I haven’t watched too many movies despite my break because I’ve been too interested in reading Madame Bovary and watching the whole series of The Twilight Zone on NWI with my brother. And I thought I’d see so many movies! Oh well...here's two I did watch recently
Watched The King’s Speech. I’d say a pretty good movie for the most part, but obviously it will be hated for winning the oscars it did. I didn’t think Tom Hooper deserved his awards for the film without seeing it. Having seen it, he definitely did not deserve any award for this. A lot of the framing didn’t work for me, and the scene set-ups were pretty much perfunctory. The guy brought nothing unique or inspired to the film. How did he beat out Fincher? Because most voters for awards are suckers for anything British and feel good. Oh well, the performances are all fine in the film. Colin Firth still should have won everything for A Single Man instead, but the guy is a class act anyway. The movie is fine too, but considering the acclaim it got, it seems incredibly mediocre. But, it’s probably real cool to hate this because it won Best Picture, so I’ll stop seeming so hip and move on.
Also watched All That Jazz (1979). It’s Bob Fosse’s semi-autobiographical look at his difficult time editing his film Lenny and working on his stage production of Chicago. Many would call this self-indulgent and egomanical, but I think it’s great. I love self-awareness and self-criticism in art. This is a bizarre but energetic film featuring an incredible performance by Roy Schneider.
It’s a lot like 8 1/2 and even Synecdoche, NY, in terms of its cynical look at showbiz and art and its use of fantasy and preoccupation with death.
Ben - Good list of movies that work based on their source material. I like the old Alice in Wonderland too. I love Nabokov’s Lolita, but would add Kubrick’s Lolita in place of Lyne’s film which I haven’t seen. I love the Kubrick film (surprise, surprise).
I haven’t read No Country for Old Men, but I’m sure the film is a great adaptation. I liked the film version of The Road that came out the other year.
I usually dislike the movie of a book that I have read first. The few exceptions (off the top of my head) are: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Remains of the Day, Great Expectations (the David Lean version), The Motorcycle Diaries...
I didn’t read The Lord of the Rings books before I saw the movies, which may be why I love the movies so much. I generally dislike all the Harry Potter movies because I read the books first.
I read it after seeing the movie, but Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange is as good as the book, even if the more auspicious ending from the book is discarded in the film.
Oddly enough, I always liked Gone With the Wind the film, then I read the book for a class, loved the book, and started to dislike the movie.
As to underrated films, Brandon...
Synecdoche, NY and The Fountain are criminally underrated. But, I’ve already sung SNY’s praises and will do so for The Fountain in my top 10 of 2006. Also, I could add Eyes Wide Shut, but it seems kind of easy considering all of Kubrick’s movies are initially underrated and then grow in stature. Eyes Wide Shut is another masterpiece by Kubrick and should be regarded as so.
We'd probably all agree that The New World was underrated by critics.
Brandon, If I go by your criteria for an underrated films list, I can’t really think of any great ones. I can only think of comedies because they are usually underrated by critics. I also think of movies I grew up with in the 90s, but those probably aren’t very good movies and the only defense I could make of them is that they have nostalgic value. Most of the other movies I thought of as underrated actually received pretty good reviews, they are just underrated by the public (but that could be so many!)
So, anyway, I could only think of a few movies that critics or institutes didn't really get behind that I like...this half list sucks. I'll try to improve upon it later.
Wet Hot American Summer: Hilarious flick about summer camp from the brilliant/insane minds behind The State. So incredibly underrated. Absurdity at its finest.
Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood: I could quote it all day. I can’t watch Boyz n’ the Hood seriously anymore because of it. Absolutely hilarious. One of the best genre spoof movies. Fantastic jokes that actually land.
The Curse of the Jade Scorpion: No one has to agree with me on this, but I just have to admit that I’m a sucker for any movie that Woody actually acts in (I even liked Scoop because he was in it). This is actually a delightful movie with some great jokes and old school Woody style banter. Certainly one of his better films of the decade.
The Life Aquatic: Generally regarded as Wes Anderson’s least successful effort; it’s actually my favorite of his. I just love Bill Murray. Another fun one to quote.
The Game: It isn't Fincher's best film by a long shot, but it's a solid nightmare thriller and mystery. It's beautiful shot and constructed by Fincher (as expected). Obviously, it has gaping plot holes and you really have to suspend your disbelief to go with it. But I think it works when viewed as a nightmare. Not something that is ever possible, but something that could happen in a dream. The ending is surprising, in that if you know Fincher's films, they rarely end this way.
Sleepy Hollow: This is a pretty great slasher film, and one incredibly beautiful gothic horror film to look at. To me, it's like Bram Stoker's Dracula, in that there are things wrong with it, but it's visual style is so lush for a horror film that I totally adore it.
Perhaps this isn't underrated by critics but: 12 Monkeys. A movie I love and one of the best sci-fi films of the past few decades. I think it's underrated because I don't know enough people who have seen it and love it as much as I do (maybe I don't know enough people).
Sorry, I can't think of any good ones or ballsy ones. I suck. All the underrated lists people have created online that I saw were of movies that I don't like or movies that are actually rated pretty highly. For instance, Is The Sweet Hereafter underrated? Maybe by the general public, but critics pretty much worship that film.