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What's the best movie you've never seen?
June 24, 2013 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Chicago Sun-Times editor Robert Elder asked 35 film directors to name the movies they most admire that have been panned, forgotten or ignored. Some nuggets from the TOC: Todd Solondz is sweet on The Honeymoon Killers, Peter Bogdanovich finds Trouble in Paradise and Danny Boyle shouts Eureka.
posted by wensink (64 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
A couple of those are head-scratchers. When were "Breaking Away" or "A Man For All Seasons" ever "forgotten, panned or ignored"?
posted by yoink at 12:52 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


For you folks who don't want to listen to the thing, the list is here.
posted by phunniemee at 12:53 PM on June 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


Did they, uh, accidentally drop an errant paintbrush mark on Elder's face when they opened it in photoshop to resize? Is that what that is?
posted by phunniemee at 12:55 PM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


In the podcast discussion of the book, William Friedkin's Sorcerer, a 1977 remake of Clouzot's Wages of Fear, is mentioned. It's worth seeking out, especially if you dig dynamite, Nicaraguan villages and a sweaty Roy Scheider.
posted by wensink at 12:55 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hmm, if I can infer anything from the six films on that list that I did see, it's that I understand very well why movies on that list were not widely seen.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:57 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess it doesn't really apply to this list as much as I thought when I read the description of Elder's book, but I wonder if, because the dividing line in the industry has become so much more clear between "money makers" and "prestige movies" if 'famous flops' will stop being a category in books like this because if a "good" movie makes money, it's considered a fluke.

Also, The Beaver Trilogy gives this list some real... whatever it is that means a list is worthwhile. It's a piece of work in the best sense.

phunniemee: "Did they, uh, accidentally drop an errant paintbrush mark on Elder's face when they opened it in photoshop to resize? Is that what that is?"

I don't know, but I'm really tempted to start giving myself a pixel-sized beauty mark in all online photos.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:02 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Did they, uh, accidentally drop an errant paintbrush mark on Elder's face when they opened it in photoshop to resize? Is that what that is?

pixel tat
posted by phaedon at 1:03 PM on June 24, 2013


Weird, I have seen 22 of them and I am no fevered film buff by any means. Some of them were staples of London cinemas or British TV for years.
posted by fallingbadgers at 1:05 PM on June 24, 2013


Some of these films are indeed forgotten, ignored and at one point panned but it seems some of these directors didn't pay attention to the question and just noted films they liked.

Trouble in Paradise, Le Samurai, Ugetsu, A Man For All Seasons, F for Fake and Breaking Away do not fit the criteria one bit.

Probably the one that most irks me is Ugetsu. The director Kenji Mizoguchi directed dozens of films and Ugetsu is his most well known. There are at least 10 other films of his that would fit the criteria and would expand our knowledge of his cinema. But no, the one that is chosen is the old standard.
posted by Rashomon at 1:08 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everyone stop what you're doing and go watch Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:10 PM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Kudos to Richard Kelly for picking 'Fearless,' which rules.
posted by eugenen at 1:11 PM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I read this headline differently, and expected the list to be of "movies these people thought were the best among those which they had not seen." Which would also be interesting. Because people tend to think of things as good or bad based at least in part on the baggage those items carry, and of course one can't read/see/hear everything. So probably everyone has a list of things they believe to be great or terrible despite not having seen them.

For example, despite never having seen it, I am certain the Coen Bros.' "Blood Simple" is a great film, based on long-running commentary about it among a small group of very close friends. And despite never having seen it, I am certain "Cars 2" is a terrible film based entirely on the marketing around it which infiltrated life at every turn for a summer there. &c.
posted by chavenet at 1:11 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's worth seeking out, especially if you dig dynamite, Nicaraguan villages and a sweaty Roy Scheider.

