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  • Michael Antony Austin

'1001 Nights In - The A to Z Of Movies You Might Have Missed'


The decline of Blockbuster Video and it's ilk, (a foregone conclusion with the advent and domination of a plethora of streaming services), has meant that a great many films from a multitude of genres have yet to be unearthed and rediscovered. The days of casually browsing your local 'Mom & Pop' Home Video Store has given way to time efficient, complex algorithms suggesting what you might want to view next, based on what you've already seen. But you may ask, with so much content online surely there is nothing that I can miss out on or still need to discover? Is there? Let's find out!

A

American Graffiti / George Lucas / 1973 / Richard Dreyfuss / 15

Ron (“Happy Days”) Howard, and a delightful Richard Dreyfuss contemplate graduation, the draft and leaving town. Set against a back drop of 1960´s America, each scene is timed and cut to the length of a particular resonating song from the R&R era. Its strength lays in its ability to be both funny and nostalgic, even if you aren’t American or old enough to have lived through the period yourself. It's an honest, semi-autobiographical story from George Lucas, who would later be consumed by the less personal, though visually impressive Star Wars.



American Werewolf In London: SE / John Landis / 1981 / David Naughton / 15

Classic 80´s comedy/horror that was both ground-breaking in its use of transforming practical SFX, and in its use of black humour. Landis' quirky American observations lampoon British hospitality (check out the scene in The Slaughtered Lamb with ex-milkman turned actor Brian Glover in a brilliantly unsettling cameo) and turn the clichés on their head. David Naughton is perfect as the titular character, Jenny Agutter adds the love interest, while Griffin Dunne turns in an unforgettable as the rotting best friend returned from the grave, to impart warnings of the werewolves curse!



Antz / Darnell & Johnson / 1998 / Woody Allen / PG

The first (and often overlooked) computer animated offering from DreamWorks SKG Studios, remains one of their best. Woody Allen voices “Z”, a worker ant unhappy with his place in the world, with pretty much all of his usual onscreen characteristics intact. The humour is clever, dry and dark, with some pretty weighty themes (war/genocide) making this more for adults and older children than your typical animated affair. The voices of Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Christopher Walken and Gene Hackman simply add to the fun.



Any Given Sunday / Oliver Stone / 1999 / Al Pacino / 15

Directed by 'General' Oliver Stone, this plays out like a war film as boardroom backlash rubs (wide) shoulders with medical ethics. Throwing some tense sexual politics into the pains of the game, Stone then maneuvers the pieces like a chess master, manipulating a delicious, almost Shakespearean play. Plus, (hard to follow if you’re unfamiliar with the actual sport), there is enough action on the field to shame most major blockbusters. Superbly acted by old hands Al Pacino, James Woods and Dennis Quaid, other stand outs include Jaime Foxx and a never better Cameron Diaz.


Almost Famous / Cameron Crowe / 2000 / Patrick Fugit / 15

A semi-autobiographical look at the '70's Rock & Roll scene, based on Crowe's early years as a reporter for Rolling Stone Magazine, this Box Office flop is actually a thoroughly delightful tale. Through the eyes of 15 year old fan and aspiring writer William, we experience life on the road with struggling band 'Sillwater' (an amalgamation of early Hard Rock acts such as Free, The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd). The sex, the drugs, the egos and insecurities are all played out in a meandering but very funny pace. The attention to period detail is believable and has a lived in feel. The Main Cast - Jason Lee, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand and Kate Hudson all excel in their individual parts, but the movie is stolen by a smart, emotive cameo from Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his best and most loved roles - that of real life critic Lester Bangs. A warm hearted coming-of-age drama.