This is so bad it's gone past good and back to bad again.
January 25, 2010 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Idiosyncratic movies filter. I've realized that I tend to like movies in a certain niche that you might call "uncategorizable," and I'm looking for your recommendations for more of these movies to see. It's hard to say they're all in the same genre (since some of them are quite different from the others), but it's also hard to say which genres they do belong to. In addition, there are several of these movies that I found very disappointing even though I would have expected to like because they seem to be "my kind of movie." Lots (!) of examples and elaboration inside.

Movies I liked a lot (* = movies I absolutely loved):
Ghost World*
Boogie Nights*
My Dinner with Andre*
After Hours*
About Schmidt
Being John Malkovich
Run Lola Run
Zazie dans le Metro
The Royal Tenenbaums
The Truman Show
Man on the Moon
The People vs. Larry Flynt
American Movie

Movies I didn't like so much (* = movies I particularly disliked):
Waking Life
Punch-Drunk Love
The Ice Storm
Away We Go
Lost in Translation*
Life is Beautiful*
High Fidelity*
American Beauty*
I Heart Huckabees*

Some thoughts about these movies:

GENRE: Most of them probably get filed under "comedy," but this label often seems insufficient. Others might be officially "drama" but seem too funny to merit that label. I apparently like movies that belong in a grey area between comedy and drama, though I don't know if I'd want to pigeonhole them as "dramedies."

PLOT: This is hard to describe, but most if not all of these movies have an unusually loose, open-minded sensibility about plot. Sometimes this is overtly radical (Slacker, My Dinner with Andre), while some of the other movies have semi-conventional plots that unexpectedly end with tantalizing question marks. (Though I disliked Lost in Translation, I didn't dislike it for the same reasons some people did. That is, I didn't say: "This movie's terrible -- almost nothing happens and the ending is ambiguous." On the contrary, I said: "Wow, almost nothing happens in this movie and the ending is ambiguous -- I can't believe I didn't like it!")

CONTENT: They might focus on dating/love/sex (Sideways), or they might be virtually devoid of traditional romance (Slacker). Many of them have an intellectual or philosophical or makes-you-think quality, but the message isn't necessarily obvious (can you sum up the "meaning" of Ghost World?). (As an example of how tricky it is to find a good philosophical movie: I love things like Wally's ode to the joys of everyday life and the brilliance of the scientific method in My Dinner with Andre, but I find the efforts to be "philosophical" in Waking Life and I Heart Huckabees to be dull and even a bit embarrassing.)

NOT: Not action movies. Not obviously "guy movies" or "chick flicks." Not war movies. Not movies entirely about the sinister world of drugs/addiction (this doesn't mean that drug addiction can't be important to the plot -- Boogie Nights -- but I'm not looking for Requiem for a Dream, Trainspotting, etc.).

A note about two legendary directors: Woody Allen and Stanley Kubrick. I'm a fan of both of them, so you can assume that any of their movies is one I've either seen or already have on my list of movies to see. (For this reason, I've refrained from putting any of their movies on the above lists even though some would have fit well: Manhattan, Lolita.)

Nothing is too famous or too obvious or too obscure (as long as it's available on DVD in the US). Old and/or black and white movies are especially encouraged.

Bonus: If anyone can even begin to synthesize my taste and explain why I like some of these movies and dislike others, I'd be fascinated to hear any of your thoughts. However, that's certainly not necessary or the main point of this question.

(The closest AskMe I could find was this one, but it's not really the same question.)

Oh, sorry for the overly long question -- I know I've already analyzed this to death, but there was a lot to say.

Any suggestions?
posted by Jaltcoh to Media & Arts (68 answers total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
The Limey
posted by dfriedman at 8:54 AM on January 25, 2010

We have similar tastes, even if we disagree on some specifics. Some recommendations off the top of my head:

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Son of Rambow

Anything (make that everything) by the Coen Brothers
posted by mkultra at 8:55 AM on January 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and As Good As It Gets are two that seem to fit into your explanation.
posted by amyms at 8:58 AM on January 25, 2010

For an uncategorizable romance, try Wong Kar-Wai's Chungking Express. Your "Movies I Liked a Lot" list suggests, to me, a lot of contemporary-ish non-English-language film. Idiosyncrasy abounds.