Give me a sweaty Scheider or no Scheider at all
posted by Hoopo at 1:14 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, Chicago Sun-Times editors seem to be made out of some sort of Roger Ebert mold (when Ebert was 35). This is bald Ebert with a goatee and boring glasses. We need an Ebert with a mop top next.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:14 PM on June 24, 2013


I second Fearless. Great soundtrack, too.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 1:15 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eureka is Gene Hackman, Mickey Rourke, Rutger Hauer and Theresa Russell in 1983, directed by Nicolas "The Man Who Fell to Earth" Roeg.

That lineup would be worth it, if only to the play the "Just How Much Fucking Cocaine Were They Snorting" Game.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:16 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Summer School (starring Mark Harmon!) is probably the best Carl Reiner film you haven't seen.*

*I'm assuming you've** seen The Man With Two Brains.

**Non-specific you. Have you, personally, seen Summer School? Isn't it the best?
posted by troika at 1:17 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow. I found F For Fake to be so unbearably and disappointingly unwatchable that it made me physically sad.
posted by julen at 1:20 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cars 2 Was Pretty Good
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:21 PM on June 24, 2013


I found F For Fake to be so unbearably and disappointingly unwatchable that it made me physically sad.

Same, except the opposite of that.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:21 PM on June 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


The Iceman Cometh is the best possible adaptation of that play also.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:23 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, they sure got the "I've never seen" part right.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:26 PM on June 24, 2013


I must say I did like Joe vs. The Volcano.

But, since Waterworld is missing from this list, they obviously don't know what they're talking about.
posted by Debaser626 at 1:27 PM on June 24, 2013


Me: I found F For Fake to be so unbearably and disappointingly unwatchable that it made me physically sad.

Potomac Avenue: Same, except the opposite of that.

See, that's how I feel about Trouble in Paradise
posted by julen at 1:36 PM on June 24, 2013


Welles' The Trial is forgotten/ignored? Huh. I'd thought it was his best known and praised after Citizen Kane. Local cable here in Argentina had it running two or three times a year in the '90s, IIRC.
posted by Iosephus at 1:39 PM on June 24, 2013


Hey! We watched The Swimmer in my high school cinema class.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:44 PM on June 24, 2013


Looking up The Trial on CanIStreamIt? I get the result "Not available for streaming, rental, or purchase." So maybe not forgotten but not very accessable.
posted by octothorpe at 1:46 PM on June 24, 2013


I don't know what it says about me that the only movie on this list I've ever seen is Killer Klowns From Outer Space.

Scratch that, I know exactly what it says, but I'd rather not say it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:47 PM on June 24, 2013


Eureka is amazing. "I NEVER MADE A DIME OFF ANOTHER MAN'S SWEAT." I remember one review which described it as "two of the best movies ever made, and one of the worst." Not only is that a fair assessment, but it's also a fair assessment of Nic Roeg himself, who is also amazing.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:56 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Looking up The Trial on CanIStreamIt? I get the result "Not available for streaming, rental, or purchase." So maybe not forgotten but not very accessable.
posted by octothorpe at 3:46 PM on June 24 [+] [!]


Weird, I'm streaming it on Netflix right now.
posted by HyperBlue at 2:16 PM on June 24, 2013


Le Samouraï is my favorite movie. It is perfect in execution.
posted by sonic meat machine at 2:21 PM on June 24, 2013


Welles' The Trial is forgotten/ignored? Huh. I'd thought it was his best known and praised after Citizen Kane.
Back in the pleistocene era, when wooly mammoths roamed the earth and bootlegged VHS tapes were available at point of purchase in discount department stores near you, The Trial seemed near ubiquitous. The film was never filed for copyright and can be found on archive.org

There should be a Criterion Collection Clause for these lists, btw
posted by pxe2000 at 2:24 PM on June 24, 2013


Well, I consider myself an above-average film buff (how many people do you know who keep a spreadsheet of the National Film Registry against their watching history?), and I've only seen a couple of these, with a couple more sitting somewhere on my Netflix queue, and others only heard of. I actually watched A Man for All Seasons recently and was quite underwhelmed for its six (6!) Oscars; the PopMatters review encapsulates my view of how dated and even stilted it seems, and I'm not averse to stage adaptations on film.

Anyway, yes, I second Sorcerer as a solid entry by Friedkin with its own pleasures, but you must see the Clouzot. It's one of the best films ever made, if you ask me.
posted by dhartung at 2:29 PM on June 24, 2013


In Re: A Man for All Seasons

How could a film shown to everyone in my high school, a film
that won Academy Awards for Best Actor, Best Cinematography, Best
Director, Best Picture, Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Costume Design, Color, and gotten a laudatory
7.9 out of 10 from the absurdly picky iMDB crowd be called "panned, forgotten or ignored"?

I've seen 16 of those movies and I'm not be any stretch a film nerd.
I would say that if you haven't seen the aforementioned Seasons it's pretty good. Same for Blume,The Chase, Fearless, and The Swimmer.

The Swimmer especially, as I sometimes think it is a film that should be mandatory viewing for people on their 30th birthday, as an explanation for the first 30 years and a bit of a warning for the next 30.
posted by Chitownfats at 2:29 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


*I'm assuming you've** seen The Man With Two Brains.

In all seriousness though, why has NO ONE seen this movie?

The only people i know who have seen it are people who i convinced to watch it at my house.

And on that note, i'd love to see a similar list of movies that was "What are the best movies that anyone under 25, or even 30 haven't seen?" because there's a whole bunch that even my film-nerd partner who had a double major that included cinema just didn't see.

I'm talking about even the people who were excited to see upstream color, and are always passing back and forth links to stuff like this. Just kinda boggles my mind, and i know there's a lot of stuff that i've missed too.
posted by emptythought at 2:31 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I got a review copy of this book, picked it up, saw that out of 35 people it had practically no women in it, and decided not to pursue it. I've kind of started assuming that in situations like that, I'm not the audience.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 2:33 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Le Samouraï is my favorite movie. It is perfect in execution.

Except that it got too close to that man on the overpass.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:44 PM on June 24, 2013


@dhartung I see your National Film Registry spreadsheet and raise you an IMDb list.
posted by wensink at 2:45 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, I've seen The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant ages ago, if it counts for something. Before cable hit my small Patagonian city and we had just the two regular channels, they seemed to have some weird trash movie nerd in charge of weekend afternoon programming. This was in my early teens (early '80s), so memory is foggy in most cases (I had to fight a bit with IMDB to get the title right for that one, see), but I do recall watching very odd and amusing trash back then, which I doubt I could identify nowadays.
posted by Iosephus at 2:51 PM on June 24, 2013


Seen 15 of these. Always open to trying some I've not seen if they come highly recommended.

By the way, Friedkin and company are busy at work wrapping up a new crisp Blu-ray print of SORCERER. Can. not. wait. for that to get released. It's a total favorite. I bought the Laserdisc version umpteen years ago and watched it every 6 months or so.
posted by brianstorms at 2:55 PM on June 24, 2013


Whoa, I'd only seen four of those films (several mentioned so far as being too popular, plus Ugetsu), but being reminded of The Super Cops was nice. I don't think I ever saw the movie, but apparently my nostalgia for the "Grade: C-" comic book is substantial.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 2:58 PM on June 24, 2013


Of these, The Iceman Cometh and Fearless are two of my favorites. The only change to the play in Frankenheimer's adaptation is the consolidation of two minor characters into one (friends of Harry Hope). It probably reduces performance time by only a few minutes but is an improvement. This is also Robert Ryan's last performance (as Larry Slade) before he died and what a performance. Lee Marvin is perfect for the part of Hickey. If you get a chance to also watch Sidney Lumet's version of this for TV in which Hickey is played by Jason Robards, it makes for a great comparison. (I think it is available through Amazon streaming.) A young Robert Redford playing the part of Parritt for Lumet becomes a young Jeff Bridges in the later Frankenheimer version. The differences in the character of Joe Mott (the only black character) are vast. You also get to see Sorrell Booke (Boss Hogg) play the anarchist Hugo in both versions!

