I’ve Started Watching Movies. That’s Been A Good Idea So Far.

Underrated Movies

Hey everyone, how are you doing! Better than me as I am typing these words as I have contracted corona. Let’s hope this won’t be my last post then!

As a result of anime being absolutely terrible these recent days – and no, the existence of Sonny Boy alone can’t change that – I’ve figured I might as well spy across to other aisles and give movies a try, what’s it with my running Netflix account and whatnot. With that said, I quickly discovered that Netflix’s German preselection of movies was hardly what I’d consider great so I ended up subbing to Amazon Prime’s Arthouse+ offerings (of which too many are dub-only so that’s bad too) and buying Blu-rays. Despite still missing out on half of the stuff I want to watch, there’s at least enough of an other half to consume as movies have been around for a while.

So I figured that since I’ve watched a few now, I might as well recommend the ones that aren’t that well-known. So no Schindler’s List or anything on here, no matter how good it might be! You see that domain title right there? “Let’s Discover Things That Are Good” it says!

Anyway, I figured these might be the lesser known ones among the stuff I’ve watched, not that I would know. I essentially went with whatever had less than 200.000 viewers on Letterboxd, was good enough and looked like it made for a diverse lineup. I’m out of my field of expertise here. This isn’t Anime!Zaku. It’s Movie!Zaku and he’s a greenhorn!


Barton Fink

Underrated Movies: Barton Fink

Barton Fink is a Coen Brothers movie about a priviledged Jewish playwright in the US during the time of World War II being recommended to write a Hollywood movie as his plays resonate with the critics wide. Determined to continue to write within his nich√© about and for albeit not by the proletariat, Barton wants to depict the common man’s struggles of which he refuses to accept he understands so little as he himself is stuck in a writer’s block in the greatest dilemma of his life – caught between his self-profilation ambitions and Hollywood’s commercialized needs. He finds himself in a hotel that very much starts mirroring what’s inside his head and his room neighbor, the personification of the proletariat, is one he hypocritically never listens to when he should as Barton slowly but surely loses his trust in his idols, his world view is upset and he himself finds himself in a surreal challenge to his own convictions.

Come And See

Underrated Movies: Come And See

Come And See is one hell of a movie as it depicts hell in general. It’s a Soviet anti-war movie that understands the critique of anti-war movies that, with their battle scenes and action parts, they at some point do glorify war and escapes those trappings. Which is ironic, because teenage protagonist Flyora might as well have watched those movies, thinking he’s going to heroically protect his country from Nazi Germany. And for the next few days, Flyora will experience nothing but misery and destruction and come to the realization that in the midst of horrendeous war crimes being committed to his people, he’s a mere playball and not an acting, much less a decisive role. This is a kid whose change of character very much is displayed on his face and the movie makes that perfectly clear by giving us these many daunting closeups thereof until there is nothing left of the naive young man and only a deeply traumatized soldier remains. This is easily one of my favorite movies and a masterclass in being consequential.

Das Boot

Underrated Movies: Das Boot

Das Boot is a German WWII movie from Wolfgang Petersen who passed away this year and propelled German movies to international success. Unlike a lot of other WWII movies, this is not one to depict bloodthirsty nazis rather than men setting out in a submarine against wind, weather, enemy attacks and harshest living conditions. The audience, in the Directors Cut Edition (which is the one you should watch), comes to relate with these soldiers as long-term dread spreads on their mission to nowhere and they very much know that each day, their technical marvel of a submarine could turn into a watery grave. The movie understands this and plays a lot with the setting – claustrophobic shots chase the creaking of the ship and the sounds of the engines as these characters lose perspective and grow beards in their condensed surroundings. Rarely are movies this original with their setting and immersive with the environments.

Once Upon A Time In America

Underrated Movies: Once Upon A Time In America

The death of dreams can be a very personal thing and it certainly is for Noodles, a mob member who has lost too many friends in a life where happiness can only be found at the opium den anymore. Once Upon A Time In America is one of the most melancholic pieces of fiction I have ever seen and for good reason – its insistence and interweaving youth with adulthood in its achronological storytelling contrasts the bliss of youth with the bitterness of adulthood very well, shows the corruption of once innocent ideals and the delirious and wondrous presentation of a past gone by can be felt not only through its meticulously crafted setpieces from smoke rising from the ground to architecture, it is also envisioned by hazy directing in Noodles’ earlier years and a soundtrack so absolutely magical it turns a decades spanning mob movie not into an exercise of time but experience of memories.

Serpico

Underrated Movies: Serpico

Corruption is an ever-lasting concept even in our rapidly evolving world and police work is no exception to that. But what about the progress that has been made, that we no longer speak of because we take it for granted? Serpico is a story that tells about one of those periods of progress, that were bitterly fought for at a high price. Based on real life adventures, we get to witness the reenactment of Frank¬†Serpico’s disillusionment with the fight against crime as he can’t help but witness that his colleagues are not a solution but part of the problem as they yield to bribery on a daily, open basis and he himself becomes their target. Serpico is not an idealized superhuman being, parts of his life can get as ugly as yours or mine but that didn’t stop him from transcending a system so broken it had become an entirely new one. Modern heroes are not hard to find because they don’t exist but because you don’t know about them. Yet that makes their stories worth telling.