For "old and/or black and white movies," maybe investigate Preston Sturges, if for no other reason than Sturges's prodigious influence on the smart, idiosyncratic writer/directors of today.
posted by Joey Bagels at 8:59 AM on January 25, 2010

What do you think about Eric Rohmer movies? Have you seen any?
posted by vacapinta at 9:00 AM on January 25, 2010

Oops. Meant to say, for Sturges, start with the Criterion DVD of the hilarious Sullivan's Travels, which inspired the title of O Brother, Where Art Thou? by the Coen Brothers. And then, yes, watch O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
posted by Joey Bagels at 9:02 AM on January 25, 2010

The Last Supper
posted by decathecting at 9:03 AM on January 25, 2010

Seconding Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I'd add Adaptation and Synecdoche, New York. All of these films were written (and the latter was directed) by Charlie Kaufman, who wrote Being John Malkovich.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:05 AM on January 25, 2010

posted by Abiezer at 9:06 AM on January 25, 2010

Though the version without the typo is better. Sigh.
posted by Abiezer at 9:07 AM on January 25, 2010

Coen Bros - start with Fargo.
posted by philip-random at 9:07 AM on January 25, 2010

Response by poster: What do you think about Eric Rohmer movies? Have you seen any?

I haven't seen any of them.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:07 AM on January 25, 2010

Response by poster: Coen Bros - start with Fargo.

This is a great suggestion, and I actually should have added Fargo to my "saw it and liked it a lot" list. It just slipped my mind. I need to watch some more Coen Bros movies.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:09 AM on January 25, 2010

You'd probably like Alex Cox's Repo Man.

And, oddly enough, maybe Joe Versus the Volcano?
posted by chavenet at 9:09 AM on January 25, 2010

You might try Takashi Miike's The Happiness of the Katakuris. It's a deeply odd family movie involving musical numbers, zombies and claymation scenes. It's also very funny and quite sweet. Actually, a lot of Miike's output fits the 'uncategorizable' tag, but Happiness is the one you can watch in mixed company.
posted by permafrost at 9:13 AM on January 25, 2010

What do you think about Eric Rohmer movies? Have you seen any?

I haven't seen any of them.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:07 PM

I ask because your tastes in film seem to overlap with mine. I tend toward more thoughtful movies and often this means traditionally European movies over American movies - that being an overly broad generalization of course.

Rohmer movies are people driven. People talking earnestly about their lives. The plot is almost non-existent. Some characters move forward in their development but others stay where they have always been. I'd recommend his recent Tales of Four Seasons movies as a good starting point. Or Claire's knee which is actually one of his most popular films but still very much a Rohmer film.
posted by vacapinta at 9:16 AM on January 25, 2010

Also, Jonathan Demme's Something Wild.
posted by chavenet at 9:16 AM on January 25, 2010

It's hard for me to figure out your tastes, but I am compelled to mention Big Night.
posted by fluffycreature at 9:18 AM on January 25, 2010

Adaptation for sure

I haven't seen many of the movies on your lists, so take this with a grain of salt, but it seems like the "Don't Like" column is has a lot of movies that could be described as either pretentious or excessively sentimental/cute/sweet, whereas the "Like" column, less so, and tends to have movies with a darker sensibility.
posted by phoenixy at 9:21 AM on January 25, 2010

Welcome to the Doll House
Death to Smoochy
Being There (peter sellers movie)

One type of genre you may like is "black comedies".
posted by WeekendJen at 9:25 AM on January 25, 2010

Without naming any names (who wants an argument?), there's any number of films getting mentioned here that I take issue with being called great or even good. But what I don't take issue with is that pretty much every title here was undertaken with a seriousness of purpose that went beyond just making as much money as possible.

That is, you like films made with artistic intention. Some call them Art Films but I don't like that term as it ends up being just another genre.

