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Thread: Underated Films

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    Underated Films

    I got the inspiration for this thread from a discussion in the "Matchstick Men" thread. Besides figure skating addicts, there seems to be a great number of movie freaks as well. In your opinion, what films recently (or whenever) have been wonderful in your mind, but for some reason not appreciated by critics or the public?

    1. Solaris - WOW! I thought this film was incredible. It was sort of dark and bleak...but underneath there was a timeless love story presented in an incredibly unique way. Clooney was great...Natascha McElhone was incredible....the direction was wonderful...brilliant cinematography....I guess it just wasn't mainstream enough!

    2. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind - Again Clooney is blindsided by Hollywood! An entertaining story with so many fresh, quirky nuances. I guess, yet again, it wasn't quite mainstream enough.

    3. Moulin Rouge - Okay, I know it got nominated for Best Picture, but so many people I've met really hate this movie. Certainly, it had its predictable moments and some cliches, but overall I think it's a stunning movie. It was in your face and loud, full of so many beautiful colors....but in the end it was a genuine love story anchored by two incredible performances (Kidman and McGregor). Many I've talked with preferred "Chicago", but I just don't get it. "Chicago" was entertaining...but I didn't get anywhere near the emotional charge that resulted from "Moulin Rouge".

    Well, that's all I can think of for now.

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    ~ Figure Skating Is My Passion ~ Ladskater's Avatar
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    Underated Films

    BronzeisGolden:

    I saw Solaris, but have to disagree with you on this one, we did see wayyyy too much of Clooney! Please! I almost fell asleep in this one. Sorry.

    I did not see Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

    I did see Moulin Rouge and thought it was great! I was surprised by Nicole Kidman. I am looking forward to seeing her in "Cold Mountain." Moulin Rouge was very visual. I don't think one can compare Moulin Rouge and Chicago, they are so different. Both were set in different time periods and Chicago was already a hit on Broadway. I loved Chicago as well.

    Another movie I thought was "underated" was A.I. I rather enjoyed it.

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    Ladskater,

    Sorry to hear you didn't like "Solaris". I guess it isn't for everyone. As for "Moulin Rouge" and "Chicago", they are far different, but I've read so many articles recently that have compared them just because they are both musicals. But, I guess I tend to agree with you, even the musical styles in these films are COMPLETELY different. I think that is why I preferred "Moulin Rouge"....I enjoyed the 60-90s tunes that they revamped and the original music as well. I've never been a huge fan of jazz or the 20-30s period as a whole. I also liked A.I., but I think the ending was so atypical Speilberg that it really shocked people. I thought it was a great film...Haley Joel Osment rivaled his "Sixth Sense" performance (even if he was a little creepy!). Anyway, you should check out "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind", there isn't much Clooney and its much lighter (for the most part) than "Solaris".

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    Underated Films

    BronzeisGolden:

    Actually, the music in "Moulin Rouge" was based on well known music by song writers such as Elton John - The music from Chicago is from the original Broadway production. I don't consider Moulin Rouge a musical quite like Chicago. I think that is what made it different.

    Unfortunately, the musical today, is not as popular with audiences as it once was. I love musicals. I wish there were more of them like in the earlier years. Give me Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly and the gang anyday!

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    Great thread, BronzeisGolden! (Big surprise, huh, lol!)

    --Of couse BG knows I LOVED the Steven Soderbergh/George Clooney version of "Solaris," but in case people don't know, the original is a 1972 Russian version, also called "Solaris," directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. The Russians consider Tarkovsky's "Solaris" their "2001: A Space Odyssey." Tarkovsky's "Solaris" was shown on the Independent Film channel just before Soderbergh's "Solaris" was released in the US. It's hard to find a video or DVD of the Russian "Solaris" but if you liked the US "Solaris," keep an eye out for the Tarkovsky "Solaris." I think it's fascinating to compare them. The Russian version is very gritty and dirty. The space station is a mess; the total opposite of the hermetically clean sets of "2001." Plus I couldn't help but feel a sense of Russian culture coming through. Those centuries of oppression, the grayness of Commmunism, the loss of individuality in such an enormous bureaucracy. There are a few differences in the story, but the essentials are the same. The way they're handled and filmed are very different. Like I said, if you loved the Clooney "Solaris" try to get your hands on a video or DVD of Tarkovsky's "Solaris" or if you get the Independent Film Channel on cable, look for it. I loved both versions and found the comparison fascinating.

