Obscure Movie Recommendations
December 17, 2003 11:46 AM   Subscribe

I'm a film junkie and am running out of things to watch. What's an obscure feature-length movie that's available on dvd or video that you can recommend to someone who's seen more movies than had warm meals?
posted by dobbs to Media & Arts (84 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not as well-versed in film as you seem to be, however I would certainly suggest you consider hopping on eBay or CraigsList and investing in a used laserdisc player if one comes up for cheap. The selection of comparatively obscure titles floating around out there is quite a bit better than what I find on DVD. Though Laserblast is now available on DVD, for quite a long time the only way to lay your hands on it was on LD.

Be forewarned, though, that LD is a completely dead format. There are no new releases, there never will be new releases. It's value lies in the fact that there are plenty of well-preserved (being an optical media not generally prone to degradation with use) movies floating around out there, released 10 to 15 years ago, that may never see the light of day again because of the complexities of distribution licensing.
posted by majick at 11:57 AM on December 17, 2003 [1 favorite]

The Mozart Brothers is hilarious and moving.

East Side Story, which is a very funny and very interesting documentary about the fate of musical comedies in the Soviet Union.

Well, you *said* obscure.
posted by jasper411 at 11:59 AM on December 17, 2003

posted by holloway at 12:01 PM on December 17, 2003

Sounds like stump the band...Mishima
posted by xiffix at 12:02 PM on December 17, 2003

Obscure movies.
Well, I have a friend who is an obscure movie junkie.
Every once in a while, he'll bring over a flick and we will watch it. Some of them are good, and some of them are too strange.

But I'll have to ask him in a e-mail what his advice is.

The last few we watched included some Japanese DvD about kung-fu soccer players. It was very entertaining. I think it is coming out to the big screen, and he said it was a very well-known film in those circles, so maybe you have seen it.

He also showed me some B-movie (closer to C-movie) that was supposed to be a horror but it was hilarious. I don't recall much about it other than there was this brain that was the villan and there was a diner. I'll ask him what that was.

If I send off an e-mail to my bud, is there any type in particular you are interested in? Comedy? Foreign? Weird?
posted by Seth at 12:03 PM on December 17, 2003

Hi Dobbs! If you haven't explored Australian movies, I suggest you start a campaign. You'll find some offbeat gems that feel refreshingly unlike Hollywood. And I'm not talking about Mad Max and Croc Dundee.
posted by scarabic at 12:08 PM on December 17, 2003

Here's what I do to feed my NetFlix addiction: keep tabs on the Video section at MetaCritic. I've found a bunch of interesting things by scrolling through the list on the right edge of the page.
posted by JollyWanker at 12:17 PM on December 17, 2003

Response by poster: On preview, perhaps the word "obscure" wasn't right. I don't mean hard to find or "justifiably obscure", but just something you maybe never heard of before renting it but is something you deem worth watching. I don't care which genre or country it's from. Only things I don't much care for are animation and movies with great effects but shitty scripts.

For those in a similar situation to me, I recommend Metal Skin, Funny Games, Lawless Heart, Code Unknown, Raising Victor Vargas, Maelstrom, Washington Heights, Stevie, Hombre, Laws of Gravity, Begotten, and Waking the Dead.

Majick. I've already done the LD thing and really miss the format. The commentaries on the criterion discs were superior to any of the commentaries I've heard on DVDs.

jasper and scarabic, yes those are exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for. xiffix and holloway, excellent also, but seen 'em. thanks!
posted by dobbs at 12:18 PM on December 17, 2003 [1 favorite]

dobbs, if you haven't checked them out, give GreenCine a try. They're an indie version of Netflix with a range of foreign and independent films I couldn't find at Netflix.
posted by mathowie at 12:21 PM on December 17, 2003

As a film junkie, you may have already seen these, but:
The work of Wong Kar-Wai (Chungking Express, Fallen Angels, In the Mood for Love, Ashes of Time, & more);
The work of Jacques Tati (Mr. Hulot's Holiday, Mon Oncle, Playtime);
Baraka and its kin Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi;
another recommendation for Microcosmos;
Kieslowski's Decalogue series;
anything by Errol Morris, especially Gates of Heaven;
anything by Buster Keaton, especially The General;
The Odd One Dies;

Those should hold you for a while...
posted by Vidiot at 12:22 PM on December 17, 2003 [2 favorites]

Or you could go through Roger Ebert's Great Movie List.
posted by Vidiot at 12:22 PM on December 17, 2003

Check out The Big Bus for an early attempt at disaster movie spoof. Stockard Channing and Joseph Bolonga, how can you go wrong?

The Bed-sitting room, Richard Lester's attempt at postapocalyptic comedy, with Dudley Moore.

Incubus, a William Shatner movie filmed entirely in Esperanto. Basically what you'd expect if a few Angelenos decided to do Ingmar Bergman at Big Sur.

Jaques Tati's Mon Oncle, which was the inspiration for the excellent Peter Sellers' movie, The Party (not in and of itself obscure, but definitely see it if you haven't)

On that note, I Love You, Alice B. Toklas, in which Peter Sellers becomes a hippie. See also The President's Analyst, not as obscure but very funny.

