still very sympathetic characters. This film is filled with heart and warmth amidst the humor.

THE WOODSMAN (Nicole Kassell, 2004)

Speaking of things that make for hard-to-tackle subject matter, how about pedophilia? In The Woodsman, Kevin Bacon plays Walter, a man just released from prison after having served a 12 year sentence for molesting children. He gets a job at a lumberyard and starts forming a relationship with one of his co-workers (Kyra Sedgwick), but his past very much still haunts him. To his shrink (Michael Shannon), he confides that he wants nothing more than to be normal but isn’t sure he can keep his demons in check. There’s also the constant fear that his dark secret will be revealed to others, as well as the threat of an unsympathetic police officer (Mos Def) convinced that it’s only a matter of time before Walter succumbs to his urges again.

If Kevin Bacon has put in a stronger peformance in some other film, I haven’t seen it. Here he is masterful, playing Walter as a man constantly on edge, hiding his tempest of emotions behind a stone wall face. It’s a performance of great bravery. And director/writer Nicole Kassell doesn’t try to make excuses for Walter’s past actions. Everyone, including Walter, knows that there is nothing that justifies what he has done. We’re shown a man who wishes to move on but doesn’t know if he can and if the world will let him. Redemption might not be an attainable goal for him, but it might still be something worth pursuing. The Woodsman is a film that sticks with you.

THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE (Steven Soderbergh, 2009)

There is no such thing as a Steven Soderbergh-ish movie. The man has put out a filmography of works in lots of diverse styles, genres and subject matters. The Girlfriend Experience ranks among his more fascinating endeavors. It’s far from a perfect film, but it provides an interesting look at a world often seen on film, but from an unusual perspective.

Adult actress Sasha Grey plays Chelsea, an up-scale call girl in New York whose wealthy clients are all concerned with the financial crisis. There isn’t much of a straight narrative outside of Chelsea’s strained relationship with boyfriend Chris (Chris Santos), but the political and financial climate hangs a looming shadow over everything. As Chelsea struggles to deal with clients of various levels of appeal, slimy website operators, new competition in her workfield and an intrusive journalist, the audience gets an outsider’s view at her life through Soderbergh’s spying camera. We’re forced to think about who she is, why she makes the choices she makes in her personal life, why her clients pay her for her services and why the film juxtaposes this with the crashing economy. The Girlfriend Experience’s starkly realistic tone suits it well, for the film is in essence about human nature.

THE GRAND (Zak Penn, 2007)

Probably the closest you’ll get to a Christopher Guest mockumentary without Guest or any of his usual collaborators around, The Grand follows the strange participants in a poker tournament. The cast features a mix of big-name stars like Woody Harrelson, sitcom veterans like Ray Romano and Jason Alexander and inspired choices like Werner Herzog. The whole film is largely improvised, to the point where the card games had no predetermined winners and were actually played out by the actors to their best abilities. This hands-off approach to storytelling naturally means that the plot falters a bit in terms of dramatic payoff, but the film’s strength lies in the comedy which is pulled off really well. A very funny movie.

EVIL (ONDSKAN, Mikael Håfström, 2003)

Here’s another Scandinavian Foreign Language Oscar nominee that deserves to be seen. Evil is based on an autobiographical novel by Jan Guillou, one of Sweden’s most famous writers. It’s an uncomfortable look at the going-ons at a prestigeous private boarding school in the 1950s, where the students are mostly allowed to police themselves. Bullying is the norm, with physical and psychological punishments being doled out regularly by the older pupils. And at the center of this stands Erik Ponti (Andreas Wilson), a rebellious 15 year-old whose hatred for injustice makes him an immediate target. Evil is a striking portrait of the mentality surrounding certain upper class children of the time period, where the ugly morals instilled in the young is allowed to fester and boil freely. It’s not a subtle movie, but then it probably shouldn’t be.

HAPPY ACCIDENTS (Brad Anderson, 2000)

Marisa Tomei and Vincent D’Onofrio take center stage in this romantic comedy with a twist. She plays Ruby, a woman whose past love-life consists of an endless stream of flawed people who she nigh-pathologically tries to “fix”. He plays Sam, a kind man who displays awkward reactions to the world around him. They meet one day and fall in love. So it goes.

The central issue of Happy Accidents‘ story is one the film itself doesn’t reveal until half an hour in, so I don’t think I ought to spoil it here. Let’s just say that Sam makes a fantastical claim about himself. The rest of the film (told largely in flashbacks during a conversation between Ruby and her therapist) concerns itself with this claim. Is Sam telling the truth? Can Ruby deal with it? Should she? Director/writer Brad Anderson toys with the viewers, hinting at various ways the story might progress. And it works. We think we know where a story like this will go, but Anderson manages to create that lingering doubt of “maybe not” that always enhances the viewing of any romcom. Happy Accidents isn’t an insightful or overly polished film, but it is quite clever and certainly lots of fun.

