Welcome to another edition of “Random Shits Grace Watches” that is thinly-veiled with faux-intellectual commentaries which I will just bullshit my way through.

TBH.

What marks a film as “underrated” by a popular director? For the purpose of this blog post, I’m selecting brilliant films that I felt got buried under more popular work by the said director. I’m gonna use the term “popular director” very loosely here. At the very least, these are the filmmakers with work(s) that garnered mainstream market accolade and presence.

Anywhoo, let’s cut to the chase and jump to the list!

1. Wes Anderson

Well-known films: The Royal Tenenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Rushmore, yada yada

Underrated film: The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Love him or hate him, Wes Anderson has an array of acclaimed films under his belt. Now, can I get a show of virtual hands of those that have watched The Darjeeling Limited?

The Darjeeling Limited is a gem that’s worth a little dusting and revisiting. Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman play estranged brothers, set out on a “spiritual” journey in India to mend their bonds – which quickly derails into a madcap adventure. As usual, this is a visual affair with the on-brand Wes Anderson style of deadpan humour. But what sets this film apart is the heart-tugging melancholia, behind all the razzle-dazzle, and quirky characters.

Watch it, fall in love with India, and follow me as we ponder upon men’s greatest mystery: Whatever happened to Oscar winner, Adrien Brody’s career?

2. Taika Waititi

Well-known film: Thor:Ragnorak

Underrated film: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

If you like the humour you’ve seen in Thor:Ragnorak, or are a fan of The Office (US)’s style of mockumentaries, then do check out What We Do in the Shadows. It’s a horror-comedy mockumentary that follows a group of vampires, living a rather anaemic lifestyle together in a shabby house that has seen better days.

Taiki Waititi is a fairly new name in the scene. Before breathing a new life to the Thor trilogy with Thor:Ragnorak in 2017, he was an indie darling hailing from the land from down under… that is not Australia. I mean, the other land from down under, New Zealand that is.

To have a further taste of the kiwi’s brand of “polite humour”, you can check out his other film Hunt for the Winderpeople as well!

3. Wong Kar Wai

Well-known films: In the Mood for Love, Happy Together, Chungking Express

Underrated film: Days of Being Wild (1990)

“16th… April the 16th. At one minute before 3pm on April the 16th, 1960, you’re together with me. Because of you, I’ll remember that one minute. From now on, we’re friends for one minute. This is a fact, you can’t deny. It’s done.”

Gone are the days when such a cheesy pick-up line can be recited as suave as Leslie Cheung did in this movie. Could it be the penetrating gaze? The dreamy, saturated colour? Or the slow camera pan and cut, trying to bring meaning to the inanimate objects around the room? Most probably it was the combination of them all.
Days of Being Wild is a Hong Kong cinematic classic that lacks the attention that most other Wong Kar Wai’s favourites had garnered. For such a gut-wrenching, beautiful, vulnerable portrayal of flawed human characters, the critic’s reception to this film is rather tepid. Perhaps that’s due to it being one of Wong Kar Wai’s earliest films (second full-length film, to be exact), and a commercial dud at its time. Also, do check out his other commercial dud, and one of the prettiest wuxia film ever made, Ashes of Time.
Fun fact: Barry Jenkins’, director of 2016’s Moonlight has cited Wong Kar Wai’s moody, atmospheric style to be an influence for his Oscar-winning film.

Now for some honourable underrated mentions:

full-metal-jacket

Full Metal Jacket (1987) by Stanley Kubrick

  • Similar to The Shining’s utilisation of quiet, stifling, claustrophobic atmosphere that set the precedence tone of horror, this movie is a masterpiece depiction of the uncomfortable, psychological horror of war.
  • Fun fact: Ever heard of the phrase “Me love you long time” and wondered where it came from? You’re looking at the origin right here!
cteq-koreeda-Still-Walking-750x400

Still Walking (1998) by Hirokazu Koreeda

  • A main-stay presence at Cannes Festival, Hirokazu Koreeda was just recently awarded the 2018’s Palme d’Or (fancy way of saying that’s the top dog movie of the year) for his film, Shoplifters.
  • Still Walking centres around the Yokoyama family that got together to commemorate the 15th death anniversary of a beloved son. Like a classic Asian family experience, the Yokoyamas hide their dysfunctionality and grief under layers of politeness and underhanded niceties. Wow! What a healthy combo.

And that’s my list of 3 underrated films to check out for now. Have you seen any of these films? And how do you feel about them? Do you feel that tingling, burning need to talk about them like me?

Say no more!

I’m amped up with tea, ready for some blazing chat. Drop me a comment on FB!

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…or the author.