Odd Movie Gems

Bob recently posted about discovering a movie he really liked (McCabe & Mrs. Miller) and it got me thinking about movies. So here's a list of some off-the-beaten-path movies that I feel like I "discovered":

GATTACA - A somewhat obscure film that I really like. The movie starts with an intriguing premise (be sure to read the two quotes at the beginning) then tells an engaging story that brings the issues of the premise into sharp focus. Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law give excellent and riveting performances. For a movie about an issue, I appreciate that it doesn't pander or preach - instead the story is tight and well paced. The cinematography is stark and creative, adding to the mood and serving the story. I've recommended this film to a few who have found it dark, but I find the oppressive backdrop adds contrast to the hero's efforts. Just about everything I like about movies is in this film.

The Matrix - OK, this was a blockbuster so not obscure, but it is a very different movie. Put simply, this movie blew me away when I saw it for the first time. It was one of the first DVDs I purchased and I watched it 10-15 times in the next few months. I appreciate its inventiveness, novelty, attention to detail and depth. It would have been a good SciFi movie just with the profound story, but the Kung Fu and amazing special effects made it a landmark film. I can't believe it didn't make the AFI Top 100 when it was revised in 2007. The subsequent Matrix movies had some good elements, but they didn't have the whole package like the first film. There is no spoon.

Contact - This movie stands the test of time with me. I watch it a few times each year. It's a plausible story of first contact with life beyond our planet, based on the book by Carl Sagan (the book is also good). Faith and science get equal and fair treatment and the story is surprisingly engaging. Jodie Foster is perfect in the role of Dr. Arroway and an up-and-coming Matthew McConaughey crafts an eccentric but solid man of faith. It's fairly long at 2 hours and 43 minutes, but it keeps my attention throughout so that's saying something.

The Princess Bride - What can I say about this plucky little film? If you don't like this movie I'd guess you don't like puppies. Around Utah nearly everyone knows this film, but I'm not sure it's as popular in other areas. It's a masterpiece of one-liners. The quirky story is fun and playful as are the characters. To avoid any more preaching to the choir I'll just say: if you've seen it you know why it's good, if you haven't go watch it.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - Another top-notch comedy. I know comedy is very subjective but this one hits me square on the funny bone. Steve Martin and Michael Caine (who knew he could do comedy?) play their roles, and off each other, perfectly. Several scenes in this movie are pure comedy gold (the "may I go to the bathroom" scene comes to mind). The story take a lot of fun twists and turns and keeps you going right to the end.

These are the mildly odd films. In an up-coming post I'll list the really odd films I like.


uncadan8 said...

I just watched Gattaca this last week for the first time - awesome! I was in suspense the whole time! I've seen Princess Bride so many times and it just gets better each time. I might have to rewatch The Matrix soon.

KanyonKris said...

Glad you enjoyed GATTACA. Aside from being a good movie, the theme gets more relevant each year as genetics advances.

I'm overdue to watch The Matrix myself. It's best when the wife and kids are out of the house so I can crank up the surround sound, but I may have to settle for a more tame viewing.

Anonymous said...

Now that you have seen Princess Bride a gazillion times, you have got to read the book. It is funnier than the movie.

KanyonKris said...

The book is on my reading list. My wife liked the book. It might be a few months before I get to it, but I will read it.