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Underrated Movies
July 18, 2011 9:32 AM   Subscribe

Notes on 124 underappreciated films.

To wit:
posted by Iridic (139 comments total) 213 users marked this as a favorite

 
Victim, Darling, and The Servant are all three amazing with Dick Bograde acting his ass off.

Also I thought Slums Of Beverly Hills was a fondly recalled sleeper or was that just by me?
posted by The Whelk at 9:38 AM on July 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


(and some of these are very well-known favorites in my social circle which really says more about my friends...Summer Of Sam is better then it should be and Queen Christina? Seriously? Underrated? it's film history 101 and there's an entire sequence The Dreamers where they bond over having memorized the bedroom scene.)

Anyway, pointless sniping. I like movies. I like lists. I should probobly pop open netflix in another tab....
posted by The Whelk at 9:42 AM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, fantastic. It even covers The Scorpion King in a way that actually made me think about the movie.

But those Brought To You By end-bits are taunts: after the concise summaries of the movies, a mere tagline and cover art from a comic, but no more! I want to know more about the comics and pulp novels!
posted by filthy light thief at 9:48 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've liked or loved every movie on this list* that I've seen, so putting the rest in my Netflix queue seems like a good idea -- particularly because the list can be divided into "movies I've seen" and "movies I've never heard of" -- which is wonderfully rare.

* Exception -- I can't honestly say that I liked/loved Clockwatchers because I found it so jump-out-a-window depressing.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:48 AM on July 18, 2011


Great list. My wife suffered through my endless praise of For A Few Dollars More until she finally watched it and realized I was right.
posted by The World Famous at 9:50 AM on July 18, 2011


Nice list, not sure that I agree with all of it but any friend of "Brother from Another Planet" is a friend of mine.
posted by octothorpe at 9:51 AM on July 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, agreed with The Whelk. I'd say some of these films are basically canonical, certainly within their respective genres, but why pick nits? Movies are awesome.
posted by incomple at 9:52 AM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Heh, "King of Kong" came up yesterday as a men's clothing shop clerk was recommending it to me as ... an under-appreciated film. So now I guess I *have* to put on my to-do list.
posted by cairnish at 9:52 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stage Door and Black Narcissus are two of my favorite movies, I've watched them countless times.
posted by hermitosis at 9:54 AM on July 18, 2011


Some background on Australian director Matt Bird, who seems to be the author of the insightful critiques on this blog: wikipedia and imdb.
posted by likeso at 9:54 AM on July 18, 2011


Props to including "Demolition Man." Because of the shells.
posted by chavenet at 9:54 AM on July 18, 2011


Also Red Eye is a really well-made example of a locked room thriller and is just generally neat and Murphy is so very very creepy.
posted by The Whelk at 9:55 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]




Some background on Australian director

I thought the author had to be Not British cause several of these are not-at-all underrated in the UK
posted by The Whelk at 9:56 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


That five-minute opening sequence he talks about in Brother From Another Planet is indeed INCREDIBLE.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:57 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm so, so happy "Lost in America" is on this list. This movie deserves far more recognition. It's quoted endlessly in my house.
posted by davebush at 9:57 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Queen Christina? Seriously? Underrated? it's film history 101 and there's an entire sequence The Dreamers where they bond over having memorized the bedroom scene.

It's kind of weird that I was going to say exactly this.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:57 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm one of the few people who saw Manhattan Murder Mystery before seeing Annie Hall and I'm pretty much underwhelmed by it, so I keep forgetting to go back and watching it in light of the fact that it's simultaneously Annie Hall 0 and Annie Hall 2.
posted by griphus at 9:58 AM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


King of Kong really was fantastic. And not just for gamers, retro or otherwise.

Glad to know somebody out there agrees with me on the Bill and Ted sequel, too. Although I usually only try and make that case after a few drinks and in the company of very close friends. Who still largely disagree, but I digress.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:59 AM on July 18, 2011


Son of Paleface? Seriously? Ugh.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:00 AM on July 18, 2011


I'm not sure I understand where they're getting 'underappreciated' from - most of these are highly reviewed/rated/regarded, to say the least.
posted by item at 10:00 AM on July 18, 2011


Excellent blog that thus far has put together an extremely thorough list of films, none of which I can immediately shout, "But that was awful!" In other words, I love this kind of stuff.

