Sometimes great films slip through the cracks, this doesn’t mean they are bad, sometimes they are released at an off time, or perhaps there was another large release that overshadowed it. Sometimes great films are low-budget and do not have the proper marketing campaign they deserve, so here are my top 5 films that flew under the radar that you should check out or revisit!
#5 City Of God 2002
If this was an American film it would be on so many people’s top ten lists, however since it was a Brazilian film that uses subtitles I think many people passed or just flat-out never heard of it. First off, do not be afraid of subtitles, there are some amazing films that are not in English and this is top of the list! I absolutely love this film and consider it one of the best movies ever made. The story follows Rocket, through his childhood and his survival of the roughest hood in the world, that of the Rio Slums. This is a gangster movie but not in the vein of Goodfellas nor Casino, no this shows slum gangs at their best, or worst depending on how you look at it. Lil Dice/Lil Ze is one of the most notorious bad guys in cinema history and gives a powerful performance as a young child who aspires to run the hood. The story is so real and gritty that most of the time you feel like your right there with the kids. Rockets has a love interest, a photography interest and an interest in staying alive. You really feel like you run with the gang, Benny becomes your friend, Rocket becomes your eyes, Lil Ze becomes your worst nightmare. The runts are awesome and flex their muscle even though they are 6 to 8 years old! Please do yourself a favor and pick up this movie I promise you will not regret it!
#4 Gattaca- 1997
Guanine, Adenine, Thymine, and cytosine, if you do not know what those are then you need to go back and take a biology class! And if you have not seen Gattaca you should go revisit this great sci fi/Noir film starring Jude Law, Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke. In this dystopian future the government has means to evaluate DNA instantly also the human race is divided not by race or culture but rather by humans that are born naturally and those that were born with altered DNA as to be superhumans. Of course the Altered new race is far superior and have all the good jobs including astronauts. Hawk is a normal born human with aspirations of space travel, Jude Law is a superhuman (think he is anyway!) that has been crippled in a car accident. Through some clever workings Hawk assumes the identity of Jude Laws character and begins training for the space program. I love this film for many reasons, the acting is fantastic, the noir settings are breathtaking, the use of colors are fantastic, and the story telling is top-notch, yet for some reason many people I speak to do not recall this film ever even coming out. If you never watched this movie and are even a slight fan of Noir or Sci Fi you owe it to yourself to enjoy this film!
#3 Primer- 2004
The best film about time travel ever made! Primer is a 2004 film that was made for all of $7000, and it makes high budget films feel like childs play. This is truly a film for thinkers and not for the brain dead hollywood schlock crowd. Primer is a film about four men who work in their spare time on small inventions in one of their garages. Two of the men realize that they have uncovered the concept behind time travel and break away from the group to further explore what they have uncovered. Using a rented storage room the two men conduct time traveling experiments to a few different ends, including making money from the stock market. The movie is very clever and I do not want to give too much away, but if time travel ever is discovered I truly feel it would be in the spirit of this film! The movie is a bit confusing upon your first viewing and I say should be watched two to three times in order to understand exactly what is going on, fortunately it is so good in my opinion that multiple viewing is actually a joy rather than a chore, for you brainy types, go check it out!
#2 Idiocracy- 2006
Mike Judge has brought some great things over the years, Beavis and Butthead is a huge part of my childhood, and Office Space is an amazing film, but in 2006 he made an awesome movie that many people have missed out on. The Idiocracy is an event that I truly believe we are heading for, it refers to the dumbing down of the world as smart people refrain from having children while the dumb folks breed like wildfire, in the not to distant future we reach the Idiocracy and it is hilarious and a little to real as well! Luke Wilson is the main role and he is part of a government project, due to be placed into a deep sleep for 6 months, an accident leaves him in stasis for hundreds of years, when he awakes he finds himself smack dab in the middle of the stupidest era in human intelligence. The movie has many clever references that while they are quite funny, hit a little close to home, and it may hit the nail on the head if we keep heading the direction we are.
#1 Bug – 2006
Michael Shannon had come from obscurity in a blaze of glory and will soon be a household name, if you are not sure who Michael Shannon is I feel sorry for you because that means you have not seen Boardwalk Empire nor have you watched the 2006 gem BUG! Michael Shannon has been cast in the new Superman film as General Zod and will soon be in many households in the form of action figures, but before he was busting Nucky Thompsons stills in Boardwalk Empire he was a stage actor, then he made his jump to the big screen and one of his early films was Bug. The movie is debatable as it is very ambiguous, a google search of this film will return tons of different ideas as to what the film is actually about, and I love that. Movies should leave you thinking, some people have knocked this film saying they didn’t like it, but it is not for your brain dead gore lover, this is a thinking mans film. The director is the man who made, The Exorcist, The French Connection, and more recently Killer Joe. The movie is limited storytelling in that it only has 5 actors in it, and only 2 in most scenes, and almost the entire film takes place within a seedy little motel room located in rural Oklahoma. I love the feel the room gives and later in the film it takes on a life of its own. Ashley Judd gives a powerful performance along side Shannon, the Film also stars Harry Connick Jr who makes the most of his small amount of screen time. The story plays out like this, Judd has a shitty life, a son that was “lost” years earlier, an ex that just got out of prison, and a drug/alcohol problem. Shannon comes into her life and he is a drifter and Gulf War vet with a shady past. Together they feed each others insecurities, and with the help of drugs they become delusional to the point that the last 20 minutes of the film is complete madness! I personal feel that the movie is a study into the effects of Crack Cocaine on unstable people, mixed with some conspiracy theories. If you have not seen this film yet, and you like either Limited storytelling and/or gritty dirty films, this is for you, but don’t expect a traditional horror movie nor a clean wrapped up ending… Also make sure you watch past the end credits for one last little mind screw!