For a normal audience, the difference between a good and a great movie may hardly matter but for a passionate moviegoer it matters a great deal. It’s not only because the cinematic or philosophical experience of a great movie is better, but also because we love to share our feelings more vividly in such cases and discussing passionately about certain things (in this case movies) always makes us feel liberated. Sometimes however, we come across some movies which we liked or loved but were disappointed with them in some way or the other and hence these films generally get exempted from our passionate movie discussions much to our dismay. Nonetheless, these were awesome in certain aspects and as a Movie Freak I consider it as my duty to bring these movies to your notice not because I want you to sympathise with them but because I want these to get their places in our ardent film gossips.
10. Following (1998)
Christopher Nolan is a wizard and we all know that. In his two-decade long career he is yet to make a bad movie and Following was the first spell the wizard casted upon us. Following is powered by a good script, justifiable performances and ofcourse brilliant direction. For a budget of $6000 only, the movie gives us a lot more than what we could expect but then that is also a reason why it couldn’t make a great watch and is seldom talked about when Nolan and his films are discussed. The tight budget of the movie not only hindered several potential action sequences but also made the film look like a college theatre play whenever the characters were involved in supposedly brutal action scenes. Had Nolan made it in contemporary times with the amount of budget he can afford now, Following could have been a classic crime-drama. Sadly that’s not what happened and today it‘s known only because it was the debut of a cinematic genius.
9. The Great Gatsby (2013)
One positive trait of Baz Luhrmann is his ability to decorate his movies and its characters with certain aesthetic elements which you can‘t help but appreciate. The Great Gatsby was hopped-up by the performances of a brilliant cast along with excellent production values which made it far better than its 1974 predecessor. The movie is no doubt good but its over-stylisation and sharp edits were disturbing. Luhrmann’s forte backfired for him and made a mockery of the film itself many a times to such disturbing extents that even its talented cast and brilliant sets and costumes couldn’t come to rescue. The real saviour of the movie is actually F. Scott Fitzgerald (on whose novel the movie is based on) as his powerful and touching story-telling helped in keeping the spirit of the film alive till its end. So to be honest, it’s not the filmmaking that impresses us particularly, but the brilliant story behind it that was not only captivating but also heart-breaking. This flick perfectly evinces the saying that “great buildings need strong foundations” and Fitzgerald’s story was that foundation which made us like the movie in spite of its flaws.
8. Adaptation (2002)
Most films are sold on the basis of the reputation of their directors or actors in general but Charlie Kauffman is probably one of those fewest screenwriters who could create a hype for a movie single-handedly. Kauffman’s flair as a screenwriter needs no description and Adaptation proves the same. The film was conceived by him when he faced unrelenting problems in adapting The Orchid Thief and finally ended up penning down a movie based on his dilemma in making this adaptation. The idea was extremely brilliant and worked pretty well too making Adaptation and enjoyable watch but what turned against the film was its sudden change of mood towards its end from a philosophical comedy-drama to a thriller. It was something that didn’t kind of fit in to an otherwise excellent narrative that Kauffman had concocted till then. Nonetheless, Adaptation’s uniqueness and freshness lives up and even though we never count it among our list of great movies, we appreciate its intelligence that made it a good watch.
7. Demolition (2015)
Demolition is not a very dynamic movie where a pretty lot of things would be happening, rather it’s thought provoking and gives a deeper insight to one’s response to pain and emotions. Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watt’s terrific performances were the key to the film’s likeliness and so was its concept which invigorated the movie’s cinematic experience. It makes you sympathise with the characters even though you understand how flawed they are in their own terms, which is kind of remarkable and also rare. But Demolition gets itself demolished by its incoherence both in terms of characterisation and the plotline. While it explores pain quite vividly, the script doesn’t lead them to a justifiable ending. This flick had every potential to melt stones but remained far from it thanks to its abrupt ending and lack of conclusion to its character relations. Even though dramatisation is sometimes over-the-top in Bollywood movies, I genuinely feel remaking this flick in Bollywood can give more fruitful results than it did in Hollywood.
6. It’s Kind Of A Funny Story (2010)
A comedy movie based on depressed dudes may not sound pretty cool but It’s Kind Of A Funny Story had a lot more to provide than just humour. Involving characters of almost all ages, this movie explores how we overhype our own problems without understanding the pain of other people and how depression makes the mightiest bite the dust. It’s Kind Of A Funny Story discusses depression and its consequences in a rather lighter tone but with more depth touching through almost all forms of human emotions with its highlight being Zach Galifianakis’ performance as he delivers a serious act wonderfully, much differing from his usual comic gimmicks. But then its narrative breaks halfway through and instead of touching the soul of the characters, it tries hard to make things funnier although it didn’t have to. It blatantly forgets to show how people fail in their war against the most common yet dreaded psychotic condition which is its major drawback. A movie which could have echoed among generations of moviegoers for its honest take on depression, now struggles to find its own voice in the world of cinema.