As for Fearless, as much as I love that movie, I find the performances of the supporting cast, including Benicio Del Toro and John Turturro, borderline terrible. The other things that bug me are the use of the U2 song during the "hold this TV while I drive the car" scene and SPOILERS! the strawberry thing. Ugh! But then that damn plane crash scene is amazing. It also includes my favorite quotation from a Jeff Bridges character: "People don’t believe in god so much as they choose not to believe in nothing."
posted by perhapses at 3:07 PM on June 24, 2013


Chitownfats: "The Swimmer especially, as I sometimes think it is a film that should be mandatory viewing for people on their 30th birthday, as an explanation for the first 30 years and a bit of a warning for the next 30."

The Swimmer is based on a brilliant story by John Cheever.

John Cheever reads "The Swimmer" at the 92nd St. Y in 1977
"The Swimmer" [PDF]
posted by chavenet at 3:34 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised that the Welles films chosen were "The Trial" and "F for Fake", not because they're bad ("The Trial" especially, is nothing short of brilliant), but rather that those are not the Great Unseen Welles films. They've always been pretty easy to get a hold of. Now "Chimes at Midnight"; that's both an amazing movie and extremely hard to find. That and "Mr. Arkadin" aka "Confidential Report" have been languishing in home video limbo for ages.
posted by wabbittwax at 4:17 PM on June 24, 2013


"The Swimmer is based on a brilliant story by John Cheever."

Oh, agreed! But Lancaster is astonishing as the main character
in the movie, I think.
posted by Chitownfats at 4:24 PM on June 24, 2013


10 Rillington Place.

Jesus, how that traumatized me the first time I saw it.
posted by Kinbote at 4:43 PM on June 24, 2013


@Kinbote "I dislike this business as much as you do. Just I happen to have picked up this knowledge while I was in training as a doctor before the war."
posted by wensink at 5:11 PM on June 24, 2013


Le Samourai is outstanding.
posted by parki at 5:14 PM on June 24, 2013


I could never judge Joe Vs The Volcano effectively as it's just awash in a blaze of Meg Ryan in her prime. I done swooned.
posted by jimmythefish at 5:38 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would be reluctant to recommend "WR: Mysteries of the organism" to you; you might get mad at me. But how great if Netflix accidentally sent it to you as a delightful surprise.
posted by acrasis at 6:09 PM on June 24, 2013


Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Ok, just track with me for a second on this movie idea.

Killer Clowns from the Deep, Dark Depths of the Ocean.

That has some scary movie potential. The movie would open at that location where the ocean goes pitch black at the dropoff. You would see scuba divers getting too close to investigate, and out the depths of ocean hell you see these clowns slowly swimming towards you.

Another part of the movie would take place where those high-risk divers work in almost zero visibility under water, doing welding and whatnot. It would occasionally show them fighting off those long-toothed eels or snapping turtles, which is par for the course for the job, but freaks out the average person. But then, unexpectedly... razor toothed clown.

I'm not sure how the movie would end, but it would definitely involve a clown in a shark tank.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:44 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Those who admire Le Samouraï might consider checking out Le Cercle rouge.
posted by Wolof at 7:14 PM on June 24, 2013


Welles' The Trial is forgotten/ignored? Huh. I'd thought it was his best known and praised after Citizen Kane. Local cable here in Argentina had it running two or three times a year in the '90s, IIRC.
posted by Iosephus at 1:39 PM on June 24 [+] [!]


Iosephus, because The Trial had very dodgy copyright status, it got shown on TV a lot and released in many VHS editions. But it's never been noticed the way Kane and Touch of Evil have been. Which is a shame, because it's incredible---maybe the only Kafka adaptation to nail both the humor and sexuality of Kafka's writing.

