Tossing Salt Presents:
Fifteen Top Unknown and Forgotten Movie Gems
(Part 2 of 3)
January 30, 2018
A few days ago, I had the opportunity to listen to a fantastic podcast, SMF Cyberspace, hosted by an amazing guy, Brent, along with two of his buddies, Jon and Luke, and they were discussing movies. Not just any movies, but the movies that they’ve seen that are amazing and stand out from the crowd, but may or may not always get the recognition that they deserve. It’s a great listen and I strongly advise anyone reading this to go over to YouTube and give this episode (and all of the episodes) of SMF Cyberspace a listen. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll shake your head a little bit. And most of all, you’ll have fun. The cast of characters rotates a bit, but Brent is the man and leads the way as they discuss everything under the sun and just make you go, “hmmmmmm!”. Go listen. You’ll be glad you did.
But as I was saying, the topic was “movies” and it got me to thinking of movies I know and love and have enjoyed that people might just not know about, that are truly lost or hidden gems. And with that in mind, I made up my own list. I came up with fifteen titles. I did Part 1, with movies 15 through 11 a couple of days ago. Now it’s time for 10 through 6. Are you ready? I said, “Are you ready?”.
Before I get started on Part 2 of my list of the infamous fifteen, here’s a quick recap of my first five movies picked. 15 – “Ed Wood”. 14 – “Monster Dog”. 13 – “White Frog”. 12 – “Can’t Stop The Music”. And finally, 11 – “Earth Girl’s Are Easy”. And now, let’s do the next five…
10. East of Eden (1955)
Based on a novel by John Steinbeck and starring James Dean, this 1955 classic is truly an American classic and one of, in my opinion, the greatest movies of all time. Yet so many people haven’t seen it or haven’t heard of it. They think James Dean and “Rebel Without A Cause” comes to mind and while that is a great movie in it’s own right, I think this one, which Dean did first, is even better. Here is the description from Wikipedia: East of Eden is a 1955 film, directed by Elia Kazan, and loosely based on the second half of the 1952 novel of the same name by John Steinbeck. It is about a wayward young man who, while seeking his own identity, vies for the affection of his deeply religious father against his favored brother, thus retelling the story of Cain and Abel.
It’s probably Dean’s best role ever and along with a cast of great talent such as Raymond Massey, Burl Ives, Julie Harris and Jo Van Fleet, it’s a compelling, heart wrenching drama that will reach out and grab your heart and very soul. Dean plays this role as the emotional “Cal” to the hilt, pushing it, but never quite going over the top. Julie Harris is amazing in her role as Abra, the girlfriend of Cal’s brother “Aron”, who finds herself attracted to Cal. And Massey, as their father, Adam, plays up the conflicts and drama so well, being both likable and almost arrogant at the same time. It’s just an amazing film that was along with Rebel Without a Cause and Giant, named by the American Film Institute as one of the best 400 American films of all time. Dean was nominated for an Oscar and Van Fleet won an Oscar for her role as Dean’s estranged mother, as “Best Actress In A Supporting Role”. It’s just an awesome movie from start to finish that everyone should see at least once. Go see Rebel Without A Cause too if you can. It’s amazing as well, but East of Eden is better and deserves every bit of love and respect that it gets.
9. One Hour Photo (2002)
From IMDb: A mentally unstable photo developer begins to attack a middle-class family after his obsession with them becomes more sick and disturbing than any of them could imagine. And I guess that description is accurate, but this movie is so much more. Robin Williams, far removed from his days at the lovable Mork from Ork, stars as Sy, a lonely and socially inept older man who becomes fixated with a customer and her family and more and more, imagines them as his own. There are twists and turns and Robin Williams plays this role so well, so believable as the sweet old man with what he believes are the best of intentions, but not quite so for everyone else. It’s just an good movie that will keep you tuned in and hooked, without even realizing it, from the first scene. This movie had moderate box office success and won several awards for Williams, but most people don’t seem to know it. It’s truly, in my opinion, William’s best non-comedic acting role and well worth going out of your way to see.
8. My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Director Gus Van Zant leads actor Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix down a dark and twisted path in this 1991 movie detailing the lives of two street hustlers, Mike (played by Phoenix) and Scott (played by Reeves) as they discover themselves while also searching for Mike’s mother. It’s a dark and gritty movie in many ways, but also very compelling and moving. A few twists along the way as Mike, who is narcoleptic, confesses love for Scott, but is rebuffed as Scott falls in love with a woman they meet while for Mike’s mother. William Richert plays the character of Bob Pigeon, a mentor and older “father figure” for many of the local hustlers and his role provides drama and some comedy and adds so much to the movie. And Flea, from the band “Red Hot Chili Peppers”, plays “Bud”, a lovable, but not quite stable young hustler in a great cameo role. The movie is just good and while the subject matter and the rather explicit stories and look at the male hustler lifestyle may be disturbing to some, Phoenix and Reeves are just really good here and Phoenix especially comes across so real and sad.
7. Kids (1995)
When we talk about movies that are real and dark and gritty, one would have to put “Kids”, written and directed by Larry Clark, at the top of the list. The explicit sex, drug and alcohol abuse, violence and just general bad behavior of these kids in this movie comes across as so real and so vivid, many people who watched it thought it was a documentary rather than a fictional movie. Telly, portrayed by Leo Fitzpatrick, is a foul mouthed skater punk who, as he puts it, “is addicted to virgins” and along with pal Casper, portrayed by Justin Pierce, the film follows the two on their exploits of stealing beer from a local store, getting high, assaulting a man and going to a party. We also get to know Jennie, played by Chloe Sevigny. She’s one of the used and then tossed aside “virgins” that Telly has deflowered and a trip to the doctor for an HIV test leaves her searching for Telly for most of the movie. This movie marks the first major acting role for actress Rosario Dawson, who played the character, “Ruby”. The movie was released without a rating and did an estimated 20.4 million at the box office, a moderate success. It’s riveting and disturbing and like a car wreck that you know you shouldn’t be staring at, but can’t turn away. It’s not a movie for everyone to be sure, but the acting is great, the scenarios are way too real and the movie, it rocks. And that’s all I can really say about that.
6. Gummo (1997)
From IMDb: Lonely residents of a tornado-stricken Ohio town wander the deserted landscape trying to fulfill their boring, nihilistic lives. From Wikipedia: Gummo is a 1997 American dystopian art film written and directed by Harmony Korine, starring Jacob Reynolds, Nick Sutton, Jacob Sewell, and Chloë Sevigny. The film is set in Xenia, Ohio, a small, poor Midwestern American town that had been previously struck by a devastating tornado. The loose narrative follows several main characters who find odd and destructive ways to pass time, interrupted by vignettes depicting other inhabitants of the town. “Gummo” is considered to be a cult film.
And from me: What can I say about this movie, but what the… ?? If there is a storyline intertwining all of the different scenes and scenarios in this movie, aside from that it’s all supposedly in the same town, I can’t see it. But despite that, the movie is one that once you start watching, it’s hard to look away. It has kids killing cats to make money. It has a mute kid wearing bunny ears wandering around town. It has a drunk man flirting with a gay dwarf. It has fights and skinheads and even an Iron Lung (oh my). It’s just… unique. And awesome. And should be watched, repeatedly. Just check it out if you can and yes, you’re welcome.
And with that, I’m ending Part 2. Back in a few days with the 3rd and final part of this series (maybe). So what do you think? What are your favorite movies and hidden gems that you enjoy and like to watch? Let me know in the comments. Thank you for reading. I’m out of here now. See ya later.