But seriously, Iridic, I think you could have put a little more time into the construction of this post.




not serious
posted by philip-random at 10:01 AM on July 18, 2011


...and Antz is a terrible movie.
posted by item at 10:01 AM on July 18, 2011


Yay! Someone who enjoys Demolition Man as much as I do... Wait.
The same critics that hated this movie were busy overpraising Paul Verhoeven’s ultra-violent futuristic epics. Some of those movies weren’t bad, but I always found Verhoeven’s satirical elements to be juvenile and simplistic in movies like Robocop and Starship Troopers.
This man is not to be trusted.
posted by brundlefly at 10:03 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyone compiling a list of underrated movies gets a huge boost in credibility of they include To Live and Die in L.A.. I have watched it at least a dozen times since its first release, and it never gets stale.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:04 AM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Summer of Sam is one of the worst movies I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of fucking movies.
posted by item at 10:04 AM on July 18, 2011


I'm not sure I understand where they're getting 'underappreciated' from - most of these are highly reviewed/rated/regarded, to say the least.

My take was that it's a question of whether the films are sufficiently appreciated by film viewers generally, even if they are highly reviewed/rated/regarded. The term "underrated" is common enough in the vernacular that the choice of the term "underappreciated" rather than "underrated" seems, to me, intentional. It is not a list of underrated, underreviewed, or underregarded films, but a list of underappreciated films. If that makes sense.
posted by The World Famous at 10:05 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I haven't even watched it yet, but I'm definitely going to start telling everyone that Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey is an underrated gem.
posted by diogenes at 10:05 AM on July 18, 2011


Summer of Sam is one of the worst movies I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of fucking movies.

If you were expecting it to be of that particular genre, it's no wonder you were disappointed.
posted by The World Famous at 10:06 AM on July 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


What? Demolition Man over PV's epics? Yeah, no.
posted by item at 10:06 AM on July 18, 2011


I mean underrappreciated...
posted by diogenes at 10:06 AM on July 18, 2011


Yes.
posted by absalom at 10:07 AM on July 18, 2011


Jackie Chan's First Strike contains some of his very best action gags, and is definitely worth watching, but as a whole Supercop and Armour of the Gods 2: Operation Condor (just Operation Condor in the US) are the better movies from that era. That said, Jackie jumping through the steps of a stepladder feet first still blows me away.

I'll have to watch Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey again, I remember it being awful. The first movie is now unwatchable, I agree with that.

Demolition Man is somewhat interesting for the time, but I couldn't get through it recently. Robocop, though, I still enjoy, and Starship Troopers is one of my favorite movies.

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story is great.

Interesting list.
posted by Huck500 at 10:08 AM on July 18, 2011


On Demolition Man:

This movie forms an informal trilogy with two other Andre Gregory movies, My Dinner With Andre and Vanya on 42nd Street.

X-D
posted by adamdschneider at 10:10 AM on July 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


they include To Live and Die in L.A.. I have watched it at least a dozen times since its first release, and it never gets stale.

The weird thing about that movie, for me, is that I think it's really good at setting a mood, in no small part due to the soundtrack by Wang Chung. I like Wang Chung as a guilty pleasure (everybody wang chung tonight!), but I have trouble convincing people that they are excellent artists.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:20 AM on July 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Love that this blog mentions Ophüls, twice. "The Reckless Moment" is not on this list probably because it's hard to find on DVD, but here's a post from another blog that talks about it. The story is that Columbia refused to give Ophüls the budget to construct two sets to set up his infamous dolly shots, which plunged him into depression. It's still a perfect film.

All the movies on the list are excellent or sound excellent too. Thanks for this find.
posted by blucevalo at 10:24 AM on July 18, 2011


I would like to disagree with something: Trading Places is already a comedy classic, not underrated.
posted by absalom at 10:24 AM on July 18, 2011


Kind Hearts and Coronets is criminally overlooked and one of my favorite films. Alec Guiness...yes, that Alec Guiness...steals the movie, playing every one of the (mostly) deserving victims.
posted by JaredSeth at 10:24 AM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yikes, I just saw all the work that the OP put into linking and alphabetizing the list. Cheers!
posted by blucevalo at 10:25 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


they include To Live and Die in L.A.. I have watched it at least a dozen times since its first release, and it never gets stale.

It's sad that that movie is about the last good thing that Friedkin has done.
posted by octothorpe at 10:27 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Missing Da, one of the greatest films I've ever seen. But I'm not surprised; it flew not just under the radar, but under the treeline.

--

...and Antz is a terrible movie.

item, you are dead to me.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:27 AM on July 18, 2011


I love Kontroll, and Caught especially is an unknown gem - Max Ophüls seems to be consistently underappreciated. Excellent list.
posted by Wemmick at 10:28 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yikes, I just saw all the work that the OP put into linking and alphabetizing the list.

It makes up for the lack of an alphabetized list on the site itself, in the sidebar.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:29 AM on July 18, 2011


Awesome post! I just found out about the Alice's Restaurant movie like a couple of days ago. Son of Paleface looks like I should hunt it up too.

