Many movies are made each year, a few are box-office successes, and even less garner critical acclaim. Some great movies unfortunately pass through all the cracks and are almost never heard of, let alone recognized.
This post is here to repair this terrible mistake with the five “under-the-radar” films you should check out right now.
The films are here listed alphabetically, so pay no attention to the order they’re in.
Crew and Cast: Julianne Moore stars in a movie helmed by Cidade de Deus/The Constant Gardener’s director, Fernando Meirelles. Don McKellar adapted the José Saramago novel of the same name. Also in the cast are Danny Glover, Mark Ruffalo, Alice Braga and Gael Garcia Bernal.
IMDb’s one-line pitch: A city is ravaged by an epidemic of instant “white blindness”. Those first afflicted are quarantined by the authorities in an abandoned mental hospital where the newly created “society of the blind” quickly breaks down.
Why you should watch it: Besides the gut-wrenching performances, the movie offers a brutal (albeit allegorical) view at our society.
Says LAT’s Cristiana Ferraz Coimbra:
In both book and film, blindness is not only a physical condition but a metaphor for the darker side of human nature: prejudice, selfishness, violence and willful indifference.
Its portrayal of the blind community has on the other hand been deemed controversial. Make your own mind by seeing the film.
Crew and Cast: Rian Johnson wrote and directed this indie film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the title role. He is accompanied by Nora Zehetner, Emilie de Ravin and Matt O’Leary.
IMDb’s one-line pitch: A teenage loner pushes his way into the underworld of a high school crime ring to investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend.
Why you should watch it: If you like film noir or hardboiled detective fiction (such as The Maltese Falcon), this one’s for you. Brick is the kind of film you need to rewatch to start understanding what’s going on, and the dialogue is so fine-tuned it makes you wonder if those high-school characters aren’t going to suddenly transform into Humphrey Bogart or Gloria Grahame.
You can see this is a passion project of Johnson’s. He even offers on his website the shooting script annotated with footnotes!
There’s also the great Joseph Gordon-Levitt in it. As to why this should be reason enough to see the movie, that’s for another post.
Children of Men
Crew and Cast: Adapted for the screen by Alfonso Cuarón (director of Y tu mamá también) based on P.D. James’ novel of the same name. Clive Owen has the title role. Julianne Moore, Michael Caine and Chiwetel Ejiofor are also present.
IMDb’s one-line pitch: In 2027, in a chaotic world in which humans can no longer procreate, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea, where her child’s birth may help scientists save the future of humankind.
Why you should watch it: Where to start? First, the directing is incredible.
Talk about awe-inspiring single-shot sequences! One of them even lasts for seven minutes and a half.
As for the story, it is, in my opinion, one of the best adaptation of a novel ever done. Its depiction of this bleak future is simply astounding
To be honest, it would probably take weeks to list all the reasons why Children of Men is a science-fiction classic. Wikipedia has actually a very detailed page on the many, many themes and complex production of the dystopian film, though you should first see the movie.
Lars and the Real Girl
Crew and Cast: Written by Six Feet Under’s Nancy Oliver and directed by United States of Tara’s Craig Gillespie, the drama stars Ryan Gosling. There’s also in the mix Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Paul Schenider, and a sex-doll.
IMDb’s one-line pitch: A delusional young guy strikes up an unconventional relationship with a doll he finds on the Internet.
Why you should watch it: Well, Ryan Gosling is great (as is the rest of the cast), and the story is atypical to say the least (a sex-doll as a central character?).
Nancy Oliver’s screenplay was actually nominated at the Oscars, WGA Awards and won a Humanitas Prize. Kudos to her.
Crew and Cast: Adapted for the screen by Chan-wook Park (director of Mr. Vengance, Lady Vengeance, and the recent Bakjwi a.k.a. Thirst) based on a Nobuaki Minegishi manga. South Korean actor Choi Min-sik plays the title role.
IMDb’s one-line pitch: After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in 5 days.
Why you should watch it: Probably the most well-known movie on this list given its international status (it won, amongst other prizes, Cannes’ Grand Prix).
This thriller is at its core a dark and twisted tale of revenge, part of the filmmaker’s Vengance Trilogy. There’s also a live octopus being eaten whole and one of the most memorable continuous take ever made.
Unfortunately, an American remake is currently in preparation. Given its somewhat scandalous side, this doesn’t bode well for the American “reimagination.”
It’s now time for you to rent some movies out.