    --"Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samuai," directed by Jim Jarmusch, 2000 (I think). This film is not for everyone but if you like offbeat movies that combine ancient Japanese music with rap and if you love the actor Forest Whitaker, this movie is for you. I am ga-ga over this movie. I have a great review/analysis of it somewhere, but since I'm pressed for time right now, I'll add it later.

    --"Rumblefish," Francis Ford Coppola, ca 1982, based on the book by SE Hinton, starring Matt Dillon. Diane Lane, and Mickey Rourke when he had his real face. Also a small role for Nicholas Cage when he still called himself Nicholas Coppola. I think this is a beautifully filmed, beautifully realized, and an all around amazing movie for which Coppola was SLAYED by the critics. Coppola was so distraught by the terrible reception of "Rumblefish" that he stopped going in the direction of making edgy, offbeat films using interesting camera techniques and basically taking a new approach to storytelling using film. After "Rumblefish," Coppola went back to more standard fair and I think it is such a shame. Anyway, "Rumblefish" is generally available on video/DVD. I think it's worth it for the music alone. Plus there's an indelible character played by Dennis Hopper, who plays a bottom-of-the-bottle alcoholic. What I find interesting is that at the time, Hopper was a bottom-of-the-bottle alcoholic and drug addict in real life. I think Hopper's scenes are both compelling and heartbreaking. Hopper almost died shortly after filming "Rumblefish." He went on an alcohol and drug binge and was found in Mexico walking naked down the middle of a Mexican highway with a rock in one hand because he thought if he held onto this rock he couldn't die. He came awfully close. When they got Hopper back to LA his parents came and thought, "This is it." But Hopper went into rehabe and has been sober since about 1985.

    --Speaking of Dennis Hopper, "Blue Velvet." I don't know that this film is underrated. I know it scares the bejeezus out of many people and if you don't like the implication of sadistic sex in a film, don't see it. But if you like movies that show the underbelly of life, "Blue Velvet" is a must-see. Hopper's performance as Frank is unforgettable. David Lynch was not going to cast Hopper because of his reputation for drugs and alcohol. But Hopper called up Lynch and told him, "Look, I've been sober for a year. I have to play Frank because I am Frank." After you've seen the film, you'll know what a frightening and courageous statement that is. Also stars Kyle Macglaughlin and Laura Dern. Not for the faint of heart or those who don't like sex and violence in film. The difference with "Blue Velvet," IMO, is that the sex and violence are presented by an artists, director Lynch, and not just there to sell tickets. It tells us a lot about what goes on behind the facade of middle class life, which is not everyone's cup of tea. But you will never see cinamatography like this. Lynch is a painter too and you see it in his films, especially "Blue Velvet."

    Gotta make myself stop. At least for now
    Rgirl

    I have a bunch more films I think are underrated, but will have to

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    3. Moulin Rouge - Okay, I know it got nominated for Best Picture, but so many people I've met really hate this movie. Certainly, it had its predictable moments and some cliches, but overall I think it's a stunning movie. It was in your face and loud, full of so many beautiful colors....but in the end it was a genuine love story anchored by two incredible performances (Kidman and McGregor). Many I've talked with preferred "Chicago", but I just don't get it. "Chicago" was entertaining...but I didn't get anywhere near the emotional charge that resulted from "Moulin Rouge".
    I for one, hated Moulin Rouge. Sure, the sets were beautiful and it had some good moments, but overall, I thought the movie was terrible. Shallow characters, shallow story about shallow love based on superficial emotions. The acting was over the top with no real substance behind it. I mean c'mon! Baz Luhrman had to kill "Satine" because if she was actually healthy, Ewan McGregor's character would realize that the realtionship would never really work out, however...insteading of trying to do something different and explore a man's obsession with love and how it disappoints him...we get the same ole superficial fake love that doesn't exist.