As for Japanese films, the holy grail, as far as I'm concerned, is the live action Lupin film made in the 70s. The title in English is "Strange Psychokinetic Strategy".
posted by condour75 at 12:23 PM on December 17, 2003

Response by poster: Vidiot, thanks for the Ebert link. Will check it out. Seen every one of the movies on your list (and own a bunch of 'em) except The Odd One dies and Bandwagon. Will hunt them down. Thanks Matt!
posted by dobbs at 12:25 PM on December 17, 2003

I'm not sure how obscure obscure is, but here are a few that are off the beaten Blockbuster's track:

Assault on Precinct 13
Bang the Drum Slowly
The Bitter Tea of General Yen
Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungles of Death
The Coca-Cola Kid
Crossover Dreams
The Dam Busters
Dominick and Eugene
The Field
Greaser's Palace
Hugo Pool
Kind Hearts and Coronets
The Lavender Hill Mob
The Music of Chance
The Ninth Configuration
Rancho Deluxe
The Slender Thread
Woman in the Dunes
posted by joaquim at 12:26 PM on December 17, 2003

Greaser's Palace is good.
posted by corpse at 12:26 PM on December 17, 2003 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure what you mean by "running out of movies," as you didn't make it clear what kind of film you were into. However, as a foreign film and documentary fanatic, may I suggest-
Film Movement - It's a nice way to get first-run small films and foreign flicks at your home when they are not available anywhere else.

Anyway, here are some titles, off the top of my head, that you might enjoy.

Shall We Dance?

Hands on a Hardbody

The 400 Blows

That Obscure Object of Desire

Lagaan: Once Upon A Time In India

Three Colors


All of these movies/documentaries are different in style, tone, etc.... try the links out and pick one that you might find of interest.
posted by bradth27 at 12:27 PM on December 17, 2003

Funny how my memory just sort of helps me out.

Checked on those two movies I mentioned.
Shaolin Soccer
Blood Diner

I thought both of them were good and funny. I'd recommend them for a laugh if you haven't already seen them.

I want to add a ditto to the Buster Keaton suggestion. The General is great, and I find him to be much more interesting and funny than Chaplin was.
posted by Seth at 12:31 PM on December 17, 2003

Before the Rain. Gorgeous movie, and how many Macedonian films does one ever get to see?
posted by contessa at 12:31 PM on December 17, 2003

Dead Heart is an Australian film which deals with the tension between modernity and a traditional Aboriginal lifestyle; Urga is a Russian film which deals with some of the same themes, and is set in Mongolia (absolutely stunning landscapes!). They go well together. I second the Australiana recommendation, by the way, it's a satisfying cinema to get into.

Both films are very special to me; Urga was one of the first films I was really able to get into and analyse, and Dead Heart was out when I moved to Australia. But both films have enough in common to make it worthwhile watching them in conjunction (especially if you've enjoyed films such as Rabbit Proof Fence and Whale Rider in the last couple of years!).
posted by plep at 12:34 PM on December 17, 2003

Response by poster: I'm not sure what you mean by "running out of movies,"

bradth27, on average, i've watched at least 1 movie every day since around 1989-90. i spent four years watching at film school and 5 years running a great video shop in Toronto called Art & Trash. i also see about 50 movies every year during the 10 days of the Toronto Film Fest. The only thing I hate about movies is the amount of time it takes me to find stuff I haven't seen. Hence the question. Thanks for the Film Movement link. Hadn't heard of it. Your recommendations are great, too, but seen 'em all.

on preview: excellent, folks! keep 'em coming. I've now bookmarked the page. :)

*ambles off to watch Morvern Callar*
posted by dobbs at 12:42 PM on December 17, 2003

May I suggest Happiness of the Katakuris. Directed by Takashi Miike, director of Q, Audition, and a couple of others, the movie is a Japanese dark comedy zombie horror musical. I found it at Blockbuster, even.
posted by Homeskillet Freshy Fresh at 12:50 PM on December 17, 2003

Love Serenade, an unforgettable Australian comedy

Hana-Bi ("Fireworks"), equally unforgettable Beat Takeshi film filled with exquisite tenderness and a guy getting killed with a pencil

Once Were Warriors, excellent Kiwi film about the Maori people and their struggles with modernity

Painted Babies, an insane documentary about the fierce rivalry between child beauty-pageant contestants and their mothers

More common films you've probably already seen but if you haven't you should: Trekkies, American Movie.

Another reccommendation that's not a movie but a british tv show from the 70's would be The Sandbaggers. It's available on DVD and is the best spy drama ever made bar none.
posted by vraxoin at 12:58 PM on December 17, 2003

Have you seen Tetsuo: The Iron Man? Weird.

And of course anything by The Brothers Quay.
posted by tr33hggr at 1:10 PM on December 17, 2003

From Oz: Smash Palace and Lantana, though perhaps the latter isn't obscure enough for this list.

From NZ: Stickmen
posted by billsaysthis at 1:16 PM on December 17, 2003

Write a script. Do that Tarantino thing.

"Tully" is good.
posted by mecran01 at 1:21 PM on December 17, 2003

I enjoyed Twin Falls Idaho but it may not be obscure enough. But, of course, Tetsuo the Iron Man was going to be my choice.... The list of movies I've seen since 1/01 is online here. The films from the linked Vermont Film Festivals are mostly worth watching and have some small capsule reviews. At some level the issue must be finding places to get movies you haven't seen yet since I'm sure you've already exhausted the local video spots, huh? If you want to come down for VTIFF in October of next year, look me up; we're only about 7-8 hours from Toronto and I'm always looking for someone to watch 40 movies in a weekend with.
posted by jessamyn at 1:55 PM on December 17, 2003

I'll chip in with L. I. E. and all 13 hours of I, Claudius.
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:33 PM on December 17, 2003

Greaser's Palace is good.