But what I really like is the comic book cover postscript on each one.

HE WAS TRAPPED BY ANIMALS IN THE CENTER OF TOWN! AND WHY NOT? IT WAS THEIR TOWN!
posted by JHarris at 10:30 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought Summer of Sam was fantastic, but perhaps I suspended my critical judgment after rocking out to the two Who montages. Gotta get to class so I will elaborate later (maybe) but there is just something about that film that is so evocative.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:31 AM on July 18, 2011


Summer of Sam is one of the best movies I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of fucking movies.
posted by Sailormom at 10:38 AM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also I promise I will stop harping on this all the damn time but everyone please go see Junebug.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:39 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ugh, Hero. Just... ugh. (Hooray for Legalism!)
posted by kmz at 10:45 AM on July 18, 2011


Also Kontroll is an absolutely amazing film. Just completely fucking brilliant.
posted by griphus at 10:45 AM on July 18, 2011


YAY!

there are so many of these movies that I 100% agree with on with this guy. The Falcon and the Snowman!! Hero!!!!(!!) Antz!!! Bill and Ted's Bogus Jouney!!

Best. Post. Ever. Oh and Walkabout too! I really need to get that one on DVD and see it as it's meant to be seen. I've only ever seen it on a shitty 70's color TV, censored and cut apart by commercials. Our local independent channel showed it a few times as their 3:00 movie and I remember it being fantastic, even though I never got home early enough from school to ever catch the beginning.

Oh and Demolition Man and The Scorpion King are awesome, I don't care what anyone else thinks.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:47 AM on July 18, 2011


The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T was my favorite movie as a kid, and I'm always pleasantly shocked when someone else has heard of it. I bought (and later lost) the DVD in college, but for a few years I forced pretty much all of my friends to watch it - I think that whether or not somebody gets just how awesome The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T is a pretty good test for how good of a person they are. The soundtrack is also absolutely phenomenal - I should really buy the new remastered release, since the rip from vinyl I have on my iPod is pretty bad quality. Did I mention that I'm a huge fan of The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T?
posted by OverlappingElvis at 10:48 AM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll have to watch Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey again, I remember it being awful. The first movie is now unwatchable, I agree with that.

Oh Hell No, this cannot stand. I love the first Bill & Ted's. The second one is merely station.
posted by Hoopo at 10:49 AM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


but for a few years I forced pretty much all of my friends to watch it - I think that whether or not somebody gets just how awesome The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T is a pretty good test for how good of a person they are.

I was on acid the first time I saw it (on a big screen at a local rep theater). I loved it. Does that make me a good person?
posted by philip-random at 10:52 AM on July 18, 2011


philip-random: Yes.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 10:54 AM on July 18, 2011


Yikes, I just saw all the work that the OP put into linking and alphabetizing the list.

Not all that much, actually. If you scroll down far enough, most of the films are listed on the sidebar; I just pulled the html from source and did a little tweaking. I spent the majority of composition time wavering between "underrated" and "underappreciated."
posted by Iridic at 10:54 AM on July 18, 2011


The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T was my favorite movie as a kid

There have been days where I would not have had the ability to get out of bed if not for this song
posted by The Whelk at 10:56 AM on July 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ah, "Alice's Restaurant". The perfect Thanksgiving movie. For Thanksgiving with your friends - not necessarily Cranky Aunt Edna.
posted by Elly Vortex at 11:13 AM on July 18, 2011


Waaaaay too much to take in, but bookmarked for a rainy day, thanks.
posted by tigrefacile at 11:13 AM on July 18, 2011


Also, the 5000 Fingers of Dr T was a fave back in high school during our "smoke pot and see if this synchs up with Monster Magnet" phase.
posted by Hoopo at 11:17 AM on July 18, 2011


To be honest, I don't really even remember what it was about Summer of Sam that I hated so much, it's been so long now since I've seen it. I seem to recall it feeling really inauthentic, like Lee just mushed together every cultural & social event of the time period in a really awkward manner. Punk, disco, hustlers, serial killers, all paths lead to the same place in his film. It felt clumsy, like everything Lee learned about the 70's he learned from watching Nick at Nite reruns.