Anyway, I envy you having so many great titles to look forward to that you haven't already seen, and would add to that a few that quickly come to mind:

- "If" and "O Lucky Man" (both directed by Lindsey Anderson)
- "Withnail + I" (directed by Bruce Robinson)
- "Videodrome" (David Cronenburgh)
- "Velvet Goldmine" and "I'm Not There" (Todd Haynes)

Also, though I couldn't agree more with your dismissal of "Life is Beautiful" and would choose NOT to die on a hill defending four of the other five titles in your "definitely disliked" list, I think you're throwing out the baby with the bathwater with "Lost in Translation". Maybe replace it with "Amelie".
posted by philip-random at 9:26 AM on January 25, 2010

posted by slide at 9:28 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

cemetary man
posted by rmd1023 at 9:31 AM on January 25, 2010

It might be too out-there, but you could try Schizopolis, an absurdist early Soderbergh movie.
posted by hilaritas at 9:32 AM on January 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

Welcome to the Doll House

Oh yeah, this one for sure if you liked Happiness. Both are directed by Todd Solondz and have a very similar sensibility. I wasn't a big fan of Palindromes, which he directed as well. Apparently there's a sequel to Happiness coming out, entitled Life During Wartime.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:39 AM on January 25, 2010

The Limey is great. It was directed by Steven Soderburg, who's done a wide variety of films beyond his more famous titles (such as Ocean's Eleven) and has an interesting sensibility that you might enjoy.
Jim Jarmusch is definitely a director to check out, although I feel a bit uncertain as to whether he'd fall into your your like or dislike category. I've seen about half of his films, and I've had mixed reactions to them (some I really loved, others not so much, Dead Man I recognized as good but really didn't enjoy).
posted by carmen at 9:42 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
3 Kings
The Apartment
Bottle Rocket
Igby Goes Down
12 Monkeys
Before Sunrise/Before Sunset

Also nthing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, my favorite film.
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:45 AM on January 25, 2010

You might enjoy the work of Hal Hartley. People either love him or hate him, but his films have a kind if thoughtful, non-linear ambiance thy you seem to like. Start with "Trust."

You might also like David Mamet's work. Try "House of Games," "Glengarry Glen Ross,," or "The Spanish Prisoner."

Also, two really weird films: "Bliss," and "Track 29."
posted by googly at 9:47 AM on January 25, 2010

RE: Jim Jarmusch ...

Dead Man's my favorite film of his, whereas Ghost Dog, Blue in the Face, Night On Earth all represent chunks of my life I wish I'd committed to something else. Not looking to argue. Just pointing out that, when it comes to "serious cinema" sometimes you've just gotta see the darned movies, form your own opinion, drink coffee and talk about them.
posted by philip-random at 9:48 AM on January 25, 2010

Hard question, since the movies you hate are in my world very similar to the movies you like!

My number one pick for you is Metropolitan, both because it's my very favorite movie and because it's one of the true classics in the "people talk a lot, it's funny, plot is treated very loosely, it's kind of deep without giving the sense that it aspires to depth" genre that includes My Dinner with Andre and Slacker. If you like it, Stillman's other two movies are nearly as good.

Since you liked After Hours, and Something Wild has already been recommended, you might as well complete the great '80s "straight man lost in the night" trilogy and see Into the Night.

The recommendation for Repo Man is 100% correct.
posted by escabeche at 9:55 AM on January 25, 2010

Definitely Coen Brothers - Barton Fink & The Man Who Wasn't There seem like they'd fit in pretty nicely along with other suggestions.

Also, maybe Glengarry Glen Ross, Six Degrees of Separation, and The Limey.
posted by usonian at 9:58 AM on January 25, 2010

The Big Lebowski
True Romance
Groundhog Day
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zizzou
Mulholland Drive

A couple of your favorites (Truman Show, Being Malkovitch) and others' recommendations (Eternal Sunshine) fall into the mindfuck genre, which it looks like you might like.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:07 AM on January 25, 2010

Chungking Express immediately suggested itself to me as well.

Have you seen The Big Lebowski?

Another film that somehow leapt to mind: the Korean Barking Dogs Never Bite. Described as a "dark comedy," I think the movie has a loose structure and associative style that might appeal to you.

My loose theory of the movies you disliked is that they are too proud of their putative accomplishments. They think they are cute and they act like it (Amelie), they are convinced that they have something deep to say (American Beauty, Waking Life), etc. This explains why some of the movies you most disliked were near-misses that superficially should have appealed to you, like Lost in Translation. The movies you disliked are failed attempts at producing the movies you liked. Unfortunately, this probably means there's no genre or type you can avoid to get out of seeing movies you won't like.
posted by grobstein at 10:14 AM on January 25, 2010

Seconding Videodrome.

I seem to have similar taste (given your lists) and really like Robert Altman, especially Nashville and The Long Goodbye.

