Underrated Movies

Hundreds (if not thousands?) of movies get made every year. Not all movies get the luxury of being a blockbuster or even getting wide released in theatres. There are a lot that get limited releases or these days, on-demand; so inevitably, many movies fall through the cracks and might not be as widely known as they should be. A lot of movies also get panned by the critics, some justifiably, others not so much, but I don’t trust the critics half the time anyways so whatever. Now I realized while I was doing a Fandom 5 post, that I owned quite a few of these little known movie gems, and wanted to share some of my personal favourite underrated movies.

THE PERFECT SCORE

Feeling the pressures and stresses of the SATs from all those around them, a group of high school students try to steal the answers. I know, it doesn’t sound like much, but what if I told you it starred Chris Evans, Erika Christensen, Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Greenberg, Leonardo Nam, and Darius Miles? And that One Tree Hill writer/EP/showrunner Mark Schwann was also one of the screenwriters for the movie? It was a teen dramedy with a caper twist! Such a fun watch that I even worked it into one of my class projects (Sociology class and Strain Theory!), which back in my school days was a surefire sign of how much I loved something.

10 YEARS

I’ve already written about how much I loved this movie after seeing its premiere at TIFF, but I’m still bummed that it didn’t get a bigger release.

TEN INCH HERO

This was really one of those movies that fell through the cracks. I remember hearing about it, mainly because a lot of One Tree Hill people were attached to it (Elisabeth Harnois, Danneel Harris, Bethany Joy Lenz) but it never got released in theatres and I had the hardest time trying to find it on DVD. One day out of the blue, I found it at Wal-Mart, bought it obviously, and have never seen it in any stores since. The movie is a different take on the co-workers become friends/family plot, though each of the main characters have their own mini-arc within the movie.

LIKE CRAZY

Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin star in this romantic drama about a couple struggling to deal with their long-distance relationship – she’s in London, he’s in Los Angeles. Director Drake Doremus and the actors really made you feel for this couple and all their hardships.

ANTITRUST

I’m pretty sure this wasn’t a big movie when it came out in 2001, but I somehow stumbled upon it. I remember wanting to watch it just because Ryan Phillippe and Rachael Leigh Cook were in it. It’s sort of a cyber thriller, with Phillippe playing a programmer, who tries to take down Tim Robbins’ CEO of a high-tech software company. It’s not the greatest movie in the world by any means, but I thoroughly enjoyed it for many years (it’s been a while since my last re-watch), including this line “And in the real world, you’re fucked!”

THE GOOD GUY

This was one of those movies I sought out after finding out that it starred Scott Porter, Bryan Greenberg and Alexis Bledel. Porter’s Tommy takes Greenberg’s Max under his wing, showing him the ropes of being an investment broker and how to socialize with women. Tommy questions his decisions when Max starts getting close to Tommy’s girlfriend Beth (Bledel). Again, it’s not something you expect much from, but the end result was quite enjoyable.

BEGIN AGAIN

No, I will not shut up about it! I will make any excuse to bring it up! LOL

 

Have you seen any of these movies? What are some of your favourite underrated/under-appreciated movies? Share in the comments!

Music Monday: Songs from TV and Movies

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of all things entertainment, so when music intersects with movies or TV, I get super nerdy about it. Last September at TIFF, I saw a movie called Can A Song Save Your Life? and instantly fell in love with it and the music in it. Fast forward some 10 months and the movie finally gets released under a new name Begin Again and I FINALLY got my hands on the soundtrack, so I could just listen to all the songs over and over again. It is certainly something special when the right song (whether written specifically for the movie or not) is played at the right moment and encapsulates the feeling of that entire scene or becomes synonymous with that movie/show.

So with that being said, here are some of my personal favourite songs from TV and movies