OVERNIGHT (Tony Montana & Mark Brian Smith, 2003)

In the late 90s, then unknown and untested Troy Duffy wrote the screenplay for a movie called The Boondock Saints. Producer Harvey Weinstein, always on the lookout for the next big newcomer, signed a highly lucrative contract with Duffy that would allow this new prospect to direct his film for a budget of 15 million dollars. That’s a lot of money to give to someone who has never made a film before. Duffy was on cloud nine, but to say that he let the looming success go to his head would be an understatement.

Overnight spends little time documenting the tumultuous making of the film, instead focusing on chronicling a brash new film-maker as he crashes and burns in spectacular fashion. Duffy is so full of himself and convinced that he’s going to become the biggest thing Hollywood has ever seen. He alienates his friends, berates the people he works with, burns bridges barely built and manages to squander any potential goodwill with anyone in the industry. It is highly entertaining to watch, albeit in a somewhat morbid kind of way: Duffy is a man who’s effectively commiting career suicide right before our eyes. Watching Overnight, it seems a small wonder The Boondock Saints was ever finished and managed to become something of a cult hit. Duffy never saw any money from its success. Pride was his sin, and he burned brightly for it.

ROGER DODGER (Dylan Kidd, 2002)

In Roger Dodger, Campbell Scott plays Roger, a cynic with the gift of gab, at least in his own mind. His talent for picking up women gets put to the test when meek nephew Nick (Jesse Eisenberg, making his film debut) shows up and asks him for advice on just that. What follows is a night out on the town as Roger does his best to impart his wisdom on the teenager.

It’s fun to see where Eisenberg, whose stock has certainly risen in recent years, got his start. He does a fine job here, but it’s Campbell Scott who gets the fleshed out character to play with. It’s clear to us early on that Roger’s cunning isn’t as vast in reality as in his own head, so the movie really becomes less about the lessons he tries to teach Nick and more about surveying Roger himself. Does he believe everything he says? How much of it is BS? How much of it is due to his bitterness over a recent break-up? The frank discussions about sex and attracting women are sharp and makes the movie an entertaining watch, but Scott’s finely tuned performance is what makes it stand out.

EAGLE VS SHARK (Taika Waititi, 2007)

Eagle vs Shark is Napoleon Dynamite minus the utter disdain it shows for its characters. The New Zealand film is certainly filled with quirky and odd people that we get to laugh at, but they are all shown to have their good sides which helps us to care about them and what they do. It makes the type of humor found in these films much easier to digest.

In the leading roles we find Jemaine Clement (best known from The Flight of the Conchords) and Loren Horsley. The former plays Jarrod, a grumpy man with little grasp of social skills. The latter is Lily, the mousy woman who falls for him anyway. They become something of a couple early on in the movie, allowing most of it to instead occupy itself with a trip back to Jarrod’s hometown and his quest to confront a bully from his childhood. The relationship between Jarrod and Lily is tested of course (because with characters like these it’s inevitable), but the comedy is what shines the brightest.

THOMAS IN LOVE (THOMAS EST AMOUREUX, Pierre-Paul Renders, 2000)

Taking place in the near future, Thomas in Love examines the human need for contact and the disconnect offered by technology. The titular Thomas (Benoît Verhaert, who is never seen in the film, only heard) suffers from extreme agoraphobia and hasn’t left his home or let anyone in in eight years. The film is presented entirely through what he sees on his computer screen. Through video phone calls with his worrying mother, insurance company representatives and state-sanctioned online prostitutes, we get to enter his world. The unorthodox format of the film effectively creates a claustrophobic atmosphere. There’s some room for both bleak humor and tentative romance to shine through at times, but the story really plays second fiddle to what the film has to say about our growing dependance on technology and how human intimacy gets sacrificed in the process. Thomas in Love is a unique and experimental film that keeps you hooked from start to finish and gives you plenty to think about long after the credits have rolled.