I like a lot of shitty movies, though, and am in no way judging anyone for liking SoS or any other film - well, there're probably a few I'd judge you for liking. Rob Zombie's movies come to mind.
posted by item at 11:19 AM on July 18, 2011


You'll want to check out Never Cry Wolf. It really is quite stunning. And hard to believe that it is a Disney production.
posted by ovvl at 11:20 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I liked it because it was so goddamned messy. Like he really was trying to describe THE ENTIRE 70s AT ONCE and it ended up in a much less conventional, more hallucinatory place.
posted by The Whelk at 11:21 AM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


and it has great musical sequences and I'm a sucker for a good montage.
posted by The Whelk at 11:26 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


As soon as I saw this post I yelled UNFAITHFULLY YOURS and was delighted to see it made the list. It was a flop on release and is sometimes mentioned as having killed Preston Sturges career which is an absolute tragedy. The usual perfect Sturges dialogue meets some positively sublime slapstick. The slow and steady unraveling of Rex Harrison's character as reality repeatedly fails to live up to his fantasies is a wonder to behold. The recording device scene may be one of my favorite ever moments on film. Available on Netflix streaming! GO WATCH IT NOW!
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:27 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


You should click his "Hero Project" tag. Good stuff.
posted by absalom at 11:29 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


on further review, the entire blog is fantastic, thank you Iridic!! My FIL happens to be an indie producer in Albuqerque thus has been introducing me & the mister to some fascinating not-so-well known gems of the industry. He's more of a book reader than an internet guy, so I shall have to see if he's heard of this blog or the author.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:30 AM on July 18, 2011


Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight

Such an underrated movie. It's worth seeing just for the fantastic moment where Billy Zane finally has enough playing cat and mouse, and offers this piece of wisdom: "Fuck this cowboy shit! You fucking ho-dunk, po-dunk, well then there motherfuckers!"

It doesn't matter how many other great roles Zane may go on to do, as far as I'm concerned, this line is his best and most perfect scene of all time.

And Demolition Man isn't underrated! It's an absurdly prescient guide to our future that is slowly coming true, one ridiculous scene at a time.

And I for one welcome the three seashells and fine dining at Taco Bell.

posted by quin at 11:44 AM on July 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


At first, I came here to post that I am thrilled to find that someone actually agrees with me about Antz.

Now, I guess I am here to post that Item is dead to me.
posted by kyrademon at 12:05 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


they include To Live and Die in L.A.. I have watched it at least a dozen times since its first release, and it never gets stale.

From the blog: How it Came to be Underrated: Peterson connected right away with critics but audiences never embraced him as a movie star. Ironically, he would need to add twenty pounds, go gray, and start his own TV show before he finally fulfilled his early promise.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with that. I think the two films To Live and Die in L.A. and the also underrated Manhunter would have been much more popular if they were starring someone other than William Peterson. There's just something a little bland about him in those movies.
posted by bobo123 at 12:07 PM on July 18, 2011


All of these reviews are very well done. The author even does a good job of explaining why he thinks movies that I think are/were pretty popular (Doubt, Trading Places) are "underappreciated."

Did anyone else watch Junebug and think it was really strikingly similar to True Stories? Like, True Stories if it were set in North Carolina instead of Texas? I need this feeling validated by others.
posted by audacity at 12:10 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a cool moment in To Live and Die when the counterfeit money presses start up, and the sound from them determines the rhythm for the Wang Chung song that starts up.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 12:14 PM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wang Chung was a seriously underappreciated band.
posted by The World Famous at 12:22 PM on July 18, 2011


I'm going to go on record and say The Girl Can't Help It is the greatest film ever made.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:35 PM on July 18, 2011


Other links on the sidebar menu are worth a look. I find "The Hero Project" really interesting:

Are All Heroes On The Same Journey?
The Character Creation Checklist
Why Does the Villain Fail?
Inconvenient Revelations
posted by pleasebekind at 12:37 PM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, it's certainly true that "Bogus Journey" is about five times as good as "Excellent Adventure".

I remember seeing "The Atomic Cafe" when it came out, and thoroughly enjoying it.
posted by Decani at 12:48 PM on July 18, 2011


I still say "Antz" was shite, though.
posted by Decani at 12:49 PM on July 18, 2011


Ugh, Hero. Just... ugh. (Hooray for Legalism!)

I always read it the other way around. At the end, no one is happy, including the Emperor, entire scholarly/philosophical cultures are destroyed, the amazing people of distinction are killed/driven into hiding, and the tide of yes-men who will obey any order, no matter how horrible, run the system.

In comparison, Battle of Wits, had a similar theme, though the protagonist of that story never bought into the idea that unification would naturally lead to peace.
posted by yeloson at 12:49 PM on July 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


It doesn't matter how many other great roles Zane may go on to do, as far as I'm concerned, this line is his best and most perfect scene of all time.

And Demolition Man isn't underrated! It's an absurdly prescient guide to our future that is slowly coming true, one ridiculous scene at a time.


favorited for the Billy Zane link.