Sayles films might have something to offer you. There was recently a post on the blue about him with lots of good movie suggestions in the comments. His earlier stuff might appeal to you more.
posted by k8lin at 10:35 AM on January 25, 2010

I think I can see what your going for on your list because I also dislike some of the same movies, possibly because they have a certain smugness about them. (Not trying to start an argument, just my opinion.) I like a movie that doesn't take itself too seriously yah know?

Here are some movies that come to mind that you might enjoy:

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The Lady Eve
The Last Picture Show

Amores Perros
Blue Velvet
The Crying Game
Glengarry Glen Ross
The King of Comedy
Let The Right Ones In
The Professional
Sex, Lies, and Videotape

Also I noticed you listed a few documentaries. Here are few similar to American Movie and Crumb you might like:

Anvil: The Story of Anvil
The Real Dirt on Farmer John
Capturing the Friedmans
Jesus Camp
Cane Toads: An Unnatural History
Sherman's March
posted by meta87 at 10:36 AM on January 25, 2010

Paper Moon
posted by jjray at 10:37 AM on January 25, 2010

'Brazil' from Terry Gilliam is a dark comedy/drama that might appeal to you. Definitely idiosyncratic.

'Big Fish' was unusual and a different movie than I had expected from Tim Burton.

Seconding 'Withnail and I'; it has the kind of open-ended plot that you seem to be going for.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 10:42 AM on January 25, 2010

In the Bathtub of the World
Tripping with Caveh
Waking Life (a must see especially if you liked Slacker)
posted by jayder at 10:45 AM on January 25, 2010

Oh, sorry, I just noticed you didn't like Waking Life. Sorry.
posted by jayder at 10:47 AM on January 25, 2010

Since you mentioned Royal Tennenbaums, and also some French or foreign movies, how about "A Christmas Tale (Un Conte de Noel)." First time I watched it I didn't get it. Watched it again a year later and enjoyed it much more - there's a lot of odd humor that's so subtle it's hard to tell if it's supposed to be funny or tragic. It's a gathering of a seriously dysfunctional family with tons of buried demons that get variously explored, though never really cured or released. Many folks have noted similarities to "Tennenbaums."

And yes oh yes to escabeche's mention of Metropolitan. I adore that film. Stillman's other two films, "Barcelona" and "Last Days of Disco" slightly less so, but still the guy had such a distinctive "voice" in his writing and directing.
posted by dnash at 10:56 AM on January 25, 2010

Our tastes match a lot. I'm going to second Fargo and House of Games, and add Being There and A Fish Called Wanda. Also Mike Leigh's Life is Sweet (which I really wish would come out on region 2 dvd!)
posted by applemeat at 10:57 AM on January 25, 2010

Forgot a couple of quirky Canadian films: Bruce McDonald's Highway 61 and Roadkill.

If a mockumentary about a punk band on a desperation reunion tour sounds good, check out his '96 film Hard Core Logo; it's a trip. A bit darker than your typical mockumentary.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 11:06 AM on January 25, 2010

2nd Paper Moon
Y Tu Mama Tambien (this might verge on pretentious for you because of some of the cut scenes, but really I find this movie quite good)
Where the Buffalo Roam (Bill Murray as Hunter S Thompson)
A Scanner Darkly (drugs, painted over film animation style, quirky people, the fear...)
posted by WeekendJen at 11:06 AM on January 25, 2010

Agreed with the others that you may be a fan of Jim Jarmusch's movies, though I'm in no position to recommend any more than half-heartedly.

That said, I'd recommend you try Down by law first, then Dead Man.

You might not think you'd want to watch Ghost dog (hip-hop samurai?) but I think it merits checking out.

Others in no order whatsoever:

Billy Liar: Black and white, whimsical.
Gattaca: Not an action movie, nor a guy movie.
Shock Corridor: A bit rollicking at times, but I think it might fit in. Sam Fuller.
The lives of others: Not very meandering, but I think you may enjoy it.
Kontroll: Darker than most you watch.
A Perfect World: Somewhat mainstream, but not Oscar-bait, even with Kevin Costner + Clint Eastwood involved.
The Jacket: see above, but with Keira Knightley and Adrien Brody
Paper moon: I bet you'd like Bogdanovich, at least, the person if not his body of work.
Following: Possibly the only Christopher Nolan movie I'd mention in this company.
The Cooler: A good turn by William H. Macy.

I think we'd have some fun comparing reading lists, too. I'd recommend reading Being there before watching it.
posted by codger at 11:10 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I liked Paul Thomas Anderson's first movie, Hard Eight, a lot. You might like Bresson's Diary of a Country Priest. Swedish movie Farväl Falkenberg is great. Definitely Y tu mamá también. Tarkovsky — I've only seen Solaris and Stalker, both seem like movies you'd like.
posted by mbrock at 11:23 AM on January 25, 2010

The Swedish film Songs From the Second Floor. (The closest thing to it on your list would be Malkovitch, in that they're both kind of tragicomedies where the comedy is absurdist.)
posted by Beardman at 12:15 PM on January 25, 2010

posted by I-baLL at 1:43 PM on January 25, 2010

I would also like to know what exactly you didn't like about those other films, as there's a lot of overlap. I don't know that "self-awareness" or the things grobstein detailed are really the issue (because specifically Wes Anderson movies are very aware of themselves, and I'd argue that Kubrick is maybe the most self-aware director that ever lived -- keeping in mind that I really love their work).

Something I find has worked for me is watching everything a specific director has made, in order.

Also, if you use Netflix, ranking as many films as possible really does help narrow down recommendations within their system, and they've recently introduced a thing that says "based on your interest in cerebral dark foreign thrillers" -- and the categories get really specific and detailed. I've rated 795 films (!) and now Netflix almost always knows exactly how much or little I'll enjoy any given recommendation. It's spooky!
posted by lhall at 1:44 PM on January 25, 2010

Fight Club
posted by philip-random at 2:18 PM on January 25, 2010

Honestly I think it's your job to figure out the idiosyncrasies of your own taste, and in order to do this, you should just watch a lot more movies, without worrying too much beforehand about how you'll evaluate it afterward. Because there's so much out there! It's impossible to know for sure whether you like something until you've seen it, and even if you dislike a film, five years later you might watch it again and change your mind completely.

Maybe Hal Hartley (not a favorite of mine but he has a style), Jim Jarmusch, Robert Altman, Jonathan Demme? "A Christmas Tale" is Arnaud Desplechin and he's a very good director of actors, I like his films. I've heard good things about "Eternal Sunshine" from people whose judgment I generally trust. Go back and watch some classics maybe.. Renoir "Rules of the Game," Kurosawa "Rashomon" just came to mind off the top of my head.. I remember watching Godard "Two or Three Things I Know About Her" a long time ago, and being completely confused since it overturned so many basic (unconscious) assumptions I had about what films were supposed to do.
posted by citron at 2:32 PM on January 25, 2010

I really liked Brick.
posted by Chris4d at 2:42 PM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Honestly I think it's your job to figure out the idiosyncrasies of your own taste, and in order to do this, you should just watch a lot more movies, without worrying too much beforehand about how you'll evaluate it afterward.

Of course, I agree with you. This is why I was mainly asking for suggestions for movies I might like rather than asking people to analyze exactly why I like the movies I do, as if people could give me some kind of algorithm that would invariably lead me to movies I'd love. I'm sure if I watch every movie recommended here (which I certainly hope to!), I'll like a bunch of them but be disappointed with some others. But I'm very glad I asked this question, not because it's somehow insured me against ever being disappointed by a movie, but because it's drawn my attention to movies that I should watch that I would have otherwise overlooked.
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:17 PM on January 25, 2010

Man Bites Dog
posted by sarahj at 3:26 PM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm obligated to echo Schizopolis. If you don't like this movie it's your own fault and you should watch it until you do.
posted by cmoj at 3:51 PM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, sure, I hear you. I just read your lists and could find no real pattern to likes/dislikes. I also find it's interesting to think about why I hate something I really hate - sometimes years later I rewatch and it turns out to have just struck a nerve, on a personal level, but is still good cinema.

American Beauty was just painfully bad and Amelie I disliked strongly (imho! it's all subjective of course!), and one common thread I might find there is, they are the kind of movies that some people adore and see as profoundly touching, and then if you happen to say you don't like that film, they look at you like you've just shot their dog or something. Life Is Beautiful is probably one of those so I'm avoiding it. If you can kind of feel the gears turning as the director tries to play on your emotions, I think that's bad, and maybe that's one of your dislikes too? I don't think Sophia Coppola is that kind of director but I haven't seen Lost in Translation yet.
posted by citron at 4:19 PM on January 25, 2010

It seems like you are into 'quirky.'
Best in Show is a delight. A pseudo documentary about show dogs and their owners.

