Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Three Underrated Films

1.) Crooklyn, 1994:

One of Spike Lee's more ignored films. It doesn't have the gripping social significance of Do the Right Thing, or the hot sexual content of Jungle Fever, but it's nevertheless remarkable in its own right. For one thing, how many films can you think of in which the protagonist is an adolescent girl (played by the wonderful Zelda Harris) but the target audience is not limited to adolescent girls? It's a realistic warts-and-all portrayal of a family, a neighborhood, and a time in history, in addition to being a great coming-of-age film. Alfre Woodard is terrific as the strong matriarch, and the kids have the chemistry of real siblings.

2.) Flirting with Disaster, 1996:

A man searches for his birth parents. In retrospect, it can be regarded as one of the of the earlier Ben-Stiller-spinning-out-of-control films, but the jokes are really sharp, and hold up to repeat viewings. The dialogue is smart, and one gets the impression that much of it was ad-libbed. Hilarious situations and a great ensemble cast.

3.) Ciao, Professore! 1993:

Great for introducing kids to foreign films. A Northern Italian teacher is assigned to a Southern Italian town. It features some of the contrasted Northern/Southern depictions that Lina Wertmuller is so famous for, but in a less overtly political way than in some of her other films. And it's really, really funny and will teach you wonderful new insults by way of subtitles. Just don't blame me if your kids run around afterwards calling everybody a "fart jockey."

Care to add any?


Anonymous TB said...

Flirting with Disaster is one of my all time favorite movies. I like Ben Stiller in his earlier days.
There are so many little sub-plots in this movie that make it so hilarious.

Thanks for the recommendations on the other two. I haven't seen them, but I will now.

11:00 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

Oh, I forgot to add:

The Girl Next Door - I thought I would hate this movie when Jeff brought it home but it was a surprisingly good story.

Donnie Darko - Crazy, trippy time travel premise, excellent cast and soundtrack totally overlooked because it was released right after Sept. 11th. Cult classic.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Two of my favorite movies of all time are foreign so didn't get much press over here: Mifune and My Son the Fanatic. I thought Requiem for a Dream would be Oscar-worthy, but it didn't get much recognition. That was a crazy-intense movie. Also Beautiful Girls. Best role for Natalie Portman yet. Great cast and soundtrack too.

And conversely, two movies I hated that everyone buzzed about were Pulp Fiction and Saving Private Ryan. Don't get me started on the gratuitous violence era of movies (why were so many movies depicting prison/child rape in the late 90's?).

And by the way, I loved your #1 and #2, and will definitely look into #1.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

duuuuhhhhh - I mean I liked #2 and #3 - haven't seen #1 yet... duuuuuhhhh

11:47 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

"Spirited Away"-Yes it's animated, but it's the Japanese animation master Miyazaki. There is a lot of subtext hidden in the story.

"Manhunter", the original, with pre-CSI William Peterson hunting the serial killer Red Dragon. Peterson's performance is understated, yet you know the character is just simmering with rage.

"Serenity", seriously. Not because it's Joss Whedon, and not because it was the only way to keep the "Firefly" franchise going, but because it is a good science fiction movie on it's own. My husband had never watched Firefly and he was able to connect with the Serenity characters and enjoy the plot.

P.S. I see where it says I can use HTML tags, but how exactly does that work? Do I put the whole thing on either side of the word, or what?

2:08 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

"Truly, Madly, Deeply" (Alan Rickman)

2:25 PM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

I LOVE Flirting With Disaster and I love Donnie Darko (good one, Teebs!)

Six Degrees of Separation is a really, really good movie. Will Smith is just amazing in it and the cast is stellar.

Open Water was really good, too, or so I thought.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Jess Riley said...

I'm with these guys on OPEN WATER & DONNIE DARKO.

I have so many favorite under-rated films, but one I think almost everyone should see is WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE. I liked SECRETARY, too.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

wordgirl, that's one of my favorites of all time, fer sher!!
and MamaT, 6 Degrees WAS really good. I always forget about that movie, but you're so right about the cast.

5:41 PM  

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