GREAT MOVIES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:Princess Mononoke (1997) — Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, featuring the voices of Gillian Anderson, Clair Danes, Billy Crudup, and Billy Bob Thornton.
THOUGHTS: Ranked in Roger Ebert’s top ten, this visually stunning epic masterpiece has long been one of my favorite films.The film’s director, Hayao Miyazaki, is widely regarded as the best animator in the world, and he fulfills that reputation in this film using a gorgeous blend of hand-drawn characters, hand painted backgrounds, and computer graphics.The film is unique from most epics in that there are no true “bad guys” – every antagonist has redeemable qualities and clear, understandable motives for their actions.A one-of-a-kind movie.
*Be forewarned: this film is rated PG-13, as it’s more violent than most American animated films.
SYNOPSIS: After being fatally cursed by a demon boar god, young prince Ashitaka must travel west to see if the great forest spirit will remove the curse and finds himself in the center of a massive battle between mankind and nature.
GREAT MOVIES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:A History of Violence (2005) — Directed by David Cronenberg, starring Viggo Mortensen
THOUGHTS: Ranked the 4th best film of the decade by Rolling Stone Magazine, A History of Violence slipped past a lot of viewers’ radars as, despite its title, it’s more of a drama than an action movie.Still, the action in this film is incredibly efficient and effective; brief moments of violence are shot so well that they provide a chilly resonance throughout the film.
SYNOPSIS:After killing two armed robbers in self-defense, Tom Stall, a mild-mannered small-town diner owner, becomes a local celebrity; however, the spotlight draws attention to his hidden past, bringing questions about who he really is and why he’s so good at killing people.
GREAT MOVIES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:Adaptation (2002) — Directed by Spike Jonze, written by Charlie Kaufman, starring Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, and Chris Cooper
THOUGHTS: It’s hard for me to pick my favorite movie, but this definitely falls in the top five.With an insanely clever screenplay by Charlie Kaufman about his attempts to adapt a book with no plot into a movie, Adaptation is hilarious, multi-layered, and a blast to watch over and over again. If you’ve lost all faith in Nicolas Cage’s acting ability, this movie will remind you that he is at least capable of greatness.
SYNOPSIS: After being hired to write a film adaptation to Susan Orlean’s book The Orchid Thief, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman struggles with horrendous writer’s block, eventually seeking the assistance of his hack writer brother, Donald, and investigating into the hidden romance, drug use, and criminal activities of Susan Orleans and the subject of her book, John Laroche.
GREAT MOVIES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:Kung Fu Hustle (2004 – Hong Kong) — Directed, produced, and starring Stephen Chow.
THOUGHTS: An action/comedy described by Roger Ebert as “Jackie Chan and Buster Keaton meet Quentin Tarantino and Bugs Bunny.”Kung Fu Hustle is the rare parody that’s actually better than most of the movies of which it’s making fun.
SYNOPSIS: A simple street hustler named Sing, who dreams of being a vicious gangster, accidentally starts a war between a the nefarious Axe Gang and a group of poor martial artists.As tensions escalate, Sing gradually discovers that, though he may lack the chops to be a villain, he may have what it takes to be a hero.
GREAT MOVIES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:True Romance (1993) — Written by Quentin Tarantino, Directed by Tony Scott, Starring Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Christopher Walken, and Dennis Hopper.
THOUGHTS: With great reviews, a script by Quentin Tarantino (his first!), and one of the greatest casts ever assembled, True Romance should have been a blockbuster success.Instead, it was a box office bomb. Luckily, it’s been making a comeback as a cult classic.Watch for Brad Pitt’s character—it’s a small role, but it’s one of his best.
SYNOPSIS: After a comic book clerk falls in love with a call girl, he kills her pimp, steals a briefcase full of pure, uncut cocaine, and runs away with her, not realizing that the feds and the mob are hot on their tail.
GREAT MOVIES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:Run Lola Run (1998 – Germany) — Written and directed by Tom Tykwer and starring Franka Potente.
THOUGHTS: A fast-paced German crime thriller that plays with the ideas of causation, free will, and determinism by rewinding a twenty minute period of time and replaying it with the protagonist making slightly different choices each time that lead to different outcomes.It’s a fun, novel movie with a very visual story.
SYNOPSIS: A woman must obtain 100,000 German marks in twenty minutes to save her boyfriend, a small time criminal, after he loses that amount of his boss’s money.
GREAT MOVIES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:Equilibrium (2002) — directed by Kurt Wimmer, starring Christian Bale.
THOUGHTS: This movie actually holds the record for the highest body count in movie history by a single killer. If you liked the first Matrix, you’ll probably like this film as well, as it finds a similar balance of gun-blasting entertainment and thought provoking science fiction. Is the science fiction a little too similar to Fahrenheit 451 and 1984? Probably. Is that really such a bad thing? I think not.
SYNOPSIS: In a dystopian future where all feelings and artistic expression are outlawed and citizens take daily injections of drugs to suppress their emotions, John Preston, a top government enforcement officer, begins to experience emotions after accidentally missing a dose, leading him to question the morality of the totalitarian government and eventually lead the resistance.
GREAT MOVIES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:City of God (2002 - Brazil) — directed by Fernando Meirelles
THOUGHTS: One of the grittiest and best urban crime dramas ever made. This film has an incredible story and beautiful cinematography. The images of pre-teen drug dealers waving guns at each other may never leave your head.
SYNOPSIS: Based on a true story, City of God follows the rise of organized crime in the Cidade de Deus ghetto of Rio De Janeiro from the late 60’s to the early 80’s, as seen through the eyes of a young photographer named Rocket.
GREAT MOVIES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:The Fall (2006) — directed by Tarsem Singh, starring Lee Pace, Catinka Untaru, and Justin Waddell.
THOUGHTS: Incredible locations, set design, costume design, and cinematography. Easily one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. The story is solid, though a bit slower than this incredible trailer suggests.
SYNOPSIS: At a Los Angeles hospital in the 1920’s, Alexandria, a young girl recovering from a broken arm, befriends Roy Walker, a movie stunt man who was partially paralyzed after a fall. In exchange for help getting pain killers, Roy tells her an elaborate story about six great men on a quest to kill a corrupt provincial governor
GREAT MOVIES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:Old Boy (2003 - Korea) — Directed by Park Chan-wook.
THOUGHTS: An incredible film. One of the best revenge movies ever made. Be forewarned, however: this film is not for the squeamish.
SYNOPSIS: The film follows the story of Oh Dae-Su, who is locked in a hotel room for 15 years without knowing his captor’s motives. When he is finally released, Dae Su finds himself still trapped in a web of conspiracy and violence.