9 Unusual Films you should watch
- Nothing is Private (aka “Towelhead”)- This 2007 film starring Aaron Eckhart and Summer Bishil is a difficult one to put in a box and did not do well upon its release due to the deliberately provocative title forced on it by the studio. It tells the story of a young girl, Jasira, who moves to live with her father and the new experiences that come with this. It is a film about paedophilia and racism, yet still has moments of dark comedy. It is not an easy watch, but it is an interesting one. If you’re a fan of the great Nabakov novel, Lolita, you will appreciate the complexity of this film. It blurs the lines of right and wrong.
- Zack and Miri Make a Porno– Another provocative title which forced posters to be censored upon its release in 2008, this comedy stars Elizabeth Banks and Seth Rogen. Surprisingly, this is a pretty traditional romantic comedy at heart. The circumstances (the pair’s determination to become rich by making a successful porn film) are what makes it “unusual”.
- All the Real Girls- Starring Zooey Deschanel (in her first film appearance) and Paul Schneider, this is an “anti-Hollywood” romance. Love in real life is messy, imperfect and sometimes painful. This film illustrates that perfectly. The trailer is not the most inspiring in the world and I don’t think it gives you that good an insight into the film, but it’s better than nothing.
- Jesus Camp- If you want a good horror movie, this is it. This is truly one the most disturbing films I have ever seen…and it’s a documentary. It follows the organiser of an annual “bible camp” in Missouri, USA and three of the children that go there. Bible camps are relatively common in the US and are not disturbing in and of themselves but this film takes it to a whole new level. The rhetoric the children are exposed to is full of war analogies and the importance of being a part of God’s “army”. The children are politicised from an early age, at one point being shown models of foetuses to illustrate the evils of abortion and are instructed to vote judges and politicians into power depending on their faith so that America will be controlled by Christians, specifically Evangelicals. This film remains remarkably even-handed despite the subject matter and creates interesting debate about what children should and should not be taught as regards Creationism and Evolution. This film caused such controversy upon its release that the camp has since been shut down and Ted Haggard (President of the National Association of Evangelicals) who is featured in Jesus Camp, left his job in disgrace over revelations that he used gay prostitutes and was a user of crystal meth.
- Lars and the Real Girl- This film details the life of a man operating under the belief that a sex doll he bought on the internet is a real person and that he is in a relationship with her. Handled sensitively and surprisingly funny, this film should not be written off due to its outlandish plot and turns out to be quite sweet.
- Jeux d’Enfants (aka Love Me if You Dare)- This French film was marketed horrifically badly to overseas markets as a kind of slapstick comedy, when in actual fact it is quite dark in parts and is the story of how sometimes an obsession can be all-consuming. Better than love, better than sex, better than life. The two main characters share this same obsession, a game. A truly excellent film, with beautiful cinematography. (I have not linked to the trailer as it is SO bad. You should try this fanvid instead, which cannot be embedded here. It’s slightly spoiler-filled, as most conventional trailers are).
- Secretary- I adore this film and it’s slightly disheartening to see many write it off as a weird S&M film. If you actually watch it, you see that the two main characters (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader) are sado-masochists, but that’s incidental. The real story of the film is their developing relationship. Dark humour abounds here. Best described as an “alternative” romance. Hey, even sado-masochists fall in love.
- The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive- Another documentary, and a worthwhile one at that. British writer and comedian, Stephen Fry, speaks about his own experience of Bipolar disorder (or Manic Depression) which he was only diagnosed with at the age of 37. He speaks to fellow sufferers, among them some famous faces and some members of the public. Very interesting and personal look at a very serious illness.
- Thank You For Smoking- Aaron Eckhart strikes again as a lobbyist for the Tobacco Industry. This film is unusual because it forces us to like and even root for a character whom we would probably hate in real life. We are programmed to hate people like him. But nothing is ever black and white. No-one is all good or all bad. TYFS challenges our preconceptions. Thankfully, it’s also devastatingly funny. Ironically, no-one is shown smoking in the film.
Posted on December 20, 2011, in FILM and tagged aaron eckhart, all the real girls, elisabeth banks, james spader, jesus camp, jeux d'aenfants, lars and the real girls, love me if you dare, maggie gyllenhaal, marian cotillard, nothing is private, paul schneider, ryan gosling, secretary, seth rogen, thank you for smoking, the secret life of the manic depressive, towelhead, unusual films, zack and miri make a porno, zooey deschanel. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.