Best Overlooked DVDs of 2008 - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Best Overlooked DVDs of 2008

The gritty realism doesn't get much more so than in this, overlooked, indie film by Ramin Bahrani. The gritty realism doesn't get much more so than in this, overlooked, indie film by Ramin Bahrani.
In this DVD, Gideon Yago, reporting for MTV News, goes to Iraq in 2003 after start of the war. There, he meets an Iraqi heavy metal rock band called Acrassicauda. In this DVD, Gideon Yago, reporting for MTV News, goes to Iraq in 2003 after start of the war. There, he meets an Iraqi heavy metal rock band called Acrassicauda.

12/19/2008

For many years, both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, two mentors of mine, have done their level best to spotlight those smaller, independent, foreign, and more alternative films that most people overlook or plain don't know anything about.  

They're not typical blockbusters, but, most often, they're just as good if not better. If you have digital cable, Leonard Maltin's show on the Reelz channel, "Secret's Out," has basically a similar idea. The Film Movement website, the Sundance Channel, and the IFC channel are selfsame. However, with the loss of jobs for many film critics, it's becoming less of a tradition.  

Living in a rural area, as Delmarva mostly is, the only opportunity to see those overlooked films is when they're released on DVD. Yet, when they're out on DVD, they can still remain overlooked. It's not as if video rental stores do an amazing job of promoting those smaller gems. So, while most people stuffed stockings with The Dark Knight, either on DVD or Blu Ray, I've got several suggestions of films that you might not have heard of, but, trust me, are just as entertaining. Merry Christmas!  

  1. THE FALL (Sept. 9) - I don't think that there was a better example this year of escapist fantasy than this film. Directed by the dedicated and wildly imaginative, Indian filmmaker, Tarsem Singh, this film invokes similar feelings as The Wizard of Oz and dare I say is on par with that children's classic. All colorful and gorgeous, this is one of the most eye-popping films of the year.
  2. CHOP SHOP (July 8)- The gritty realism doesn't get much more so than in this, overlooked, indie film by Ramin Bahrani. The story focuses on a young boy living in the area of Queens, New York, that sits in the shadow of Shea Stadium, a slum of car repair shops. The orphaned boy takes his sister in and survives day-to-day by hustling at car chop shops. He lives above a garage and scrounges for everything he has, yet he remains strong and confident, even moreso than his older sister.
  3. BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD (April 15) - The 84-year-old Sidney Lumet proves that he's just a good a director now as he was 50 years ago. This powerful crime drama, which I describe, as a modern-day Rashomon, is devastating. Superb acting from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Albert Finney.
  4. THE RED BALLOON / WHITE MANE (Nov. 4) - These classic, children's films got re-released together this year with stunningly crisp quality. The two short, French films are simple stories of friendship and are must-haves, if you have a child, or if you are a child at-heart.
  5. THE 4400: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Oct. 28) - The cancelled TV series on USA was probably the best Sci-Fi show produced in the past half-decade. It centered on a group of people who mysteriously disappeared but then all of a sudden reappear in Seattle, and all of them possess strange, new powers. Brimming with concise, focused, straight-forward storytelling, this show is everything that NBC's Heroes should have been.
  6. GREAT WORLD OF SOUND (Feb. 5) - A man gets a job as an A&R rep at an up-and-coming music company. He's partnered with a man who's more a con artist, but this funny, independent film is itself a con, but one of the best I've ever seen. With some great performances, this is definitely one to check out.
  7. TRANSSIBERIAN (Nov. 4) - Brad Anderson, the man who directed The Machinist, follows that up with a Hitchcockian-style train mystery that has a lot of thrills to keep any viewer on the edge of his or her seat. Sir Ben Kingsley, Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer co-star.
  8. THE TEN /I COULD NEVER BE YOUR WOMAN (Jan. 15 / Feb. 12) - Paul Rudd is one of the funniest comedic actors working today, certainly of this year. His latest film Role Models did very well in the box office, but these indie, overlooked comedies truly had me laughing out loud. In the first, he plays the narrator of a series of short films, all revolving around the Ten Commandments. In the second, he plays an actor trying to have a relationship with Michelle Pfieffer who's herself dealing with age issues. Hilarious!
  9. AMERICAN ZOMBIE (July 8) - This is one of those mockumentaries in the vain of This is Spinal Tap and Waiting for Guffman. Only this one is about a guy and a girl who are making a movie about zombies living out and proud in America.
  10. ITTY BITTY TITTY COMMITTEE (Sept. 2) - Not that there was many to choose from that weren't pornographic in nature, but this was the best lesbian film of 2007. After a few and far between screenings in big cities as well as appearances at various film festivals, this film was finally released on DVD this year. A young girl, hiding her homosexuality, gets involved with a radical feminist group, after she falls in love with its leader who also vandalizes the clinic she works for.
  11. HEAVY METAL IN BAGHDAD (June 10)- Gideon Yago, reporting for MTV News, goes to Iraq in 2003 after start of the war. There, he meets an Iraqi heavy metal rock band called Acrassicauda. The young bandmembers explain how they're not terrorists. They just want to rock, but they're stuck between a rock and more than a hard place, a war zone with nowhere to go. The documentary follows them as they struggle just to express themselves and have fun in all of the Iraq war chaos.
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