Recommended Smaller, Overlooked, or Underrated Movies in the Redbox Kiosks
This odd little romance from James Keach (Stacy’s brother) slides back and forth between whimsical and flimsical. It tries to find a charming way into its tale of a man (Pirate Radio‘s Tom Sturridge) who’s spent his life secretly following around his childhood sweetheart (The O.C.‘s Rachel Bilson)–she’s now a TV actress with her own family and relationship issues. The filmmakers know that premise could be stalkerish and address it upfront, in the process raising genuine questions about what’s deeply romantic and what’s just creepy. Waiting for Forever never gets a ton of dramatic traction, but it’s carried along nicely by Bilson and especially Sturridge, who keeps us wondering if his character is a lovesick fool or a total loon. Richard Perkins and Blythe Danner also shore things up as Bilson’s parents.
In this snappy, stylish tale of an assassination at a prize fight, director Brian De Palma gets to wallow in his great love for Hitchcockian thrillers, while Nicolas Cage gets to run bug-eyed around an Atlantic City casino as a sleazy, crooked detective. So pretty much everyone wins. Snakes Eyes is sharply written by De Palma’s Carlito’s Way and Mission: Impossible collaborator, David Koepp, but it’s been maligned over the years as the point where both De Palma and Cage began to lose the reins on their cinematic indulgences. In fact, with Gary Sinise and Carla Gugino on hand (as well as most every character actor of the ’90s), the movie’s a lot of crazy fun, but it’s also grounded in De Palma’s love of film flourishes, including a bravura opening shot, lots of little film-geek jokes and homages, and a nifty subtext about what a camera’s eye sees.
Sally Hawkins (Never Let Me Go) stars in this true tale of the English women who led the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968–a battle for equal pay that was a major turning point for women’s rights in Britain. With Hawkins’ help, director Nigel Cole keeps things cheerful and amusing (with a dash of swinging ‘60s sass) while reminding us of the personal sacrifices women and their families made to achieve what is taken for granted today. Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson, and Rosamund Pike all provide fine support, but Hawkins is the draw here—she tempers her plucky, Happy-Go-Lucky positivity with enough weary pragmatism to make her character (a composite of several real-life women) feel honest.
Back in the ‘80s, I was a huge musical-theater geek. (I know! Sci-fi/Fantasy Geek, Comic-Book Geek, and a Musical-Theater Geek? Whatta catch!) And that meant I loved and saw Les Miz a lot. Revisiting it decades later with this 25th Anniversary concert is a heady mix of nostalgia, slight embarrassment, and renewed admiration for its big, broad melodrama. Les Miz is a giant hunk of revolutionary cheese, but it’s still a powerful, moving, and impressively entertaining hunk of cheese. This 2010 commemorative performance features cast members singing in costume and character with minimal stagecraft, but for a lapsed fan like myself it’s a reminder of why I was so smitten and inspired by Les Miz—some of the best bits come at the end when the original 1985 West End cast (my first!) emerges to sing “One Day More” and a quartet of the “Jean Valjeans” (including Colm Wilkinson) team up on “Bring Him Home.”
We all know the rom-com isn’t my favorite genre, but here veteran comedy director Ivan Reitman (Stripes, Ghostbusters) has found his way back to very funny, very R-rated form. (Nothing like having your son’s career start to eclipse your own to re-light a fire in the belly.) It helps that Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman are both experienced, confident performers—if you haven’t been paying attention over the years, you’ll be surprised how earnest and likable Kutcher is and how flat-out hilarious the sexy, snide Portman can be. Despite the seemingly odd match (Portman: “When I stand next to him it looks like he’s kidnapping me”), they make a sassy, combative, screwball pair. Plus there’s The Office’s brilliant Mindy Kaling, the deeply talented indie queen Greta Gerwig, and Kevin Kline in full pompous buffoon mode.