WIT (Mike Nichols, 2001)

Proof that just because a movie is made for TV doesn’t mean it can’t be impressive. Wit is based on a play by Margaret Edson and follows Vivian Bearing (Emma Thompson), a professor in metaphysical poetry, as she is diagnosed with and undergoes treatment for ovarian cancer. Vivian has devoted her life to intellectual pursuits at the cost of forming bonds with people around her. Now she finds herself alone but for the medical staff, faced with an unfamiliar threat. She at first tries to tackle the new situation as she has always done with everything, with dry wit and stoicism. But cancer of course can’t be deterred by things of that nature. The bitter irony of it all is, as she herself points out, that the humanity she has always put on the sideline in favor of research is what she now wishes the doctors would show to her. Instead, they seem to mostly see her as research for a new form of chemotherapy.

As with most stage-to-screen adaptations, the strength of Wit lies in its writing and its actors. Seasoned veteran Emma Thompson is at the top of her already high game, expertly showing how Vivian’s defenses successively crumbles as her treatment drags on. The camera is often fixated close upon her face as she delivers monologues to the camera, and it’s impossible to look away no matter how evident her pain is. The dialogue between her and the doctors and nurses is sharp and, yes, witty. It serves as an occassional relief from the inevitable grimness of the film’s subject matter. The film is certain to strike a chord with anyone who has had someone close to them go through cancer treatment, as it shows all the ugliness it involves, the pain and the loss of dignity. But it is also oddly hopeful and warm, albeit perhaps not in the ways one might expect.

Have you seen any of these films? What did you think of them? And what are some of your favorite 2000’s movies that are rarely talked about?

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Posted by on 7 August, 2011 in Lists

 

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58 responses to “15 great movies from the 2000’s you probably haven’t seen

  1. Travis McClain (@TravisSMcClain)

    7 August, 2011 at 21:25

    I haven’t seen any of these, but I’ve heard about Cashback, The Girlfriend Experience and Eagle vs. Shark. I’ve been meaning to see all three. I almost started streaming Cashback on two different occasions, but each time wound up choosing something else at the last moment.

     
    • Emil

      7 August, 2011 at 21:56

      I like to think of Cashback as “my” movie. I came across it completely by chance. The site I buy most of my DVDs from were having a big sale to celebrate their 10 year birthday, so they had tons of films available for 10 crowns each (roughly $1.5, I think). So I ordered anything that sounded interesting, including Cashback, which caught my eye due to its title somehow. I had never heard of it before. And then I fell in love with it when I watched it. I have since shown it to a wide variety of people I know, and so far everyone has liked it. One of those film’s I’m always happy to recommend to anyone, and since nobody ever recommended it to me, it’s “mine”.

       
      • Travis McClain (@TravisSMcClain)

        7 August, 2011 at 23:11

        That sense of discovery is one of the things I enjoy the most about the Netflix streaming library. I know a lot of people complain that there aren’t enough mainstream hits and that’s a fair enough charge, but I really do enjoy stumbling across movies I’ve never even heard of until minutes before decided to watch them. I have discovered I am much likelier to take a chance on something if I can stream it than I am to request the DVD. I think it’s because with the DVD rental plan, I have to use up one of my disc requests to watch it, whereas streaming is unlimited. DVDs are more of a commitment. I know I need to finally see Pulp Fiction so how can I justify renting The Ramen Girl on DVD instead?

        By the way, if I was compiling a comparable list, The Ramen Girl would be on mine and may even be at the top of the list. We streamed that on New Year’s, shortly after midnight, and really enjoyed it. (I still haven’t gotten to Pulp Fiction, though it’s in my streaming queue now.)

         
        • Emil

          7 August, 2011 at 23:36

          The online rental service I use, Lovefilm, is the opposite, at least with the plan I have. Their streaming service is very limited, so there’s little incentive for me to use it. The discs, while restricted to 2 at a time, have no limits on how many they’ll send you monthly, so as long as you are quick to watch and send back, you can get a lot of films in each month.

          But I see what you mean. With a good streaming service, you only have a few clicks to go from reading about a movie somewhere to watching it right away. No hassle.

          The Ramen Girl sounds interesting. I’ll have to check that one out at some point. Thanks for the tip!

           
  2. Ryan

    7 August, 2011 at 22:54

    The Rules of Attraction – Saw it when it was first released on DVD. I didn’t like it much then but I was pretty young. It’s one I should probably revisit.

    The Grand – funny and a very enjoyable film for poker fans. Maybe the best poker movie ever (but most are shit).

    Rodger Dodger – Didn’t care much for it, but the dialogue is pretty good

    Eagle vs. Shark – Liked it. It’s certainly strange, but Jemaine Clement is the man.