No, it's not. But it is so bad that it's entertaining. Good luck finding it, though.

Twin Falls, Idaho was a good one.

I (self link) have a website listing the movies that my boyfriend and I have seen here. Maybe you'll find something....
posted by amandaudoff at 2:34 PM on December 17, 2003

Being that you said you worked in a video store called Art & Trash, I'd guess you've seen most of these, but....

Sex & Zen
The Wicker Man
Witchfinder General
Naked Killer
Free Enterprise
A Matter Of Life And Death

Actually, you know what? Screw what you should watch. What should we watch?
posted by Katemonkey at 2:40 PM on December 17, 2003

The beautiful, quiet American film You Can Count on Me is a must see. I'd also recommend the just released to DVD Morvern Callar.
posted by btwillig at 2:41 PM on December 17, 2003

If you haven't, you muse see the gloriously strange, happy wonderful tender, Finnish folk-rock'n'roll masterpiece that is Leningrad Cowboys Go America.
posted by Marquis at 2:44 PM on December 17, 2003

+1 to Love Serenade. Pretty much lays down the template for the "quirky Australian" film. Also liked Children of the Revolution in that vein (oddball connection: Joe in that movie goes on to play the Duke in Moulin Rouge, in which the lead characters are known as the children of the revolution).

In the "quirky Canadian" vein, I really liked Decline of the American Empire and When Night is Falling.

Documentaries? I liked Genghis Blues, Deep Blues, 28+ (what are they up to now, 42+?), Step into Liquid.

In terms of strange-obscure, though, it's hard to beat:
Black Lizard (speaking of Mishima, he portrays a corpse in it)
How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman
Wax, or the Discovery of Television among the Bees

I've got a list of movies viewed as well, though this is pretty much restricted to theatrical viewings, for no good reason.
posted by adamrice at 2:51 PM on December 17, 2003

Oh yeah: Bubba Ho-Tep is a must see.
posted by adamrice at 2:51 PM on December 17, 2003

Oh, man, I've got a mile-long list of great movies that nobody's heard of, but my mind went blank as soon as I read the question.

Here's one: Remote Control
posted by oissubke at 2:58 PM on December 17, 2003

I'll second the 'Smash Palace' recommendation.

Also, Rain;
The Quiet Earth;
Mother Night.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:22 PM on December 17, 2003

Oooer, DVD Journal by happy coincidence has just put up their "must-have" list of discs that came out in 2003! Handy resource, that site.
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:32 PM on December 17, 2003

I am not really sure how obscure it is (nobody I know has ever heard of it until I mention it), but I recently re-visited an old favourite of mine - The Wall.
posted by dg at 4:01 PM on December 17, 2003

In the US, Restless Natives is pretty obscure. It's a neat little mid-80s Scottish film, often compared to Bill Forsyth films like Local Hero.

Unfortunately it's not available on DVD or VHS but you can find it on eBay. (Some guy has been selling what I am certain are pirate copies... which would be annoying if they weren't the only source for the movie right now. I don't know what their quality is. I managed to get a copy through a different source.) If anyone in Seattle wants to see it, it was in Scarecrow Video last I checked. It's darned obscure in the US, but apparently not that obscure in the UK.
posted by litlnemo at 5:49 PM on December 17, 2003

Response by poster: Katemonkey: Actually, you know what? Screw what you should watch. What should we watch?

Fair enough. Based on what people have recommended, I'd give these a go:

tr33huggr and jessamyn both mentioned Tetsuo so i'll point out there's a sequel. also, you might want to check out Tokyo Fist (same director) is equally weird and is also on video now. I'm not a fan of his films, myself, though I've seen these three.

corpse, I hated Greaser's Palace, but you might like Putney Swope (same director).

btwillig, good flix (just watched morvern today). My favorite quiet American film (actually, one of my top two films of all time) is Five Easy Pieces. See it if you haven't.

Sonny Jim, all good flicks, yes. Since you liked Mother Night, you may also dig Waking the Dead, which I mentioned above. Same director/adapter. Based on the book by the amazing Scott Spencer (whose Endless Love has never been filmed right).

Seth, I haven't seen those titles ('cept the Keaton), but recommend Battle Royale to you nonetheless.

Marquis, I hated Leningrad Cowboys (and its sequel) and have never really liked Kaurismaki movies. His last film was his best, though, and just came out on dvd/video.

adamrice, great list and thanks for the link to your site. will give it a read. I can't believe you've actually seen Wax, which I think is quite rare. Have you seen David Holzman's Diary? It's one of my very favorites (but don't read the description/box as it may ruin it for you). I have not even heard of Bubba Ho-tep. Will have to keep an eye out for it. (At first I thought you meant Bad Boy Bubby. Very fucked.)

mercran01, yeah, Tully was okay. Good acting. And yes, I am currently doing the script thing. Ha. To me, liking Tully means you'd like Breaking Away and Stevie, which I mentioned above. And, for some reason Big Bad Love comes to mind. They've all got the small town thing going on.

wolfdaddy, LIE was great, yes. Claudius didn't do it for me but I did try. LIE makes me think of Johns and Star Maps, which aren't as good but worth a watch for the acting.

jessamyn and amandaudoff ... Twin Falls Idaho (was good) ... you might want to note the director has a recent film (Norfolk) which is due on video soon. Those two brothers also recently starred in The Good Thief, which is well worth a watch (and is a loose remake of Bob le flambeur, which I mention below).

