We don’t need to tell you about all the mainstream movies that will be coming to cinemas to you “this summer…”, because you’ve probably heard it from a dramatic voice. After wading through the turgic sludge of silver screen disappointments that have been spitting increasingly blatant intellectual insults at our faces since someone decided that Adam Sandler was funny, we’ve managed to scavenge bits of hope in humanity from over the years. So here are some movies that you may have forgotten or overlooked that you can probably enjoy if you have the time.
BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF (2001)
SAMUEL LE BIHAN, MARK DACASCOS, EMILIE DEQUENNE, MONICA BELLUCCI AND VINCENT CASSEL.
This French offering opens in 18th century France with a series of brutal killings in the region of Gevaudan. A beast is stalking the people and tearing the peasants apart. Hunters, soldiers and ne’er-do-wells flock to the province. The Royal Court is suitably perturbed and excited (hey they had no TV or Internet back then) that the royal taxidermist and his Iroquois companian are dispatched to find out what is going on. But there is much more to the Beast than meets the eye.
And that’s just for starters. What follows is one of the most stunning cinematic experiences I’ve had in a while (back when I first saw it years ago). This film has almost everything. It is part thriller, part period piece, and mystery. As well as including elements of horror, martial arts, and a dash of political and religious intrigue.
Back then I thought I could easily guess the plotline of most movies. Not this one. It’s a mind bender alright. Seriously, if you’ve never seen this, don’t spoil it by reading the summary on wiki. Get it, watch it and experience it for yourself. It will take you on an amazing ride.
A sumptuous swashbuckling adventure for the senses, we even get to see Monica Belluci’s ample assets, if briefly. Heartily recommended.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 72%
THE BURBS (1989)
TOM HANKS, BRUCE DERN, CARRIE FISHER, RICK DUCOMMUN, COREY FELDMAN AND HENRY GIBSON.
A wonderful little comedy thriller about the one odd house on every street; that kids whisper about and dare each other to go up to and ring the bell. The creepy house whose inhabitants are never around to mingle with the neighbours during garden parties and church fetes, whose doors are always shut and their windows covered in drapes.
In a quiet little cul-de-sac, everyman Ray Peterson, his neighbour and chief instigator Art Weingartner, and a host of eccentric characters suspect and spy on the new additions to the neighbourhood, the Klopteks. Their scruffy demeanour and unsavoury habits (for example digging holes in their garden in the middle of the night and the disappearance of the former owner of the Kloptek’s residence), invites suspicion and paranoia in Ray and the others. Things come to ahead as Ray, Art and the rest of the eccentric crew stumble and fumble their way through a suburban dweller’s worst nightmare. Potential weirdoes living across the street. Of course one cannot help notice the parallels between how the suspicion of the cul-de-sac residents against the Klopeks mirror those of many Americans when it comes to immigrants and outsiders.
This darkly humorous tale foreshadows the film’ American Beauty’ and the hit series ‘Desperate Housewives’ where well-kept gardens and picket fences hide horrifying secrets and jolly homemakers could potentially be cold-blooded murderers.
The lesson here is don’t judge a book by its cover. Not really. An entertaining look into the psyche of Americaville
Rotten Tomatoes score: 46%
HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAMME (1996)
TOM HULCE, DEMI MOORE, KEVIN KLINE, PAUL KANDEL, JASON ALEXANDER, CHARLES KIMBROUGH, DAVID OGDEN STIERS, TONY JAY, AND MARY WICKES.
In a nutshell this is the story of how an outcast, deformed bell ringer in Notre Damme escapes from the shadow of the monster that has ruled his life. In the process he finds out about love and more through meeting free-spirited gypsy girl Esmeralda, along with an understanding of who he is and his place under the sun.
Disney’s Hunchback was relatively successful; however the emphasis on mature themes may have made it less palatable for the kids. The film opens with a baby about to be hurled down a well, and a dead mother. Quasimodo, unlike other Disney heroes of the past is a horribly, misshapen croissant shaped lead with a gentle and kind disposition who in the end, does not get the girl. The villain Judge Claude Frollo is a man reeking of piety yet is blind to his own depravity. Issues concerning moral corruption, religious hypocrisy and carnality are raised, probably for the first time in a Disney animation for kids.
Frollo’s assertion, “You know I’m so much purer than, the common, vulgar, weak, licentious crowd” – lies at the heart of many whose sanctimonious self-satisfied belief leads them standing on judgment upon others and not themselves. This is deep stuff, even for adults.
A fantastic retelling of Victor Hugo’s somber tale of unrequited love as an affirmation of the human spirit and the power of compassion and hope.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 73%