We see a lot of movies releasing annually and every year we find some movies which we call as masterpieces or classics. Most of them are recognised that very year by either the critics or the audience or both while some just wait for years to be recognised as what they call “chef d’oeuvre” or “magnum opus”. Out of all those movies a few remain, which though being great pieces of art go unnoticed or are less understood or even misunderstood or forgotten. My motto is to bring to your view 5 of those many such movies which you should have seen but you may not have because they aren’t really talked about when critics or audiences or cinematic pundits discuss about and list great movies.
I will be giving some memorable quotes from each of them just for fun because I think if nothing can pull the audience, quotes might.
5. Experimenter (2015)
Director – Michael Almereyda
Writer – Michael Almereyda
Experimenter is a biographical drama about Stanley Miligram (portrayed by Peter Sarsgaard), an American social psychologist and about his various psychological experiments most popularly his infamous experiment on obedience.
Why it’s here: –
Experimenter is more of an art film than an entertaining one and hence it went largely unnoticed claiming merely $128,465 at the box office inspite of garnering positive reviews. Peter Sarsgaard as Stanley Miligram gave a stunningly matured performance evincing the fact that he is one of the most underrated and underused actors in Hollywood. While most biographical dramas are rather over-dramatic and focus more on the person, this movie focuses more about human nature and how flawed we humans are, albeit being the most powerful creation of nature. When I saw this movie I was rather overwhelmed on knowing the extents we humans could go in order to protect our vanity, honour and self-respect even if that leads us to kill or hurt someone. The scene where Miligram surveys a participant of his obedience experiment is simply out of the world and blatantly suggests human moral errata. Experimenter is a mirror to the society as it shows how ugly we really are and all those talks of honour, dignity, rationalisation or intellectual thought donot justify things that are wrong. This movie is an eye-opener to the world and ofcourse a must watch.
Memorable quote: –
Stanley Miligram – Our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.
4. Blue Ruin (2013)
Director – Jeremy Saulnier
Writer – Jeremy Saulnier
A beach vagrant and a rather timid and reserved person Dwight Evans (Macon Blair) kills Wade Clealand. But why would he do so? What did Wade do to him?
Why it’s here: –
“Revenge is a dish best served cold” and no movie has ever made me feel so close to this sentence as Blue Ruin. While most thrillers are clichéd and do predictable things and sometimes even fail to thrill us, this movie sets new highs for thriller lovers and is the best thriller movie I have seen in recent years. It’s more than gripping and riveting, it just glues you to your seat and makes you think everytime ‘What’s next’! I suggested this movie to a friend of mine who never sees movies passionately and always fast-forwards the movies she watches out of her lack of patience, but she confessed having seen this movie completely without touching the arrow key of her laptop, and this proves how engaging Blue Ruin is! With a newer director and hardly known actors, not many have seen this flick or even heard about it but for a movie fanatic, this low budget flick is unmissable. Watch it for its wonderfully crafted script, smart direction and riveting performances especially that of Macon Blair.
Memorable quote: –
Teddy Clealand – He smoked, he drank and he… I guess he didn’t fuck cause of cancer but he watched all his favourite TV shows and he died a free man.
3. Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Director – Marc Forster
Writer – Zach Helm
Harold Crick (Will Ferrell), an agent of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) lives quite a stoic life. One day he is shocked to hear a woman’s voice who seems to be narrating his life but is unable to communicate with it. He loses it when the voice declares that his death is imminent. What is that voice all about? And why does it want to kill Harold? Is there really a lady speaking or is Harold a schizophrenic?
Why it’s here: –
Well this choice was controversial because Stranger Than Fiction is a known movie but it’s for this movie that I have included ‘not famous’ in the title of this blog post. This movie rather was made on a $30m budget and earned around $53m and was even well received by critics. So why is it here?
The answer is simple. Stranger Than Fiction is completely forgotten and the only thing people remember it is as Will Ferrell’s first ever dramatic performance. No one ever suggests this movie when a friend asks for a really good (forget great) or an intelligently made film. Even popular blogsites like The Cinemaholic have never honoured it inspite of its greatness. Stranger Than Fiction is that kind of movie which makes us exclaim “how the fuck could they even think of a movie like that” and has one of the most intelligent scripts to have ever been written. This movie is supported by great performances by a talented cast headed by Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Emma Thompson but what stands out is the reason why the movie is remembered – Will Ferrell’s restrained performance. No one could have ever imagined him doing such a movie and when I saw it, I just waited for him to scream or shout or do silly antics which he always does but he gladly disappointed me as well as everyone and delivered a great performance. The screenplay by Helm is so perspicaciously and astutely crafted and the direction by Forster is so skilfully done that you don’t get bored even for a second. It manages to generate good amount laughs even with Harold’s seriousness and never fails to entertain. Deep in this comedy lies a sweet and touching story which will be loved by everyone who watch it.
Memorable quote: –
Prof. Hilbert – … Although I can’t imagine anyone hating you Harold.
Harold – Prof. Hilbert, I’m an IRS agent. Everyone hates me.