ossibuke, goddamn that film sounds familiar but i can't think of why. the plot makes me think of Bliss, which I didn't love but the same director recently made Lantana, which others have mentioned, above. It is fantastic.

feelinglistless, I've seen all but 4 of those films, though many under other titles. I'm amazed you've got Charles Lane's Sidewalk Stories on there as I've never met anyone else who's seen it. I didn't know it was on video, actually. (I tried to get info on the rights in early '93 as I owned a small video label at that time. No luck.) Your list is all over the place so a recommendation is diffucult.. how about Rose Troche's Go Fish, which beat 2 Girls to the theatre by a year. I can't believe you've got Electric Dreams on there. That theme song still haunts me. since you've got multiple NY movies on there, have you seen Laws of Gravity, Where's Poppa, The Cruise, or the above mentioned David Holzman's Diary?

dg, I'm not big on animation, but if you are, you might like Fantastic Planet

contessa, Before the Rain is indeed a superb film. If you haven't seen Burnt by the Sun, I'm betting you'd like it.

billsaysthis and scarabic, I say find the very strange Metal Skin and the equally hard to find Idiot Box. if you don't have any luck finding them, try Reflecting Skin, which is easier to get a hold of (and stars a young Viggo Mortensen) and for some reason I always think is from down under but it isn't.

bradth27, have you seen Code Unknown? I'm betting you'd like it. What about Olivier, Olivier or The Cement Garden?

halloway, I'll go with the obvious (but stunning) Winged Migration.

xiffix, how about Affliction, which is also Paul Schrader and has a great Nolte performance. Coburn won an Oscar for supporting as well.

I'm betting Vidiot's seen most of what I can think of but based on his great list, I'd go with Beat Takeshi's Boiling Point, and kill two birds with that one by suggesting vraixoin check it out as well as he recommended Hana-bi, which is indeed wonderful. (Though BP is my fave Beat flick.)

For condour75, I'd suggest The Knack (and How to Get It), which is also Lester. Since you've probably already seen that, I'll say maybe The Loved One would be of interest.

HomeskilletFF, thanks. I'm not a MIike fan. Have you seen Showboat 1988: The Remake (aka 1988: The Remake)? It's my fave fucked up musical. Cannibal: the Musical's good too, but much better known.

joaquim, if you've seen and liked Music of Chance (it's grand), check out the more popular and not quite as good Blue in the Face, which comes from the same writer (Paul Auster).

Y2Karl, thanks for reminding me about Latcho Drom. Indeed, it's fantastic and I'd somehow forgotten about it. I don't know the Jack movie. Looks interesting so I'll keep an eye out for it. Dodes'Kaden is also excellent, yes. Have you seen Salaam Bombay!?

matt, you didn't mention any titles so don't know what you like but I'll suggest Miracle Mile because it's cool and so are you. (script was originally going to be filmed as the Twilight Zone movie but producers thought it too dark and ended up making that other piece of poo instead).

litlnemo, I haven't seen that one and am not a big Forsyth fan (seen 'em all but don't understand why he's so popular). But, since you mentioned Scotland, I'll recommend My Ain Folk and its sequel My Way Home, both directed by Bill Douglas. They are probably the bleakest films I've ever seen but they're also quite brilliant.

For anyone who posts after this post, as well as katemonkey (since you asked), I suggest:

They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
The Piano Teacher (aka The Pianist)
Paper Mask
Chameleon Street
Spanking the Monkey
Bob Le flambeur
Wages of Fear
Coup de torchon (Clean Slate) (based on Jim Thompson's "Pop. 1280")
Sweet Smell of Success
Two Small Bodies
Your Friends and Neighbors
Knife in the Water (my fave Polanski flick)
What Happened Was
Short Eyes
Clean, Shaven
All the Vermeers in New York
They Live (someone mentioned Carpenter above)
Donnie Darko
Zigrail (great score by John Zorn. only available in Montreal, afaik)
Fairgrounds (if you can find it. the distro (ah, me) did a shitty job getting it out there)
Eyes without a Face
Charlotte Sometimes
Vanishing (original version)

These Patrice Leconte films:
Man on the Train
Girl on the Bridge
Monsieur Hire
Hairdresser's Husband

if you can't tell, I miss doing this for a living.

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions!
posted by dobbs at 6:13 PM on December 17, 2003 [1 favorite]

Ok...Just off the top of my head...
Man Facing Southeast
Jesus of Montreal
The Hairdresser's Husband
Beer Drinkers' Guide to Fitness

Oops, on preview, we have one in common, dobbs.
posted by jaronson at 6:25 PM on December 17, 2003

Oh, and of course I have to mention Pieces
posted by jaronson at 6:30 PM on December 17, 2003

I second the recommendation of Woman in the Dunes, and also suggest Onibaba, Manic, Sweet Thing, and Heaven's Burning.
posted by Jairus at 6:36 PM on December 17, 2003

posted by lola at 7:19 PM on December 17, 2003

dobbs, is there a rental place in Toronto that's worth the trip? I'm a stone's throw from Revue Video, so I usually go there.
My pick (which I'm sure you've seen): Songs From the Second Floor.
posted by stonerose at 7:25 PM on December 17, 2003

posted by cup at 7:48 PM on December 17, 2003

They aren't indie, foreign, or obscure, but I recommend going back and viewing some of the older live action Disney films from the late 60s-early 70s. Ones such as The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes or Escape to Witch Mountain.