    As for films I have seen that are rarely talked about:

    Horror: Rubber; Murder Party
    Super Hero: Defendor
    International: Four Lions; Lebanon; Born to Fight; The Good, The Bad, The Weird
    Documentary: Second Skin; The Devil and Daniel Johnston
    Comedy: Fanboys; Mystery Team
    Drama: Big Fan; Diggers

    All had a relatively lower number of ranking on iMDB

     
    • Ryan

      7 August, 2011 at 22:55

      Also, Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story

      Very similar to The Grand only with paintball instead of Poker.

       
    • Emil

      7 August, 2011 at 23:38

      I haven’t heard of most of those movies you suggested, and I’ve only seen one of them (Defendor, which I really enjoyed). I’ll make sure to look them all up. Thanks for recommendations!

       
  3. Anna

    8 August, 2011 at 04:09

    I’ve heard of about half of the titles, but haven’t seen any of them.

     
    • Emil

      8 August, 2011 at 09:11

      Any that you think you might see at some point?

       
  4. Raghav

    8 August, 2011 at 08:49

    Great List. Knew of a few, seen a few, liked a few, but many went “under my radar” :-) Thanks

     
    • Emil

      8 August, 2011 at 09:12

      Thank you for the kind words! I hope you’ll find something on there that you’ll enjoy.

       
  5. Lesya

    8 August, 2011 at 10:29

    You did a great job on this post man!
    I heard of some movies, but yeah, you’re right, I haven’t seen any.

     
    • Emil

      8 August, 2011 at 10:47

      Thank you! Are there any you think sound interesting that you might see at some point?

       
      • Lesya

        30 August, 2011 at 10:54

        I have Cashback in my IMDb watchlist. Some others look interesting, too, but if I tell you how many titles there are in my watchlist, you wouldn’t believe.

         
        • Emil

          30 August, 2011 at 15:36

          I bet I would believe you, actually. My own to-watch list is at around 1000 films now. It’s gotten quite out of hand.

           
  6. Tyler

    8 August, 2011 at 10:58

    I have seen two of these, but now I desperately want to watch them all. CASHBACK especially, because I’ve come close to renting it quite a few times.

    I live in New Zealand so of course I’ve seen EAGLE VS. SHARK.

    A film which got attention when it came out but was completely snubbed afterwards because of its inaccessibility was David Lynch’s INLAND EMPIRE, one of my favourite films of all time.

     
  7. Emil

    8 August, 2011 at 11:40

    Cool! I hope you’ll enjoy them.

    Was Eagle vs Shark a big deal in your country when it arrived? It’s one of only two New Zealand films I can recall seeing (the other being The Quiet Earth, which I also really dug).

    I’ve had my eyes on Inland Empire for a while. Lynch tends to be hit-or-miss for me, but at least he’s never boring. Mulholland Drive was one of those films that even though I didn’t love it, it certainly stuck with me for quite some time. I really owe it a rewatch at some point.

     
    • Tyler

      8 August, 2011 at 22:27

      Eagle VS. Shark was kind of important when it came out but there have been a lot of great NZ films, most recently the offbeat and successful comedy BOY, but the mainstream movies ONCE WERE WARRIORS and THE PIANO were made here, and they’re definitely worth seeing.

       
      • Emil

        9 August, 2011 at 00:06

        The Piano has been on my radar for quite some time. I recognize the title of Once Were Warriors, but it wasn’t on my watch list. That has been corrected. Boy sounds intriguing too. Thanks for the recommendations! It’s always really helpful to get some insider perspective on films from foreign countries.

         
  8. Amanda Waltz

    10 August, 2011 at 04:36

    I can attest to ‘Overnight’ being an entertaining movie. Nothing like a good train wreck, especially when it happens to someone so deserving of it.

    However, I’ve heard from friends that ‘Roger Dodger wasn’t that good.

     
    • blah blah blah toby

      22 August, 2011 at 10:15

      rodger dodger was great. but then i’m a guy. it’s a bit of a guy movie i would say.

       
  9. Emil

    10 August, 2011 at 09:36

    Oh? Did they mention anything specific they didn’t like about it? It certainly has its flaws, but the good definitely outweighs the bad for me.

     
  10. Movies - Noir

    10 August, 2011 at 22:18

    Interesting list with a few movies worth checking out. I’ve seen “The Rules of Attraction” which I remember as a pretty good movie with some nice details.

    I also saw “May” at the cinema when it ran at a Horror Festival. I don’t remember much from it so I probably wasn’t too impressed, but I’ve seen it mentioned on a couple of lists when people talk about underrated horror movies.

    “The Woodsman” saw a good performance by Kevin Bacon and even though it’s a dark drama about a tough subject, I thought it was a good movie. Not something I have to re-watch though.

    “Ondskan” (or “Evil”) was a film I saw at the cinema when everyone talked about it here in Sweden. Didn’t really impress me as it did with a lot of others. But still a solid film.

