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8 of the best films you've never seen

4th February 2013

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Nowadays, cinema goers expect to have their socks knocked off and the overpriced popcorn blown out their hands by the latest big Box Office hit and it’s overabundance of special effects and non-stop action. But this can mean that films that make a smaller splash in the ever-changing pond that is the movie market can be overlooked.

Don’t get me wrong; everyone enjoys the newest comic book adaption starring an impressive list of Hollywood A-listers, or the new budget-busting thriller, but some great films just don’t get the attention they deserve when coming up against the giants of the cinema world.

So, for a journey off the beaten path and onto roads less travelled, I composed a (short) list of movie must-sees. Of course, opinions may differ, so I’ve also tried to span as many genres as possible, and there are obviously many, many more films that deserve to be recognised. However, these are as good a place to start as any! So kick back, get in the snacks, and enjoy.

 1.    Flipped (2010) – Based on Wendelin Van Draanen’s novel of the same name, Flipped is a touching story set in the early sixties, centering around the unusual love story between eighth graders Bryce and Juli, a smart, eccentric girl who lives across the road. The film is cleverly told through both character’s perspectives, ‘flipping’ the narration between the two, and deals with issues such as first love and family drama with a poignant and optimistic take. I hesitate to pigeonhole this as a rom-com, and it may be a bit too sugary sweet for some, but the script is well written and, although slightly clichéd, still leaves you feeling heart-warmed.

 2.    Beneath Hill 60 (2010) – Slight change of pace here as we dip into a completely different genre. Beneath Hill 60 is a little known war film set during World War I, and although recently we’ve been inundated with films of the same type, this one is still well worth watching. It tells the true story of 1st Australian Tunneling Company’s plan to mine beneath an important German Bunker in order to detonate it from below. The film centres on Oliver Woodward and his personal experience in the trenches, with flashbacks to his life in Australia. Although it focuses more on the human side of warfare, the film still contains hair-raising tension and action, enough to keep you on the edge of your seat. But make sure there’s a box of tissues handy, you’re going to need them.

3.    Grave of the Fireflies (1988) – This is a Japanese animated film, but whatever your feelings may be towards ‘cartoons,’ give this one a chance, as its really an emotive and eye-opening film about a young boy and his sister struggling to survive after the firebombing of the city of Kobe during World War II. I like this film because not only is it beautifully told and drawn, but it also covers a part of the war that isn’t often considered, from a different perspective to many of the more well known World War II films. If you do watch it, I guarantee there wont be a dry eye in the room afterwards. Consider yourself warned.

4.    City of God (2002)This is a really great film set in Brazil between the late 1960s and 1980s, following the story of a group of young kids growing up in the harsh slums of Rio de Janiero.  Filled with violence and gritty realism (with a bit of humour thrown in,) this film is not only a revealing look into drug and gun crime that takes place in some inner-cities, but also a inspirational true(ish) story about a young boy who pursues his dreams of becoming a photographer amidst all this chaos. With a hectic filming style and vibrant plotline, it’s a lot of movie to take in, but still a really remarkable film.

5.    Garden State (2004) Written, directed and starring Scrubs’ Zach Braff, this unconventional romantic comedy deals with a young man’s journey back to his hometown after the death of his mother, and his attempts to cope with everyday life without the crutch of the antidepressants he’s been taking for years. Enter quirky, compulsive liar Sam (played by Natalie Portman), and watch a moving story unfold as Andrew (Zach Braff) reconnects with his past. This film also has a great soundtrack and a bit part played by The Big Bang theory’s Jim Parsons wearing a suit of armour, which is always something to look out for…

6.    Serenity (2005) An earlier work by The Avengers director Joss Whedon, this is the film sequel to one of my all time favourite sci-fi TV franchises Firefly. The film follows Captain Malcom Reynolds and the rest of the Serenity crew in their battle to remain under the radar and one step ahead of the Alliance, (an alternate version of the tyrannical Empire of the Star Wars franchise.) Although you don’t have to have seen the TV series for the film to make sense, you’ll still be sucked into the world Whedon has created, which is reminiscent of a western but set in space. Sounds a bit out there, but the characters are fantastic, the dialogue witty, and the story accessible, with a couple of good explosions thrown in as well.

7.    Sucker Punch (2011) Don’t be fooled by the sexy costumes and comic-book style cinematography, this film means business. It centres on a young girl who is institutionalised by her abusive stepfather after her mother dies, and her subsequent plan for escape. In a slightly weird twist, Babydoll (I know. But bear with me, it’s a great film, and not just for hormonal males either,) retreats into a fantasy world where she has to battle with giant samurai, mechanized Nazis and a dragon to collect the items she needs for her escape. There is a slight lean towards special effects and short skirts over plot, but the action sequences are phenomenal and overall the film is very visually impressive.

8.    Remember The Titans (2000) Of course, the list wouldn’t be complete without a good American football film, and here it is. Not just your conventional sport movie, Remember The Titans is an uplifting story of a high school football team in the 1970s that is forced to integrate for the first time. Then follows the inevitable struggle and discordance within the team, leading to a predictably optimistic ending. Although hardly an innovative storyline, the film still features a great performance by Denzel Washington and some brilliantly heartening moments that makes you just want to go out and hug someone. Or play football. Either one. 


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