Shirley Valentine (1989)
Shirley Valentine is a middle-aged housewife who is stuck in a rut and taken for granted by her husband, Joe. Shirley spends her days fettered between the cooker and the kitchen sink whilst literally talking to the kitchen wall. She longs for adventure and frequently reflects on her days as a carefree rebellious young woman - questioning where it all went wrong. Her chance for adventure arises when her friend, Jane, invites her on an all-expenses-paid holiday to Greece which rekindles a love for life. Although this film was released in 1989, nominated for two Oscars, and the winner of multiple awards, I’d never actually heard of it until now. This gem is magnificently written, an absolute delight to watch, and harbors a phenomenal performance by lead actress, Pauline Collins (Best actress Oscar nominee and BAFTA winner). The film beautifully utilises internal monologue and demonstrates the perfect example of how to “break the fourth wall” (occasionally feeling more like a documentary than a feature film). Shirley Valentine is a must-watch, timeless classic that I can imagine being very relatable, but also inspirational for millions of women around the world.
What Other Couples Do (2013)
While at a dinner party, four married couples explore the topics of marriage, sex, monogamy, lust, fantasy and jealousy, as their relationships are put to the test when the group decide to play the game “seven minutes in heaven”. This film isn’t going to win any awards but I found the topics of discussion fascinating, thought-provoking and relatable - especially when I’d catch my wife peering over at me with an insinuating raised eyebrow.
Senior Year (2022)
Senior Year follows Stephanie Conway, A former high school cheerleader who awakes from a 20-year coma after a cheerleading stunt went wrong. Now newly awake, the 37-year-old must navigate a politically correct society, as she attempts to rekindle her high school dream of becoming Prom Queen. Senior Year is a fun, feel-good, goofy comedy which hilariously pokes fun at a woke world gone mad.
Two College friends, now in their thirties, embark on a road-trip across the Californian coast as one of them hopes to reconnect with "the one that got away". But when the journey starts to unwind, the pair are forced to confront their own life choices. This meaningful, mellow, and deep hidden gem asks some thought provoking questions on the topics of life, love, commitment, marriage, divorce, infatuation, children and friendships. She's in Portland is intelligently written, contains beautiful cinematography, and is a must-watch for any romantic. Highly recommended!
A Christmas Carol (2020)
This isn't the first time A Christmas Carol appears on this list, and I have a feeling it won't be the last. Unlike most adaptations, this version attempted to do something a little different, district and daring. It not only utilizes text depiction from the actual Dickens novel. it also blends aspects from ballet, stage play, audiobook and animation. It certainly won't be to everybody’s taste, but I found this dramatised narration an absolute pleasure to watch, and the use of Dickens’ awe inspiring, ear-tingling, nostalgic language, feathers through the ear like a spirit drifting the icy rooftops of Victorian England. With a low-profile release, and underwhelming box office, it comes as no surprise that this version is extremely difficult to get a hold of, fortunately, I have a copy that I can share.
Wild depicts the real-life story of Cheryl Strayed - a troubled young woman who embarks on a 1110-mile escapade along the Pacific West Trail as a way to recover from personal tragedy and addiction. With no prior experience, and underprepared for the challenges that lie ahead, Cheryl heads out into the untamed wilderness on a life-altering journey of enlightenment and self-discovery. Wild is a tale of inspiration, determination, perseverance, adventure, redemption and spirituality, which truly does demonstrate the inconspicuous healing powers of nature. “I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees." - Henry David Thoreau
Roll Bounce (2005)
This coming-of age, comedy-drama is one of the most enjoyable films that I’ve seen in a very long time. Roll Bounce - set in the summer of 1978 - follows a group of teenagers who set their sights on winning the prestigious, Sweetwater roller-rink dance competition. The film features an amazing disco soundtrack, mesmerising dance choreography, and a touch of comedy which will not only make you smile inside and out, but also make you want to grab a pair of skates and head down to your local roller rink for a fever-pitched night on eight wheels.
A Christmas Carol (1999)
Seeing “hidden gem” and “A Christmas Carol” in the same sentence is an oxymoron - and rightly so. Not only is A Christmas Carol one of the greatest stories ever told, it’s also one of the most prominent; and with any prominent story comes a profusion of interpretations - with each of us having our very own personal favourite adaptation of the classic Dickens novel. My personal favourite adaptation was originally written for TV, and at one point, was pretty darn hard to get hold of. Fortunately, I've managed to keep a copy safe and secure on a hard drive for the best part of the last decade. This obscure iteration features superb performances from the entire cast, but it’s Sir Patrick Stewart who steals the show with a legendary performance as Ebenezer Scrooge; a performance which he mastered while staging a series of successful one-man shows on Broadway and in London. Christmas Eve just wouldn’t be complete without a festive beverage, a platter of snackettes, a candlelight ambience, and a date with London's most tight-fisted loan shark, A Christmas Carol 1999 is an imperative watch, especially for those who suffer with Christmas Obsessive Disorder from mid-to-late autumn.
Rocky Vs. Drago (2022)
Follow the link below to read my full review.