    I don’t know why, but I don’t remember much from “Rodger Dodger”. I know I thought it would be a movie I’d like, but it didn’t do much for me.

    “Happy Accidents” and “Wit” were two I had never heard of before, but are now added to my want-to-watch-list. I also added “Cashback” and “The Girlfriend Experience” to the list although I knew of them before.

    Nice list, keep it up ! And be sure to visit me at .

     
    • Emil

      11 August, 2011 at 09:24

      You’ve seen more than most have, it seems. I hope you’ll enjoy the new ones you discovered. Keep up the good work on your own blog!

       
  11. Movies - Noir

    18 August, 2011 at 01:20

    I saw The Girlfriend Experience (2009) earlier today and even though I like most of Steven Soderbergh’s work, this one felt kind of empty. It just feels like everyone does whatever they can for the money and leave their emotions behind. Could’ve been better and more interesting, but isn’t without it’s points.

     
    • Emil

      18 August, 2011 at 10:30

      I think that might be oversimplifying things a bit. The businessmen still value the emotional realm enough to part with their money to Chelsea in order to try to repair it, despite the fact that the economy is going down the drain. But then there’s also the issue of whether there is anything emotion-wise that they really get from her. It’s all for show, of course, but is the illusion of it a good enough substitute for them? Another thing I found interesting was Chelsea’s own ambiguity towards her work. Why does she constantly ask her clients about their wives and children? Isn’t that what they’re trying to get away from? Is she guilt-tripping them?

      Granted, as I rewatched the film before writing this blog post, it didn’t pack quite the same punch for me as the first viewing had. The film does come off as a bit too sterile at times for its subject matter, and some subplots feel a bit inconsequential. I can definitely see how some might find it a bit lacking. I still think it’s a really good film, though.

       
  12. Movies - Noir

    18 August, 2011 at 14:41

    Mmm, I can see what you’re getting at, for sure. And there is something there that somewhat makes the film work. But in the end I feel Chelsea is just doing it for the money. She has no problem leaving her boyfriend and in the last scene I feel it’s painfully obvious she has no feelings left and is 100% commited to doing her job in a way that makes me think she enjoys this a lot more than having a real relationship. But that’s only my interpretation of things.

     
    • Emil

      18 August, 2011 at 23:36

      I think at the end it’s more resignation than commitment. Her character does have something of an arc going through the film, and in the end, her work is all that’s left for her after the setbacks she goes through (some by her own doing, some by others).

       
  13. Movies - Noir

    20 August, 2011 at 14:49

    True, but it feels weird to see her shrug it off like that. I would’ve wanted more emotions, I guess.

     
  14. blah blah blah toby

    22 August, 2011 at 10:29

    seeing cashback at number 1 had me screaming yes! (in my mind)
    then number 2 was rules of attraction and i thought very highly of myself in a smug little way for having seen the top 2.
    but it turns out i’ve seen 8 (cashback, rules of attraction, woodsman, girlfriend experience, roger dodger, eagle vs shark, overnight and the grand) of your 15 and heard of 2 more (happy accidents i was going to watch because of the brad anderson factor then changed my mind, may is from a genre i have little interest in)
    the other 5 are clearly destined to be investigated.

    to recommend/out film geek you back:
    Tzameti, Binjip, Intacto, Last Life In The Universe, The War Zone, Star Wars Revenge of the Sith, Bright Young Things, Me and You and Everyone We Know, El Aura, Inception, The Merry Gentleman, Down Terrace.

    Some of those are not true. Cool post. I’ll be back.

     
    • Emil

      22 August, 2011 at 18:25

      Thank you kindly! Glad you liked the post. The list wasn’t ranked in any way (although Cashback certainly was the first that sprung to mind when I decided on the topic). You’ve seen more of the list than most have.

      Just looking at the recommendations you gave, I can say that I’ve only seen two of them (Me and You and Everyone We Know, which I very much liked, and Inception, ditto), and have heard of only one more to my knowledge (guess which one!). I shall be looking into the rest and see what they are about. Right now, in fact.

      Good thing I said “to my knowledge”. Turns out a lot of these were already on my rental list, even though I can’t recall ever adding them there. This is a surprisingly common occurrence for me, though. That being said, I did get a couple of new things to add (The War Zone, Bright Young Things and El Aura, to be precise), so thanks for the tips!

       
      • blah blah blah toby

        23 August, 2011 at 03:31

        the war zone is bleak. but powerful. and directed by mr orange (he’s the rat, i saw the balloon floating past the car.)

        of course you’ve seen inception, that was a trick reference. was the other one star wars?

        how big is your rental queue if you can forget whats in it? if youre gonna watch tzameti i recommend ignoring the fact that theres a jason statham remake of it this year. it was bad.