5. Burnt (2015)
Burnt didn’t just have an awesomely talented cast but also had a burning energy garnished with a charming style to showcase the life and work of chefs in hotels and restaurants. Behind its unabashed showcasing of various delicacies were thought provoking philosophical questions regarding passion, ego and the imperfection of relationships that made the film beautiful even in its most minor aspects. The only problem with Burnt was however its lazily written screenplay which seemed to have been crafted with less of an artistic and more of a commercial value in mind. Even though a time length of about 100 minutes in quite good and should be welcomed, this flick makes you feel that it should have been longer by atleast 30 more minutes so as to have allowed more space to polish its writing as well as develop its characters. Nevertheless, Burnt is a movie I will always recommend if you ever had a passion for something in your life and I’m sure you will love it.
4. The Wolverine (2013)
Owing to an abysmal and disappointing show by its predecessor, most moviegoers as well as X-Men/superhero fans had very little expectation from this James Mangold directorial but thankfully everyone including the critics welcomed it positively. The Wolverine was a massive improvement over its forerunner and not only provided breathtaking action sequences but also gave a fair insight to the lead character and his reactions to emotions and situations surrounding him. But what the writers didn’t realise was that the film was an X-Men movie and not a ninja martial arts flick and that seriously backfired for it. Towards the end of the movie you get tired of its heavy reliance on Japanese action style and the underwhelming final fight of Wolverine with a robotic-being exacerbated the damage. The Wolverine exceeded expectations first and then disappointed us again in its complete runtime, a rare occurrence in any kind of movie. The film’s real excellence however lied in Mangold’s direction as he did make a lot of absurd things look right, but finally succumbed to a flimsy screenplay much to our dismay.
3. Meet Joe Black (1998)
Very few films have been as polarizing as this romantic-fantasy drama directed by Martin Brest and the evidence of the same can be viewed in its IMDB reviews where users have showered it with extreme ratings (ie either 9 or 10, or 1 or 2). Meet Joe Black had a beautiful concept – Death Meets Life, and the movie had an unresisting charm owing to its corny yet soulful dialogues and an awesome performance by Anthony Hopkins which contributed to its ethereal beauty. The film is embellished by some really heart touching moments and Brest’s acumen in characterising Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Death enlivened it. However, a runtime of 3 hours was too much for a movie like this and a recklessly crafted screenplay added to the damage. There are moments when you love the movie for its beauty and the very next moment a writing flaw would render it disdainful. This is one of those rare movies where I can completely understand if someone loved it a lot while someone else hated it to the core. Meet Joe Black was an epic misfire no doubt, but was beautiful nonetheless.
2. Identity (2003)
Another James Mangold directorial to have featured in this list, Identity had everything perfect from its direction, to acting, to writing, to its environment. It was great at each and every step and was powerfully intriguing until its climax where a nonsensical plot-twist destroys it completely. Interestingly the plotline of the movie is quite similar to Donald Kauffman’s story in the movie Adaptation and our views for Identity stands equivalent to that of Charlie about Donald’s idea – “It was terrible”. It would have been better if the writers had planned a different ending for the movie without worrying about incorporating any whimsical twists like they did in this case. Identity is without any question a very good suspense-thriller but it’s also true that it could have the best of the same genre in the contemporary times and that’s an unforgivable let-down.
1. Equilibrium (2002)
If you thought that only Bollywood could fuck up a good script, then you haven’t yet watched this 2002 Christian Bale starrer. We all might remember Kurt Wimmer for making a bad movie like Ultraviolet but very few of us recall this dystopian sci-fi of his which has never gotten much attention after its box office debacle albeit being a good entertainer. The problem with Equilibrium isn’t it being bad but the fact that it is good and it should not have ended up just as a good movie. The movie is setup in a distant future where it’s illegal for humans to have any sort of emotions or even possess items which would induce the same (like books or paintings, etc) and that is ensured by an enforcement team of which Christian Bale’s character John Preston is an important member. Things go awry when Preston decides to avoid the medicination which biologically suppressed human emotions and starts to struggle with his own feelings (which he can’t openly express ofcourse). An idea so wonderfully thought and almost beautifully executed, Equilibrium showed how the world and the beings in it are incomplete without emotions, no matter how flawed they are. For three-fourths of its runtime, the movie gets on your nerves and you find yourselves in Preston’s shoes, feeling bad for the condition he was in and the things he had done and the remedies he had to do. Everything would have been perfect if the movie hadn’t been diluted by its super-human-martial-arts action sequences particularly in its climax. Equilibrium should have ended in such a way that the audience would have been drowned in tears and would have felt as broken as Preston was, but thanks to Wimmer’s idiocy none of it happened. Had it been made by someone of the calibre of Nolan or Spielberg, this film would have been one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all times but is rather remembered today as a proof of Wimmer’s inability to get into the director’s boots. For me, Equilibrium was a masterpiece that was never ever made.