Wabbitwax: Criterion came out with the most comprehensive Arkadin we're likely to get---it's well worth checking out!
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:02 PM on June 24, 2013


What's the best movie you've never seen?

Fortunately, Ebert did not ask this on AskMe, or it would have been deleted as chatfilter.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:41 PM on June 24, 2013


Here's how to watch Joe Vs. the Volcano:

1. Start at the beginning. Watch the brilliant opening sequences.
2. When you get to the scene in the doctor's office, pause playback.
3. Do something else.
posted by ardgedee at 4:11 AM on June 25, 2013


When were "Breaking Away" or "A Man For All Seasons" ever "forgotten, panned or ignored"?

I don't know about the second, but the first wasn't even available on Region 2 DVD until a couple of years ago, which is astonishing for something that won an Oscar. It's one of my favourite films, but almost nobody in the UK has heard of it, it seems. I managed to see it when it was shown at 11pm on BBc2 back in 2001, and only then because I used to read old Roger Ebert film guides from our local discount book store.
posted by mippy at 4:50 AM on June 25, 2013


For me it would probably be Neil Jordan's Angel.

mippy - I'm surprised to hear you say few people in the UK have heard of "Breaking Away". It was a big deal when it came out. Time Out was all over it and I remember it was one of the films everyone was talking about. In London, at any rate. Maybe it's been forgotten, but certainly Brits of my age are well aware of it.
posted by Decani at 6:01 AM on June 25, 2013


Breaking Away and Man for All Seasons are those sorts of movies that people acknowledge as classics but never actually watch.
posted by octothorpe at 6:11 AM on June 25, 2013


Decani - I wasn't born when it came out, so perhaps I should have said people about 30 and under. Mind you, I suppose many in my age group won't have seen Love Story or Kramer vs Kramer either.

I should get a proper R2 DVD at some point - the R1 I bought when it was the only thing available upsets Windows.
posted by mippy at 6:18 AM on June 25, 2013


I'm not sure how the movie would end, but it would definitely involve a clown in a shark tank.

On a scale of one to "writing for flapjack" how incredibly blazed were you when you wrote this post?

and I'm not hating, it sounds like absurdity done right, like what snakes on a plane should have been. But I also couldn't help but think of a friend telling it to me really stoned in like 11th grade
posted by emptythought at 8:12 AM on June 25, 2013


On a scale of one to "writing for flapjack" how incredibly blazed were you when you wrote this post?

Ha. Actually, I was just really tired, which tends to be when my anxieties about life tend to surface.

But if you want something that sounds stoned, have you ever noticed that the word shark looks like a shark?
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:08 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Which director nominated "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me"? Because they're right. They're sooooo right.
posted by crossoverman at 8:27 PM on June 25, 2013


It has some of Lynch’s best photography.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:44 PM on June 25, 2013


Can it be said that "The Best Years of Our Lives" has been forgotten? It won a truckload of awards in 1946 but I never heard of it until a historian recommended it to me. I never met anyone outside of that history class who has seen it. Maybe it is only forgotten compared to the inferior feel-good film "It's a Wonderful Life," which is now a must-watch yuletide classic.

I love Le Samouraï but I would also give a nomination to its distant American cousin "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai," which also features a hitman living by the Bushido Code in the 20th century. It lacks the brilliance of Melville's film but the humor and performances by Whitaker and Bankolé make the film worth seeing for sure.


My choice for the best movie you've never seen is Bara no sôretsu (aka "Funeral Parade/Procession of Roses") by Toshio Matsumoto. "Funeral Parade of Roses" is a gorgeous, intriguing, tragic, psychedelic, poetic and humorous mindfuck of a movie. Imagine if Oedipus Rex was a transgender hostess in a bar during 1960s Tokyo. It is easily one of my favorite films and I never even heard of it until last year.
posted by samuelcramer at 10:33 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


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