    To me, Baz Luhrman is a over pretentious hack who doesn't know how to portray real characters with real depth...but of course his back ground is in Opera, and Operas tend to have over-the top cliche and predictable storylines.

    I absolutely prefer Chicago because Rob Marshall's directing is a lot more minimal and subtle and let the songs and dance numbers do it's thing. Moulin Rouge had to have it's frenzy, over the top editing and directing to hide all of it's weaknesses.
    I know to many Chicago's story does seem a bit fluffy, but to me the real story behind it is deep. The manipulation of the media is so apparent today, I mean just watch any News programs and see their over the top sensationalism that they do in order to get ratings. Chicago tells that story, but doesn't in a different and entertaining manner that most people don't realize the satire they are watching.

    Now back on topic:

    I think that any Ang Lee movie is underrated, especially:

    "The Wedding Banquet" "Eat Drink Man Woman" and "The Ice Storm"

    "Wonderboys" (2000) is totally underrated IMO. Micheal Douglas has his career best performance here.

    "You Can COunt on Me" (2000) is totally underrated as well. Laura Linney totally deserved to beat Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich.

    I felt "Adaptation" was underrated because nobody watched it and to me it was one of the best movies of 2002.

    Also, I think "Yi Yi" (2000) from Taiwan is one of the best movies ever made, and it hardly gets any recognitiion.

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    Underated Films

    I think the problem with Moulin Rouge is that people missed the point of the story. Like in "La Boheme" and "La Traviata" the main love interest dies at the end of the movie leaving the main character bereft.

    It was done more like an operetta than a musical.

    Anyway, I thought it was clever and like most movies that are "different" will only appeal to the few instead of the masses. So be it.

    I was not crazy about "Titanic" - talk about shallow characters and unbelievable relationships. The version I prefer is "A Night To Remember" made in 1957 starring Kenneth More.

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    VietGrl,

    That is the same argument for "Moulin Rouge" that I've heard from most of my friends. I do see how some would not like it. But, I actually enjoyed the frantic cutting. I guess that says something about my mental processes! I am always thinking of a million different things at once. As for pronouncing Luhrman as a hack...I'm not ready for that yet. While flawed, "Romeo and Juliet" wasn't a complete bomb and "Strictly Ballroom" showed promise. Speaking of "Chicago", I can't believe Catherine Zeta-Jones won over Julianne Moore in "The Hours". Yes...yes, her role was somewhat limited to the constraints of a 50s suburban housewife, but if you've ever read that book she BECAME that character. And Meryl Streep not being nominated for lead actress for "The Hours"...I couldn't believe it. (LOL...another great thread idea, Oscar snubs and outrages!)

    "You Can Count On Me" was great, I bought it as soon as it came out on video. I really took notice of Laura Linney after that.

    I love foreign films....anybody seen "Russian Ark" yet? I'm a huge Russian history nut and it sounds fascinating.

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    Russian Ark

    I'm buying Russian Ark on DVD. A friend said it was absolutely amazing; we're both obsessed with Russian history. She nitpicked at some things, but overall it was apparently awesome. It's on Amazon.com now for the takin'!

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    Lanie,

    Thanks for the info! I love Russian history, especially the Romanovs. Nicholas II and his family are so interesting, probably my 4th admitted addiction so far.

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    Moulin Rouge is my favorite movie, and everyone I've talked to thinks its too "flashy" for them. But IMHO, It the best movie of all time:D.
    Another "Overlooked" movie:
    Run Lola Run - Originally done in German, but it was very interesting and filmed very well.

