Perhaps more navels were being gazed at but at least less cities weren't being destroyed...in 3D.
For better or worse, things are different these days.
I know I'm about to sound like the grumpy old film dork of yesteryear with all these historical references but allow this rant, please.
For many decades, the movie theater, while often an escapist refuge, was still considered serious and often high-brow, with a film like McCabe & Mrs. Miller not being that unusual a summer release. Conventional television, meanwhile, was cast as the "idiot box".
As far as "big" films went, I've always thought of All The President's Men as an example of the way so many movies used to be. You had a quality offering meant for "serious" viewing and featuring an important topic...which also happened to be great showbiz - two mega movie stars of their time and line ups around the block. Ah, I love the smell of popcorn in the morning...to me it smells like...popular quality entertainment!
But now, we seem to have what I call the "ping-pong" match. As with so many things in our 21st century world, the "middle" seems to be vanishing. (Where do you shop these days? High-end boutiques one day and dollar stores the next? Haven't been in a traditional department store much lately, huh?)
In ping-pong cinema, Brad Pitt is running to one side of the table to appear in an Ocean's Eleven flic to be released in 120,000,000 multiplexes one week, then running to the other side to appear in Babel (not box office poison but not a mass-market effort either) down the road. Mr. Pitt wants to stay popular but wants to be respected as an actor doing exceptional work as well. Seems harder to do that in the same project nowadays. Directors too...Steven Soderbergh took more than a few laps around that table, as well.
Another example of the way it used to be was Chinatown - it afforded Jack Nicholson the chance to deliver a great acting performance as well as a great movie star turn at the same time.
But now, with the cable/pay tv explosion at one end and the "tentpole" and 3D mega-budget mentality of major Hollywood studios at the other, much of the finest quality in linear narrative storytelling can be found on the small (but getting bigger by the day) screen - an arena that actually supports and respects the writers. Go figure!
That's not to say there are no motion pictures made that emphasize quality over box office boffo - and in today's more fragmented world, many releases are aimed at niche markets. But in an environment like this current one, the chances of even more targeted offerings getting "lost" are in some ways greater than ever, even if there are more distribution channels and more voluminous (and better) independent films all the time. And with all the noise out there - a world filled with many publishers but no editors - the need to curate becomes greater than ever.
There are many bloggers and sites that do a tremendous job of analyzing the well-known films that everyone talks about. Other movies deserve to be discussed as well...once people know they exist.
So that leads me, as they say in marketing, to this "call for action"...
If you have a favorite film that you feel has "flown under the radar"
and deserves finding an audience, please leave a comment below or drop a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I might try to get a hold of it and
have a look for myself. Pretty much all genres are cool with me.
Let's share the good stuff, shall we?
Time to start this list anew!ReplyDelete
I think if I had to pick one under-appreciated film, I would have to say, The Big Clock (1948). Ray Milland is the editor of Crimeways magazine, the police blotter of the nation. Through circumstances, he is both accused of and put in charge of the investigation for a crime he didn't commit.ReplyDelete
This is a great film done in an era when great films abound. Released the same year as Red River, Key Largo, and Sorry, Wrong Number, I would put The Big Clock up and against any of these, and it would compare comparably well. Yet, somehow this film has somehow slipped under the radar. You will not find it unless you actively seek it out. Sometimes billed as Film Noir, it's really more of a taut Thriller with nice bits of humor thrown in.
The cast is first rate, joining Milland are Maureen O'Sullivan, Charles Laughton, George Macready, and a surprisingly sinister Harry Morgan (billed as Henry Morgan) as Laughton's thug. Veteran character actress Elsa Lanchester , provides much of the comic relief and frankly steals every scene she is in. This a great great move that is way too good to languish in obscurity.
Ray Milland seems to be a talent to follow for many unappreciated films... http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040160/ ...thanks for pointing this one out.ReplyDelete
Off the top of my head Jim Sheridan's In America devastates me every time.ReplyDelete
A well-received film that didn't reach a larger audience.ReplyDelete
Here's one....more to come - great idea!ReplyDelete
"Darker Than Amber"! Here's the story I posted aobut this lost action film with the legendary fight scene!ReplyDelete
Welcome To The Rileys - one of James Gandolfini's more sensitive roles. Won an award at the Milan International Film Festival but it was just for Kristen Stewart. I think this film is beautiful, poetic and bittersweet. Massively underrated in my opinion.ReplyDelete
I really enjoyed Gandolfini's performance in the film IN THE LOOP, so I would like to catch up on this one. Thanks for the tip Jade.Delete
A better way to die was a very good film that was labeled a flop as well as death sentence.ReplyDelete
Thank you for talking about McCabe and Mrs. Miller! My favorite revisionist Western and my fave Robert Altman.ReplyDelete
I'd like to put in Toto Le Héros (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103105/) which was the first movie to blow my mind with reality vs. fiction ... a heartbreaking French spin on Walter Mitty (I'm doing a disservice saying it like that) ... a man toward the end of his life looks back on his history through the lens of a detective noir.
