Might Have Missed ‘Em? 10 Overlooked Movies at Redbox

by | Mar 2nd, 2011 | 4:45PM | Filed under: DVD Reviews, Movie Lists, Movies

Looking for something a little different to ease that march from Winter to Spring? The 10 home-video titles below are all smaller films I’ve written about in the past six months, but that I once again encourage you to check out if they sound like your cuppa movie.

Think of these as the Picks of my Picks:

Please Give

Not so much funny ha-ha as funny ah-hah, Please Give is a sly look at how well-meaning, well-off folks use altruism as a salve for their selfishness. The fantastic cast includes Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, Amanda Peet and most of all Ann Morgan Guilbert. Please Give maps out with gently wicked humor how human nature rubs up against social guidelines and how we fumble to feel okay about the not-so-okay stuff we do.

The Killer Inside Me

Based on pulp author Jim Thompson’s 1952 hard-boiled crawl into a sociopath’s mind and starring Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, and Kate Hudson, The Killer Inside Me is director Michael Winterbottom’s lurid, dark-hearted, and stylishly ironic shout-out to classic film noir. As such it’s very disturbing, resulting in a well-made film that is not for every viewer, especially those squeamish about violence against women. But it’s also a powerful, dark film that, like the best film noirs, seduces us and then makes us pay dearly for our transgression.

Leaves of Grass

Writer-director Tim Blake Nelson’s black “pot” comedy stars Edward Norton in a dual role as very opposite twin brothers. But while it may poke silly, satiric fun at both Blue-State academia elitism and Red-State redneckery, at heart it’s a gripping satire about the Nature of Humans. Leaves of Grass sets out to intentionally defy expectations and categorization and comes at you from a half-dozen different, and sometimes contradictory directions. But it continually surprises, right up to its sober closing message.

The Greatest

A touchy, huggy, shouty weeper about love and loss, grief and new beginnings, The Greatest might have creaked under the weight of too many familiar emotional conflicts. Thankfully it offers honest insight amid the melodrama and is enriched by performances from Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, and Carey Mulligan. The Greatest shows that grief is intensely personal, and everyone copes with it —or doesn’t—in their own way, not always successfully. And that sometimes the only way out of it is to embrace the living around you.

Ondine

Everyone I recommend Ondine to comes back loving it. Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda, and Alison Barry bring this atmospheric romantic fable for grown-ups to beautiful life with a worn-down grace. The tale of an Irish fisherman who may or may not have netted a lovely selkie, Ondine glides sensually across achingly lovely coastlines as it enraptures and entraps you in its spell.

House of the Devil

Director Ti West’s The House of the Devil is one of the best horror films of the past year. Set in the 1980s at the height of the satanic-cult hysteria, the movie honors the style and tone (and feathered bangs) of that era’s scary movies with a deft mix of sincerity and irony—and genuinely tense scares. The House of the Devil doesn’t rely on cheap jolts, dehumanizing torture porn, or buckets of gore. Nor does it pander to ADD attention spans, but instead reminds us how good a true horror film can be in the hands of a serious—and seriously twisted—film maker.

Centurion

It’s AD 117, and the Roman Empire is stalled at the harsh Scottish frontier. A chilly and bloody speculation on the fate of the infamous “Lost” Ninth Legion, Centurion is also a sly gloss on Westerns like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, as Inglourious Basterd’s Michael Fassbender leads a rag-tag gang of Romans trying to out-run a posse of angry Picts. Marshall’s sure-handed, visceral (and gory) grasp of scene and scenery is economical with everything but the blood and fire–the director gets a lot of visual bang for his buck as he mines the simple chase plot for gutsy thrills.

Me and Orson Welles

A warning–Zac Efron and Claire Danes’ romantic storyline does muddy up Richard Linklater’s tale of Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater’s ground-breaking 1937 production of Julius Ceasar. But get past that and you’ll be rewarded with a wonderfully irresistible tale of genius and ego, rich with theater history and electrified by Christian McKay’s note-perfect performance as the bold, brash, infuriating tyro Welles. (I’ve adopted his cry of “I am Orson Welles and every single one of you stands here as an adjunct to my vision!” as my new personal motto.)

Cemetery Junction

Fans of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant still haven’t seen anything on the big screen as smart, painfully funny, and perfectly realized as The Office and Extras. But while their Cemetery Junction—set in working-class ‘70s Britain—may not reinvent the coming-of-age genre, I adore every nostalgic moment of it –it’s a modest-but-wonderful treat thanks to Gervais’ wry nostalgia (he also has a supporting role), a  very cool pub-rock soundtrack, and a cast full of young British faces to watch for in the future.

City Island

This family dramedy starring a gruff-but-lovable Andy Garcia has just enough safely passionate idiosyncrasies to hit the sweet-and-sassy spot. An indie film with a sitcom heart about a family full of quirky secrets, City Island may not surprise, but it’ll certainly put up a smile. Despite the quirks, it works as a sturdy dramedy because it never loses sight of its simple family themes. Add in plenty of good-natured odd-ball humor served up by a talented cast and you have pleasant, filling—and most of all, entertaining—cinematic comfort food.

Now how about you? Have any smaller films you’ve seen lately you want to hip others to? Share in the comments below!


7 Responses to “Might Have Missed ‘Em? 10 Overlooked Movies at Redbox”

  1. Jennifer Sci Fi Friend
    Posted on March 3, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    What is your definition of “smaller films”?

  2. Locke Peterseim
    Locke Peterseim
    Posted on March 3, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Films that did not get a wide theatrical release (over 1000 theaters), Jenn. On the other hand, I left off smaller films that have gotten plenty of attention, such as Winter’s Bone, which of course was nominated for an Oscar.

  3. Mike
    Posted on March 4, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Are there any rental offers availible ?

  4. Trevor L
    Posted on March 4, 2011 at 9:55 am

    I loved Leaves of Grass, it conveyed emotion awesomely. I felt exactly how I’m guessing the filmmaker wanted me to feel by the end. Honestly haven’t seen any of the others though, but plan on at least watching Ondine at some point.

  5. Diane C
    Posted on March 4, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I would appreciate the ratings being listed with the reviews. There are still some of us that don’t like “R” rated movies.

  6. Will
    Posted on March 4, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Speaking of smaller films, I’m curious to see what you thought of “Cedar Rapids”. From one Iowan to another…even though it was filmed in Ann Arbor!

  7. Pam
    Posted on August 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I am so thankful that Redbox is carrying Priest. I used to collect unusual good guy comics like: Angelafrom Spawn, Witchblade, Lady Death, Avengylene and Priest…They pulled Priest out of the theaters so fast… I don’t think it was given a chance to be seen by fans. I know I didn’t see it. I have reserved a copy of it for tonight..it’s finally here. Also, I agree with Redbox member Diane that it would not only be good to know what the rating is “R”, “G”, etc., but why it’s rated that way exg., “Gore”, “Nudity”, “Language”. Cable and Satellite give you this before every movie plays. Anyone that knows movies, knows that the “R” rating is all encampassing and varies a great deal. For instance if their is a hint of religion to the theme, it might get an “R” rating but be cleaner than some of the “PG” movies…thanks again.