Finally a question that I can really showcase my nerd cred with some smaller or unknown films that you may have missed. Look, I watch a lot of crap. A lot of it. I can tolerate a certain amount of cinematic license or even suspend disbelief if I know they were operating on a shoestring budget and can still make an engaging film. I also respect the process that goes into them. I’m that guy who watches all the special features on DVDs. I have been known to watch movies with the director’s commentary on in order to truly learn everything that went into that specific shot. OK, so have I established enough of my nerd-cred yet? On the following list, you’ll find some of the best of the unknown movies I’ve found. Some of them are straight nerd, but all of great films.
1. Primer (2004)
Director: Shane Carruth (who also wrote, starred, scored, edited…)
This is probably my all time go to movie to show what is capable when you get truly passionate people together who believe in (and understand) the story that they are trying to tell. This movie is the brainchild of Carruth, whose degree in math and ridiculously in-depth research into theoretical physics drench the dialogue in authenticity. Yes, this is some HEADY science fiction that poses some serious moral and ethical dilemmas. But I really think the less you know about it, the better. But know that this movie was made for a budget of (est.) $7000, which is less than you paid for your car. So show it for freakin’ respect.
2. In Bruges (2008)
Director: Martin McDonagh
Not many people saw this black comedy about two hitmen hiding out in lovely and historic Bruges. Sh-t, even I missed hearing anything about it until it hit DVD. But when I did finally see it, I found a damn funny, engaging, and entertaining film. It’s hard to try to explain what makes the film so good, considering all the hard right turns and tough subject matter it broaches. But it does it with a level of brevity that keeps it from being too heavy. Brendan Gleeson may be tied with Brian Cox as my favorite foreign-accented character actor. Ralph Fiennes is typically spectacular. I don’t like Colin Farrell, but he’s great in this. Highly recommended but not if you’re looking for something light & breezy like a Kate Hudson movie. If you are looking for a Kate Hudson movie, you’re just a piece of crap. Seriously…
Does a Kate Hudson movie have this??
3. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Director: Shane Black
I absolutely adore this movie. This is the movie that I wish I had made. It is infinitely quotable due to completely fantastic performances from Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer (who kills as Gay Perry). It’s part mystery, part comedy, and all awesome. I cannot recommended this movie enough to people who haven’t seen it. Even if you have, you should watch it again because you’ve probably missed something awesome. And now Shane Black is directing the new Iron Man movie. Fantastic.
4. Zombieland (2009)
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Another movie that I’ve found myself watching countless times. Sure, I’m a zombie (and overall end of the world scenario) film fanatic. But Zombieland was so good that I found people who cannot stand zombie movies (or even horror movies in general) loving it. Not liking it, but watching it a few times a week loving it. So watch the opening credits. If you aren’t hooked by the end of “For Who the Bell Tolls” …then fine, deprive yourself from the awesomeness of this film…and it’s awesome cameo towards the end.
(Side note: director Fleischer is making a film called 30 Minutes or Less (which is inspired by the pizza delivery driver who had the bomb strapped to his neck a few years ago which happened in my hometown) which looks pretty funny by the trailer.)
5. The Prestige (2006)
Director: Christopher Nolan
It’s no secret that I’m an enormous Chris Nolan fan. I honestly don’t think that guy has made a bad movie in his career thus far. The man was able to coax subdued performances out of Robin Williams AND Al Pacino in the underrated Insomnia, which is no easy feat. But with The Prestige, Nolan weaves an intricate tale of dueling magicians (Batman and Wolverine), who’s rivalry spirals out of control when one performs the perfect illusion. Great story steeped in history, great performances from Christian Bale, Hugh Jackson, Michael “I kick complete ass” Caine, and David Bowie as Nicolai Tesla, and Nolan’s gift for the gusto make for one of my favorite in his cinematic catalog. And as soon as the credits roll, you’ll want to start it over. Yeah, it’s one of those movies.
Honorable Mention: High Fidelity, Supertroopers, Boiler Room, Just Friends, The 25th Hour (only for this rant and this rant alone)