It has been said that all of the good stories have already been told. I disagree. There are a few film-makers that take old and tired stores, wipe away the bad bits, add a twist or two, and make them new again. Here is a list of films (in no particular order) that I have really enjoyed over the years that received litte to no notoriety. If you are looking for something to order off of Netflix, give one of these gems a try:
The Merry Gentlemen
Directed by Michael Keaton, this film has some trouble finding it’s momentum at first. However, once the two main characters meet and start interacting with each other the watcher is treated to a well written and expertly acted film. A tender and dark drama about human relationships, The Merry Gentlemen reaches with a few of it’s sub-plots but overall has a deep seem of subtle feeling that can be extremely satisfying when done right.
The Winning Season
I have always, and will always, be a HUGE Sam Rockwell fan. He plays the entire spectrum from fun and flippant (Gentleman Broncos) to dark and psychological (Moon) with great ease and expert grace. In The Winning Season he plays a down on his luck alcoholic father who is estranged from his teenage daughter. This is well worn territory, to say the least. However, Rockwell does this role new found justice by breathing heart-breaking reality into the character. Yeah, he is a shitty guy, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a good coach, and eventually, a good father. If you like your sports movies with a dash of reality check this one out!
I’m not a big Jennifer Aniston fan, but she does have decent taste when it comes to independent films (see The Good Girl and Office Space). Steven Zahn is a rare comedic talent and in this film he displays his wonderful ability to mix well-meaning idiocy with adorable cluelessness. Its a rom-com, but a well done rom-com and those are rare!
No Such Thing
I have loved Sarah Polley since I first laid eyes on her in the movie Go. However, she is far out-acted in this film by Robert John Burke, who plays the monster. Like many independent monster movies, this films deals with the concept of having a purposeful life when that life lasts forever (see every vampire movie ever made). However, this one takes it a step further by making it’s main character a monster who is intelligent, well-read and completely fed up with our materialistic modern day society. I encourage you to pay special attention to the monster’s ranting monologues, they are an excellent example of truly good screen writing!
The Girl in the Café
With great performances from Bill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald this rom-com folds out in front of the unexpected backdrop of international political and economic policy debate at the G8 summit. Nighy’s rapidly aging public servent finds new life and political ambitions when he meets a beautiful young lady who has yet to feel the grind of the proverbial political policy wheel. This is great thinking couple’s date night movie!
You should watch this one just to be amazed at what an independent movie can do with a bit of monster makeup and a lot of lighting tricks. Imagine a ‘Boy meets Girl, Boy loses Girl, Boy summons Demon to get Girl back’. No, can’t imagine that, watch Lo. You won’t regret it!