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Movies Unlike Any Other

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Movies Unlike Any Other

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:03 pm

This has come up twice recently.
I screened Nightmare Alley during a regularly-scheduled Movie Night a few weeks ago and then last night at Mickey's, People Will Talk was playing on TCM.

Both of these are excellent movies which I highly recommend, not just because they are well-directed, well-written, well-acted films, but because they are literally unlike any other movies I've ever seen. Both contain standard elements of other genre films of their time, but both manage to go in unlikely and unpredictable directions.

Nightmare Alley begins as seemingly just a film about carny workers, but takes several left turns before returning to the carnival for its (admittedly telegraphed) finale. It is marketed on DVD as a film noir, but it is most definitely not that. People Will Talk has elements of screwball comedy and generic romance and drama films, but again, goes in such surprising directions that I defy anyone watching it for the first time to have any idea how it's gonna end (except, of course, that conniving Hume Cronyn will not get the better of dashing Cary Grant.)

Given Hollywood's propensity for cranking out carbon copies of their own product and my own proclivity to watching them, I find such films extremely gratifying, even if the end result is sometimes uneven (although again, I highly recommend both of the films named above.)

So I ask you, fellow Forons: What are some of the movies you found to be the most unique? I'm mostly interested in hearing about actual Hollywood films, since it's a no-brainer that when people set out to actively subjugate the expectations of Hollywood cliches, they're more likely to succeed (anyone catch Rubber from a couple years ago?) What movies did you go into expecting standard Hollywood storytelling (not that there's anything wrong with that) but discovered something completely different?
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Re: Movies Unlike Any Other

Postby Stebben84 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:13 pm

Right off the bat I'd say Donnie Darko. Don't know if this qualifies as "hollywood" or not.
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Re: Movies Unlike Any Other

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:22 pm

Stebben84 wrote:Right off the bat I'd say Donnie Darko. Don't know if this qualifies as "hollywood" or not.
I've never seen it, so I couldn't say. More important than whether it qualifies for some vague label is whether it's worth seeing. Would you recommend it?
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Re: Movies Unlike Any Other

Postby dave esmond » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:33 pm

People Will Talk is great.

I'd say Best Years of Their Lives doesn't offer up what you think it's going to but gives you something much better.

Make Way for Tomorrow is almost more like a Japanese movie despite being one out of '30's Hollywood. Like People Will Talk you probably won't guess where it goes.

Donnie Darko is good.

Almost any Douglas Sirk movie?

You need to invite me to movie night sometime if that's what you're playing. Sounds awesome.
Last edited by dave esmond on Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Movies Unlike Any Other

Postby Kenneth Burns » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:33 pm

I wonder if people who knew the work of collaborators Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke felt adequately prepared for 2001: A Space Odyssey, which has to be one of the weirdest Hollywood studio releases ever. In Cinerama, no less.
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Re: Movies Unlike Any Other

Postby Kenneth Burns » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:42 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:
Stebben84 wrote:Right off the bat I'd say Donnie Darko. Don't know if this qualifies as "hollywood" or not.
I've never seen it, so I couldn't say. More important than whether it qualifies for some vague label is whether it's worth seeing. Would you recommend it?

Donnie Darko is terrific.
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Re: Movies Unlike Any Other

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:44 pm

Kenneth Burns wrote:2001: A Space Odyssey
Oh, this definitely qualifies. Unique on so many levels, from the storytelling, to the (non-)acting, from the soundtrack to the visuals. Worth noting that the space effects are still some of the best and most gorgeous ever committed to film.

dave esmond wrote:I'd say Best Years of Their Lives doesn't offer up what you think it's going to but gives you something much better.
Ooo... this one's been on my "to watch" list for quite some time based solely on the cast and crew, but yeah, it always looked to me like it would be just another dramatic weepie. Honestly, the run-time alone (172 mins.) has dissuaded me on several occasion. I will definitely check it out sooner rather than later.

dave esmond wrote:Almost any Douglas Sirk movie?
I've seen very few, though I've enjoyed those I have. Lured certainly fits my theme. Ever seen that one?
dave esmond wrote:You need to invite me to movie night sometime if that's what you're playing. Sounds awesome.

We're having one tonight and you are more than welcome to join us. Dinner around 7PM, movie around 8PM. Tonight's menu: Clam chowder, shrimp cocktail, and tuna-stuffed baked tomatoes. I'll need to get another tomato if you're interested. We never pick the films ahead of time. Usually, we choose one based on whose birthday it is.

Donnie Darko: Noted. Should I watch the theatrical version or the Director's Cut?
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Re: Movies Unlike Any Other

Postby fisticuffs » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:47 pm

Few and far between these days with every movie being a remake of a movie, tv show, comic, board game etc. etc... I thought Moon was damned good and entirely original. Can't say anything at all about it though due to spoilers.
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Re: Movies Unlike Any Other

Postby dave esmond » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:55 pm

Ooo... this one's been on my "to watch" list for quite some time based solely on the cast and crew, but yeah, it always looked to me like it would be just another dramatic weepie. Honestly, the run-time alone (172 mins.) has dissuaded me on several occasion. I will definitely check it out sooner rather than later.


It's got it's weepie moments but in an honest way not a Speilberg way if you know what I mean. It's totally worth the time. It's a movie that wouldn't have been made just a few years later.