And my raw list of movies seen is over here.
posted by gluechunk at 8:00 PM on December 17, 2003

[this is v.v. good]

Thanks for the cool recommendations -- I've been meaning to see Boiling Point for a while now, actually.

Other ones I've seen lately, all of which you've seen already, I'm sure:
Desk Set
Fong Sai Yuk
Project A, Part II (Part I is good too)
Barbarians at the Gate
Deep Blues
Mystery Train
The Killer Shrews
Roller Blade (the Worst. Movie. Ever.)
posted by Vidiot at 8:05 PM on December 17, 2003

Response by poster: stonerose, A&T was the best store in Toronto, IMNHO, but it's gone now (biggest regret of my life thus far was not buying the store when i had a chance) but a bunch of these stores bought much of our stock when we packed it in:

Suspect Video & Culture (location on Markham south of bloor (next to honest eds) is the best, one at Queen and Bathurst as well). Colin Geddes works (worked?) there and he used to be (maybe still does) the programmer for the film fest's Midnight Madness program. he also runs Kung Fu Fridays, a regular film "fest" thingy.

Queen Video is okay (Bloor just east of Bathurst and one around Queen and Spadina) but I can't stand Howard, the owner, who gives me a rash so i stay out of his stores as a result. (Though ask for Ayal (bloor location) if you like weird stuff--he'll have a ton to recommend. He was a regular at A&T and is a great guy.)

If you've got DVD, hands down the best store in the city is Bay Street Video (bay just south of bloor). There are some real odd people working there, though. Ask for Peter Cho and he'll always have something good to recommend. Great guy.

There's also After Dark Video which has some okay stuff (bathurst north of bloor), but again, I'm not a fan of the owner. It's kinda like Revue--not much new blood coming in there (though Revue has the film Fairgrounds, which i mentioned, above, which is hard to find and worth a watch if you like B&W indie stuff). If Max is still there, he'd be helpful.

7-24 video in the gay ghetto also has a surprisingly good selection--they bought a heap of titles from us when we closed up. they're on church south of wellesley, right across from the second cup, if i remember correctly.

there are some other places around that don't specialize in rental but have some selection (vintage video, the hollywood canteen, renaisance video) that might be worth calling if you're looking for a particular title.

and yeah, seen Songs from the Second Floor on a friend's recommendation. Interesting, but wasn't for me. thanks, though.
posted by dobbs at 8:09 PM on December 17, 2003

Response by poster: stonerose, i should have read my post more clearly. Max works (worked?) at Revue, not After Dark.
posted by dobbs at 8:19 PM on December 17, 2003

Thanks for the tips, dobbs - I wish I could be equally helpful!
posted by stonerose at 8:23 PM on December 17, 2003

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out.

But I would like to strongly suggest Shaolin Soccer if you haven't seen it. I was very suspicious because I'm not big on Kung-Fu movies or Soccer.

But the movie is a riot. The majority of the time I was watching it, I couldn't believe what I am seeing. It is as if the Asian Kung Fu Farrelly Brothers fell in love with soccer. A high camp value. It is hilarious and the special effects are impressive for a low budget film. And the translation seems to... um, translate interestingly.

I know it sounds stupid (and to a degree it is), but definitely check out Shaolin Soccer for a unique comedy experience.
posted by Seth at 8:33 PM on December 17, 2003

ok, i came in very very late. Latcho Drom, The Vanishing and Man facing southeast are taken.

I enjoyed the exquisite corpse-ish Mysterious Object at Noon, the oddly affecting Vagabond and My Life as a Dog

And this thread is not complete without someone mentioning Cinemania
posted by vacapinta at 8:36 PM on December 17, 2003

How's your Canadian film content?

Jésus de Montréal, Léolo, Dead Ringers, and Exotica are probably some of the most well known Canadian films. Recent gems include The Red Violin, New Waterford Girl, Bollywood/Hollywood, Possible Worlds, Maelström, Hard Core Logo, and The Sweet Hereafter.

These are just off the top of my head. I'll post some more if I think of them.
posted by ODiV at 8:45 PM on December 17, 2003

... and I didn't read your followups completely and I see that you're in Toronto.

Well colour me sheepish.

Everyone else check these out anyway.
posted by ODiV at 8:47 PM on December 17, 2003

During your Canadian movie weekend, make certain you watch Road Kill and Highway 61! I enjoyed those far more than Macdonald's Hard Core Logo.
posted by gluechunk at 9:17 PM on December 17, 2003

by director:
jean pierre melville - le doulos aka the finger man, others are good too
peter greenaway - the pillow book, the falls is also very interesting if you're into that kind of thing but difficult to come to grips with on one viewing
tarkovsky - the sacrifice, stalker, etc.
raoul ruiz - l'hypothèse du tableau volé aka the hypothesis of the stolen painting, absolutely mindbending film, magnetically compelling narration sort of like my dinner with andre but its about templars instead

while on the subject of templars...
jean cocteau is interesting when considered in the light that he was supposedly a grandmaster of the priory of sion and "Testament of Orpheus" is just nutty because of the weird cameos.
posted by juv3nal at 10:25 PM on December 17, 2003

wong kar wai (who's been mentioned before) is also great, especially ashes of time.
posted by juv3nal at 10:25 PM on December 17, 2003 [1 favorite]

aw crap. forgot lars von trier. forget about the recent stuff, go see the element of crime and the kingdom miniseries (I and II).
posted by juv3nal at 10:27 PM on December 17, 2003

