Unexpected films for unexpected times
June 4, 2020 7:10 AM   Subscribe

If you need a break from all the awful, there's a lot of joy to be found in watching Anne Marsen dance through crowded NYC streets in GirlWalkAllDay. Or take your pick from a ton of other Movies That Are Unlike Anything You've Seen Before.
posted by Mchelly (41 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think that second link is not the correct link?
posted by rmd1023 at 7:20 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


[Hi! Just fixed a broken link and made the post live again. ]
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 8:00 AM on June 4 [6 favorites]


Still think there's something wrong with the second link, unless "Movies That Are Unlike Anything You've Seen Before" is supposed to go to a Twitter link about Nashville police arresting some dude.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:02 AM on June 4


I... uh... I don't think you quite fixed it.
posted by logicpunk at 8:02 AM on June 4


First link isn't working properly for me either. I only can see the top third of the films and there is no function to scroll down so that it's properly centered. I think it only works on phones where you can swipe down.
posted by Jane the Brown at 8:09 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


[Ah yes. I’ve actually fixed it this time, I promise. New mod jitters. Thanks for everyone’s patience. ]
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 8:12 AM on June 4 [33 favorites]




(Wow apologies about mispasting that second link!)
posted by Mchelly at 8:37 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Can I add The Color of Pomegranates and The Mirror?
posted by Omon Ra at 9:00 AM on June 4 [6 favorites]


Good list. I'd add;

Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (youtube)
F for Fake (Criterion)
David Holzman's Diary (Tubi)
Border (trailer)
Upstream Color (trailer)
Mulholland Drive (criterion)
Mother! (trailer)
The Fountain (trailer)
JE TU IL ELLE (TRAILER)
AU HASARD BALTHAZAR (trailer - criterion)
posted by dobbs at 9:04 AM on June 4 [9 favorites]


I was looking for Mulholland Drive and The Fall. But what a cool list - I haven't seen most and now my to-watch list is embiggened.

I welcome more submissions here!
posted by j_curiouser at 9:33 AM on June 4


There was a ton of hype about Dick Tracy when it came out, and I feel like I saw a ton of "making of" that summer it came out. One cool thing about it was that they used the same shades of colors as in a newspaper, so all the blues are the same, all the reds... it's really striking.
posted by frecklefaerie at 9:50 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


A pleasingly odd and personal seeming list. Not sure it'd all fits together well for anyone else, but that's cool. Sometimes its more personal choices that can lead to unexpected new areas of interest even if not everything mentioned is equally exciting.

There are though a fair number of movies I share the author's enthusiasm for, or at least like something else by the same director a lot.

The Act of Killing is stunning, and I mean that in both senses, top notch documentary filmmaking but also numbingly disturbing in the casual revelations of a history of state terrorism being laid out by those who participated in the crimes as they re-enact them as if for a Hollywood (or Bollywood) style film, yet all the while being aware it is a documentary that is being made. There really isn't anything much like it.

Daughters of the Dust is also exceptional, but doesn't seek to duplicate Hollywood storytelling in punching up the action to tell its history, which is entirely appropriate as that history is exactly what is ignored by popular culture.

I'd offer In the Cut instead of Portrait of a Lady if choosing a Jane Campion film. In the Cut was received badly by most at its release for being thought a genre film that didn't fulfill genre expectations, and is only recently started to gain the respect it deserves for doing precisely that, overturning the genre expectations around thriller to dig into some of the masculine ideology that infects the genre. It's also, I think, more boldly original than Portrait, but all Campion's films are worth seeing in my book.

Morvern Callar also plays with expectations in a vaguely similar and also excellent way around identy and control. Orlando takes a much lighter tone in its approach to a mutable identity and lived history, and is would be happily recommended by me as well. Zama could fit that billing somewhat too and might be a more readily approachable movie for dealing with colonialism in a revisionist manner, but also shares a bit more commonality with other films that have tread much the same ground while Martel's other movies might feel a bit more singular. Any Apichatpong Weerasethakul movie is worth the time as they pose a more personal associative acounting of history that owes little to how such histories are normally written. Weerasethakul is amazing.

Those aren't at all the Jia Zhangke or Hou Hsiao-Hsien I'd choose, but both they and Hong Sang-Soo are worth viewing something by, though picking one Hong Sang-Soo movie as definitely better than the others isn't really that much an issue as his manner of movie making doesn't lend itself well to rankings. The Kiarostami probably wouldn't be what I'd choose to introduce someone to his movies, though the author isn't wrong for saying its unique, but that's true of most of his work. Perfect Blue and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya are both lovely, but I'm a bit less sold on their singularity than the author, particularly given the influence Kon has had since then, but are both worth viewing for anyone who isn't unable to enjoy animated films.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:00 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


The Act of Killing is stunning, and I mean that in both senses, top notch documentary filmmaking but also numbingly disturbing in the casual revelations of a history of state terrorism being laid out by those who participated in the crimes as they re-enact them as if for a Hollywood (or Bollywood) style film, yet all the while being aware it is a documentary that is being made. There really isn't anything much like it.