I've seen very few, though I've enjoyed those I have. Lured certainly fits my theme. Ever seen that one?


That's a good one. Heck I haven't seen a bad one yet. His stuff is always "off" in a way I find really enjoyable.

I'll need to get another tomato if you're interested.


Damn.

Busy tonight but I'd love to come some other time.


One I just saw show up on Netflix streaming that might fit. Sunset Blvd. I don't recall how that was received at the time but it's one I can watch over and over.
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Re: Movies Unlike Any Other

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:03 pm

Moon has also been on my radar for a while. Will bump it up on my watchlist as well.

While I agree that there are far too many remakes, adaptations, and uninspired property films coming out of Hollywood today, it's a mistake to think this hasn't always been the case. I think it's just more pronounced now because a) far fewer movies are being made today, and b) the emphasis is often as much on merchandising as it is on the films. The Maltese Falcon we all know and love was a remake. The Thin Man was a novel adaptation which spawned a 6-film series. James Bond has been at it since the early '60s. Blondie, Boston Blackie, The Dead End Kids, Tarzan, Charlie Chan, etc. were all long-lived and very popular franchises. People have always flocked to the already-familiar.
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Re: Movies Unlike Any Other

Postby rrnate » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:04 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Donnie Darko: Noted. Should I watch the theatrical version or the Director's Cut?


I'd strongly recommend the theatrical version. Director's cut kinda diminishes some of the movies awesomeness and also switches out a song or two.
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Re: Movies Unlike Any Other

Postby Kenneth Burns » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:28 pm

rrnate wrote:
Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Donnie Darko: Noted. Should I watch the theatrical version or the Director's Cut?


I'd strongly recommend the theatrical version. Director's cut kinda diminishes some of the movies awesomeness and also switches out a song or two.


I've only seen the director's cut. I dig it.
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Re: Movies Unlike Any Other

Postby rrnate » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:31 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:This has come up twice recently.
I screened Nightmare Alley during a regularly-scheduled Movie Night a few weeks ago and then last night at Mickey's, People Will Talk was playing on TCM.

Both of these are excellent movies which I highly recommend, not just because they are well-directed, well-written, well-acted films, but because they are literally unlike any other movies I've ever seen. Both contain standard elements of other genre films of their time, but both manage to go in unlikely and unpredictable directions.

Nightmare Alley begins as seemingly just a film about carny workers, but takes several left turns before returning to the carnival for its (admittedly telegraphed) finale. It is marketed on DVD as a film noir, but it is most definitely not that. People Will Talk has elements of screwball comedy and generic romance and drama films, but again, goes in such surprising directions that I defy anyone watching it for the first time to have any idea how it's gonna end (except, of course, that conniving Hume Cronyn will not get the better of dashing Cary Grant.)

Given Hollywood's propensity for cranking out carbon copies of their own product and my own proclivity to watching them, I find such films extremely gratifying, even if the end result is sometimes uneven (although again, I highly recommend both of the films named above.)

So I ask you, fellow Forons: What are some of the movies you found to be the most unique? I'm mostly interested in hearing about actual Hollywood films, since it's a no-brainer that when people set out to actively subjugate the expectations of Hollywood cliches, they're more likely to succeed (anyone catch Rubber from a couple years ago?) What movies did you go into expecting standard Hollywood storytelling (not that there's anything wrong with that) but discovered something completely different?


Dude! I have seen both of these (kinda recently) and they're both pretty good.

I LOVE Nightmare Alley and agree it's pretty non-traditional. (Heard about it via the UW Cinematheque, who showed it last year.) Definitely a pretty non-trad movie for the time and pretty cool. The closest thing I can think of to it is another thing I saw via the UW, is "Strange Impersonation", an early movie by Anthony Mann - similar feel to Nightmare Alley as it was a "b-reel" kind of movie, but tons of cool direction, crazy plotting, etc.

(http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038986/ Definitely worth a watch (as are all of the Mann movies before he started going crazy with westerns.)
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Re: Movies Unlike Any Other

Postby Kenneth Burns » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:56 pm

I was very surprised when I first saw The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T., cowritten by Dr. Seuss, and Night of the Hunter, directed by Charles Laughton. Unique visions both. Apparently Seuss never wrote another feature, and Laughton never directed one.
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Re: Movies Unlike Any Other

Postby scratch » Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:11 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:
dave esmond wrote:I'd say Best Years of Their Lives doesn't offer up what you think it's going to but gives you something much better.
Ooo... this one's been on my "to watch" list for quite some time based solely on the cast and crew, but yeah, it always looked to me like it would be just another dramatic weepie. Honestly, the run-time alone (172 mins.) has dissuaded me on several occasion. I will definitely check it out sooner rather than later.


Given the 172 min. run time listed I assume you're talking about the Sam Goldwyn Best Years of Our Lives rather than the 2010 short film with the same title. It's more than a little "weepie," but it does have a couple of hidden attractions like Blake Edwards and Tennessee Ernie Ford appearing uncredited. Tennessee Ernie's contrbution is far more memorable.

I guess if one enjoys Best Years I shouldn't be surprised at affection for Sirk. His version of Imitation of Life, like the earlier version, is on my short list of most excruciatingly painful film experiences imaginable, so perhaps I should absent myself from further discussion.
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