Last week we looked at five shows the internet should be talking about as much as Game of Thrones, and I think the movie equivalent of Game of Thrones are all the superhero flicks, which I appreciate and enjoy talking about. However, I don’t like the way they crowd out conversation about other films, because there are a ton of them that offer more than marketing strategies and spoilers with which we could discuss. There are actually themes and performances and thought-provoking questions raised that we can talk about.
Off the top of my head, here’s ten movies I think we should be talking more about.
Stranger than Fiction — I know most of you have seen this, but we really should be talking about it more than we do. When it comes to a guy like Jim Carrey, we all celebrate what a wonderful dramatic actor he could be in The Truman Show or Eternal Sunshine, but no one gives Ferrell any credit for his splendid turn in the touching and poignant Stranger than Fiction, which I still believe to be Ferrell’s best movie to date. I still find myself occasionally returning to this scene on YouTube:
And this one, every April:
Dope — Dope premiered earlier this year to positive reviews, and a smattering of very smart people enthusiastically encouraging us to go out and see the kind of movie that’s rare to find in cineplexes these days: A smart, witty, coming-of-age films featuring a multiracial cast. It was a brilliant, engaging film and it taught me half of everything I know about Bitcoin. It was like the John Hughes equivalent of the sci-fi Attack the Block. Unfortunately, the hype quickly faded, probably because there were no superheroes in the movie (only a inner-city black kid who goes to Harvard, which is even better). Hopefully, the buzz will return in September/October, when it’s released on Blu Ray and DVD.
Ex Machina — We raved about it for a few weeks — and even tried to get the full cast of the film into the Pajiba 10 — but the buzz surrounding one of the most compelling and original sci-fi films in quite some time wasn’t enough to push it over $25 million at the box office, which means that all our Ex Machina references when talking about Humans fall on clueless ears. That’s too bad, because Ex Machina would be a terrifically fun movie to talk about. We’ll have to settle for the fact that the film’s leads, Domhall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac, will both be in Star Wars, so perhaps Star Wars fans will return to it next year. If so, they’ll be treated to the best cinematic dance outside of Sam Rockwell.
It Follows — There were a few, I think, but where was the avalanche of think pieces to come after the release of this film criticizing its abstinence-only message? Here’s a genuinely chilling horror film — one of the best in recent years, along with Babadook — that basically said, “If you fuck, you die” (which was kind of the same message imparted by every 1980’s slasher film). The buzz managed to push It Follows into 1200 theaters, where it collapsed in on itself at the box office, tapping out at $14 million. It’ll do well on Netflix someday, though, and will finally erase Lloyd Dobler as the worst stalker in movie history.
While We’re Young — How often does Noah Baumbach come out with a movie? And with Ben Stiller in an attempt at not being “Ben Stiller,” plus Adam Driver and Naomi Watts? It was the most mainstream Baumbach movie ever, and no one really talked about it, which is a shame because we all need to talk about how this movie wasn’t nearly as good as it should have been! Great cast, great writer/director and he flat-out biffed the landing and turned an interesting premise into a forgettable movie. But we should talk more about why it was forgettable, shouldn’t we?
What We Do in the Shadows — Best comedy of 2015! And it’s an afterthought? $3.5 million at the box office? What the hell? This joke, alone is worth $3.5 million.
Ricki and the Flash — The marketing for this movie was almost as bad as Meryl Streep’s distracting hairstyle in it, but the film itself is so much better than you think it might be. Rick Springfield is terrific, and it carves out a story that’s never really been told in Hollywood before: Why do men escape judgement for abandoning their families to pursue their dreams, but women are triple-punished as terrible wives, mothers, and people? It’s an entertaining enough film, but the subtext is powerful, and something we should be talking more about.
Trance — We gave the Danny Boyle film a terrible review when it came out, and I’m not saying that’s it’s not warranted, but there was some really interesting plot-work in here, and while it didn’t work, I honestly thought it was one or two mistakes from being a mindfuck classic. Does anyone agree, or has everyone completely dismissed the movie?
Inherent Vice — I didn’t like Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film, at all, an in fact, it took me three days to get through it. It may have been billed as a comedy, but I thought it was more brutal to watch than The Master, if only because it was even longer and more aimless. It’s the kind of film that completely turned me off to every wanting to read Thomas Pynchon. Agree? Disagree? Could care less?
Dear White People — Like Dope, Dear White People was hyped around the Internet based on a terrific trailer , which promised to be a biting satire on post-racial America. Critics loved it! Audiences mostly ignored it, and the weeks after its release didn’t see a proliferation of thoughtful think pieces. Why is that?