    Laura

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    Run Lola Run - Originally done in German, but it was very interesting and filmed very well.

    This was a very cool movie. It stars the same actress who was in the Bourne Identity with Matt Damon. Although there was subtitles, I hardly noticed, I was so wrapped up in the action.

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    I completely agree about Moulin Rouge being underrated. Baz Luhrmann is an editing freak and I love his style.

    Run Lola Run was great as well. The only problem I had with it was that it wasn't long enough.

    I think that Titanic is an interesting movie in that when it was released it was so overhyped, and now most people tend to say that they can't stand it. So for that reason I would say that Titanic is an underrated film. Titanic is a monumental film achievement in that it tries to be historically accurate (minus the love story and a few glaring omissions) and is an extremely well-made movie. I still think it's funny that there really was a J. Dawson, a stoker who is buried here in Halifax.

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    I'm another "Run Lola Run" fan. When I heard the synopsis of the plot, I thought, "How are they going to make that old saw interesting?" I found out. Love the innovative way the director works with time and space while still keeping the love story between Lola and Manny at the center of the film.

    And I'm a "Moulin Rouge" nonfan, although only because of the way it was edited. I think this may be, at least for some people, a generational thing. If you grew up watching TV since 1980, especially MTV, your brain is adjusted to high-speed cutting, whereas if you're an old broad like me, who grew up on Bugs Bunny, your brain probably can't handle the fast cuts. It's a theory anyway. At least for me, the fast cuts don't allow me enough time to feel a character's emotions. Just when I'm starting to get into Ewan MacGregor's or Nicole Kidman's performance, whether it's talking or singing, bam! Luhrmann cuts away. Same problem for me with the song/dance numbers. Now I think it is absolutely brilliant to have Jim Broadbent singing "Like a Virgin" and the male staff of the Moulin Rouge singing "Smells Like Teen Spirit"--and dang hilarious too--but again, the cuts come so fast and furious, I couldn't absorb any of the images. I loved the saturated color, music box world Luhrmann created, I loved the concept, loved the actors, loved the script, the music, the choreography, everything. But I couldn't care about it because of the editing. However, I can understand the aesthetic choice. It's just that it kept me at a distance. But for people 15 or 20 years younger, it might be just the speed they've been waiting for. BTW, I LOVED "Strictly Ballroom." I thought it was far more than promising. I thought it was brilliant.

    VietGrl,
    ITA about Ang Lee. I especially love "The Wedding Banquet" and "Eat Drink Man Woman" You can see the brilliance Lee adds when you see the Latin version of "Eat Drink Man Woman." I think it's called "Taco Soup" or something like that. Great cast led by Hector Elizando and the script is virtually identical to "Eat Drink" except the family is Latino, not Chinese. Even with all that going for it, the film just sits there. It doesn't move, doesn't have the emotional resonance, deep truths, and human moments that "Eat Drink" and pretty much all Lee's films have, IMO. I'll add "Sense and Sensibility" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," although the latter was certainly not underrated.

    I love "Wonderboys" too and ITA that Micheal Douglas gives the performance of hiis career.

    Somehow I've never seen "You Can Count on Me" but I will look for it next time I go to rent DVDs.

    I also totally agree about "Adaptation." I think a lot of people don't get Spike Jonze. But if I were dead, I would think Spike Jonze was me reincarnated. I was already in love with anybody who would make "Being John Malkovich." Were his videos for Fat Boy Slim and the Beastie Boys brilliant or what?

    Speaking of Malkovich, "Ripley's Game" is far better, IMO, than "The Incredible Mr. Ripley," at least better after Jude Law gets killed, lol. And nobody saw it. Very underrated. Perfect character for Malkovich.