Spice World (1997)
It’s been 25 years since I last saw Spiceworld, and although I remember enjoying it at 9 years old, this time around I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but oh-boy did it exceed all my expectations. This nostalgic blast from the is past features an amazing soundtrack (obviously); an abundance of cameos: Richard E Grant, Bob Geldof, Elton John, Roger Moore, Jools Holland, Dominic West, Jenifer Saunders, Meatloaf, Michael Barrymore, Stephen Fry, Richard O’Brien, Jonathan Ross and Hugh Laurie, to name a few; and with a meagre IMDB rating of 3.5 outta 10, it’s also one of the most underrated films ever made! This comedic masterpiece (contrary to what Hollywood may think, masterpieces don’t have to be serious) is an essential addition to any filmaholic’s DVD collection.
After Hours (1985)
It’s been said that coincidence in film should be avoided like the first crust in a loaf of bread, but in After Hours - an underrated and often overlooked, Scorsese classic - coincidence is the main driver of the plot. The film follows Paul, a meek word processor who impulsively travels downtown to Soho for a date with an attractive young woman, but rather than enjoying a steamy night of passion between the sheets, Paul finds himself trapped in a surreal nightmare of crazy and improbable coincidences.
This hidden gem is not only one of Van Damme's best performances (playing himself), but also one of his greatest films. The Muscles from Brussels is wrongly suspected of holding-up a bank and taking hostage of the people inside. What follows is a series of absurd events, a witty story, a brilliant action sequence, lots of self-deprecating humor, and an utterly bizarre scene which breaks the forth wall - in what can only be described as an on-screen mental breakdown. (English subs).
One Cut of the Dead (2017)
An extraordinary concept, side-splitting humour, and a production that's so intelligent, it'd make Albert Einstein Blush. It just goes to show what can be achieved with a $25,000 budget. This Korean film is an independent cinema masterclass, and a must watch for any budding filmmaker. Stick with it beyond the first 30 minutes. (English subs).
Not only a highly entertaining and suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat thriller, but also a revolutionary piece of cinema due to the fact that the entire film was shot in one continuous take. It took 3 attempts to film the movie, with the third and final attempt completed from 4:30 AM to 7:00 AM on the 27th of April 2014 in the Kreuzberg and Mitte neighborhoods, Berlin, Germany. (English subs).
The Disaster Artist (2017)
When Greg Sestero (Dave Franco), an aspiring actor, meets the weird and mysterious Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) in an acting class, they form a unique friendship and travel to Hollywood to make their dreams come true. But after multiple rejections, the pair set-out to write, finance, direct and produce their own independent feature film using Tommy Wiseau's bottomless bank account. A comical, inspiring, real life story. that truly is stranger than fiction.
Dinner in America (2020)
A coincidental meeting thrusts two misfits into a relationship that seems bound by fate, as they circumvent the obstacles of everyday life. A clean crisp, fresh. romantic masterpiece, which gets better and better as the movie progresses. This one can't not put a smile on your face. My favourite film of 2020!
Heavy Trip (2018)
This offbeat comedy (originally titled, Impaled Rektum) tells the story of four young men who dream of taking their heavy metal band to the hottest metal festival in Norway, but no serious love of heavy metal is needed to enjoy the inspired lunacy. A light-hearted, silly, off-the-wall comedy which I thoroughly enjoyed. (English subs).
Four Rooms (1995)
Four Rooms, four writers, four independent stories - all interwoven to create one comprehensive story: a story that follows Ted - a wet behind the ears employee taking the reigns as the new bellhop at the passé Mon Signor hotel. Ted (an amusing theatrical performance by Tim Roth) is tasked in tackling his first night shift on what is about to be one very absurd New Years Eve. This film is never gonna win any awards, but I found it to be highly entertaining with a unique narrative - one which inspired an abundance of creative ideas for my own work.
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
While it’s not quite a hidden gem, there are still plenty of people who still haven’t yet seen From Dusk Till Dawn, so adding it here may make some sort of sense, or maybe it’s a personal bias because although it’s not the greatest film ever made, it’s certainly is my personal favourite film ever made! Many may find this film distressful, distasteful, and utterly disgraceful as some scenes do push the boundaries of acceptability, but I find this Rodriguez/Tarantino collaboration a whole lotta fun - packed with amazing practical effects and accompanied with a star-studded cast. The best way to watch this film is to go in blind - without watching the trailer or reading the synopsis. Enjoy!
Eurovision Song Contest (2020)
A fun and feel-good two hours which consists of silly humour, an epic soundtrack, a dodgy accent from Will Ferrell, a great performance from Dan Sevens, and a brilliant song-along scene which features a plethora of previous Eurovision winners. This heartwarming gem doesn’t take itself too seriously and is a must watch for those hardcore Eurovision fans who celebrate each contest in style.
When Saturday Comes (1996)
This hidden gem may be off-putting for most, as many will judge it in the same way that they judge books and people - by the cover. But don’t fooled by the footballing theme, the football is more of a subplot than anything else. The real story depicts the life of Jimmy Muir, a hard-drinking brewery worker in the city of Sheffield, who possesses the potential, but lacks the courage and discipline to follow his dream. it may not be of the same calibre as the Full Monty, but if you’re a fan of the working-class, Yorkshire strippers, you’ll most definitely enjoy When Saturday Comes.
Near Dark (1987)
The Lost Boys may be the more well-known of the two, but there was a similar, more obscure, vampire movie released the very same year - Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark.