No American Pie, thanks.
February 10, 2011 3:57 PM   Subscribe

Help me find some movies to watch... I'm beginning to think I don't like watching them. List of requirements inside...

Let's get on with it.

Here's my list of 'requirements.'
(I have of, course, enjoyed movies that don't fit my requirements, so if you think I would like a film/show, feel free to recommend.)

time frame: 1940's-present
enjoy films based on actual events - I also enjoy documentaries on individuals
I prefer the acting cast to be "realistic" looking people

don't usually enjoy:
slapstick comedy
most political films/documentaries
horrible acting
teen movies
most movies for children
most romantic comedies
films about drug addiction.
subtitles (I fall asleep)
don't care for super predictability
giant plot holes

I guess I like drama?

My friends say I enjoy movies that don't have a real plot.

I also really prefer films where someone overcomes obstacles in life. Sort of like The Pursuit of Happyness (which I thought was kind of disappointing).

Movies that I like:

Ray, Crazy Heart, That Evening Sun, the Road, Eyes on the Prize, There Will Be Blood , Dead Man Walking, Total Eclipse, Schindler's List, After Innocence , Best in Show, the Science of Sleep, Welcome to the Dollhouse, As Good As It Gets, Eternal Sunshine..., One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, Green Mile, A Beautiful Mind, Monster, Slingblade, Lars and the Real Girl, Defiance, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Groundhog Day, Black Snake Moan, Shawshank Redemption, Punch-drunk Love, Dancer in the Dark, Trailer Park Boys, Roseanne, Eastbound & Down
posted by KogeLiz to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
For some reason, two older movies just leaped into my head, based on your mention of "Defiance," "actual events" and "realistic" looking people."

The Bridge on the River Kwai

(note that both of those are indeed fiction, but the framing devices are real)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:02 PM on February 10, 2011

The Usual Suspects.

Can I ask, what did you like about 'Black Snake Moan'? That is quite an oddity in your list of likes.
posted by AlliKat75 at 4:04 PM on February 10, 2011

I recommend you sign up for the one-month trial of Netflix, give 5 stars to the movies you like, and give low ratings to a bunch of stuff you know you don't like.

I also think you might enjoy some dubbed foreign films, and Life is Beautiful.
posted by SMPA at 4:04 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Rachel Getting Married (although there is an element of drug addiction, I think it fits your criteria well otherwise.)
posted by wuzandfuzz at 4:06 PM on February 10, 2011

Sorry if some of these are obvious, pulled from my fav movies list, but none of themare ruled out 'out of hand' by your dislikes you mentioned.

Valley of Elah
Cold Souls
Spirited Away (you can buy english version)
The Pianist
No Country For Old Men
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Slumdog Millionaire
Full Metal Jacket
The Silence of the Lambs

old movies:
To kill a Mockingbird
The Third Man
Rear Window
Citizen Kane
posted by uni verse at 4:07 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Random suggestion: Up in the Air
posted by Salvor Hardin at 4:09 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you really like (good) movies with no plot, try "Lost in Translation". Didn't care for Up in the Air myself, but it seem to fit the lack of plot category.
posted by uni verse at 4:12 PM on February 10, 2011

I'd say Lost in Translation. Kind of funny, kind of sad, kind of aimless (in a good way).

Also: The Truman Show. Despite starring Jim Carrey, it was a lot more introspective and soulful than you'd expect.

And if you liked Best In Show, you'll almost definitely like A Mighty Wind.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:12 PM on February 10, 2011

The Netflix suggestion is a good one. In the meantime, you may want to check out:

Michael Clayton
A Few Good Men
Stranger Than Fiction
Forrest Gump
Without Limits
Charlie Wilson's War
Catch Me If You Can
posted by roomwithaview at 4:18 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have similar tastes in film. A great place to start would be the early films of Sidney Lumet. I'd recommend:
12 Angry Men
The Fugitive Kind
The Pawnbroker
The Hill
Dog Day Afternoon (a personal fav)
The Verdict

Other random films off the top of me head:
In America
Blow Up (Antonioni's only English film)
posted by perhapses at 4:22 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think you'd like the documentary CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS. Based on your movies, maybe BREAKING THE WAVES and MARGOT AT THE WEDDING. One thing you might try as you search for things to watch is to take the list of movies, and then watch other films by the same directors. The "bigger" the movie the less likely that is to work (i.e. loving A BEAUTIFUL MIND doesn't mean you'll dig all of Ron Howard's films) but for most of your list it'd be a good strategy. Plus, as you begin to compare films by the same directors, you'll be better able to think through and articulate what it is you like, and you'll be able to solicit better recommendations!
posted by moxiedoll at 4:25 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster:
Can I ask, what did you like about 'Black Snake Moan'? That is quite an oddity in your list of likes.

I like Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci. I also liked it because it was about someone with a severe issue that others try to help her with. And it's not like a lot of other movies. I loved the soundtrack, too. And the acting - I thought was pretty decent.

Lost in Translation
Watched about 20 minutes and turned it off. I don't know. I love Bill Murray... but it was really a snoozefest for me.

Thanks for the recommendations so far. I'll be checking out the titles tonight!
posted by KogeLiz at 4:25 PM on February 10, 2011

You know what else? You'd probably wouldn't go wrong to just watch everything Julianne Moore's ever done.
posted by moxiedoll at 4:29 PM on February 10, 2011

George Washington
Rushmore (maybe)
Five Easy Pieces
The Conversation
posted by perhapses at 4:32 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Capturing the Friedmans is a really compelling watch. I second that.

Not a movie, but Band of Brothers. Do it.
posted by therewolf at 4:57 PM on February 10, 2011

Hmm, I had a bunch of suggestions but they've all been posted already except for 500 Days of Summer, which I suspect you might really enjoy.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 5:10 PM on February 10, 2011

Away We Go seems to fit your criteria.
posted by hootenatty at 5:25 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've had people tell me too that I like films with no plot (caveat: I also like films with strong plots, Winter's Bone is a recent example, though that one might be a movie you'd like).

Here's a list of movies that no one likes but me all right-thinking people love:

Wonderland (the Michael Winterbottom film, not the Val Kilmer film)
Dazed and Confused
The Fountain
Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?
A Midnight Clear
Andrey Ryublov
posted by Kattullus at 5:31 PM on February 10, 2011

You Can Count On Me
posted by backwards guitar at 5:55 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Blood on the Flat track: the rise of the Rat City Rollergirls
Garden State
Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control
Stephen Fry in America

You might enjoy This American Life -- it's a radio show, now (or recently) also a tv show . (The tv show does appear to be remakes of radio episodes, so if you've listened you may not enjoy it.)

Do you like pointless tv shows like Doctor Who or The Middleman? Or is that too comedy?
posted by Margalo Epps at 6:05 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Flying Scotsman, which is the story of Graeme Obree
Memento, which has a plot, but is non-linear
Gregory's Girl, for a kind of Groundhog Day alternative to romcom (though the humour may be a little parochial).
Films I found to be a bit directionless, but interesting nonetheless:
A Serious Man
The Darjeeling Limited
The Royal Tenenbaums
posted by Jakey at 6:07 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: To Have and Have Not. Bogey falls in love (IRL and on screen) with the 19 year old Lauren Bacall, in her first picture. The movie Casablanca might have been, and with Hoagy Carmichael himself as the piano player. Script by Ernest Hemingway himself!

Ball of Fire. Barbara Stanwyck in a Howard Hawks production, with Gary Cooper and drummer Gene Krupa. Worth it's weight in gold for the period slang, and for the number Stanwyck does with famed drummer Gene Krupa, Drum Boogie, where Stanwyck sings and dances with Krupa's band, and then, they pull it all down, in a nightclub setting, to a whisper quiet, with Stanwyck finger snapping rhthym and whispering lyrics, while Krupa does his "drum" solo, again, on the side of a small box of matches, using the matches as "drumsticks!" Fun, and at times, show biz incredible. Nominated for 4 Oscars in 1941.

Can't Help Singing Once a bigger box office draw than Shirley Temple, singing/acting sensation Deanna Durbin only made 1 Technicolor film, and this is it. Score by Jerome Kern. Nominated in 1944 for 2 Oscars.

The Fabulous Baker Boys starring Jeff and Beau Bridges as lounge piano playing brothers, and Michelle Pfeiffer as a singer who joins them, to turn their fortunes around. Pfeiffer does all her own singing, as well as a memorable dance number, on top of a piano, as she sings "Makin' Whoopee." Nominated for 4 Oscars in 1989.

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter was Carson McCruller's own screenplay (with Thomas Ryan) for her best selling 1940 first novel. I've long been an Alan Arkin fan, not the least because of his signature depiction of deaf-mute John Singer, in the leading role of this intriguing 1968 film. Imagine any Hollywood "A" list actor of today taking a lead part in a film, without a single speaking word in the part! Nominated for 2 Oscars.

Beyond the Sea is a 2004 labor of love by producer, director and leading man Kevin Spacey, for his idol, 1950s pop singer Bobby Darin, that only did $8 million in original theatrical release. But it features a very interesting performance by Spacey as crooner Darin, in which Spacey does all his own singing and dancing. Also, an innovative dramatic treatment of some issues in Darin's life are unfolded, by means of some unique on screen conversations between the adult Darin (played by Spacey) and his boyhood self, Little Bobby, played by William Ullrich.

Glengarry, Glen Ross If you like drama, David Mamet should be on your radar, and the movie cast of Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Jack Lemmon and Alec Baldwin deliver in spades. Some have criticized the film for even being over acted, but I think that, given the script, and the underlying themes, it's no more overacted than the Godfather series.
posted by paulsc at 6:12 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend just about anything by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Hard Eight).

Also I think you would really like Robert Altman films. Gosford Park is a favorite of mine.

You might enjoy Fight Club. It's not as action-y as it may seem from the trailers.

If you like Samuel L. Jackson, you might look into the Quentin Tarantino films Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and Reservoir Dogs. Those 3 are his best, listed in order by my personal preference.

More later. My toddler just took a nosedive off the ottoman!
posted by wwartorff at 6:30 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by heyho at 7:30 PM on February 10, 2011

realistic looking people & drama... the first thing that pops into my head is you might like some excellent British mysteries ---- there are some that are pretty bad, but there are some that are absolutely wonderful, star excellent actors as protagonists and bit character actors, and have interesting plots. Inspector Morse with John Thaw is a good one, there's grittier drama with Prime Suspect (Helen Mirren), Foyle's War is about homeland WWII Britain. I would start out with Inspector Morse and see what you think.

and as for films, I wonder what you'd think of director Mike Leigh's movies. Ebert has a bunch of reviews of them. here's his filmography:
posted by Geameade at 9:18 PM on February 10, 2011

Best answer: I, too, suspect you'd really like Mike Leigh films. My favorite is Secrets & Lies; I have yet to see Naked.

In addition to Julianne Moore, check out Laura Linney's stuff, such as The Savages and the aforementioned You Can Count on Me. Also, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Parker Posey. (Overlaps here with directors Paul Thomas Anderson, the Coen Brothers, and Christopher Guest.) Try the films of Atom Egoyan while you're at it: my favorite is The Sweet Hereafter.

I enjoy movies that don't have a real plot.

Another way to say this would be that you enjoy organic narratives based in character. You seem to dislike the typical Hollywood film; that's fine, even the best ones can be formulaic.

At the far end from Hollywood formula is filmmaking by indie directors such as Jim Jarmusch; his masterpiece is Stranger than Paradise, but then if you didn't like Lost in Translation this may not be your cup of tea. There are long stretches where nothing obvious seems to happen, but that's sort of the point. Then there's Hal Hartley.
posted by dhartung at 9:56 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

The King's Speech? (overcoming fear of public speaking)
posted by leigh1 at 9:57 PM on February 10, 2011

Documentary: I've enjoyed Unmistaken Child (Tibetan monk + cute kid)
posted by leigh1 at 10:05 PM on February 10, 2011

Another documentary - Touching the Void.
posted by leigh1 at 10:09 PM on February 10, 2011

Best answer: I liked most everything on your list except for Trailer Park Boys...which one?

The list:

Burn After Reading
A Scanner Darkly
An Education
Bad Boy Bubby
Being John Malkovich
Waking Life
The Boat That Rocked
The Brothers Bloom
The Darjeeling Limited
Four Lions
The Kids Are Alright
Mary and Max
Millennium Actress (It's japanese, but it's dubbed)
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (it's romance that isn't romantic.)

and here's a link to Lifehacker's hive 5 movie recommendation services. I've had some luck with Jinni.
posted by Sallysings at 10:46 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Watched this on Netflix streaming the other night and thought it was really well done, if you don't mind French language movies/subtitles.
posted by metagnathous at 5:17 AM on February 11, 2011

I recently saw White Oleander and the Red Riding Trilogy. The Yorkshire accent's a bit thick in the latter, but I think given your criteria you'd enjoy all these films.
posted by tully_monster at 7:30 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

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