Indeed. It has stayed with me for years.

I think I mentioned on the blue once before that my previous job involved a great deal of travel and if I was in a town far from home with no friends or family to spend time with, I would often go see a movie (at least partly because I could then have a handy way of recalling that I was in such-and-such a city in 2007 because I saw such-and-such a movie there).

In the course of maybe a week or ten days in 2013 while on the road, I saw The Act of Killing, Upstream Color, and Frances Ha. If I had more weeks like that, I’d be a happier fellow.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:06 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Bestiaire (2012) is oddly entrancing. It's just footage of animals standing around, being animals. There's no fancy editing or camerawork or soundtrack. Just animals. Cows and such. Not even doing anything really, just standing there. It's more interesting than it sounds, though I would struggle to explain why. It's calming and kind of hypnotic.

I'd also plug The Fall (2006) and Under the Skin (2013) as falling into the category of strange, vivid, and memorable, though in very different ways.
posted by dephlogisticated at 10:49 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Lots of great suggestions - I'd also throw into the mix:

Yeelen (clip - the whole thing appears to be on YouTube, but I can't tell if its official or not)
Ten Canoes (Trailer)
Tears of the Black Tiger - (Trailer).

Plus perennial favourites Tampopo and Russian Ark
posted by YoungStencil at 11:01 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


And any Tarkovsky:
Stalker (youTube)
or Solaris.

Though it was pretty popular, I thought "The Favorite" was pretty tremendous, funny, surprising, occasionally sad - and portrayed women not as they are 'traditionally' portrayed by Hollywood films.
('Upstream Color' was remarkable - spare, simple and compelling; and 'Under the Skin' was also - deeply disturbing.)
posted by From Bklyn at 11:44 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Most of all happy to see Rat Film on there - it's the most independent on this list and so damn relevant right now.

I could go on and on but I'm just gonna recommend several *new* titles starved for your eyeball/streaming configurations, though I'm not sure some of them are even available to stream anywhere yet:

Mark Jenkin's Bait
Hlynur Palmason's White, White Day
Kleber Mendonça Filho's Bacurau
Max Linz's Weitermachen Sansoucci
posted by mit5urugi at 11:50 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Bill Morrison's Decasia (trailer)
posted by bdc34 at 11:58 AM on June 4


I'll add more:

Satantango (Kanopy - trailer) or anything by Bela Tarr (I love The Turin Horse)
Sexy Beast (trailer)
Bill Douglas' trilogy (My Childhood, My Ain Folk, My Way Home)
Gummo (trailer)
Los Angeles Plays Itself (trailer)
San Soliel (trailer)
Begotten (youtube)
George Washington (trailer)
posted by dobbs at 12:27 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


A pleasingly odd and personal seeming list.

I think that the "30 Singular Films" list is more a list of films that have unusual and striking imagery and visuals, or take unusual angles on storytelling. I can second Dick Tracy because while the story was a bit of a mess, the visuals were pretty eye-catching.

One mentioned in here I can second: The Fountain. On the face of it it's a bonkers triple-header story with Hugh Jackman playing a conquistador in one story, a doctor in the second one, and a futuristic space monk with a tree in the third one. But the stories all fit together in such a way that it makes a surprisingly powerful statement about mortality and man's place in the natural world.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:35 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Soon to be released, "Click That" a 5 hour epic deeply inspecting the angst ridden lives of moderators stuck in the confines of a world wide epidemic where their only recourse, and pleasure, is correcting links to obscure references to other massively obscure films,
posted by sammyo at 12:37 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


Swiss Army Man belongs on that list.
posted by hoodrich at 12:38 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]




I would have put Tampopo on the list too.

And for kids movies, there's Dunderklumpen
posted by Mchelly at 1:38 PM on June 4


Good list.

Act of Killing is extraordinary. Such a strange approach to vast and successful horror. I kept leaping up while watching and finally had to stand or pace.

Enemy might be the best doppelganger film.

I've never seen that Leviathan, but deeply respect this Leviathan.
posted by doctornemo at 1:44 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Thanks a lot. Girl Walk is stunning. Thanks again !
posted by nicolin at 2:12 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


I think if such a list had been made thirty-five years, it would have been shorter and included Koyaanisqatsi. However, that is a movie no so heavily plundered for its approach that, like Hamlet, it now seems like a bunch of clichés.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:29 PM on June 4 [5 favorites]


Cemetary Man. Definitely.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:37 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


I think if such a list had been made thirty-five years, it would have been shorter and included Koyaanisqatsi. However, that is a movie no so heavily plundered for its approach that, like Hamlet, it now seems like a bunch of clichés.

