My Underrated Movies List

What's wrong with you people?!?! Can't you see that this flick was pure and utter genius?! OK, OK: Let me explain myself...
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1.
Art School Confidential (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Starting from childhood attempts at illustration, the protagonist pursues his true obsession to art school. But as he learns how the art world really works, he finds that he must adapt his vision to the reality that confronts him. (102 mins.)
Director: Terry Zwigoff
“ It's simple, really. Just imagine that Jerome is the only true artist in the movie, and I swear it'll all come together for you.

Want an anchor? Watch Max Minghella's face when he first sees his muse in the cafeteria. Adroitly directed, well acted; it tells you everything you need to know to truly appreciate Jerome's story.

I think the failure to see this flick as a "good" flick arose from the fact that the director (Zwigoff) refuses to take himself too seriously. I say: Allow him that, and grant this production your full attention. It'll pay off in silver dollars. ” - rzajac
 
2.
The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A reporter in Iraq might just have the story of a lifetime when he meets Lyn Cassady, a guy who claims to be a former member of the U.S. Army's New Earth Army, a unit that employs paranormal powers in their missions. (94 mins.)
Director: Grant Heslov
“ I also numbered this among my "prophetic" films, which should give you some idea why I include it here: I don't just think it's good, I think it's prophetic.

The film suffers from it's having been labeled a comedy. The simple fact is that it's much, much more than that. It speaks some very vital truths. ” - rzajac
 
3.
A Prairie Home Companion (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A look at what goes on backstage during the last broadcast of America's most celebrated radio show, where singing cowboys Dusty and Lefty, a country music siren, and a host of others hold court. (105 mins.)
Director: Robert Altman
“ This one's on the edge: the IMDb User rating is near 7; not so bad, especially considering the subject matter.

But this is a great movie, for many reasons.

One, it's a sterling time capsule that captures the wonder that is the radio show, A Prairie Home Companion.

Two, it's an obvious labor of love by all the acting talent.

Three, it was a fine note for Robert Altman to end his career on. It's all here: Superbly managed chaos, including overlapping dialog. His inimitable skill at managing the A/V to create an illusion of seamlessness is in full sway.

And finally, the overarching theme (finality) is brought home lovingly. ” - rzajac
 
4.
Death to Smoochy (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Kids show host Rainbow Randolph is fired in disgrace while his replacement, Sheldon Mopes, aka Smoochy the Rhino, finds himself a rising star. Unfortunately for Sheldon, the kid's TV business isn't all child's play. (109 mins.)
Director: Danny DeVito
“ A friend put it... interestingly: "It's not a great movie, but there's nothing wrong with enjoying it."

I would go further. Yes, it's a sort of coloring book flick, a technicolor fable/fantasy. Perhaps the best way to process it is in light of William Blake's "Marriage of Heaven and Hell". I'm pretty sure the film makers had that in mind as they wrote it. it's about the redemption of the devil: Heady stuff, for sure!

It's not one for the ages, but I feel it deserves much more than the contempt that so many have heaped upon it! ” - rzajac
 
5.
Interview (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
After falling out with his editor, a fading political journalist is forced to interview America's most popular soap actress. (84 mins.)
Director: Steve Buscemi
“ Again, about a 7 rating from IMDb Users.... but I'm sure it deserves much more than this.

It's an ensemble masterpiece. It feels like raw stage work of the highest caliber. I described it in my comments as that last, exciting, give-and-take, free, loose tango scene from "Last Tango in Paris" stretched out over 90-or-so minutes.

Watch it, and let yourself be swept away by the surging and ebbing of the emotions... and the running question of exactly how far you can trust an actress! ” - rzajac
 
6.
Mystery Men (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
A group of inept amateur superheroes must try to save the day when a supervillian threatens to destroy a major superhero and the city. (121 mins.)
Director: Kinka Usher
“ Yes, it's a preposterous premise. Yes, it has butt and fart gags. Yes, yes, yes, and yes to most anything else you care to throw at it.

But it has these saving graces: The gags are quite non-gratuitous, for a B-movie. The acting is a labor of love; and what a cast! The timing is absolutely perfect, probably due to the fact that the director's prior work was in commercials. Finally, it was all the brainchild of Bob Burden, creator of The Flaming Carrot. That the colorful fruits of his creative loins got greenlit is a miracle beyond comprehension.

Watch it carefully! ” - rzajac
 
7.
Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
The very eccentric English peer Sir Henry Rawlinson attempts, with the help of his mad family & servants, to exorcise the ghost of his brother Humbert. (71 mins.)
Director: Steve Roberts
“ If you never know anything else about Viv Stanshall, you should at least watch this film, just to get a heady snootfull.

Stanshall was a rare one-of-a-kind persona who broke down the barrier between self and art. He was a very, very gifted chap, and a weirdo, to boot. Watch this film carefully and see. In particular, bask in his awesome command of the English language; he does us all proud. ” - rzajac
 
8.
That Thing You Do! (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A Pennsylvania band scores a hit in 1964 and rides the star-making machinery as long as it can, with lots of help from its manager. (108 mins.)
Director: Tom Hanks
“ This is not quite to imply that a lot of people didn't like this movie (tho the IMDb rating seems a bit low).

The point is that the actual theme of this flick went right over most people's heads: So I suspect that most judgment calls were wasted critical energy.

The actual theme of this flick is timeless and almost prophetic: The great masses of humankind operate on their gut instincts, and subsequently don't know what's really going on.

Further: Some of this societal status quo is fed and groomed by mass media, for their own economic purposes, and to our collective detriment. The film is a clarion call to wake up!

In case you wonder what I'm talking about, here's a teaser: When you watch this flick, hold in your mind the baseline understanding that Mr. White, the Play-Tone talent manager, is *not* the hip, swank, groovy and spiritually with-it guy, but is rather an amoral creep. You'll start to get the idea. ” - rzajac
 
9.
War, Inc. (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
A political satire set in Turaqistan, a country occupied by an American private corporation run by a former US Vice-President... (107 mins.)
Director: Joshua Seftel
“ Yes, yes, yes: It's a big, fat mess.

But it's a treasure box of satiric riches and, of course, a searing indictment of a culture that is, by now, beyond all shame.

That's right: I'm talking about YOU, Mr./Ms. American! ” - rzajac
 
10.
The Big Tease (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Flamboyant Glasgow hairdresser, Crawford Mackinzie, gets a letter from the World Hairdresser International... (86 mins.)
Director: Kevin Allen
“ A good sight better than others in the cutting-edge, ensemble, seat-of-the-pants over-the-top comedy genre.

I've enjoyed "Best in Show" and "A Mighty Wind"... but The Big Tease demonstrates that it can be done right.

Right right right! ” - rzajac
 
11.
Zen Noir (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A nameless 'noir' detective, still mourning the loss of his wife, investigates a mysterious death in a Buddhist temple, but his logical, left-brained crime-solving skills are useless in the intuitive, non-linear world of Zen. (71 mins.)
Director: Marc Rosenbush
“ The script is pure poetry, where the beefy, tombstone free verse of West meets the haiku of East.

I was rapt. It starts out like a campy romp, but (if you pay close attention) you will be deeply touched. It's a free-flowing rhapsody not only on knowing, but even life and death itself. ” - rzajac
 
12.
How Do You Know (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  
After being cut from the USA softball team and feeling a bit past her prime, Lisa finds herself evaluating her life and in the middle of a love triangle, as a corporate guy in crisis competes with her current, baseball-playing beau. (121 mins.)
Director: James L. Brooks
“ My IMDb comment puts a fine point on all this, so you might want to look that up.

But the upshot was this: I think people are losing all capacity to understand that they have a right--nay, a duty--to expect the movies they spend precious time watching to be well written.

So many movies are a spectacle of star-power bent to the service of breathing life into lackluster writing. Well, that's just plain wrong. People should expect a 21st century version of Shakespeare when they go to a film, and to expect anything less is to cheat yourself and cheat the future artistic directions of film.

How Do You Know has the power to bend the wills of good actors to the demands of characters who are well-defined by the writing. And that power is nothing short of redemptive: Exhibit A: Owen Wilson.

So: If you've been chased off by the naysayings and poohpoohings of friends and family, consider my explanations and give it a chance. Watch and listen carefully. It's a lovingly made filmic theater piece, and deserves heartfelt respect. ” - rzajac
 
13.
Mumford (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
In the small town of Mumford, a psychologist of the same name moves in and quickly becomes very popular, despite a questionable past. (112 mins.)
Director: Lawrence Kasdan
“ At this time (Nov 2011) the IMDb rating is just shy of 7--not too bad.

But it deserves at least a 9. Rarely is a film that communicates essential truths so well written that the words fail to obstruct those truths. It's tells you what you (may well) need to know, and never insults your intelligence while doing so.

It dallies with suggesting something... taboo--that an inspired dilettante could be more valid than a licensed practitioner--yet it doesn't feel like it wants to rub this in the collective nose of the psychiatric profession. It invites us to digest this image in the most mentally healthy way possible. ” - rzajac
 
14.
Room 237 (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
An exploration of various interpretations of Stanley Kubrick's horror film, The Shining. (102 mins.)
Director: Rodney Ascher
“ Deserves more respect for two reasons: 1) the overarching theme that, when we mine a film for meaning beyond marketing or overt creator intent, pearls of moral probity can be found. And 2) people discount it for never showing the faces of the 5 interviewees. WRONG: The visuals lovingly track the flow of ideation and interpretation, reflecting a true labor of love on behalf of these brave and open souls. Would that this kind of painstaking focus could be lavished upon us; each and every one! ” - rzajac