A few of my lesser-known all-time favorite movies, and one to keep an eye on…

November 20, 2007

I do admit it: I have odd taste in movies. That’s not to say that there aren’t ‘popular’ films that I enjoy, but my very favorite are almost all foreign or ‘art-house’/’indie’ films. Why do they move me so? I think it’s because not only are their creators passionate about what they have to say, but due to low budgets they are unable to lean upon special effects to make their film work, so the story has to be compelling enough to hold a viewer’s attention. These films, my friends, are POWERFUL. Each and every one has challenged me, moved my emotions, and caused me to THINK – sometimes for weeks – in ways I hadn’t considered before. That is the power of a truly good film: a story that can shape it’s hearer.

Everyone knows of the great ‘big-budget’ major motion pictures, but here are a few films that are my lesser-known (some nearly UNKNOWN) favorites:

Jean de Florette Manon of the Spring
This is a two-part film, which are essential to watch in sequence with one another, as the second truly makes the first the gem that it is, yet the second can’t really be appreciated apart from the first. Don’t expect fast action, or even English – this is a subtitled French drama – however do expect to cry harder than you’ve ever cried before at a movie, as the end of the 2nd film is emotionally brutal (though also beautiful), with the whole weight of both films’ combined tragedy coming down on your head in one short conversation. Absolutely incredible!

Jerusalem
An epic story of faith and commitment, this film by director Bille August (most famous for the 1998 version of Les Miserables starring Liam Neeson & Claires Danes), is well-acted, beautifully shot, and – at least, in the end – heart-warming.

To End All Wars
Based on the autobiographical book Through the Valley of the Kwai by Ernest Gordon, To End All Wars is a true story that shines under the brilliant direction of David Cunningham (son of Loren Cunningham, the founder of YWAM). Better than both Saving Private Ryan, the Thin Red Line, and Platoon, the movies strength is not only the realistic feel, and the actor’s excellent performances, but the deep, underlying Biblical themes that support the whole story. As Ken James at Christian Spotlight on the Movies wrote “Technically, To End All Wars is flawless. From the acting, to script, to filming, to the solid moral core.” Personally, I couldn’t agree more.

Big Kahuna
In spite of the harsh language, which really gets under my skin at times, the message of this movie is so incredible that it’s one of my all-time favorites. Kevin Spacey & Danny DeVito absolutely shine here. Interestingly enough, the whole thing takes place in just one room, so it is clearly an adaptation of a play, but the acting carries the lack of set variety very well. Use discernment, but if you think you can take it, I highly suggest the film.

the Apostle
It took me almost 2 weeks to decide whether or not I actually liked this movie.  Raw and believable, Robert Duvall poured years of his life and hundreds of thousands of his personal money into making this film a reality.  Don’t expect to be ‘entertained’, but if you enjoy being challenged, this one’s for your.

Babette’s Feast
As someone else has said, “A bittersweet, redemptive northern masterpiece.”  Food-lovers, and Believers, in particular, will enjoy this film.  I smiled for weeks afterward.

Cinema Paradisio
A magical film – probably the best Hispanic one I’ve seen.  A movie about loving movies.

Cyrano de Bergerac
An instant classic, which gained such popularity that Steve Martin attempted to re-make it for American audiences called “Roxanne” and the more recent “The Truth about Cats and Dogs.”  If you ask me, Gerard Depardieu‘s is by far the best (so I’m biased – he’s one of my favorite actors).  I laughed outloud – a joyful romp on the life of a 16th century French dramatist.

I believe I will soon add another film to this list.  Welcome to the world of indie-films of merit:

Bella

Having already won the 3 film awards, this pro-life foreign film looks to be a heart-warming tale.  The subtitle says it all: “TRUE LOVE GOES BEYOND ROMANCE”.  Not only am I looking forward to seeing this one, but I encourage you all to support it as well!

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One Response to “A few of my lesser-known all-time favorite movies, and one to keep an eye on…”

  1. saintlewis said

    P.s. – Bella was one of my favorite films of the year. Particularly encouraged viewing for Christians.

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