Although I’d like to be the guy to list five flicks the world has never heard of that are going to change their lives in every which way but loose – I doubt I’ll quite accomplish that feat here today. However, I will give you the best turkey sandwich you’ve ever had if any of you readers out there have by chance taken in a viewing of all five films I offer you here. Not the most impossible films to find, some I wouldn’t even consider top favorites of mine – but each is a very special film deserving of at least some praise on the film market but unfortunately is never talked about. Kind of a bummer when so few of your film geek friends have seen them in order to have conversations about them – but hey, maybe we can change that right! Maybe, maybe not. I’m not overly self absorbed to think my opinion is going to change a whole lot but hopefully I can get at least a couple of people to recognize the names of these flicks the next time they’re in their videostore because they all need their due.
Pump Up the Volume – I’ll start with the most well-known flick on the list today. Pump Up the Volume isn’t exactly what I would call a forgotten classic. I’m really not sure whether it is forgotten or even a classic in the most confident of definitions. However, there is something I absolutely love about this film. The rejection of the parental culture can be such a bland issue since it has been done to death – but adding in the music of the 90s generation as well as the additional subtext about how we all communicate and I think this film achieved something just short of amazing. I have never been a fan of Empire Records from the same director, as I always thought it lacked the heart of a film like this and focused more on a sharp narrative with a bland three act structure equal to something like Breakin’ II. I think perhaps it is Christian Slater’s turn as a geeky high school student who starts his own brash pirated radio station that gives the character and thusly the film so much depth. Pump Up the Volume is that teen film that although yes, it does have a few of those cheesy moments where every kid at the highschool is always in complete agreement with one another no matter the social standing (something that only happens in the movies, and this sort of massive agreement just doesn’t seem possible so always turns out a hard pill to swallow) – but it carries its heart on its sleeve and is overall an enjoyable and fun film.
Straight Time – Straight Time always makes this list for me, as it is a film that was simply lost over time. Starring Dustin Hoffman as a recently paroled man, fresh out of prison with no intention of ever heading back – he is faced with so many obstacles that it tests his will and everything he knows to be right. Straight Time is easily one of my favorite films and not even those who were adults during the decade the film was released usually know anything about the feature. Based off of a novel by Eddie Bunker who most will remember as Mr. Blue from Reservoir Dogs – it is an absolutely stunning piece of work full of gritty detail and the study of a man on his way down the spiral of life but who can’t help but hope to reclaim some dignity. It is a tragedy but one of the most beautiful and epic crime dramas you will ever see. I sincerely hope others will find this amazing film and get it more than a simple 1,000+ votes on IMDB!
Some Girl – Depending on your attitude when watching it, Some Girl for me is usually one of the most frustrating or amazing pieces of independent cinema in the past ten years. Regardless, it is a film that works and earns its mark as a truly great film. Depicting Marissa Ribisi (sister of Giovanni Ribisi, as well as being the co-writer of the film) as a simple twenty-something woman trying to find her one true love but finding nothing but hurdles until stumbling on what seems like the perfect situation but unfortunately – men can sometimes be dogs. Depending on the mood and depending on what you expect is sometimes what you get with the film. I first stumbled across Some Girl one late night on television and have been a fan ever since, and find it hard to describe just what is so special about it. Maybe it’s that epic scene of Marissa Ribisi running down the street in her halloween costume in slow motion while The Bloodhound Gang’s "Fire Water Burn" plays in the background. It is simply one of those films made in the 90s that caught the whole era without even trying and is still refreshingly hip and fun in all merits.
All Over Me – I won’t lie about the way in which I found this film. A friend of mine had a friend of their family who owned a videostore and would throw them older promotional copy VHS tapes that they would get their hands on. So, this friend of mine literally had boxes of VHS flicks that we would stumble through often. Sometimes we would find gyms amidst the garbage, like this film here as well as Juice, but other times we weren’t so lucky and ended up watching garbage like My Step-Mom is A Dinosaur… at least I think that was the title. Regardless of dino-filled cheapie horror flicks, All Over Me stuck out to two pre-teen youngsters raging through puberty for what reason? Duh, the back of the box promised at the very least some lesbian kissing! Yeah, pathetic but true, thus I first sat down to All Over Me. However, I didn’t keep watching due to just massive amounts of lesbian eroticism obviously – so what kept me? Well, you can start with the engaging plot, great performances and end with one emotionally moving drama that stands out amongst the crowd of Indie films that just try their best to get noticed. All Over Me focuses on the love affair between two teenage girls that simply falls apart, as one begins a relationship with a boy while the other simply suffers. As the world turns, the love triangle expands and expells until we are left in an emotional wreck along with the characters. Definitely a film better experienced and one of the best films among those two hundred or so flicks we dug out of those cardboard boxes, and I’ll always be happy that our youthful hormones got the better of us that night we decided to give it a watch!
Miracle Mile – This gem of the eighties is a film I only just stumbled across recently. After reading about other apocalyptic films and I stumbled across the name Miracle Mile and after simply reading the plot synopsis – how could you not want to check it out? Some poor sap (Anthony Edwards) has found the love of his life, but after accidentally oversleeping on their first date he picks up a random phone ringing on a random street – only to hear a man on the other end tell him the worst news the world has ever heard. Within an hour a nuclear warhead will be hitting American soil, in the very Californian city he currently resides. The man on the other end is calling from a missile silo in the midwest where they will be firing back at our enemies, but once discovered to be on the phone the man is shot. From here, the film is nonstop pacing as we watch as the whole city erupts in panic as the stories begin to make the rounds and we begin to question whether this is all true or not. However, one thing is true and that is that this young man loves the young woman he met earlier that day and he will do anything to save her. A moving, emotional and ultimately pulse pounding film that absolutely blew my mind after first viewing. It is a jolt of cinematic power that all should take the time to enjoy!
Permanent Record – So, you think Keanu Reeves can’t act right? Well, if you still believe that after having seen Permanent Record then you are a cold, cold person my friend. Permanent Record is one of those flicks that seems criminal in the fact that it is so overlooked amongst cinematic freaks like myself. Focusing on a young group of friends who must deal with the apparent suicide of their best friend, who seemed to have it all – Permanent Record no matter how many times I watch it still manages to bring a tear to my eye mainly due to a couple of select scenes that are so powerful and genuine that you can’t help but get wrapped up in the emotional investment of these characters. Reeves’ performance is especially gutsy. Starting off the film playing what seems like a takeoff on what would become his Ted character in the Bill & Ted films later on – but slowly takes a more serious twist and you can see the character that seems so carefree unfold in front of the audience and become a new human being. It truly is a great performance from Reeves and makes for one of the best films of the eighties and certainly one of my top coming of age dramas, as well as one of the best unheardof flicks you’ve never seen!
So, hopefully my work here is done and some of you out there in reader land have found quite a few new films to search out and can enjoy them just as much as I have which I don’t think will be hard since these are some of the best films I’ve ever compiled for a Rogue Cinema list in my opinion! Do check them out and I hope more and more people can learn of their glories!