I’m always telling you about movies and music that make me happy, but it occurred to me that my choices might become a bit mundane or predictable over time. So, I decided to enlist the help of some intelligent folks at the paper and have them offer some picks of their own. It also allowed me to see a different side of my co-workers, and that’s always a plus.
I asked if they might each choose one of their favorite movies that flew under the radar, or didn’t get the attention they thought it deserved. I thought I might get differing tastes and a few choices that surprised, and I was not disappointed.
These are Five Friends' Favorite Forgotten Films:
1. Nathan Baker: Constantine
It’s neo-noir with Neo.
A lot of the criticism for it focused on it not being true to the source material. That’s not a problem for me, because I was never big into the comic book or Catholicism.
The cast may be in the A- list territory, although you’ve got the amazing Tilda Swinton in there pulling up the average, but they all seem to be well fit for their roles.
Keanu Reeves is good as the cynical detective/demon hunter trying and failing to buy his way into heaven, Rachel Weisz is the by-the-books cop, Swinton is a great androgynous Angel Gabriel, and even Gavin Rossdale isn’t the worst as a demon half-breed. The best performance in the movie, however, is Peter Stormare, who gives us one of film’s best Satans.
It’s just a nice mix of moodiness and irreverence that makes a casually re-watchable movie.
2. Jason Willis: What Dreams May Come
The film I'd like to highlight is the 1998 film What Dreams May Come, starring Robin Williams.
It's a beautiful film, both in terms of the story it tells about the lengths true love will go to find one another, and also visually. Among other awards, it won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, and it really showcases Williams' dramatic acting skills.
It's an emotional rollercoaster, but just an incredibly beautiful story -- definitely something folks should watch.
3. Sam Watson: Days of Heaven
I discovered Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven years after its release in 1978.
Independent films were not on the radar of a 14-year-old boy in Kingsport, Tennessee, but a college film class introduced to me what I still consider a visually perfect masterpiece. It may just be the most beautiful film ever made.
At Malick’s insistence, cinematographers Nestor Almendros and Haskell Wexler shot the film almost entirely in natural light. The effect is a painterly, ethereal quality that advances the film’s story of human conflict with nature and humanity itself.
Essentially, the plot is a love triangle complete with deception, jealousy, and eventually death, but it’s the opposite of film noir. Malick used distant, almost muted techniques and minimalist narration from child actress Linda Manz to communicate his vision.
Days of Heaven and Malick left their stamp all over cinema. You’ll find their imprint on hundreds of films made since, including The Color Purple, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and All the Real Girls.
4. Jessica Fuller: Troll 2
Troll 2 is an unforgettable experience I think everyone should see at least once. Not because it's good in any capacity, but because it's absolutely awful.
I was introduced to the movie by one of my best friends in college about eight years ago, and now it's a ritual for my friends and me to get together to watch it at least once a year.
Everything about the movie is garbage — the acting, the plot, the dialogue, the costumes, the music — but that's what makes it so fun. It's probably the one movie I've watched the most, I've honestly lost count how many times I've seen it.
Any time one of us makes another friend, or starts dating someone new, it's almost a rite of passage that we all watch Troll 2 together.
5. Brandon Paykamian: Snowpiercer
One of my favorite films is Snowpiercer, a 2013 science fiction action film based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette.
This action-packed dystopian film explores the themes of class struggle and social stratification in a world suffering from the devastating effects of climate change.
The film takes place on a large train, which is rigidly divided into classes. The lower classes in the back of the train subsist off bugs and face cruel treatment from the upper classes, who live a decadent lifestyle near the front of the train at the workers’ expense. As resentment grows, a rebellion starts to brew.
The film seems to be a futuristic, dystopian depiction of events such as the French Revolution. It ends in complete disaster after the rebellion, led by actor Curtis Evans’ character. is able to finally fight its way to the front of the train.
So, there you have it — five films you could be watching right now, if you weren’t reading this article. If any of these movies sound like they could be your cup of tea, spend some time viewing. Let us know what you think, or what you would suggest, in the comments section of the article on www.johnsoncitypress.com.
Thanks for watching!