As for Demolition Man, if a movie stars Ahnold Scwartzenberger and he's not playing either himself (a narcissistic muscle man) or an android, it can't by definition be under-rated, because no such movie could ever be rated low enough.
posted by philip-random at 12:51 PM on July 18, 2011


As for Demolition Man, if a movie stars Ahnold Scwartzenberger and he's not playing either himself (a narcissistic muscle man) or an android, it can't by definition be under-rated, because no such movie could ever be rated low enough.

He's not in Demolition Man.
posted by The World Famous at 12:54 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


they include To Live and Die in L.A.. I have watched it at least a dozen times since its first release, and it never gets stale.

It's sad that that movie is about the last good thing that Friedkin has done.


I disagree entirely. To be honest, I'd say that The Hunted and Bug are two more excellent examples of underrated movies.

This is a great list, except for the fact that Hamlet 2 is fucking awful.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:56 PM on July 18, 2011


At the end, no one is happy, including the Emperor, entire scholarly/philosophical cultures are destroyed, the amazing people of distinction are killed/driven into hiding, and the tide of yes-men who will obey any order, no matter how horrible, run the system.

I would amend this only to say that the final scene seems to show that the system is running the emperor at that point, since he is obliged to obey it at the expense of his own wishes. The yes men aren't obeying the order, they are generating it; it's a consequence of the system he has created and is now a slave to (sort of).
posted by adamdschneider at 1:15 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a great list, except for the fact that Hamlet 2 is fucking awful.

I was going to disagree, preparing to cite the argument that it was subtly built narrative which both paid homage to Shakespeare and Tom Stoppard's work, while at the same time going a further into the layers of meta self-referential-ness, when I realized that I wasn't thinking of Hamlet 2, but Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead.

I didn't hate Hamlet 2 though. Coogan is just too likable for that.
posted by quin at 1:29 PM on July 18, 2011


How about "The night porter?"
posted by yoyo_nyc at 1:34 PM on July 18, 2011


On the one hand: if you replaced Ethan Hawke with Campbell Scott in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead you'd go from well-written-but-miscast indie to something with a higher quality.

On the other, the inclusion and insightful review of Simple Men is great. Sad to see how Hartley has fallen off the grid.
posted by pxe2000 at 1:35 PM on July 18, 2011


I was hoping he was referring to a different Monkey Business
posted by cottoncandybeard at 1:52 PM on July 18, 2011


Wow, Trading Places? I love that movie but I thought it was still highly regarded as far as 80s comedies go. Maybe he's right though; I can't think of a good Dan Ackroyd movie since Grosse Point Blank and Eddie Murphy hasn't been in funny movies in decades. People might be forgetting.
posted by Hoopo at 1:53 PM on July 18, 2011


Waterland is one of the most moving films I've ever seen. I can still remember how it felt. I'm glad somebody else hasn't forgotten about it.
posted by Flashman at 2:01 PM on July 18, 2011


Funny? Murphy has been in 3 or 4 Shrek movies in the past decade but the last "good" film he was in was probably Bowfinger. He was fantastic in that and now that I'm looking at his filmography he also did Life in '99, which is a highly underappreciated film.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:01 PM on July 18, 2011


Great stuff altogether. Having devoted much of the last ten years of my life to parenting, I feel like I've missed out on a lot of movies, and this is like a guide to a huge trove I never knew existed. Fabulous website, and the comments here are very interesting.
posted by sneebler at 2:04 PM on July 18, 2011


And if anyone wants to see Spike Lee do a great pastiche of what it was like in the earlty '70s, for him at least, check out Crooklyn.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:08 PM on July 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Funny? Murphy has been in 3 or 4 Shrek movies in the past decade

I think I'm the minority on the Shrek movies--I found they're basically a bunch of booger-and-fart jokes and corny kids joke-book gags. I thought the appeal was that parents could see these with their kids and not want to die.

I'm still in the Eddie Murphy was funnier in the 80s camp. I didn't see Life, though.
posted by Hoopo at 2:17 PM on July 18, 2011


I found they're basically a bunch of booger-and-fart jokes and corny kids joke-book gags

Yeah, pretty much sums it up. Be aware, if you watch Life, it's not a straight up comedy.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:23 PM on July 18, 2011


The Court Jester! I *love* The Court Jester! And yes, for some reason, Danny Kaye seems to have fallen off the radar a bit compared to other comedy greats of his era.
posted by kyrademon at 2:43 PM on July 18, 2011


and it has great musical sequences and I'm a sucker for a good montage.

Yeah, the Baba O Reilly montage alone made the five bucks or so I spent (ancient history!) to watch it in the theater totally worth it.
posted by joe lisboa at 2:54 PM on July 18, 2011


Other links on the sidebar menu are worth a look.