    Spike Jonze also reminds me of "Three Kings." George Clooney again and also Mark Wahlberg before he started choosing crummy scripts. Critics liked it, but outside of LA and NYC, a lot of people didn't see it. Pretty prescient, too.

    Which reminds me of another David O. Russell film that is definitely underrated, "Spanking the Monkey." Jeremy Davies' first major role and I swear that guy has been working nonstop ever since. Subject matter not exactly the kind of thing that puts butts in theater seats, but if you're going to do incest, I think this is about as well as it can be done.

    Which reminds me that I think the 1999 Adrian Lyne version of "Lolita" is not only underrated but got rooked out of a theatrical distribution because after almost 50 years, most people STILL don't get what the book and both movies are really about, IMO. Jeremy Irons only took the role of Humbert Humbert if "they paid me a lot of money" because he knew that if he did it, he would not work for three years. And indeed, it was about that long. I had a woman in a book reading group where we were supposed to be reading the classics tell me that it was impossible for anyone to like the book "Lolita." I said, "I like it." She repeated, "I think it is impossible for anyone to like this book." I said, "I love it actually. It's one of my favorite books." She just kept repeating, "I think it is impossible for anyone to like this book." One woman in the group refused to even read "Lolita" and the night we discussed it, two others didn't show up and sent messages that it was because they found the book so disgusting. Then again, when we did "The Merchant of Venice" one woman wouldn't read it because she was sure it was antisemitic. But don't get me started.

    Anyway, I've been keeping a list of underrated films, and I don't know if I'll ever get them all in, lol.
    Rgirl
    Last edited by Rgirl; 09-24-2003 at 09:39 AM.

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    Kwan's vodka dealer VIETgrlTerifa's Avatar
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    Rgirl,
    the reason why I didn't put "Sense and Sensibility" on my list of underrated films was because I wasn't sure if it was underrated, but it is one of my favorite movies ever.

    Speaking of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", I think "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is one of the most misunderstood movies ever both my American mainstream audiences who weren't used to seeing martial arts fims and by martial arts film buffs who only look for the action in films rather than watching the unusual character development. I happen to think CTHD is one of the best movies ever, but I know a lot of people who didn't get it. I think it was too subtle and a lot of the themes went over people's heads.

    I think to movie you are talking about is "Tortilla Soup" with Hector Alezondo. I haven't watched it yet, but if what you are saying is true, than I think that just shows the brilliance of Ang Lee.

    I love a lot of music videos, and I think Spike Jonze and Mark Romanek are two of the best music video directors ever.

    Anyways, speaking of "Blue Velvet" Rgirl....I want to ask you if you saw "Secretary" with Maggie Gyllenhaal yet. I think this movie deals with S&M in a really funny manner and the script is great. If you haven't seen it yet, then you should pick it up, I loved it. I think Maggie Gyllenhaal gave the third best performance by an actress that year behind Julianne Moore in "Far From Heaven" and Diane Lane in "Unfaithful".

    I forgot to mention these movies, but four of my favorite movies that came out last year that were totally underrated were

    "The Good Girl" ...with Jen Aniston ...the screenplay is so amazingly clever and funny.

    "Lovely and Amazing" with Brenda Blethyn, Catherine Keener, and Emily Mortimer. This is one of the movies where teh script is so clever that you can't help but laugh at these women's sad situations. Mortimer was more deserving of a Supporting Actress nod than Queen Latifah and Kathy Bates, I thought.

    "Sunshine State" directed by Jonathan Sayles with Edie Falco and Angela Basset. One of the best ensemble movies ever, and you shouldn't expect anything less coming from Sayles. Falco gives one of the best supporting performance ever.

    and

    "About a Boy". I would have never guessed comedy like this would be so good, but it was. Everything about it was excellent, and despite it's Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay over "About Schmidt", I still feel this movie is underrated. Hugh Grant's best performance, and I feel it was better than some of the nominees for Best actor (Daniel Day Lewis's hammy performance in "Gangs of New York" in particular).

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