Stranger Than Paradise

Underrated Movies: Stranger Than Paradise

Have you ever dreamt of living a life that is not yours, seeking an ephmeral moment and finding something that isn’t this? So have the characters of Stranger Than Paradise in this piece that yields no great discoveries and tells no tales of great adventures. Strangers Than Paradise is, at its heart, slice of life. No eye-opening relevations. No characters dramatically running in the wind as they realize their past mistakes and vow to become better people. Just three good friends yet strangers to their own lives staring at a frozen lake and silently walking along the beach in this black-and-white movie as the banality of life gets the better and worse of them. Life takes you on a merry go round of ups and downs and the detours you don’t see coming.

Stroszek

Underrated Movies: Stroszek

In today’s political climate, there are a lot of nutjobs. The people who think that 5G is a disease. Anti-vaccers. Climate change deniers. People who believe that 9/11 was an inside job, the Democrats are actually lizard people or that chemtrails are out there to control the masses. As such, political satire loves to go for the lowest hanging fruit when caricaturing people who already are caricatures for their low effort sketches meant to appeal to a more educated crowd that loves to clap to having its own world view reaffirmed. TV series like The Wire or movies like Stroszek stand out all the more positively by comparison as they refuse to let mockery or black and white portrayals substitute political analysis and instead focus on why these people exist and how they come to be – socioeconomical backgrounds are a deciding factor. As they are for our protagonist Stroszek as he flees from a miserable life in Berlin into the land of opportunities and freedom, the United States of America. Little does he know that things won’t be different and the end he will reach is certainly one of the most memorable movie endings out there.

The Deer Hunter

Underrated Movies: The Deer Hunter

A Vietnam war movie with surprisingly little war in it. But what is there is highly disturbing. The Deer Hunter tells the story of a group of friends in rural America, of which some are to be drafted immediately. Inbetween, they live their lives normally – they prance around, fight, have serious relationship and family issues, hunt in the woods and get married. Yet it is exactly that life that we see so extensively in this movie that is contrasted with the harsh brutality of Vietnam and will never come to be again. Because in some way or another, the people at the battlefront get left behind and never quite come back. And thus, the war, even when it’s over, really isn’t and is a colossal misery for everyone involved, including the people who didn’t even go to war – but love those who did. One thing is for sure: The Deer Hunter features the saddest rendition of God Bless America you will have ever heard.

The Elephant Man

Underrated Movies: The Elephant Man

People will tell you that what they think of others solely hinges on the inner values, as in a person’s character but we all know that’s not true. First impressions count and last and what you see is oftentimes what you think. In comes the elephant man, a circus attraction who understands far too well that he only exists to be mocked and screamed at in anguish as his tumor-ridden, misshaped body is so gross society can’t help but be repulsed by him. That is until a certain doctor finds keen interest in him and takes him under his wing. First just a studying material and soon a socializing project, the elephant man has a tough way finding back into the society that rejects him. Yet if Heaven is built for all, why shouldn’t Earth be?

The Grand Illusion

Underrated Movies: The Grand Illusion

The Grand Illusion is a French anti war movie about WWI as it depicts the oftentimes surprisingly lighthearted struggles of French war prisoners trying to make an escape from their German capturers across the various prison camps they inhabit. It’s certainly a special war movie insofar as that it depicts zero war at all. Instead, it very much focuses on these French soldiers living in captivity that, by all means, could be worse and realizing that the Germans aren’t so bad after all as they do seem to get along with them and vice versa. It is there that the absurdity of war is portrayed in its most human form as the foot soldiers come to understand that despite being on different sites, their lives are very much alike and it is not nationality but class that divides people. After all, what sane incentive could you have to shoot people from another country?


Anyway, go give movies a try. They’re really rad.

Now excuse me, I’ve got a virus to fight.

1 thought on “I’ve Started Watching Movies. That’s Been A Good Idea So Far.

  1. Like you, my increasingly jaded view on both anime and Western media, has made me pretty jaded in what I watch, which is why I chose to seek out watching more films in theaters than usual this year.

    Chose to spend my time watching stuff like George Miller’s ambitious but messy Three Thousand Years of Longing, the incredible Everything Everywhere All At Once, the delightful stop-motion film Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Jordan Peele’s Nope, Robert Eggers’ The Northman and that Cate Blanchett vehicle TAR. Also saw Inu-Oh, literally the best thing that Science Saru made since Devilman (and sadly maybe the last thing they’ll ever make that’ll even be good), a re-release of Jaws, Goodbye Don Glees (sadly inferior to YoriMoi), and planning to watch Glass Onion in theaters (fuck Netflix for refusing to give their other original films wide releases just to protect their subber count).

    It’s only gotten worse this season with how much the ANN/Western critics can’t stop inexplicably gushing about the “wacky” Akiba Maid War, probably one of the worst excuses for a “comedy” I’ve seen paid for by a tech company like CyGames (and partially by Tencent ofc) since Princess Connect. After a shocking twist ending in its premiere that reveals that the maid cafe is actually a maid mafia fighting a gang war against other maid clubs, it goes completely nowhere with that, nor even comment on its 1999 setting (no commentary on the socio-economic anxieties of the Lost Decade?), instead insisting terrible jokes and doing a mundane thing but WACKY each episode. i.e. casino hustling with maids, MMA boxing with maids, drill instructor training with maids, you get the idea. There’s even a maid waifu that I’d say is a real Mary Sue, and seemed to have been carefully manufactured and designed through extensive focus testing to be the “best” waifu of the fall season with her stoic, gun-totting, “step on my face!” attitude, and always trying to find a way to take the spotlight each episode no matter what. And one of the maid’s is contrivedly Russian for no apparent reason. This shit is what’s supposed to be driving HiDive subscriptions outside of Made in Abyss? Both this and the Urusei Yatsura remake? Give me a break.

    Like

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