Indeed, particularly this one about breaking in to the industry, comparing it to being an Orc storming Helms Deep.

Not for the post, so much, but for the awesome first comment.

Or maybe you answer a craigslist ad for a dog sitter in the downtime before the storming commences. You're supposed to have all sorts of references and foreign language skills, but you've pulled the wool over the eyes of every orc officer you’ve encountered since recruitment; how hard could a dog-sitting interview be?

Well what if I were to tell you this dog owner was none other than Fudian Shaggyfoot, owner of the Crooked Fang? The Crooked Fang- you know, where those dwarf twins who do their racy mindreading limericks got their start. If you want your morality play to go anywhere in Minas Tirith, get it in the hands of Shaggyfoot! This is it. Your orc mother warned you to be on the lookout for this one opening, and here it is!

posted by Sebmojo at 2:54 PM on July 18, 2011


O Reilly?
Baba O Riley, of course.

*cuts up Who fanclub membership card, drives rental car into hotel pool*

posted by joe lisboa at 2:55 PM on July 18, 2011


This is a fantastic blog, thanks for the link.

My pick for underrated movie would be Long Kiss Goodnight - it's a smartass genre action/comedy flick that parodies and exults in the standard tropes, and Geena Davis is a surprisingly excellent action chick.

And come on, Samuel L Jackson before he hit big. 'Gracias'. 'De Nada'.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:01 PM on July 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I always say that The Last Action Hero is my top underrated movie. Although "meta"-ness can get tiresome, I thought the film handled it in a jaunty and fun way. Like others have said, a lot of the films on this list are quite important and notable if you are a huge film buff, but it is still a really enjoyable list and his notes on each film are generally illuminating and worth reading.
posted by Falconetti at 3:41 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


And yes, for some reason, Danny Kaye seems to have fallen off the radar a bit compared to other comedy greats of his era.

Definitely not off my radar--great film. As is Long Kiss Goodnight--I can't believe Terminal Velocity made it onto the list and that didn't.
posted by Go Banana at 3:44 PM on July 18, 2011


'Electra Glide in Blue:' "…John Ford by way of Kenneth Anger."

Precisely.
posted by Haruspex at 4:06 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is Local Hero well known, or completely forgotten?

What about Sullivan's Travels?

Teacher's Pet just for the hangover scene.

Glad to see Hopscotch. And Brother from Another Planet, but you could also pile up a lot of John Sayles into the under-appreciated category(Lone Star, Matewan is amazing, Sunshine State if just for Alan King and his band of cynical golfers).

I liked Summer of Sam, but I like Spike(loved Crooklyn, for example), Antz was forgettable, so I have.

Verhoeven is an oaf. Yes, we're all slyly in on the joke, subtly delivered via dump truck. Heard the argument, think the 9th grade education necessary to muster it is wasted on analyzing Verhoeven.
posted by dglynn at 4:18 PM on July 18, 2011


The thing that needs to be said about The 5000 Fingers of Dr T is that it's the only live-action movie Dr Seuss ever made. Now I've given you a reason to see it. What are you waiting for?
posted by scalefree at 5:15 PM on July 18, 2011


He has some pretty interesting things to say about screenwriting in the side threads.
posted by ovvl at 5:31 PM on July 18, 2011


...and Antz is a terrible movie.

I didn't think it was particularly great, but I did crack up at the line: "Am I hurt bad?"
posted by ovvl at 5:33 PM on July 18, 2011


I haven't even watched it yet, but I'm definitely going to start telling everyone that Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey is an underrated gem.

You don't already? Its a neat piece of urban fantasy/metaphysical sci-fi.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:35 PM on July 18, 2011


oh man Streets of Fire. this movie pretty much sums up my worldview, even though it's a bit thin the world is so compelling it pretty much works. i need to post about it
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:52 PM on July 18, 2011


STREETS OF FIRE - previously

please note that philip-random is not one of those singing its praises in said thread ... and he ain't about to here either
posted by philip-random at 8:19 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a far better and more interesting approach than any of those hundred best lists, whether or not you think any given movie on the list is sufficiently underrated.

Also any list with both Charlie Varrick and Hopscotch on it must have something going for it.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 11:06 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking of Charlie Varrick, it's not just underrated, under-regarded, under-appreciated -- it's one of the best damned movies I've ever seen. Period.