         
        • Emil

          23 August, 2011 at 08:43

          Star Wars would indeed be the one I haven’t seen. I really lost all interest in the prequel trilogy after The Phantom Menace, so catching up on it is very low priority.

          My to-watch list is somewhere between 700 and 1100 films long, depending on what you choose to count. It does not know the meaning of the word manageable.

          I have actually seen the Tzameti remake already. I thought it was kind of a mess. I will be checking out the original at some point, though.

           
          • blahblahblahtoby

            23 August, 2011 at 10:25

            I think part3 was the only one worthwhile tbh. And even then that’s pushing it.

            Where is this to watch list kept? I didn’t think lovefilm would have that many films worth watching.

            Its a shame you’ve seen the remake. Perhaps some of the power of the original will be lost but I hope you enjoy it and realise what a soulless joke the remake was. Not that you didn’t already of course.

             
            • Emil

              23 August, 2011 at 19:24

              Most of it is indeed kept on Lovefilm, and whether they’re worth watching or not is something I’m obviously unaware of. This list also includes movies that haven’t been released on DVD yet, or haven’t even opened in theaters. Then there are movies Lovefilm doesn’t have in their database, and I keep track of those on another Swedish movie site. And then there are some that are kept in a stack of DVDs on my floor, that I’ve bought but haven’t gotten around to watching yet.

              I do believe there is a good movie that could be had from the story I saw in the remake. My problem with that film was in essence threefold. 1: too many inconsequential characters that seemed to get too much space merely because of the actors they were played by. 2: too repetitive in the second act. 3: the lead actor failing to convey the pressure his character would have been going through (this particularly dragged down the end stretch of the film, which could have been really tense otherwise).

              So yes, I will be checking out the original. I have some hopes for it.

               
          • Travis McClain (@TravisSMcClain)

            23 August, 2011 at 12:39

            To be honest, I’m something of a Prequel apologist. I don’t think they’re as bad as many make them out to be; in fact, I’d say most of the complaints often levied against them are just as valid against the Original Trilogy (hokey dialog, banal morality, dubious plot devices and…inconsistent…acting performances). In fact, my theory is that too many fans spent way too long holding the Original Trilogy in unrealistically high esteem–many going so far as to literally refer to it as the “Holy Trilogy”–that no matter what the Prequels had been, they would have been disappointed. Once they actually got more Star Wars and it failed to live up to their fantasies that had developed over 16 years (remember, Return of the Jedi opened in 1983), there came a sort of permanent dark cloud over the Prequels.

            I can find fault in them all, certainly, but I honestly feel that it’s the perception that they’re abominations unto the Lord that’s the real culprit for many. For instance, I really enjoyed Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn and Christopher Lee as Count Dooku; those are two of my favorite characters in the entire franchise. Ewan McGregor was terrific as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Fans complain that Hayden Christensen was “too whiny” as Anakin Skywalker, but they fail to recognize…that’s how the character was. Given George Lucas’s notoriety as a micro-manager, does anybody really think he idly stood by and gave Christensen complete autonomy for how to play the role? Nonsense.

            One of my cousins grew up with tremendous athletic ability and quickly became a star on every team for which he played. It didn’t take long before he became arrogant, touting his superiority to his own teammates as well as to rivals and he became insufferable to be around. When I watched Christensen’s portrayal of Anakin, I saw my cousin because I know without a doubt that if he had Jedi powers to go along with his Chosen One complex, he’d have been the same way. The argument really is, that’s not how fans wanted Darth Vader to be. It’s a complaint about what the film isn’t, rather than what it is.

            The final ~40 minutes of Attack of the Clones features flat-out great action. The first hour and a half is admittedly uneven, but I found enough stuff to enjoy that I liked the movie. They did a great job creating Kamino, for instance. And while I can easily find flaws with Revenge of the Sith (most egregious are Natalie Portman’s high school drama class performance and the complete absence of logic to the final act), it’s great fun to watch.

            My biggest complaint about the Prequels is that Lucas essentially outsourced most of the secondary material to the Expanded Universe novels and comic books. There were way too many characters whose names weren’t even really clear on-screen, and I didn’t care what happened to them because nothing in the movies made me care. Whenever I discussed this with fans, there was always someone quick to point me to a reading list of stories that explain who that character was. I shouldn’t have to do homework to care about characters in a movie.

