For your consideration

Members of Salon's Table Talk community share their best-loved, least-lauded films this week. What are yours?

Published December 19, 2008 8:00PM (EST)


Underrated films: or, they made me love you, I didn't wanna do it.

Caitlin Griswold - 02:52 pm Pacific Time - Dec 14, 2008

Since we already have threads for the "overrated" category. Here’s the place to mention you saw something that beat your expectations. What hidden treasure did you discover by accident, or lurking behind a bad promotional campaign?

Keith Chaffee - 05:19 pm Pacific Time - Dec 14, 2008 - #1 of 109  

"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" never got the attention it deserved. It's a private eye movie starring Robert Downey Jr. (right at the beginning of his comeback), Val Kilmer (as a guy so flamboyant he's known to everyone as Gay Perry), and Michelle Monaghan. It's an homage to Raymond Chandler, and the plot is just as convoluted as Chandler's tended to be, but it's got comic energy to burn and the lead actors are terrific.

Foreign movies never get the audience they should, but two that I thought were particularly overlooked in recent years were the marvelous Australian Aboriginal drama "Ten Canoes," with its layering of stories across the generations, each reflecting on the others, and the dry Norwegian comedy "Kitchen Stories," about the growing relationship (same-sex, platonic) between a young bachelor and the researcher who's studying the domestic habits of single Norwegians.

cameron grey - 12:29 pm Pacific Time - Dec 15, 2008 - #8 of 109

I love "In Bruges." Esp. that scene where someone says "this must be what it feels like to be a Totnam fan." I laughed out loud. I was the only one. Unless you are familiar with British Football (Soccer) you won't know that Totnam is the Susan Lucci of the Football league.

When I worked at a video store I practically had to BEG people to rent "Searching for Bobby Fisher" and everyone who saw it loved it.

Monsieur Chaiot - 02:15 pm Pacific Time - Dec 15, 2008 - #12 of 109

I am deeply moved every time I see "Living Out Loud." I love the writing, the performances, the soundtrack. Love-love-love.

Pit Viper - 07:14 pm Pacific Time - Dec 15, 2008 - #25 of 109

I really loved "Vanity Fair." Now, it is by no means a faithful rendering of the book (my all-time favorite novel) but as a movie, it has a ton of pleasures. The costumes and settings are gorgeous and you get a veritable who's who of great Brit actors (the best of the best are Eileen Atkins and Geraldine McEwans, with Gabriel Byrne and Bob Hoskins as runners-up). Witherspoon is underwhelming as Becky, but that's more than made up for by the performances of Romola Garai, who gives the impossible character of Amelia some real fire and passion, and James Purefoy as Rawdon Crawley, who is a convincing handsome rake with a heart. The script and direction are snappy and a lot of fun.

Lmorg - 04:18 pm Pacific Time - Dec 16, 2008 - #38 of 109

I am afraid to admit how much I love the movie "Popeye." I know it's a classic Hollywood bomb but both my sister and I insisted on watching it repeatedly as children and as a result can sing the entire soundtrack (we used to serenade my dad with "He's tall. Good lookin' And he's large. He's large. Large. Large. So large"). I was stunned to realize later on that Robert Altman directed it.

Monsieur Chariot - 09:07 am Pacific Time - Dec 17, 2008 - #48 of 109

"Below" is an absolutely gripping horror story.

And although it has been panned by many, I've always found "What Lies Beneath" eminently rewatchable when it rotates on HBO. Who can complain about lead actors Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford? The performances are top-notch. The story is well-written, the special effects understated and effective. Me, I can't get enough of psychological horror.

I saw "For Your Consideration" with several Hollywood industry friends, and their collective, mortified, cringing self-recognition added much depth to the pleasure I took in the film.

oolong - 08:07 pm Pacific Time - Dec 17, 2008 - #72 of 109

"The Case of the Mukkinese Battle Trumpet" is available online for free (Veoh I think). It is a film version of the great BBC radio comedy series called "The Goon Shows." In order to let the actors play multiple roles it was filmed in "Schizophrenoscope," which, though innaccurate and non-p.c. has a better ring to it than Multiple Personality Disorder-o-scope.

"Pieces of April"

"Hot Fuzz"

"Death at a Funeral"

"The Ninth Gate"

cameron grey - 06:38 am Pacific Time - Dec 18, 2008 - #80 of 109

I loved "Pieces of April" so much. I even bought the soundtrack regarding "Pieces of April." The scene where Patty Clarkson falls asleep and for several tense moments Oliver Platt clearly fears she may have died, nearly drives me to tears every time. And I have a sister JUST LIKE Beth.

You know another fave of mine? "The Tall Guy" with Jeff Goldblum and Emma Thompson. The story of an American actor in London and has Rowan Atkinson playing himself rather than the IMO very unfunny Mr. Bean. It also has one of the funniest "play with a movie" I've ever seen (save for 'Put that thing right back where it came from so help me' from "Monsters") when Dexter (Goldblum) gets the starring role in Elephant! a musical version of "The Elephant Man."

foggyone - 12:24 pm Pacific Time - Dec 18, 2008 - #94 of 109

From a way back, "Passion Fish" and "Limbo," but my all-time favorite is "Lone Star," all from John Sayles. And, pretty much everything else he's ever done. It's wonderful that the people he's worked with so often are now getting star turns -- Chris Cooper and David Strathairn.

Also love the small films Stanley Tucci and a fairly consistent ensemble keep putting out, like "The Impostors" and "Big Night."

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