  1. Adam Levine/Keira Knightley, Lost Stars [Begin Again] – I’m sure I’ve said it enough at this point, but I LOVE this song. I keep alternating between Adam’s version and Keira’s version. There’s such a sweetness in Keira’s version that plays to how the song was written within the context of the movie. Adam’s more polished version of the song presents itself later in the movie, showing character growth with a slight sense of nostalgia.
  2. Switchfoot, Dare You to Move [One Tree Hill] – I could have gone the easy route and just picked “I Don’t Want to Be” because if you think OTH, you think of that song. With “Dare You to Move,” I actually remember hearing it in A Walk to Remember first, but always associate it with OTH + Nathan & Haley, their memorable kiss in the rain.
  3. Nada Surf, If You Leave [The O.C.] – Again, it would’ve been too easy to put “California” or even “Hallelujah” but instead I had to put “If You Leave.” Who could forget the scene with Seth playing out the cliche of running to the airport, chasing after Anna, thinking that she’s moving back to Pittsburgh because of him?
  4. Gina Rene, U Must Be [Step Up] – Ahhh Step Up, the movie that brought Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan together. It was a pivotal scene, with Nora telling Tyler how she imagined her senior showcase, and then they dance with the sunset in the background. It’s all cute and romantic, and stuff.
  5. Michael Jackson, The Way You Make Me Feel/Ruff Endz, If I Was the One/Jamiroquai, Canned Heat [Center Stage] – So I’m cheating a little bit here, putting three songs for one movie. BUT, these three songs were used for the finale piece in Center Stage! They go together! And I can’t listen to any one of these songs without immediately playing the scene in my head, picturing the choreography.
  6. Gerardo Matos Rodríguez, La Cumparsita (Remix) [Take the Lead] – For some reason, I’ve always loved watching a good tango, so I’ve always loved the song, even if I didn’t know what it was called when I was younger. Then Take the Lead came out and featured this AMAZING trio tango with a remixed version of La Cumparsita, which kind of became my everything. The classic tango song, updated with a hip-hop flavour, which was part of what made the movie unique.
  7. Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova/Steve Kazee & Cristin Milioti, Falling Slowly [Once/Once the Musical] – Just such a beautiful song.
  8. Katharine McPhee & Megan Hilty, Let Me Be Your Star [Smash] – Let this be one of the few good things to come out of Smash. The pilot capped off with this wonderful song, that set the stage for the rest of the show. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. But hey, at least we got this song and Megan Hilty from that mess.
  9. Oscar Isaac, Never Had [10 Years] – Oscar Isaac actually wrote this song for the movie (an underrated gem about friends meeting up for their high school reunion), where he plays Reeves, a musician with this hit song. The song keeps getting talked about throughout the movie, until Reeves gets convinced to karaoke his own song. The song has a great nostalgic tone that was obviously meant to work with the movie. Just watch it.
  10. Dianna Agron & Lea Michele, I Feel Pretty/Unpretty [Glee] – There once was a time when I loved Glee, before it all went to shit. I particularly loved it most when they actually picked songs that worked itself organically into the story, and not just them doing songs for the sake of it. The performance is actually still one of my favourites that they did, which was in season 2, and dealt with Rachel’s want to get her nose fixed.
  11. Jason Segel, You Just Got Slapped [How I Met Your Mother] – Now for something fun and silly. Because creating Slapsgiving wasn’t enough, the HIMYM gang created this tune to commemorate the occasion in season 3.
  12. Orishas ft. Heather Headley, Represent Cuba [Dirty Dancing Havana Nights] – I stand by my “I don’t really like the movie, but I love the soundtrack.” I just love this song.
  13. Sara Bareilles, Breathe Again [The Vampire Diaries] – There once was also a time when I loved The Vampire Diaries. Now season 1, their music supervisor had already established himself with some really good song choices. But I remember distinctly the first half of season 2, where I thought they were just on a complete roll with the music. They used this fantastic Sara Bareilles song as the coda in episode 4.
  14. Jonathan Groff/Kyle Riabko, Left Behind [Spring Awakening] – It’s a poignant song in the musical, with Melchior lamenting Moritz’ death, wondering what led to it including Moritz’ parents’ treatment of him. Obviously I love the original version as sung by Jonathan Groff, but there’s also a soulful quality to Kyle Riabko’s version which he did on his own album.
  15. Florence + the Machine, Cosmic Love [Nikita] – Season 1, Episode 17: Michael goes to see Nikita and realizes she was right all along when it came to Division. They kiss and that was the beginning of Mikita. I sigh just thinking about it.

 

 

DVD Review: 10 Years

10 Years

I am so incredibly happy that I finally get to write about 10 Years. I had the pleasure of seeing this movie back in September 2011, when it made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and I instantly fell in love with it. The movie succeeded in getting distribution at the festival, so I waited rather impatiently for the chance to see it a second time, and now that it has been released on DVD, I finally get to watch and enjoy the movie over and over again.

10 Years is a film written and directed by Jamie Linden, who previously wrote the screenplays for We Are Marshall and Dear John. The movie is about the lives of high school friends and what they discover about each other when they come together for their high school reunion. The ensemble cast is comprised of a wonderful group of this generation’s actors, including Channing Tatum (who also serves as a producer on the film), Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Scott Porter, Justin Long, Rosario Dawson, Max Minghella, Kate Mara, Oscar Isaac, Chris Pratt, Ari Graynor, Brian Geraghty, Lynn Collins, Aaron Yoo, Aubrey Plaza, and Anthony Mackie.

Cast of 10 Years at TIFF 2011 premiere (L-R: Brian Geraghty, Lynn Collins, Kate Mara, Ari Graynor, Aaron Yoo, Oscar Isaac, Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Scott Porter, Kelly Noonan, Max Minghella, Justin Long, writer/director Jamie Linden)

Cast of 10 Years at TIFF 2011 premiere (L-R: Brian Geraghty, Lynn Collins, Kate Mara, Ari Graynor, Aaron Yoo, Oscar Isaac, Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Scott Porter, Kelly Noonan, Max Minghella, Justin Long, writer/director Jamie Linden)

The premise of a high school reunion isn’t anything revelatory or new. What Linden has done is actually make an ensemble character drama that just so happens to take place at a high school reunion. The movie takes on the questions that come up when you’re well in your 20s and are faced with an event like a reunion (How much have I changed since high school? Am I living the life I want? Am I happy with who I am with? What happened to “the one that got away”? Is life what you expected it to be?) The answers are delivered with varying degrees of insecurity and self-actualization that is expected of anybody in this situation, as well as an abundance of charm and heart.

One of the best things about the movie is that, despite the fact that they assembled an all-star cast, when you watch it, you feel like you know these people and not in the way that you’re watching actors in a movie. It happens a lot of times when movies are made with the full intention of casting a lot of actors that you get taken out of the movie and are too busy reveling in so-and-so’s presence, rather than focusing on their characters (looking at you Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and What to Expect…) With 10 Years, even with instances like Scott Porter’s character being named Scott Porter, you don’t feel like you’re just watching a bunch of actors on screen. It makes you feel like you were attending your own high school reunion and that you were friends with these people. There’s a realness to it that carries on throughout the movie, where you also get the sense that the cast are actually friends in real life, not just put together for filmmaking purposes.

10 Years is a great movie to watch, no matter what kind of mood you’re in. It’s the very definition of a dramedy – a drama with comedic elements to balance it out. It’s too bad the movie didn’t get a wider release in theaters, with proper marketing, because with this cast alone, it could have been a decent hit at the box office. That aside, it is out there and available for everyone to see now, so I sincerely encourage you to give this movie a try; you won’t be disappointed.