Most Overlooked Movies Part 1

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 4:04 PM By Simon , In , ,

Before I talk about recent movie news, or the sorrowful Oscar results, I'd like to highlight some of my favorite movies/performances/etc. that got tragically overlooked at whatever time.

Rinko Kikuchi, The Brothers Bloom
Getting mostly mixed reviews, with a bit of press toward main female lead Rachel Weisz being quirky and collecting hobbies and romancing a sad-eyed Adrien Brody, this movie, and especially Kikuchi's hilariously silent performance, got overlooked. Which is a shame, because had this been silent-movie era, she'd be your new god. About two conmen brothers Brody and a big Mark Ruffalo, and their silent demolitions-expert Kikuchi (who apparently only knows 4 words in English) looking to pull off the dreaded 'last con', only for Brody to become enamored with their mark, Rachel Weisz. When I first saw it (in theaters!), the only time the entire audience (admittedly, a bunch of old people) laughed in unision was when the camera closed in on her reaction shots. Playing a very different silent role in Babel, you have to wonder how she's do talking.

Another underseen, but excellent movie by Rian Johnson. Basically, a slightly bigger version of Bugsy Malone --A hardboiled detective thriller set in a high school where everybody hangs around the hallways, but nobody ever seems to be in class. Starring an gruff, cool, hardbitten Joseph Gordon-Levitt as junior detective Brendan Frye, trying to solve his girlfriend (Emile de Ravin)'s murder, coming across the underworld of underage suburbia. Almost no adults can be found, apart from The Pin (Lukas Haas!)'s mother, and Vice Principal Trueman (Richard Roundtree!), and the biggest party of the year is a sophisticated wine-and-cheese shindig at the femme fatale (Nora Zehetner)'s mansion. Richly drawn characters, a solid plot that takes place in the bigbadbackstabbing world of a Dashiell Hammett novel, with pretty amazing performances and cinematography. And, if you're not into that, there's a bunch of awesome fight scenes.

Marion Cotillard, Nine
Well, fine, the movie was shit. Boring, overdirected, horrendously edited, an endlessly irritating 'Cinema Italiano' (made for Kate Hudson so she could be in the movie, she is a perfectly okay singer and dancer, but the song sucks shit) and featuring one of the worst performances by some of the best actors of today (Nicole Kidman can sing in Moulin Rouge! because there are a lot weirder things in that movie, and Daniel Day-Lewis, while not bad, is not as good as his other stuff). There are two noteworthy performances--Penelope Cruz and Marion Cotillard. Penelope Cruz, while pulling off the funny-to-depressing scenes, and the hilarious "A Call to the Vatican" number, is only the second-best. Marion Cotillard, who gets two numbers, is the shit. Not only is she one of the few in the movie who have a background in singing, she pulls off the underappreciated and rarely-seen-in-movie-musicals-these-days task of acting while singing. I'm sure, if Johnny Depp or Daniel Day-Lewis were concentrating solely on singing, they'd be pretty good. But when they're acting at the same time, they eventually fall into dreaded talk-singing territory, basically Johnny-Cashing until the very last syllable, which they sing-screech. But Cotillard expresses the sorrow and frustration her Luisa feels over her husband's infidelities, and her neglect, with such grace and sadness in 'My Husband Makes Movies', as well as, 'Take It All', another original number that is the closest this movie has to a catchy Chicago song. After sitting through the half of the movie that doesn't have Cotillard, then watching the other half, I can't help but feel slightly outraged at hearing of Penelope Cruz's nomination.

Wristcutters: A Love Story
Holyshit, I live for this movie. Well, the short story book it's based off of. Adapted from the novella 'Kneller's Happy Campers', about a world reserved especially for successful suicides, where, brilliantly, it's exactly the same as The Land of the Living, but just a little bit worst (there are no flowers, nobody can smile, etc). Which, in itself, is a big Fuck You to everybody living in it. About three people--Zia (Almost Famous' Patrick Fugit), a guy who hears his ex-girlfriend has joined the universe, and goes to find her, Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon), who died of an accidental overdose and is looking to straighten it out with the People In Charge, and Eugene (Shea Wigham), a Russian musician who lives with his suicidal parents and little brother, and is just along for lack of anything better to do--on a road trip. Featuring Will Arnett as a crazy cult leader Messiah and Tom Waits (one of the better musician-turned-occasional-actors, in The Book of Eli and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, and who I love) as the would-be-eponymous Kneller, leader of a sort of commune where small 'miracles' are common place. It is wryly funny, has some crazyphilisophical ideas, and appropriatly somber performances by the main trio. Also, one of the most interesting and uncomfortable suicide scenes ever, at the beginning (but it's a good thing). And, hey, awesome musical moment!

Six Degrees of Seperation
Will Smith, before he got all...Blockbustery. Inspired and influenced heavily by Catcher in the Eye, and featuring Smith's greatest role (in my opinion). About a philisophical young man who ingrates himself into the lives of two different, rich families.

Well, I'll attend to Part 2 later, after I bitch about Zooey Deschanel in an HBO show and the Oscar nominations and homework and whatnot.

So, uh...let me know if I missed anything, I guess.