2. Calvary (2014)
Director – John Michael McDonagh
Writer – John Michael McDonagh
In a confessional, an unseen man tells Father James (Brendan Gleeson) about his horrific childhood sexual abuse by a priest and threatens that he would kill James not because James is bad, rather because he is a good man and the death of a good priest will create more disconcertion. He gives James a week’s time to settle his work and goes away. Who is that man and what is his real motto? What is James going to do? Should he run away or face him or take the help of law?
Why it’s here: –
As opposed to what the plotline seems, Calvary is neither a thriller or an action movie or anything close to that. It’s a clean drama which talks vividly about life, sins, virtues and faith like no other movie ever has. As an Irish movie, this did well in Ireland, was positively received and garnered some Irish film awards, yet it’s in my list because many don’t even know that such a movie exists!
Calvary is a hill near Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified and is hence often used in literature to refer to any experience that causes intense suffering. This movie has its protagonist James, played stupendously by Brendan Gleeson, going through similar situations, struggling with his relationship with his daughter, the people in and around his town and with the death threat. James is a personification of modern day Jesus and I’ll leave it up to you how you interpret it. This movie shows how difficult it is to be good and to remain so especially when you are surrounded by so much of filth. The people around admire James’ goodness but they often mock it intentionally too which for any person is extremely painful and disrespectful and this often tempts me to say that this movie should also be called as “No Country For Good Men” (thought inspired by the name of the Coen brothers’ classic “No Country For Old Men”). This masterpiece is best understood when your mood is mild or melancholic or sorrowful, but then also it won’t leave you much happier. You would just end up becoming a better person with more knowledge about the world and how life works.
Memorable quote(s): –
This movie is filled with so many good lines that I was in a dilemma which one to choose. So, I decided to put in three instead of one but again, that doesn’t mean that the rest weren’t unmatchable.
Quote 1: –
Teressa – They lose their faith? It must not have been much of a faith to begin with if it is so easy for them to lose it.
James – Yes, but what is faith? For most people it’s the fear of death. Nothing more than that. If that’s all it is, it’s very easy to lose.
Quote 2: –
Teressa — He was a good man. We had a very good life together, we loved each other very much. And now… he has gone. And that is not unfair. That is just what happened. But many people don’t live good lives. They don’t feel love. That is what is unfair. I feel sorry for them.
Quote 3: –
James – I think there’s too much talk about sins, to be honest. Not enough talk about virtues.
Fiona – You might be right. What will be your number 1?
James – I think forgiveness has been highly underrated.
PS: There is a scene in a bar where Dr. Frank Harte (Aidan Gillen) tells James a story of a child which makes James angry. I wanted to put it here but then I thought, it will be better if you see the movie and hear that shocking and really depressing story yourself.
1. The Man From Earth (2007)
Director – Richard Schenkman
Writer – Jerome Bixby
Prof. John Oldman (David Lee Smith) is packing his things as he is moving out of town to a new place. His colleagues as well as friends come to meet him for the last time and discuss his reason of departure. Although reluctant initially, he finally opens up to them that he is actually a prehistoric caveman who has lived for 14k years without aging beyond 35 years and hence keeps moving. As expected, his friends take it as a joke and then he sits down narrating his stories and answering their questions to state his point. Is John really a caveman? Or has he hunched up a story just for fun?
Why it’s here: –
The Man From Earth is another “how the fuck could they even think of a movie like that” type flick thanks to an oustanding screenplay supported by all-round excellence in terms of direction, technicalities and natural performances by the cast (which consists of mostly unknown or fairly known actors) among which David Lee Smith’s extremely restrained yet expressive performance stands out. The artistic use of lights, background music, camera angles and editing all are done flawlessly and match with the mood of the film. Without the use of any over the top visuals or involving any aliens or space drama or similar things, this film just involves a bunch of people talking in a room and yet is a science fiction! Jerome Bixby started writing this movie in the late 60s and completed it in 1998 on his death bed, ie he took 30 years to write the script of a 1 hour 25 minutes’ film which involved only people talking! The film is so sagaciously written by Bixby that even the most bizarre things John Oldman said in the movie seemed extremely convincing and hence made it easier for the makers to produce it efficiently. Made with a budget of just $200,000, this flick was well received at various film festivals and garnered many awards for Bixby posthumously but was released on DVD only due to which very few people even know about it.
The Man From Earth as a movie talks about life, religion, human attitude and reaction of people to changes around them. What will happen to you if you get up one day and realise that everything you have been living for in this world is a false idea and you were just fooled to believe it? How will you react to it? Can you even live with it? You can see everything in this cinematic splendour and understand the depth of life and realities of various things around us. The Man From Earth is less of a movie and more of a blackhole because it sucks you into itself and doesnt let you escape till the very end and you are just left bewildered as well as enthralled. You can’t afford to give it a miss!
Memorable quote: –
John – If what I’m saying is true then you and your children will age, I won’t.
Sally – You’ll go back to your May-December romances.
John – The simple fact is I can’t give you forever.
Sally – How long’s forever? Whoever really has it?