The forgotten. The underrated. The obscure. The underappreciated. The cult. There are a million reasons why some films get consigned to cinematic oblivion and there are a million films that deserve it. These don’t. Grab your shovels and your pick axes, it’s time to unearth the gems of cinema’s past.
Welcome to Monsoon’s Buried Treasures – Volume Three.
On the Silver Globe (1988)
Directed by: Andrzej Żuławski
Two-second synopsis: Crazy brought to you by Russia.
You can’t watch Andrzej Żuławski’s On the Silver Globe. And even if you could watch Andrzej Żuławski’s On the Silver Globe, you can’t understand Andrzej Żuławski’s On the Silver Globe. And even if you could understand Andrzej Żuławski’s On the Silver Globe, you wouldn’t survive the experience of understanding Andrzej Żuławski’s On the Silver Globe.
On the Silver Globe is an unfinished film. It doesn’t really matter why it’s unfinished (it’s because of communism). It doesn’t even really matter what On the Silver Globe is about (it’s either the product of nonsensical rambling or an example of unrefined, artistic genius). Watching On the Silver Globe is like looking down on the oil refinery wastes of Pasadena, Texas at night; it’s revolting and obscene and beautiful and impossible to look away from. You may love it. You may hate it. But you’ll never forget it.
Directed by: Jamie Bradshaw and Alexander Dulerayn
Two-second synopsis: Crazy brought to you by insane former ad executives.
Not every buried treasure is an instantly recognizable gem. Not all treasures are for all people. One man’s trash…and all that. Branded is not an easy sell, both literally and figuratively. I have no idea whether it’s good or bad, how to pitch it to those who are curious, or even if it works as a film.
The official logline reads as follows: “In future Moscow, where corporate brands have created a disillusioned population, one man’s effort to unlock the truth behind the conspiracy will lead to an epic battle with hidden forces that control the world.”
And while that’s the gist, it barely scratches the surface. It’s one part history lesson on advertising (it evolved from Nazi propaganda), two parts annoying soapbox preacher, and three parts* inexplicable nonsense. It’s unfiltered insanity and the fact that it exists trumps any flaws it has in my eyes. There will never be another film like Branded again because it’s a miracle the damn thing exists in the first place. Oh, and the trailer is intentionally misleading as a commentary on false advertisement.
* I’m pretty sure that math checks out.
Directed by: Gavin Miller
Two-second synopsis: Crazy brought to you by Lewis Carroll.
Biopics are the worst. They’re usually if not all, paint-by-numbers affairs that offer nothing documentaries don’t do better. They’re either so beholden to the facts that they become boring or they play fast and loose with historical accuracy that they become pointless. Dreamchild isn’t a biopic in the typical sense. It depicts a very real event but ditches reality for a fantastical retelling of the truth.
The film is a fictitious recreation of the relationship between Alice Liddell and Rev. Charles Dodgson, also known as Lewis Carroll, writer of The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland. Ian Holm anchors the film with his amazing performance as the troubled author but it’s the wonderfully grotesque puppet versions of the wonderland characters that we all know and love, that are the real draw.
Jim Henson‘s fantastic puppets + Ian Holm‘s outstanding performance + Dennis Potter‘s top-notch script = the definition of a buried treasure.
FDR: American Badass! (2012)
Directed by: Garrett Brawith
Two-second synopsis: Crazy brought to you by history. Kind of.
With his novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, author Seth Grahame-Smith ushered in a new literary subgenre that was insanely popular–for about five minutes–mash-ups that paired classical works or historical figures with modern horror themes. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Android Karenina, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter were all born out of this trend but just like any other trend (anyone remember Pogs or Flappy Bird?), it had a shockingly quick shelf life.
Thankfully nobody told that to writer Ross Patterson. He’s written two films in this vain: one involving Helen Keller fighting werewolves and the other has President Franklin Delano Roosevelt… also…killing…werewolves. The man sticks to a theme.
While Helen Keller vs Nightwolves isn’t very good, FDR: American Badass! is a big ol’ hunk of cheese. It’s not exactly the best thing to eat in one setting and you’ll probably regret it later but you’ll enjoy it while it’s happening.
Sushi Girl (2012)
Directed by: Kern Saxton
Two-second synopsis: Crazy brought to you by revenge. And sushi.
Nobody has inspired more terrible ripoffs than Quentin Tarantino. There’s something about the combination of well-dressed gangsters spouting pop culture dialogue that makes every asshole with a camera try to imitate it. Few succeed.
Sushi Girl, while not perfect, is the best Reservoir Dogs-esque film in existence. That’s due in large part to the phenomenal cast. Tony Todd and Mark Hamill chew on every scene like it’s a delicious piece of sushi and Noah Hathaway (Atreyu!) makes the most out of his unfortunate hero.
Immediately after getting released from prison due to a diamond heist that went sideways, Fish (Hathaway) gets an invitation to come to a dinner party to celebrate Fish’s prison release. The other guests of the party? Members of a diamond heist that Fish was a part who all believe he hid the diamonds somewhere before he got pinched and they’re going to do whatever they need to to get a confession.
It’s a high-octane revenge flick that’s fun as balls. Plus Sonny Chiba is in it, so you’re obligated by law to watch it.
Directed by: Alex Van Warmerdam
Two-second synopsis: Crazy brought to you by the Dutch.
Jean Renoir‘s 1932 masterpiece Boudu Saved from Drowning is one of the most imitated, ripped off, and copied films in existence. The story involves a well-to-do bookseller saving a homeless man from drowning but after he gives the hobo a place to stay for a couple of days, the film quickly turns into a “if you give a mouse a cookie…” scenario where the hobo keeps demanding more and more ridiculous things just to fuck with them. It’s an indictment of the bourgeoisie and their absurd lifestyles.
Borgman is Boudu Saved from Drowning but with Freddy Krueger in the role of the bum. At first, you don’t know who this stranger is, why he’s fucking with this family, or whether or not he’s even human but you once the film starts to unravel, you quickly realize this family is in far more danger than you could’ve predicted.
Borgman is a dark, surrealist thriller that also doubles as an amazing allegory. It’s the type of film you wonder how it could fall through the cracks when it should be sitting on the throne.
On the Silver Globe. Branded. Dreamchild. FDR: American Badass!. Sushi Girl. Borgman. These films have been unearthed. Now go watch them.