Napoleon Dynamite might fit. My kids loved it, I hated it. Your mileage might fit somewhere in between.

The Dinner Game (French) A comedy about a group of snobs who invite a fool to dinner every week, to see who can bring the stupidest guest. But our hero and his guest never make it to the dinner.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:37 PM on January 25, 2010

You might like Hayao Miyazaki movies, like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. They're ostensibly 'for kids,' but I love them.

Also, somebody above suggested Oldboy... well, I loved it, and it fits most of your criteria, but if you're not looking for something SUPER VIOLENT, stay away!
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:42 PM on January 25, 2010

Oh, yes, and you might really like Christopher Guest movies- This is Spinal Tap, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, etc.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:44 PM on January 25, 2010

Man on a Train. French film. Essentially 2 characters - and a couple of bit parts at the end. Very atmospheric, with very cool American West western and a wild west feel, but quiet, very quiet, set in a small French village. About the lives we chose, and the lives that chose us. Watched it twice in the same evening. ( I did with the oft suggested Spotless Mind, come to think of it!)
posted by sparrowdance at 6:35 PM on January 25, 2010

I like a lot of the movies on your list -- well, on your other list, too, but I see where you're going with that. I do have an ability to like or dislike certain things about a film without it trumping my overall opinion, which helps with quirkier fare. I'll throw out some of my favorites in the hope that you'll like them too:

The Sweet Hereafter (amazing performances by Ian Holm and Sarah Polley)
The only other Egoyan film I've yet seen is Exotica and I didn't like it as much

Heavenly Creatures (stunning, made me certain that Jackson could handle LotR, particularly his pitch-perfect use of SFX fantasy sequences -- not to mention telling accents)

Paper Moon is great, but for me it's The Last Picture Show (oh, and of course, What's Up Doc?)
straying into mainstream territory with those

Secrets & Lies (Brenda Blethyn especially, but this film is about people operating at the edge of their life experience)

I loves me some Laura Linney, especially You Can Count on Me and The Savages -- and you'd probably love Tales of the City, too.

Fargo is a classic American film, but my favorite Coen Brothers film is Miller's Crossing
What's the rumpus?


Lone Star
posted by dhartung at 10:25 PM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

American Splendor and (more of a longshot) Mysterious Skin
posted by MadamM at 11:15 PM on January 25, 2010

posted by exceptinsects at 11:20 PM on January 25, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you so much to everyone who answered. I'm not going to mark best answers since it'll be a long time before I finish watching all these.

Now that the question is off the front page I'm assuming we're done with the answers, so I'll give some random responses on the off-chance that anyone is interested.

Inevitably, a few of the movies that were suggested are ones I've seen. The vast majority, though, are ones I haven't. Just to name a few that stand out, I'm especially looking forward to seeing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Welcome to the Doll House, Adaptation, The Limey, Rushmore, Before Sunrise, Repo Man, Something Wild, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zizzou, Brazil, Mulholland Drive, Barton Fink, Sex Lies and Videotape, Paper Moon, and Claire's Knee. This is nothing against the other recommendations, but I have to start somewhere.

Dhartung, thank you for mentioning the wonderful movie Heavenly Creatures -- I should have put it in my positive list.

Qxntpqbbbqxl, I have seen Groundhog Day several times and agree it's a good fit. I almost mentioned it, but I figured it's such a beloved modern-day classic that it sort of goes without saying.

I haven't seen The Big Lebowski. I want to see it just for its pop-culture status even aside from whether it suits my peculiar tastes.

I've seen As Good As It Gets and have mixed feelings about it. I refrained from mentioning it because I wasn't sure if it belonged on the positive or negative list. I will say, however, in case anyone reading this has an interest in seeing it, that the DVD has the single best movie commentary track I've ever heard. It's actually more entertaining than the movie itself.