Response by poster: ODIV, seen most of those though not a Canadian film fan. (though Maelstrom is one of my favorite films ever and since you liked it, I suggest you try and find a copy of Zigrail, which was directed by the guy who shot Maelstrom). Another Canadian film I like a lot is Cold Comfort, though no one else seems to. Seen all of Egoyan, MacDonald, and Cronenberg, though really don't like any of them much (HCL was good though). I've actually said "never again" to Egoyan. I've never liked anything he's done and thought he ruined Sweet Hereafter. if you haven't seen Robert Lepage's Confessionnal (same director as Possible Worlds), you should check it out.

juv3nal, agree with you on all of those films/directors except ruiz. I've only seen one of his films (shattered image) and it was dreadful so I've stayed away. Will try and find "...painting..." though. and I agree with you about von trier (own those you mentioned) and his early/later films, with maybe the exception of Epidemic, which I didn't care for much at all. I'm assuming you've seen Vinterberg's The Celebration...? If not, I think you'd like it quite a bit. and since you're mentioning directors, I recommend Michael Haneke to you as he's my favorite working director and among my faves of all time.

vacapinta, thanks for Mysterious Object at Noon. never even heard of that one. (seen your other two though. both great.).

seth, i'll see if i can find it. looks rather fucked.
posted by dobbs at 11:06 PM on December 17, 2003

A cracking Canadian film (I think... it's by Lynne Stopkewicz anyway) is Kissed. Very weird premise - the director wanted to make a really emotional, touching, erotic film (tho' it isn't pr0n - honest) about the biggest taboo subject she could think of. In this case... er... necrophilia.

Anyway, she does an absolutely cracking job. A really, really fine film, although you will have problems selling the concept to others after you have seen it, as I no doubt have shown here.
posted by bifter at 2:21 AM on December 18, 2003

bitter: Kissed turns me into a wreck every time I see it. I just end up crying because it's so beautiful, and, dude, it's about necrophilia! It has no right to be so beautiful!

And can I add The Red Shoes to A Matter Of Life And Death, The Eye and Dark Water for spoooky Asian horror, Brain Dead and Heavenly Creatures to see what Peter Jackson can do with an extremely cheap budget and no hobbits to speak of, The Tingler and House On Haunted Hill for gorgeously campy Castle horror, and The Haunted (the original version) for the Best. Movie. Ever.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:38 AM on December 18, 2003

Great thread, I'm very late to it. I've got a lot of movie watching to do....

I have only one strong recommendation: l'appartement.

One more that you've probably seen.... Mitt liv som hund (My Life as a Dog).
posted by davehat at 2:59 AM on December 18, 2003

The Haunted.

So fucking good.

Scared the living bejeezus out of me when I first saw it, and I was borderline adult at the time. Good call!

Actually, thinking about good ghost films. It's not exactly completely unknown, but if you haven't seen it, check The Devil's Backbone. It's subtitled (unless you speak Spanish I suppose) if you're bothered about that sort of thing. Essentially though, a really classy traditional style ghost story, with great production values and no pretence to cheap Hollywood plot devices (a la The Others)
posted by bifter at 4:29 AM on December 18, 2003

I'd recommend Don McKellar's Last Night, which I saw on Xmas Eve 1999, and it was the most perfect, dark, but moving film ever. I can't get it on Region 2. :o(. I also loved Italian For Beginners. Anything directed by Lukas Moodysson as well, I think he's the nearest to a film-making genius that there is at the moment, although props to Paul Thomas Anderson - oh yeah, Hard Eight is a gem too. And Punch-Drunk Love was one of the best films I saw in the last year.
posted by boneybaloney at 5:54 AM on December 18, 2003

Dobbs - did you include That Sinking Feeling in the list of Bill Forsyth films you didn't like? It's his first and has been out of print (in the UK at least) for years, no DVD release either. It stands far above the rest of his films if you ask me yet barely ever gets shown, even over here.

Fucking amal aka Show Me Love (on Preview, Lukas Moodysson's first as per boneybaloneys comment) is wonderful, as is Riffifi - French 50's film noir and one of the best heist scenes in movie history.

London by Patrick Keiller is more of a travel journal/philosophical journey but gets under the skin of the city better than any conventional movie I've seen.

A Fistful of Fingers was a very low-budget Comedy made by Edgar Wright, later to direct the superb Spaced (UK Comedy series, also worth watching through strictly speaking not a movie) - set in the wild, wild west of England - Somerset to be precise.
posted by barnsoir at 7:19 AM on December 18, 2003

Sorry, I'm tired and stupid and my brain is filled with hobbits.

It's The Haunting, not the The Haunted.
posted by Katemonkey at 8:00 AM on December 18, 2003

Not yet mentioned in this thread: George Washington.
posted by Prospero at 8:26 AM on December 18, 2003

Lilja 4-ever hit me like a sledgehammer. Everyone in the cinema sat in stunned silence as the credits rolled.
posted by echelon at 9:40 AM on December 18, 2003

Last Orders -- a tour de force of British acting.
posted by Vidiot at 9:40 AM on December 18, 2003

dobbs, you have great taste, and you've probably seen everything I have (I won't even bother recommending Tarkovsky's Mirror), but just to join in I'll put a couple names out there: anything by Edward Yang (you've probably seen Yi-Yi, but what about the astonishing A Brighter Summer Day?), and the greatest movie to have come out of Africa as far as I'm concerned, Souleymane Cissé's Yeelen.
posted by languagehat at 9:44 AM on December 18, 2003

Guess you've probably seen it, but... Scotland, PA.
posted by soyjoy at 10:07 AM on December 18, 2003

I saw a compelling movie a few years ago, and dammit, I can't remember the title, and googling/IMDb searches aren't helping. It set the Exodus story in Western Africa. I believe the movie was made in Mali, but I'm not sure. The cinematography reminded me of "Lawrence of Arabia"...that pure clean desert light.