I dunno — 35 years ago you'd have the more recent history of avant-garde filmmaking to draw on, and you could cite titles like Meshes of the Afternoon, Dog Star Man and Wavelength, not to mention the Japanese House and the American Eraserhead. There are some Koyaanisqatsi progenitors (like Man with a Movie Camera or Berlin: Symphony of a Great City) to consider, and some very influential short films like "La Jetée" (fiction) and "Night and Fog" (non). (Not linking that last because: Holocaust footage.) There's the anti-fascist Salò and the feminist Jeanne Dielman. The theatrical meta-documentary Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One. The latter-day neorealist masterpiece Killer of Sheep (it's available to stream free for a limited time)! The surrealist Czech New Wave horror film Valerie and Her Week of Wonders! The strangely prescient Cafe Flesh (link to PG-13 version), one of the most depressing porn features ever made! The bleak low-budget noir Detour! Film history is full of truly singular weirdness. Not a lot of it came out of the American studio system, but I feel like studio pictures like Vertigo and Apocalypse Now are also pretty unique.
posted by Mothlight at 6:36 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


I will have to take your word on that; I have seen maybe half of what you list and have not heard of several. The link in the FPP is possibly a little more mainstream than your pitch here: Happy Feet Two and Scott Pilgrim would be strange bedfellows with your list as I understand it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:44 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Ctrl-F
Begotten (youtube ) -- posted by dobbs

PRAISE BOB!
posted by symbioid at 10:51 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


The most singularly enjoyable thing I’ve seen so far while working through that list was actiually not on that list (but on this Guardian one): Smashed XL by the Gandinis. A guaranteed hour like nothing you’ve ever watched.
posted by progosk at 10:57 PM on June 4


I think that the "30 Singular Films" list is more a list of films that have unusual and striking imagery and visuals, or take unusual angles on storytelling.

You're right of course, and I really should learn to not post right before bedtime as I tend to ramble on. I just meant that the singularity of the films varies in a sometimes competing way that might throw off some viewers.

Things like Scott Pilgrim or Dick Tracy are more singular for how they visualize their worlds, while other films aren't going to necessarily catch the eye with the same ready immediacy because what makes them singular is as much how they challenge the dominant story telling conventions and values, often in a more subtly defiant visual sense which may not have the same kind of immediate appeal to many viewers. The mix might seem jarring for that, or not, I guess it'll depend on the viewer and I'm sure there is some sense to listing both more the more familiar titles with flair alongside those that challenge the more usual narrative strategies/ideologies.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:45 AM on June 5


Came for the Holy Motors, did not disappoint. I would also add Funky Forest, Audition and Enter the Void.
posted by benzenedream at 2:37 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Thinking about unusual films, I'm a bit surprised I didn't see Rubber on the list. Not a lot of movies about homicidal car tires.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:12 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


I will have to take your word on that; I have seen maybe half of what you list and have not heard of several. The link in the FPP is possibly a little more mainstream than your pitch here: Happy Feet Two and Scott Pilgrim would be strange bedfellows with your list as I understand it.

It's a range for sure. Just drawing from the original list, Happy Feet Two and Uncle Boonmee would make one heck of a double feature. And Leviathan is pretty much in the tradition of some of the more avant-garde stuff I linked to. I'll admit my list is definitely not as fun as The Atlantic list, even if I enjoyed pulling it together.

Did I forget Liquid Sky? I'd put Liquid Sky on the pre-1985 list, too.
posted by Mothlight at 7:31 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Two more:
The Naked Island (1960)
Symbol (2009)
posted by Omon Ra at 9:28 AM on June 5


I'll admit my list is definitely not as fun as The Atlantic list, even if I enjoyed pulling it together.

And still you were too modest to even mention your namesake.

Really though, I'm cool with the idea of listing odd and unique movies of whatever sort and people enjoying them as they will, but it feels a little misguided to lump some of them together without doing a bit more to differentiate between them. Putting something like Daughters of the Dust on the same list as something like Scott Pilgrim or Hausu because each is "unique" does a disservice to Daughters of the Dust in making it seem more like exotica or "weird" rather than a more meaningful reaction to a legacy of slavery and an offering of an alternative vision.

Making lists of stuff "I" like can make sense to me in a variety of ways that might carry different kinds of significance for each selection because I have it sorted in my head what each means to me, but plopping them all together for a more undetermined general audience can lose those meanings and can carry a sense of consumerist diversion as the defining quality. Weird and wild movies! For some, that gets to be the thing they look for, oddity for its own sake, a quest for the bizarre. That's fine in a sense, there's nothing wrong with enjoying strangeness for its own sake, but once that loses context completely it can become akin to a colonialist attitude in seeing all unconventionality as just weirdness rather than an attempt to challenge harmful ideology or just provide a perspective outside the mainstream.

I know this list didn't mean to do that at all and neither did anyone responding to it, but lists, even with some light explanation behind the choices, aren't a really good way to communicate complex ideas when one isn't talking to a known audience.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:35 AM on June 5


I've also found 366 weird movies to be a reasonable overlap of my preferences. Some of them are just bizarre and not actually that unique but it has a reasonable selection of things I've liked.
posted by benzenedream at 5:38 PM on June 5


I'm glad Uncle Boonmee made it.

The American Astronaut is one of my faves too.
posted by boilermonster at 12:03 AM on June 6


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