Friday, October 1, 2010

4 Pretty Cool, Lesser Known Movies

If you haven't seen this, then see immediately.
So, everybody has seen or at least heard of the classics: The Godfather, Pulp Fiction, Schindler's List, Fight Club, yada yada. These movies have already been discussed ad nauseam by others who are much more qualified than myself (I am by no means a movie buff). What I want to talk about are a couple of movies I've seen recently that, despite containing high dosages of awesomeness, generally seem to have managed to fly under the radar of the general public. Sure, they may contain a number of flaws or may lack the polish of the aforementioned classics (hence their relative unpopularity), but in my humble opinion each is worthy of an hour or so of anybody's time.

1. The Machinist
Everyone knows what a cool guy Christian Bale is from movies like The Dark Knight, Terminator Salvation, American Psycho, etc. But his greatness as an actor certainly also shines through in this lesser known film that is basically all about a machinist who goes insane. Sure, there are elements of suspense and themes of revenge and repentance, not to mention Fight Club-esque plot twists, but the real reason to see this movie is Bale's convincing emulation of complete and utter batshit insanity (i.e., definitely see this if you're a psychiatrist).

Finally, an effective solution to America's obesity epidemic
If you previously had any doubts about Bale's dedication to his job as an actor, they will be completely erased due to visual proof to the contrary; in preparation for the role, Bale lost 62 lbs over four months to settle at 120 lbs (he is 6'2 in height). Essentially, on screen he looks like a walking skeleton to whom you feel urged to offer a loaf of bread, or at least a pack of twizzlers. According to him, he achieved this weight loss feat by eating only an apple or a can of tuna a day, every day.

I see tremendous marketing potential for a new diet fad: the Tuna and Apples Diet, heartily endorsed by Christian Bale, guaranteed to give you that Auschwitz-survivor physique you've always dreamed of!

Afterwards, Bale regained all the weight he lost and added 40 more lbs of rock-hard muscle in preparation for his role as the goddamn Batman. Remember the intense level of preparation that the actors in 300 underwent to attain their sinewy, ripped bodies? Well, Bale makes them all look like scrawny, daffodil-picking pansies. Let's face the facts: this man is a badass.

2. True Romance
Man, Christian Slater looks
like a douche
Everybody nowadays is familiar with Quentin Tarantino's work; Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, etc, are all amazing movies. But not many people seem to know about this gem that was written by Tarantino. If you like the movies I just named, then you should probably see True Romance, because it has everything you would expect: awesomely gratuitous violence, gratuitously awesome shootouts, and very memorable dialogue. In addition, many big-name actors appear, many of whom were within the incipience of their stardom at the time: Christian Slater, Val Kilmer, Christopher Walken, Dennis Hopper, James Gandolfini (Tony from The Sopranos), Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, and Samuel L. Jackson, to name a few! Sweet jeebus, I'm clueless as to why this movie isn't more popular.

Okay, maybe it isn't more popular than it is for one important reason: the plot sucks! That's why I haven't bothered to describe it, lest it turn you away. The romantic bits are especially vomit-inducing, which basically means the first 10-15 minutes of the movie are mediocre at best. After this period, however, there are many particularly awesome scenes of action and dialogue, which I suppose is a given for just about any Tarantino-influenced production. One scene in particular, featuring Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper, strikes me as perhaps one of the most memorable scenes of dialogue in all of cinema (this is not an exaggeration!).

Does he look like a b -- oops, wrong movie

3. Oldboy
First off, if you haven't already seen this one, I will warn you that it is not a family-friendly movie, and I mean that in the most literal way possible - pretty much, don't watch Oldboy with members of your immediate family unless you are prepared for particularly uncomfortable moments.

Hammer: apply directly to the forehead

With that out of the way, let me tell you about how great of a movie this is! If it inspired the Virginia Tech shooter to go on his killing rampage, then you know it has to be filled with ultra-violent awesomeness (damn, I'm so insensitive). In summary: A Japanese man named Oh Dae-Su is kidnapped and locked inside a nondescript hotel room, with a television being his only connection to the outside world, for 15 years without having the slightest idea of who his captor is or what his motives are. Food is slid underneath his door and occasionally he is gassed into unconsciousness so that his captors may trim his hair and nails. Man, if only modern hotels were so accommodating (Days Inn, Best Western: take notes!). When he is finally released he embarks on a mission to discover the identity of his captor and inflict revenge of the gruesomest degree, using an attractive young girl as his sidekick. So, if you enjoy revenge-themed movies, then you will probably absolutely love this one.

4. Koyaanisqatsi
Cool movie bro
This last one deviates a bit in style from the previously listed movies. Notably, it has no obvious plot, no cast of actors, no dialogue, no narration, and nothing in the way of special effects (unless you consider slow-motion and time-lapse photography to be particularly special). It simply juxtaposes images with music to explore its themes and convey its messages. To give you an idea of what themes may be present in this film, the word Koyaanisqatsi (taken from some obscure, antiquated and irrelevant language spoken by an obscure, antiquated and irrelevant people) translates roughly to "life in turmoil, life out of balance, or life disintegrating." Sounds peachy! Really, no further description will do the movie any justice; if what I've said about it already is at all intriguing, then you should watch it, if only for the fact that there is no other movie quite like it, and it is potentially an edifying experience. Just allow it your patience and you'll be rewarded.

If you do end up watching Koyaanisqatsi because of my recommendation (if you haven't already seen it), and you absolutely hate it, bad lolz.

Feel free to discuss/add to this list in the comments!