The Best Movies You Didn’t See

The film has a nice combination of concert and behind-the-scenes footage, wherein the viewer begins to feel what it would be like to be friends with the comic book- and arcade-loving, candy-scarfing bunch.

Despite the fact that arthouse theaters seem to be more abundant by the year and that pretty much every semi-major city has an at least halfway decent film festival, many films still manage to slip under the radar as being too obscure, experimental, or otherwise unmarketable. Still, there are ways to see these films, so long as you know that they are worth tracking down.

I’ve finally joined Netflix, due in large part to their more frequent acquisitions of exclusive home video rights on the exact type of obscure movies I love so much. One of their first notable coups was Swedish filmmaker Lukas Moodysson’s Lilya 4-Ever a few years back. They have apparently maintained their relationship with Moodysson’s people, as they now have the exclusive rights to his newest film, A Hole in My Heart. Moodysson is an interesting case: His first two films, Show Me Love and Together, are heartwarming movies of the rarest kind, in that they actually are, you know, heartwarming, even to this jaded moviegoer. But his third film, the aforementioned Lilya, is a heartbreaking and awful-to-watch directorial about-face about a young Russian girl who is sold into prostitution. Now, with A Hole in My Heart, he shows his audience that he has no intention of going back to the types of films that made him famous, as it is easily the most spirit-crushing, singularly nasty film of the year. To give a basic summary, it is about an amateur porn shoot in a rundown Swedish apartment that takes place with the director’s young, disfigured son in the next room. Despite being unrelentingly wince inducing, it still showcases Moodysson’s immeasurable talents as a director and provides some insights into human nature—albeit unpleasant. It is definitely worth a spot on your queue.

Another Netflix exclusive is Michael Blieden’s documentary The Comedians of Comedy, which is more or less a feature-length version of the new Comedy Central show featuring comedians Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, Brian Posehn, and Maria Bamford. The film has a nice combination of concert and behind-the-scenes footage, wherein the viewer begins to feel what it would be like to be friends with the comic book- and arcade-loving, candy-scarfing bunch.

While not exclusive to any specific retailer, there are a handful of other noteworthy films that did not get much of a theatrical release, if any, but are available on DVD. First off is Don Argott’s Rock School, which premiered at Sundance to great reviews and acquired a distributor, only to get lost on its way to a decent theatrical release. (People were apparently confused by its title’s similarity to the Jack Black vehicle School of Rock.) It would be disingenuous of me to not point out that the film is more or less a documentary version of School of Rock, but, that said, the kids are far, far more talented, and the teacher, Paul Green, is much funnier than Black (whom I do like). Also of note is Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s super-arty Thai mindfuck Tropical Malady, which is the sort of film that the less you know going in, the better. Just see it with as open a mind as you can muster.

Coming this month to DVD is the Lars von Trier–scripted, Thomas Vinterberg–directed Dear Wendy, which was one of the more inexplicably under-seen films this year. A film from two Dogme 95 masterminds—probably the most historically important film movement of the past decade—should be able to find more of an audience. Wendy is a thinly veiled political allegory about a bunch of gun-toting pacifist teenagers who call themselves “the Dandies.” Oddly enough, the few critics who saw this film uniformly hated it, while most of them loved von Trier’s massively inferior Manderlay.

Finally, there are films that are just a little too touchy to be shown under almost any circumstance. Zev Asher’s documentary Casuistry: The Art of Killing a Cat is one such film. Now, now, calm down: The film is about three kids who made a film in which they kill a cat and try to get away with it by calling it “art.” It does not show the film the kids made or any footage from it, nor does it side with the kids (truth be told, the film remains unbiased altogether). Still, its inflammatory title and confusing subject matter has been enough so far to scare away even most festivals from programming it; if you want to track down that one, about the best I can do is to wish you luck.

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