Very interesting selection. Thanks Michael.Delete
Stallone's Paradise Alley, shot like a bruised cousin to The Godfather, with pathos and humour. I wrote about it here: http://cinetropolis.net/re-appreciation-society-paradise-alley/ http://cinetropolis.net/ReplyDelete
Copland. As well as Sylvester Stallones brilliant performance, there were some very big names involved and some great dialogue.ReplyDelete
I feel like any film I mention would already have some kind of positive reputation, so forgive me if some of these appear to be obvious:ReplyDelete
Simon of the Desert
I have a lot more. But I don't want to take up too much of anyone's time.
Bringing attention to a Buñuel flick is never a waste of anyone's time.Delete
Thanks for the offerings.
V for VendettaReplyDelete
Great article! I left a short list of films on your Twitter feed. I definitely agree with SUBURBIA (1983) and look forward to seeing some of these other films. Thanks for this!ReplyDelete
Mr. Nobody (Jaco Van Dormael) is in my opinion the sum up of all that can be said with cinema to this day, pretty much like Touch of Evil (Orson Welles) in its time (not to far from Citizen Kane obviously). Funnily enough someone else mentioned Jaco Van Dormael work with Toto le Héros that I definitely have to watch again.ReplyDelete
I understand it to be a polarizing film re: reactions and will try to catch up to it. Thanks for mentioning.Delete
Have seen it...and it is an interesting (if slow moving) film.Delete
And I just read where one critic had described it as "One of the overlooked gems of the 1990s". Thanks for the recommendation.Delete
I came hear to mention this one. Glad to see Im not the only one who thinks that.Delete
So now we're talking two votes...must catch up to this. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106881/Delete
My favorite overlooked picture is Douglas Sirk's "Sleep, My Love" 1948. On the surface it's a cheesy rip-off of Gaslight, and yet, I really enjoy it so much more. I did a review a while back: http://daringnovelist.blogspot.com/2012/03/friday-favorites-bob-cummings-in-sleep.htmlReplyDelete
That's one Sirk that flew under my radar. Thanks for pointing it out.Delete
The Boy With Green Hair (1948). Joseph Losey's first film tends to be neglected in favour of his later masterworks. But it got referred to in Moulin Rouge! and A Single Man.ReplyDelete
Sounds like one of the more unique anti-war films. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/boy_with_green_hair/ Thanks for the mention.Delete
The Third Part of the Night, if you haven't already seen it, is quite a thing.ReplyDelete
Nice to see a suggestion from that time period and that part of the world. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067885/ Thanks.Delete
Also, I just became aware of this Zulawski film. Now have it on DVD, but yet to watch it. Production halted by the The Polish Ministry of Culture, and was only able to be completed following the fall of Communism? That alone is reason to see it. But it has the added element of being extremely difficult:Delete
On The Silver Globe (1988)
Interesting...let us know what you think after you've screened it.Delete
It's ... difficult. But quite beautiful. A real shame that it's incomplete, but hey ho. Them's the breaks.Delete
Good post, I like the ping pong metaphor. It's a pity that cinema has become a dichotomy of big business and art house, but compared to the music industry I think it's in pretty good health.ReplyDelete
Now and then a film comes along that's both a box office draw and a fine piece of work, I think Gone Girl is a recent example of that.
As for a neglected film... there are so many! One film I think isn't spoken about enough is This Boy's Life (1993), an infuriating film about domestic dictatorship that's likely to resonate with a lot of people. It features a young Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Barkin and Robert De Niro at perhaps his most loathsome.
It's great when you stumble upon a 'hidden gem', whenever I do I champion them on the 'Forgotten and Unappreciated' category on my website www.hawkensian.com !
Noted. Your 'Forgotten and Underappreciated' page has been included in the sidebar here with 'People Who Find Overlooked Films'. Thanks.Delete
I only just recently heard of and saw John Guillermin's "Rapture" (1965), about the coming-of-age of a lonely, odd, delusional girl on the far rocky edges of France. It's stunningly lensed and scored - very bold, mature, and hauntingly artful.ReplyDelete
I'd like to see that.Delete
Does sound better than the output towards the end of Guillerman's career...Delete
True, I've read some "Rapture" reviews that say things to the effect of "I can't believe this is the same director." Also "I can't believe this film basically disappeared for decades."Delete
SONNY BOY with David CarradineReplyDelete
One review says..Delete
"Sonny Boy is one of the most demented, sick minded, and just plain bizarre movies I have ever seen. I loved every minute of it,"
...so I guess I'm game for watching it!