Anyway, it was really good.
posted by Vidiot at 10:08 AM on December 18, 2003

What a great thread (thanks to dobbs, mostly!) - I'll be referring to it before my next trip to the video shop, that's for sure.

How about a bit of Derek Jarman? Jubilee is fun, Edward II is a knowingly hamfisted queer reading of Marlowe's play, you kind of need a philosophy degree to dig Wittgenstein, but it's beautiful too. As is Carravagio. And who can resist a film with Latin dialogue?

Talking of Jarman, his regular leading lady Tilda Swinton stars in Orlando. I don't have the words to express how wonderful that film is.

And, talking of queers, I was at a wee screening of some Kenneth Anger shorts the other day - wonderful stuff, if tricky to track down.
posted by jack_mo at 10:17 AM on December 18, 2003

Response by poster: bifter Kissed is indeed Canadian and very weird. I liked most of it but have never rewatched it. You might want to see Falling Angels if you haven't. I've yet to see it but it's getting rave reviews. It's based on a book/story by Barbara Gowdy, as was Kissed. To me, Molly Parker was the best part of Kissed. I recently watched Marion Bridge because she stars in it. It's worth a go. She also has a very small part in the excellent Waking the Dead, which I mentioned above. I've been eyeing Devil's Backbone at the store but haven't rented it. Will give it a watch on your recommendation.

katemonkey, Red Shoes is one of my fave films (Martin Scorsese sites it often as a fave, too). All That Heaven Allows is great, too. Beautiful film. Have you seen other films by The Archers? I Know Where I'm Going is definitely worth tracking down. Also, you mentioned Brain Dead by Peter Jackson--it's lots of fun. Those looking for it might also do a search for the title Dead Alive, which I think it's better known as.

Davehat, I have not seen l'appartement. Thanks. Will hunt it down. (Billy Wilder and IAL Diamond's The Apartment, however, has long been a fave film of mine.)

boneybaloney, I'm not a McKellar fan, actually--to me he's indicative of the probs with Canadian film. (Ever seen his shorts "Bloody Nose" or Blue? Dreadful stuff. And yes, everyone seems to love Last Night. I couldn't stand it and actually walked out (and have been berated ever since. Ha!) For some reason, I think you might like Miracle Mile, which I recommended to Matt, above. And, actually, the one thing McKellar's been involved in that I do quite like is a short called Arrowhead. I don't think it's on video but it's worth trying to find out. It's directed by Peter Lynch, who's known for his quirky documentary Project Grizzly. If you haven't seen that Canadian flick, do so. It's great. (and I agree that Hard Eight is worth a watch. P-DL was also my favorite film of last year.)

barnsoir, yes, i was including That Sinking Feeling. I've seen all his films except Being Human. I don't dislike them. I just don't understand why he seems to have rabid fans. When all of his films were out of print, people were paying ridiculous prices for used copies ($150 and such for TSF). I thought it quite bizarre.

I have not seen any Lukas Moodysson films. Will try and find some of those titles. I heard Hwood is remaking Riffifi. I hope it's not true.

prospero, I loved George Washington. I'm assuming you've seen Days of Heaven. If not, worth a look.

languagehat, thanks for the compliment. I have not yet seen Brighter Summer Day but was planning on it as Yi-Yi was great. Thanks for the reminder. Will watch for Yeelen as well as I haven't seen it. Though the Toronto Film Fest has an African program, I'm way behind on my movies from there.

soyjoy, actually haven't seen Scotland, PA yet, though oddly my roommate mentioned it to me as we were talking about Speed Levitch, who is apparently in it. I will definitely track it down as The Cruise is one of my favorite recent films.

jack_mo, I think you and I have some seriously opposite tastes. :) I'm not a Jarman fan, nor did I like Orlando (but I believe I'm completely alone on that one). Swinton was good in the recent The Deep End if you haven't seen it. I do like Anger's stuff, though. Those interested in his movies can purchase from Facets in Chicago. If you get a chance, check out Mike Holbloom's shorts. They've been compared many times but are very hard to find.

ed, great fucking list! Haven't seen Duck You, Sucker but will watch for the dvd. The rest of your suggestions are super. Last Laugh is so excellent. I'll not list anything for you as with that list, you've seen it. Thanks!
posted by dobbs at 11:44 AM on December 18, 2003

did you see the norwegian film "Elling"? or what about the Icelandic "Reykjavik 101"? i loved both.
posted by edlundart at 11:51 AM on December 18, 2003

dobbs, thanks for all the suggestions. I just remembered The Lost Language of Cranes--again a gay-themed film again starring Brian Cox.

