Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 5 Underrated Movies of 2011

So it's 4 hours before 2012, and with everyone doing their own lists of resolutions, best and worst of, or personal experience lists, I decided to try to get my voice heard one last time about 5 movies that just can't seem to get the credit they deserve. These are all smaller films, but nonetheless, films that I really couldn't shake, and changed something about myself, if even in the smallest way.

5. Life In A Day

(You can watch the entirety of this movie here)

Perhaps not necessarily underrated, as it seems as though the few people who DID see it liked it, but the concept seems to be too strange for many people to give it a shot.

So it's all footage filmed by amateurs, then put together by National Geographic to 'mimic' everything a person can go through in their life by watching many different people of different cultures go throughout their normal day. It seems like a lot of people thought this could go wrong, and steered clear. However, it was done very well, the clips being put in chronological order according to the time of day Not to mention, considering the THOUSANDS of hours of footage they received, I was VERY impressed with the clips they did choose.

I also heard a lot of people complaining about the 'violent' parts, but isn't that part of life? Life is not all great quotes and getting engaged and baby giraffes and being inspiring. Life is depressing, and there are people out there who DO slaughter cattle for a living, and cry during thunderstorms. This is all part of it, and this was why this movie was great.

My absolute favorite part of this film is the fact that those sending in footage were asked to answer a series of questions. Ranging from "What do you love?" to "What's in your pocket or purse?" These answers really give a lot of insight into different people, cultures, and a lot of it was eerily relatable.

4. Everything Must Go

Maybe you're not a huge Will Ferrell fan, but just listen for a minute.  He plays an alchoholic, fired, and thrown out of his house by his wife in the same day. Drinking PBR like his life depends on it, he lives on his front lawn (where his wife has thrown all of his things), and while he tries to figure things out, turns it into a yard sale so as not to be arrested. Battling with his addiction, possible homelessness, and a bank account he can't access,, this movie was surprisingly emotional.

If you normally write him off, don't. His acting is phenomenal, and brought me to tears at one point, some of the issues in the movie hitting really close to home, and Ferrell's character pulling it off tremendously.  Biggie Smalls' son plays the cute little boy that gives him some hope, and really, it all comes together beautifully. It's an original idea, with an unexpected performance, and an unexpected emotional rollercoaster.

3. Tree of Life

I honestly can not tell you how many refunds I gave to customers because of this movie. The hatred of this movie was so intense, that it got to a point where I couldn't wait to see it just so I could hate it, too. From what I heard, it didn't make sense, nothing was connected, and everything was abstract.

Well, frankly, this was one of the better movies I saw this year, but hey, not because it wasn't abstract.

This movie is about death, and grieving, and trying to figure out death, and I get that. When someone you love dies, it's so hard to figure out. Why are we here, if we're just going to die? God, why did you take them from me? The questions seem as endless as they are unanswered, and your mind wanders to a grand scale...this is what that movie is. This movie takes the thoughts and feelings you have when your loved one dies and shows it on a screen. A beautiful movie, with a beautiful message.

Although it can be a bit abstract at times, just sit back, and relax. Don't ask anything of the movie, don't look for anything, just watch, and wait.

2. Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

The first time I heard the title of this movie, I choked a little from laughing. I had NEVER heard of it, and I was certain it was just a dumb kids movie. Looking into it, though, I had never been more intrigued. China's first empress is about to come into power when those around her begin to spontaneously combust. Detective Dee is a clever man with many tricks and fighting moves up his sleeve, and the movie is beautiful, filled with magic, fighting, mystery and twists and turns.

Not to mention, this movie is based on old Chinese Folklore that include 7 stories about a "Judge Dii." And, above all, the plot was so clever, I found myself at the edge of my seat throughout nearly the entire thing. It's astounding how silly this movie both looks, and sounds, when really, it's a gorgeous and witty film, possibly one of the best I've seen in a long time.

1. Today's Special

I have found almost no one who has ever heard of this movie, and it really, truly baffles me. Written and directed by Aasif Mandvi, it's a story about someone looking to be a truly great world class chef, but doesn't get that final promotion due to his inability to be spontaneous with his cooking (and of course with his life). When his father has a heart attack, he's forced to take over his rock-bottom Indian restaurant. With the help of an endearingly mysterious Indian cab driver, he learns how to improve his cooking (and his life of course)!

By far the most inspiring and feel-good movie I've seen in a long time, this one really stuck with me for a good while, and I still think about it. For such a small movie, it really had an amazing impact on me, and I try to share it with as many people as I possibly can. Last winter when people were talking about how inspiring the King's Speech was, no one believed me that this movie could give it a run for it's money, but I honestly thought this movie was stronger in characters and in message.

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