             
            • Emil

              23 August, 2011 at 19:41

              By no means in Phantom Menace a terrible movie in my mind. It’s more… “meh”. The plot is a bit too convoluted, the characters a bit too unengaging (which I’d blame the script for more than the actors), and there are few things I give less of a crap about than kid Anakin piloting a spaceship. The RedLetterMedia review of it on Youtube, while too longwinded for its own good, does raise many points of criticism of the film that I find myself agreeing with.

              But yes, no doubt nostalgia and unreasonably high expectations have caused some to go overboard on the hatred for the prequels (or at least Phantom Meance, which is the only one I can speak for myself). I find it hard to imagine the prequels being all that well received no matter what they had been, because they still wouldn’t have been the originals. On the other hand, if their hadn’t been an original trilogy, I also couldn’t ever see Phantom Meance being more than a blip on the cinematic landscape. A landscape that, granted, is way different now than it was back when A New Hope arrived. It’s not really a simple thing to compare the two trilogies fairly, although I certainly know I liked the originals better than PM, but that’s not really the debate here.

               
              • Travis McClain (@TravisSMcClain)

                23 August, 2011 at 20:09

                For my money, Revenge of the Sith is more fun to watch than Star Wars and maybe more fun than Return of the Jedi. And I’ll say this: the current animated TV series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars is probably the best thing in the entire franchise outside of The Empire Strikes Back.

                Back to your original topic, though, I finally have a few overlooked gems to recommend:

                The Auteurs – A group of middle aged guys with no film experience undertake to produce an adult film in their small town. The cast–led by Jeff Bridges and Ted Danson among others–is rock solid, and the story, while tamer than I’m sure some would have liked, is nicely handled.

                The Matador – Greg Kinnear plays a mid-level advertising executive who falls in with abrasive international hit man Pierce Brosnan in Mexico City. The chemistry between Brosnan and Kinnear is the real appeal, but the dialog is sharp and the situations are clever twists on familiar themes. My favorite Brosnan performance yet.

                The Ramen Girl – Brittany Murphy plays a young woman who has followed her lover to Japan…where he breaks up with her. Rather than return home in disgrace, she resolves to tough it out and forge a new life for herself as apprentice to a ramen maker. They clash at every turn, partly over the language barrier, partly over cultural differences and partly because he doesn’t even want to train her! Some viewers may find the film cloying, but my wife and I streamed it from Netflix on New Year’s Eve and fell in love with it.

                 
  15. Emil

    23 August, 2011 at 21:12

    Do you mean The Amateurs? I remember seeing a trailer for that film a while back, but I don’t recall anything from it. There seems to be a lot of films based around that premise, though. Off the top of my head, I can recall three others: Zack & Miri Make a Porno, I Want Candy and National Lamppon’s Barely Legal. I’m willing to give a fourth one a try.

    The Matador is already on my watch list. I’m a big fan of Kinnear, and the story sounds solid.

    The Ramen Girl is one you mentioned earlier, and it’s definitely something I need to see.

    Thanks for the recommendations!

     
    • Travis McClain (@TravisSMcClain)

      23 August, 2011 at 21:18

      Yeah, it’s The Amateurs. I blame this damned vitamin D deficiency and my lack of concentration for the confusion. What makes this film different from the others you’ve mentioned is that the production of the film, while the backbone of the plot, isn’t really the focus of the story. That is, it’s really a movie about the middle aged friends.

      Also, I totally forgot I’d already mentioned The Ramen Girl. I refer you again to my vitamin D deficiency!

       
  16. Castor

    30 August, 2011 at 02:20

    Nice list. I have only seen Rodger Dodger and some of the other ones seem intriguing such as Evil and Happy Accidents.

     
    • Emil

      30 August, 2011 at 08:57

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy some of the other films on there.

       
  17. Paolo

    5 September, 2011 at 22:40

    I’ve only seen The Rules of Attraction. I wasn’t the biggest fan of van der Beek until I saw this and now I wish that he had some of the success as other Dawson’s Creek alum.

    Out of these movies, The Girlfriend Experience and Eagle vs. Shark are the ones I have most access to. The latter seems to have a lot of defenders. Evil also looks intriguing, looking like our generation’s If.

     
    • Emil

      5 September, 2011 at 23:05

      It is kind of sad of can der Beek has fallen off the radar so drastically. He could have had a nice career in comedies. He shows some good timing and a great many funny faces in Rules. Seems like he’s mostly back to TV stuff nowadays. Unfortunate.

      I hope you enjoy whatever movie(s) you end up seeking out. I’d be really pleased if you can track down Evil, though. It’s not often I’m floored by a film from my own country, but Evil is definitely one of those rarities. And yet it remains largely unknown elsewhere, having failed to catch on internationally like, say, Let he Right One In or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo did. It deserves to be seen.