Cox is one of my favorite actors, period, and it was this film that introduced me to his work. As I like to follow the people that make movies, I'd like to ask everyone for suggestions of a particular lesser-known actor/director/writer/composer/whatever whose work should be followed? For example, I love movies with Carter Burwell scores. His score for Fargo was every bit as much an actor in that movie as the human participants; the score to Being John Malcovich I find very affecting.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:30 PM on December 18, 2003

A Zed and Two Noughts, early Peter Greenaway film.
Mule Skinner Blues
Let's Get Lost documentary of the last days of Chet Baker.
Fast, Cheap & Out of Control

I also recommend GreenCine.
posted by sparky at 1:42 PM on December 18, 2003

Response by poster: sparky, i like all those films and own the baker docu. Have you seen Broken Noses? same director/photographer. chet on the score. v. good docu.

edlundart, haven't seen those. will check them out.

ed, seen all the Walsh that was available before (slim pickins for sure) and will see whatever of his becomes available. i've seen Riffifi and Topkapi and agree they're great. Never seen Thieves' Highway. will watch for it.

wolfdaddy, seen cranes and it is good (it was one of the most popular gay films we had at the store). Brian Cox is a fantastic actor, for sure.

Mostly sticking to USA, little-known filmmakers/actors who get my ass in the seat include Michael Haneke (director), Peter Green (the one in Laws of Gravity and Clean, Shaven), Lodge Kerrigan (director), Arno Frisch, Jake Gyllenhaal (not little known but i'll watch anything he's in), Molly Parker, Billy Crudup, JT Walsh (rip), Paul Schulze (the priest on the Sopranos--also in Laws of Gravity), Naomi Watts, Samantha Morton, Keith Gordon (director), Ricky Jay, Philip Seymour Hoffman (see Love Liza if you haven't), James LeGros, Nicole Holofcener (dir), Emily Mortimer, anything written or directed by Neil Labute, anything Skip Lievsay did sound for, anything written or directed by David Mamet (not little known but a fave of mine), Todd Haynes (dir), Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Catherine Keener, Denis Villeneuve (dir), and anything produced by Christine Vachon or Ted Hope.

Anything narrated by David McCullough is usually worth watching.

Anything shot by Andre Turpin, Dick Pope or Roger Deakins is usually worth a look.

Burwell used to be a fave composer of mine but he's becoming more average sounding all the time. For my money, the most consistent composers are Thomas Newman, Angelo Badalamenti, Jon Brion (doing the Punch-Drunk Love score took balls!), and Cliff Martinez.
posted by dobbs at 2:40 PM on December 18, 2003

The Prisoner of the Mountains broke my heart.
posted by coelecanth at 2:41 PM on December 18, 2003

Response by poster: ed, the store i ran was open from 93-98. anything that was available pre-98 by any director or repute, I've probably seen, at least in part (I have dvd, vhs, laser, and beta in my home. we had laser and vhs at the store and converted many things from beta or pal vhs to ntsc vhs when they were out of print or never in print).

i've seen most of the famous fuller stuff, including the ones you listed (pickup on south street is a fave). white dog was one of the ones we converted from pal.

kustirica and i don't get along so well but i've seen a bunch. greenaway, seen everything that was on pal and ntsc up to 98 and a few thereafter. i often can't take his stuff (baby of macon for example, or prospero's books, i walked out of both of during toronto film fest out of sheer boredom. i love cook thief though, and some of his early films/tv things.)

i'm a huge peckinpah fan and have seen everything. he's probably the filmmaker i miss most, actually. garcia and wild bunch are my two faves of his. (incidentally, if you haven't seen Way of The Gun or The Limey, both remind me of certain aspects of Peckinpah). warren oates is a fave actor of mine (just watched The Hired Hand the other day. Seen that one?)

Aldrich, i've only seen the famous ones (kiss me deadly, longest yard, dirty dozen, baby jane, vera cruz, apache, ulzana's raid, etc.). will try and find that Trumbo one as he's always interested me. that Beaumont one sounds interesting too.

Kalatozov i've only seen cranes are flying and i am cuba but liked them both. his stuff was always been hard to find.

i'm curious whether you're just a buff, work at a store, a festival, or teach or something. your film knowledge is pretty damn impressive and i've met a lot of film geeks. i'm guessing you don't work in the industry though as you're *too* informed for that. :)
posted by dobbs at 4:11 PM on December 18, 2003

A final thought - have you seen Dellamorte Dellamore? (was re-released in the US / UK as Cemetary Man.)

It's hardly high-art - basically comes across as Night of the Liviing Dead crossed with a fairy tale. I found it really memorable and engaging though - for reasons that i have trouble explaining.

It's an Italian horror, based on a comic, which in the great spaghetti western tradition uses a single native English-speaking lead actor, while everyone else acts in (eventually dubbed) Italian. It doesn't have that carefully composed, but grungy Argento feel that most people seem to either love or hate though. It kind of reminds me of a Company of Wolves in some ways, or even Psychomania in the way that it manages to carry off the whole "rising from the grave as zombies" thing off as being not particularly unusual.

(Actually - if you haven't seen Psychomania, you really should. Absolute trash, but jaw-droppingly odd at the same time - put it this way: I just had to Google "Beryl Reid" AND undead to remind myself what it was called... it's full of odd combinations.)
posted by bifter at 5:27 AM on December 19, 2003

Response by poster: ed, thanks for the tip on straw dogs. will grab one at a holiday sale. my local shop has black cat white cat so i'll check it out (though the photo on the back makes me think of the chaos of Underground, which didn't thrill me). I've seen most of rohmer and much chabrol. (whenever i hear of rohmer I think of the hackman line in Night Moves: "Like watching paint dry." i don't agree with it but it's a stubborn trigger that won't go away.)

bifter, yeah, seen those films, thanks. Not a huge horror fan but when one is well done, there's no denying the intensity of watching.

A few people above recommended Show Me Love (or the director). Rented that today. Thanks!
posted by dobbs at 12:03 PM on December 20, 2003

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