Smart, raw, unpredictable ... Walter Mathau playing it dead straight.
posted by philip-random at 11:46 PM on July 18, 2011


Wow, this thread was completely worth it for introducing me to Brother From Another Planet! Just finished watching it, amazing film. When I'm at school I like to run a series of 'Secret Screenings' where I advertise the films being screened without giving away their names. I think the tagline I'll use for my next one will be "A mute alien fixes pinball machines in 80's Harlem."
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 12:33 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


It turns out I have no less than 12 of these on my guilty pleasures list.
posted by JaredSeth at 3:46 AM on July 19, 2011


I agree it's not so much "underrated" movies as movies that don't really fit into rather narrow definitions of what's considered good that appear to have prominence (either because the films are old or because they're too Hollywood). So hurrah.

The 5000 Fingers of Dr T was on the TV when I was very small (late 60s) and it wasn't until I read a description in the NFT brochure when I was in my late teens that I got to see it again (my and my best friend, who'd been told "you have to see this" and a lot of small children with their parents.) Up until then it had been a fevered jumble of imagery that I couldn't quite believe existed outside my dreamworld. Had a similar experience watching The War Games recently, remembering watching things I last saw thirty-two years ago.

Films that I would put on my own such list (sans analysis, 'cause I'm not good at that kind of thing): After Life (the Japanese film), Dean Spanley, The Final Programme, Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (saw that in the same NFT2 cinema, but without toddlers, thankfully), Play Time, Housekeeping, Tomorrow I’ll Wake Up and Scald Myself with Tea (videoed from the 1982 BBC2 showing, and a household cult film thereafter. In the wider world it was one of those things, like 5000 Fingers... that it was difficult to make people believe existed).

There are so many films in the world that are at least interesting, and people seem to get hung up on about two hundred of them at the most.
posted by Grangousier at 4:39 AM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


my guilty pleasures list

There are no guilty pleasures. This side of legality, pleasures are pleasures. Just enjoy.
posted by Grangousier at 4:42 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Given how much I adore Happy Go Lucky and King of Kong, I'd be pretty happy to watch anything else off this list. I bet even if I didn't like it as much as he did, it'd still be worthwhile. Also I have been too lazy for too long in chasing up Kubrick's early films.

Also also, I'm glad to see the love for The Court Jester here. When I was a kid one of the tv stations must have got a bulk deal on it, because I swear it was on the Saturday afternoon slot at least once every six months, and I watched it every time.
posted by harriet vane at 5:07 AM on July 19, 2011


Speaking of Charlie Varrick...it's one of the best damned movies I've ever seen.

I suspect that the Coen Bros. signed on to No Country For Old Men wholly because it was a chance to do a Varrick of their own.
posted by Iridic at 7:28 AM on July 19, 2011


Long Kiss Goodnight

Yes! I really liked this and thought the Geena Davis/Samuel L. Jackson chemistry was fantastic. I still watch it from time to time and it's still great.
posted by pleasebekind at 8:39 AM on July 19, 2011


Wow! I just checked my blog stats and my head exploded! What the hell?? I checked to see where all the traffic was coming from and found my idea of heaven: more than a hundred commenters discussing my blog posts and giving their own thoughts on my favorite movies. Thanks to everybody for checking out the blog and saying so many smart things about the movies. Special thanks to Iridic for giving me this spotlight!

And yeah, I'm very loose with my use of the term "underrated": it's an umbrella term that really means "underrated, under-appreciated, or just under-seen"

As for those who cast aspersions of some of the picks, what can I say: I calls 'em like I sees 'em.
posted by Matt Bird at 11:07 AM on July 19, 2011 [14 favorites]


And thanks to dglynn for the recommendation of Teacher's Pet. I had never heard of it but it looks great.
posted by Matt Bird at 12:23 PM on July 19, 2011


Welcome Matt:

Your hero series is really enlightening.
posted by The Whelk at 12:26 PM on July 19, 2011


Oh, and I should also mention that I'm not the Australian director of the same name. I have no IMDb page. None of the screenplays I've sold have gotten made yet, alas, and I chose not to put my student films on there.
posted by Matt Bird at 1:00 PM on July 19, 2011


I am not one of the Astro Zombies featured in Ted Mikels films, which are grotesque anti-Astro Zombie propaganda. So I feel for you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:15 PM on July 19, 2011


Is anybody else just using this list to validate their adoration of movies they've already seen and ignoring all the ones they haven't heard of? Because I'm totally doing that.

woo bill and ted's bogus journey wooooo
posted by tehloki at 1:21 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was wondering how this guy could be so incredibly cool about everything. I discovered how in "How to Alienate an Audience Part 3: The Hero Isn't Misunderstood", when he said "There’s a great line in the Tick cartoon."

He's seen the Tick cartoon! He has tasted ambrosia, food of the gods!
posted by JHarris at 1:22 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


No Ishtar? More people panned that movie than watched it. It's actually pretty funny.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:02 PM on July 19, 2011


It's actually pretty funny.

I suspect that the bar for inclusion on the list is somewhat higher than "actually pretty funny."
posted by The World Famous at 2:11 PM on July 19, 2011


This has gone META by the way.

In a nice way, I might add, although I'm sure we can f*** it up if we all pull together.
posted by philip-random at 2:45 PM on July 19, 2011


Ugh, Hero. Just... ugh. (Hooray for Legalism!)

That is what elevated Hero for me to something more than just a fantastic looking marital arts movie with charismatic actors, a fascinating plot, and a wonderful use of color. The ending made me think, Wow! I've stepped into a completely different culture. This movie was Not Made In America.

Curse of the Golden Flower hits that button even harder (but is otherwise not as good as Hero).
posted by straight at 4:14 PM on July 19, 2011


I suspect that the bar for inclusion on the list is somewhat higher than "actually pretty funny."

True, but its level of ratedness is so low that even if it were merely average in quality (i.e., below good) it would be more underrated than virtually every film out there.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:36 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


marital arts movie

That's a euphemism for porn, isn't it?
posted by Grangousier at 4:40 PM on July 19, 2011


After Life (the Japanese film)

Oh, man, that is such a great movie. Very slow, if that bothers folks, but so worth it for the gorgeous emotional payoff at the end.
posted by mediareport at 8:30 PM on July 19, 2011


Great list, really thoughtful critiques. For example, I now want to see The Scorpion King. Thanks for stopping by, Matt. You win my personal Netflix prize; I'd take recommendation from you any day.

Demolition Man and both Bill & Ted movies are two of my all-time favorites. Demolition Man in particular shines for me because all of the lovingly crafted detail that went into making the world. There are so many subtle little touches that really reward repeat viewings. And B&T are both just such wonderful people deep down that their way of caring about folks wins out in the end, changing the world forever. There is so much affection for all the characters in that universe; even Napoleon, who is played for laughs at times, becomes a sympathetic character. With the exception of the Macguffin badguy (Denomolos, anagram for Ed Solomon; amazing I still remember that), and isn't he won over at the end? It's really the best Christian movie ever made, because the message is basically the same as Jesus's: Just be nice to each other and a lot of the problems in life will evaporate. And the real problems, like feeding people and time traveling so you can finish an oral report, will be conquered so much more easily because we're all working together. I also second all the people who mentioned Last Action Hero and Long Kiss Goodnight. Both are delightfully self-aware (dare I say... meta?).

"'As for Demolition Man, if a movie stars Ahnold Scwartzenberger and he's not playing either himself (a narcissistic muscle man) or an android, it can't by definition be under-rated, because no such movie could ever be rated low enough.'

He's not in Demolition Man."


Well...
posted by Eideteker at 6:36 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


And really, that's what makes this blog so great. It's not really about slamming any movies, just helping you appreciate ones you might have missed. It passes the Bill & Ted standard of being excellent to each other (or, in this case, movies).
posted by Eideteker at 7:12 AM on July 20, 2011


And don't miss the TV posts.
posted by Eideteker at 7:21 AM on July 20, 2011


He's not in Demolition Man."

oops. I did mean to fact-check that. 1993 was so long ago. As penance, I'll spare you my anti-Stallone rant, which is actually more withering, because I don't believe he can even play a boxer.
posted by philip-random at 9:01 AM on July 20, 2011


I'll spare you my anti-Stallone rant, which is actually more withering, because I don't believe he can even play a boxer.

That's probably a good thing, since it's gonna come to blows if anyone maligns the first Rocky movie.
posted by The World Famous at 9:46 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hi Matt, if this is the place for suggestions: please watch some films from my favorite/french director Bertrand Tavernier--especially Deathwatch (La Mort en direct), Laissez-passer, and the Passion Of Beatrice.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:22 AM on July 20, 2011


I've only seen The Clockmaker, which is great. I wish Tavernier's work was more readily available in America!
posted by Matt Bird at 11:52 AM on July 20, 2011


Tavernier's Round Midnight is one of the really great jazz films.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:17 PM on July 20, 2011


tehloki: "Is anybody else just using this list to validate their adoration of movies they've already seen and ignoring all the ones they haven't heard of? Because I'm totally doing that."

I started off totally doing that but now I'm using it to fill my Netflix queue.
posted by Bonzai at 9:12 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


After Life (the Japanese film)

Oh, man, that is such a great movie. Very slow, if that bothers folks, but so worth it for the gorgeous emotional payoff at the end.


Agreed, slow and amazingly great.
posted by Huck500 at 8:56 AM on July 21, 2011


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