A couple people recommended the fairly obscure 1990 movie Metropolitan. Would you believe that I saw this for the first a few weeks ago?! I've been surprised at how divisive this movie is. It's gotten glowing reviews by critics and internet commenters (you can Google some thoughtful, positive essays by Roger Ebert and Luc Sante), and I don't deny its appeal. Personally, I found the acting so bad that I can't say I liked the movie. I found the whole thing charmingly, fascinatingly mediocre in a rare way that actually makes me want to watch it again.

A few people recommended Jim Jarmusch, so I should definitely try out another one of his movies. I was disappointed by his Coffee & Cigarettes (which I should have put in my negative list), but it definitely fits the Slacker mold.

In response to meta87, who noted that I included a couple documentaries -- I appreciate the suggestions for documentaries. I didn't want to include too many in my list because I wanted to keep the focus on fiction, but I'm happy to have the recommendations. Of your list, I've only seen Capturing the Friedmans -- a great, great documentary that I saw three times just in the theatre.

I appreciate the responses to my "bonus" request for a unifying theory of my taste. My favorite point is grobstein's -- that the movies I didn't like so much "are too proud of their putative accomplishments." This is a pretty accurate description of my disappointment with (for instance) Amelie, Lost in Translation, Away We Go, and Magnolia -- the kinds of movies that make critics want to call them "artistic triumphs." However, I can't help wondering if someone who dislikes all my favorite movies would say the same thing about them.

This whole thing has felt shamelessly self-indulgent, but I look forward to hours and hours of quirky entertainment thanks to all of you.

posted by Jaltcoh at 7:17 AM on January 26, 2010

Gross Point Blank.

Lower your expectations for Lebowski. It's really slow paced, and really long.

Mizayaki did a movie called Nausicaa; it's one piece of anime I think everyone should probably see at some point. Love love love it.

Possibly, out on a thin limb here, see the movie Crank, and have no expectations of it being any good. It's 82 minutes, and defines what an action movie is, for better and worse. If you can laugh at a bad movie that was meant to be laughed at by you, it's your film.
posted by talldean at 7:59 PM on February 8, 2010

i'd say you like 'perfect' movies, each element integral, balanced. the acting, story, music, emotion, cinematography, pacing, all working together. lost in translation is out of balance, as is waking life. ghost world, being john malkovich, run lola run, each is a unique timepiece that motors on at its own perfect pace.

i disagree about amelie, though......i think that is perfection.

in any case, for your consideration: tampopo, bagdad cafe, arsenic and old lace, harold and maude, charade and the in-laws (serpentine!)

runners up: mary and max, night on earth, la cite des enfant perdus, ghost in the shell 2
posted by kimyo at 11:41 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I missed this question when it first rolled around and I'm too lazy to read responses so there will inevtably be some Nthing:

Miller's Crossing and Blood Simple (the Coen Bros best two movies)
Anything by the Dardenne brothers (Rosetta, L'enfant, The Promise)
Down By Law
Stranger than Paradise
Monsieur Hire
The Hairdresser's Husband
Girl on the Bridge (Leconte)
The Long Goodbye, the Player, and 3 Women (Altman's 3 best)
Vampire's Kiss (same writer as After Hours)
Laws of Gravity
The Limey (great commentaries)
Who's that Knockin' on my Door (Scorsese's first feature)
American Boy (Scorsese's best documentary)
Shoot the Pianist
Two Lane Blacktop
Carnal Knowledge
Five Easy Pieces
The Shootist
The Princess and the Warrior (same director as Run Lola Run)
Le Circle Rouge
Hard Eight
The Lookout
Out of Sight
Homicide (Mamet's best, though I love Spartan and Red Belt as well)
No Way to Treat a Lady
Save the Tiger
The Hospital
Last of the Red Hot Lovers
George Washington
Modern Romance, Real Life, and Lost in America (all Albert Brooks)
The Knack and How to get It
Mulholland Drive (Lynch's best by far, imo)
Little Murders
California Split
Kicking and Screaming, Mister Jealousy, and Squid & the Whale (all Noah Baumbach)
Spanking the Monkey (David O. Russell's first flick)
They All Laughed
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Point Blank
Sexy Best
44-Inch Chest (same writer as Sexy Beast)
Birth (same director as Sexy Beast)
and I prefer the Adrian Lyne version of Lolita over the Kubrick.
posted by dobbs at 2:08 PM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

I can't believe I forgot the wonderful Things to Do In Denver When You're Dead.
posted by dobbs at 2:14 PM on July 14, 2010

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