Five Great Movies You’ve Forgotten About Or Never Seen
Few will argue that CITIZEN KANE is one of the greatest movies ever made – many say the greatest. And, there is no doubt that the GODFATHER, alongside of its sequel, has claimed its place in the cannon of movie history.
Still, there are more. Unfortunately, not every good movie
Before the denizen cheerleaders pranced across our T.V. sets in Nirvana’s “Smell’s Like Teen Spirit Video” – Before the tragedy of Columbine shocked America and provided the tabloids with a generation’s worth of fodder – there was HEATHERS (1989). This movie dons a sharp and biting screenplay that still mocks the selfishness that was born with spoiled eighties teens and has only seemed to worsen in the new millennium. It introduced two little known actors – Winnona Ryder (Veronica) and Christian Slater (J.D.). In HEATHERS Ryder shows the potential which she has yet to live up to and Slater, doing his best Jack Nicholson impression, chalks up his finest performance. HEATHERS tells the dark story of high school students gone awry. Veronica and J.D. embark on a killing spree, knocking off the popular kids one-by-one. J.D.’s ultimate plan is to blow up the school. HEATHERS was directed by Michael Lehman who has directed a variety of things from HUDSON HAWK to episodes of THE WEST WING. “Suppose I did blow up the school … all the schools. Now that you’re dead, what are you going to do with your life?” –J.D.
Sean Connery has always been entertaining. On many occasions, he has been very good. But, in THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING, he is great. And, Michael Caine is even better. As the would-be king, Daniel (Connery) and his partner Peachy (Caine), venture into India as English conquerors, Daniel is mistaken for an Indian God. Ultimately, it is the pleasures of the flesh that expose Daniel as a man, resulting in the crumbling of his fledgling kingdom. John Huston directed this masterful epic of the Rudyard Kipling story in 1975. THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING is powerful storytelling and one of Huston’s finest, but lesser known films. “Daniel never let go of Peachey’s hand and Peachey never let go of Daniel’s head … He became the King of the Kafiristan with a crown on his head. And that’s all there is to tell.” --Peachey
A MIDNIGHT CLEAR, directed by Keith Gordon, is based on the novel by William Wharton. This 1991 movie addresses the subtle horrors of war. Ethan Hawke stars as the reluctant hero, Will Knot. Along with Hawke is an ensemble cast including Gary Sinise, Peter Berg, Kevin Dillon, Arye Gross, Frank Whaley and John C. McGinley. A MIDNIGHT CLEAR chronicles the story of an American Intelligence Squad that locates a German unit in an isolated area of Germany in 1944. While spying on each other, the German’s and Americans battle with snowballs rather than bullets. Unfortunately, a plan for the German’s to surrender honorably unintentionally goes bad, ending in bloodshed and tragedy. Director Keith Gordon also directed the dark 1996 movie starring MOTHER NIGHT, another World War II drama.
ONE FALSE MOVE was directed by Carl Franklin in 1991. It was written by Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson. It was the film that allowed Thornton to make SLINGBLADE. ONE FALSE MOVE stars Bill Paxton as Hurricane, an anxious, small-town sheriff, excited at the possibility of catching a few felons. Billy Bob Thronton as Ray, is one of the criminals heading toward the town of Star City, Arkansas. Ray is with two murder/robbery accomplices Fantasia (Cynda Williams) and Pluto (Michael Beach). While Hurricane works with FBI agents to catch the trio, he realizes that Fantasia is headed to Star City for a reason – it’s her home. And, she and Hurricane have a past together. The movie has a slow burn that builds to its explosive and surprising climax.
Dennis Hopper took a small role in RIVER’S EDGE with a group of no-name young actors, including Keanu Reeves, Ione Skye and Crispin Glover. A group of high school classmates discover that one of their friends has killed his girlfriend during the throes of passion. Samson (Daniel Roebuck) seeks help from the group in covering up the murder. Glover’s character, Layne, will stop at nothing to conceal the crime, while Matt (Reeves) and Clarissa (Skye) search for a way to safely escape the treachery. Director Tim Hunter takes a masterful look at the lives of troubled teens. Hopper gives an exceptional performance and Glover, as usual, displays the oddities that make him so interesting to watch. Oddly enough, RIVER’S EDGE is based on a true story. Screenwriter Neal Jimenez later directed THE WATERDANCE in 1992, also a movie well worth watching, with Eric Stoltz and Wesley Snipes.
BIRDY (1984), also based on a novel by William Wharton, stars Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine. Modine as the title character, Birdy, copes with the horrors of war the only way he can – by escaping the reality and pretending to be a bird. Al (Cage) returns injured and fearful of what lies beneath the bandages covering his face. As Al confronts his own fears, he makes daily visits to a mental hospital to try and bring Birdy back into the realm of reality. It is dramatic, heartwarming and often very funny as Al reminisces in his seemingly hopeless efforts to reclaim Birdy. Director Alan Parker is also the mind behind MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, PINK FLOYD THE WALL, ANGEL HEART and THE COMMITMENTS – a group of movies that are all highly entertaining and well worth a first, if not a second viewing.
By Brian Barsuglia
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