       
  18. Mark Walker

    30 March, 2012 at 10:04

    Now, this is the kind of lists I like. It’s always great to be reminded of hidden gems. I’ve seen the Woodsman, The Rules Of Attraction and Evil bit the rest, I’ll get round to. Cashback is still I wanted to see but forgot the name of it. Thank you for refreshing my memory. Great list my man.

     
    • Emil

      30 March, 2012 at 10:21

      Glad you liked the post, Mark! Hope you’ll enjoy the films you have yet to see on there. They all deserve more attention than they tend to get. Thank you for commenting!

       
  19. dbmoviesblog

    5 May, 2012 at 00:59

    Intriguing list. I have to admit I have seen only ‘The Woodsman’ and ‘Cashback’, and the latter is probably only because I reside in England (maybe that makes it more likely I’ve seen it hehe)

     
    • Emil

      5 May, 2012 at 01:33

      Hope you’ll enjoy some of the other movies on here if you do decide to check them out. Is Cashback well-known to any degree in England, or was it one of those films that got lost in the shuffle?

       
  20. dbmoviesblog

    5 May, 2012 at 01:52

    Lost in the shuffle of course (its a bit controversial, isn’t it?), though I must admit it was widely circulated among film-lovers here some years back – that’s how I got to know it so well. All I was trying to say was that since its UK made maybe I had a better chance of hearing about it than people in other countries. Besides I found the film to be English through-and-through.

     
    • Emil

      5 May, 2012 at 11:21

      Yeah, I suppose all the nudity and whatnot would have prevented it from becoming some big mainstream smash-hit. I know I had never heard of it before when I came across it at a sale, where I decided to take a chance and buy it. I’m glad I did.

      Interesting that you consider it very English. There’s certainly stuff in the way it’s presented that feels very British, but the humor isn’t exactly what I’d think of when someone says “English humor”, what with the juvenile antics of those two guys and stuff. A movie like In the Loop feels very British to me, and I couldn’t see it working in any other way. With a film like Cashback, it could have easily been made as an American indie instead. At least that’s how it looks through my Swedish eyes.

       
  21. Sam

    18 June, 2012 at 17:37

    Nice post :) I’ve seen two of the movies there (Rules of Attraction and Evil), and I’m ashamed to admit that, despite loving the book, I just couldn’t get into the film version of Rules of Attraction.

     
    • Emil

      19 June, 2012 at 08:30

      Thank you!

      That’s too bad that you didn’t like the Rules of Attraction movie. I know you’re not alone, though. It seems to be quite polarizing. I prefer the film version myself, but then I watched that one before reading the book, which might have something to do with it. I’ll often prefer the version I encounter first when it comes to book-to-screen adaptations.

       
      • Sam

        19 June, 2012 at 11:17

        Yeah, that makes sense. For me, perhaps because I read the book first, I didn’t feel that the film captured the edge of the source as well as it could have. However, I did think the cast we’re pretty great in it.

         
        • Emil

          19 June, 2012 at 12:10

          Yeah, the movie is quite different from the novel. I think it works really well as its own thing, though. It’s Ellis’ personal favorite of all the film adaptations of his books.

           
          • Sam

            19 June, 2012 at 15:40

            It does work as it’s own thing, but I shouldn’t help but get the comparison to the novel out of my head.
            Ah, that seems odd of Ellis, perhaps because it’s an individual take on his work or something…
            My favourite adaptation of his work is definitely American Psycho – Bale is fantastic in it.

             
            • Emil

              20 June, 2012 at 00:21

              I’ll take Rules of Attraction over American Psycho any day of the week. That speaks more of my love for RoA than anything, though. American Psycho is a good movie. It’s funny, and I agree that Bale is great. I don’t think it handles the ambiguity aspect of the story as well as it could have, though.

              I wrote a piece on the various Ellis adaptations a while ago over at the Flickchart blog:
              http://www.flickchart.com/blog/from-book-to-screen-bret-easton-ellis/

               
  22. Ayush Chandra

    14 April, 2014 at 10:38

    Unseen movies, are they watchable?

     
  23. Beleidigungen, Humour Fieser Humor Bilder

    28 March, 2017 at 02:15

    Es waren wohl hauptsächliche Schwarze, die sich
    darüber aufgeregt haben, dass dieser Onkel Tom sich ein Kasperlehütchen aufsetzt und Witze für Weiße
    auf Kosten seiner Brüder und Schwestern macht.

     

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