I've been thinking about my favourite movies again (it's a little thing called procrastination), and about the ones that I always pick up when I'm wandering around the video store with a friend, asking again and again, "Have you seen this one?"
Quite often, with these titles, the answer is no.
So here are my picks:
This is one of the most amazing but graphically (graphically) disturbing (disturbing) films I have ever seen. It shows rape and murder in unflinching, straight on, uncut detail. It was recommended to me with the same caveat I will put forth - it is amazing, beautiful, outstanding, but I'm not sure you want to watch it. If you feel like your psyche doesn't need any more violence than the world already throws at you, I completely understand. As Roger Ebert said in his Chicago Sun-Times review (which gave the film 8 out of 10), "As I said twice and will repeat again, most people will not want to see the film at all. It is so violent, it shows such cruelty, that it is a test most people will not want to endure. But it is unflinchingly honest about the crime of rape. It does not exploit. It does not pander. It has been said that no matter what it pretends, pornography argues for what it shows. Irreversible is not pornography." I watched this by myself, at home, and I'm glad of it. I was able to enter the experience without worrying about how anyone else was taking it, and without the movement of another person taking me out of it.The story is told backwards, and the camera moves back through time in what seems like one long, winding shot. It is exquisitely well made. It is art. It is not entertainment.
Enlightenment Guaranteed (1999)
Two German brothers get lost in Tokyo on their way to a Buddhist monastery. This movie is charming, funny, smart, warm, true. It's one I've been wanting to watch again since I first saw it a few years ago, and I have also meant to watch Doris Dorre's other films. I think they will be equally great.
After the Wedding (2006)
Jacob is from Denmark, but has been working at an orphanage in India for years. The orphanage is in financial trouble, and a wealthy Danish business man is offering a huge donation, but only if Jacob goes to Denmark to meet with him. I don't want to say much about this one, but it is so emotionally rich and textured, and so heartbreaking and beautiful and great. I loved it. You probably will too.
The Anniversary Party (2001)
I love this movie so much, and have seen it so many times that it is hard for me to believe that everyone else hasn't also seen it. An amazing ensemble piece that revolves around Joe and Sally (Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh) a married L.A. (so L.A.) couple who have reconciled after a brief split and are celebrating their sixth anniversary with a party in their home. The tensions between the two (and all of their guests) escalate as the day wears on, and every moment reveals truths that nobody necessarily wants to see. That said, the amount of stress in the house is matched by love and affection, and I didn't find the film depressing or heavy at all. The amazing cast is rounded out by Kevin Cline, Phoebe Cates (and their two kids), Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Beals, John C. Reilly, and others. Stellar.
Monsoon Wedding (2001)
This is by far one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. Monsoon season in Delhi. A family. A wedding. So many stories are told, and they all come together beautifully. It has everything one could want in a film; it is funny, sad, romantic... and so so so gorgeous. Thinking about this one has made me want to watch it again, right now. I might.
What about you? Any favourites you think are underknown?