Bargain Bin 2

Many times a movie can slip underneath your nose and you may never have caught a whiff. Bargain Bin is an accumulative set of movies I found underrated or hidden gems. Movies I’d like to bring attention to. You may have seen one, or a few, before but I’d like to dig inside the bin and discuss what we find. Perhaps, you may have found your next ‘Movie Night’ entertainment.

Today, I have a selected list of Animated features that may fancy your itch for something light and fun. And at the same time, being captivated by the artistic worlds the stories are surrounded by.

Watership Down (1978)

The movie opens beautifully with a tell-tale backstory of the Watership Down‘s folklore, then transitions to our main characters Hazel (John Hurt) and Fiver. After a vision, the rabbits decide to move away from their warren to escape the evil humans tearing down their land. What follows is a perilous journey, testing each other’s strengths and wits. Beautifully told and masterfully hand drawn. The film can be quite gruesome at times, with images of blood and flesh tearing; it is said this is the most violent PG film ever made. But it’s balanced by the serene landscape and a fateful bird “[perfectly] landing” some dorky comic relief (if only there was more of it). Watership Down became an instant favorite of mine.

PS: The locations you see are actually based off the map the author, Richard Adams, put in his book. Also is based on some real locations in Hampshire, England.

Song of the Sea (2014)

A film i recently watched and had to tell the world about. This is a movie that could rival Ghibli Studios. The animation and the music was just captivating. Literally. When not much was happening and I got up to get a snack, my eyes were still on the screen. Song of the Sea serenades us a bedtime story inducing lucid dreams. This is one of those moments when a family will look back on and say “remember when we watched-“. A magical movie that reminded me similarities that strung to Spirited Away. I knew nothing of this movie, and i suggest you keep it that way and let yourself become enchanted.

PS: Nominated for best Animated movie of the year. I’d like to also point out the backstory of Irish folklore is very interesting. And a selkie is my spirit animal.

Pom Poko (1994)

Three of my childhood years was spent in Japan, this was when i was exposed to the wonderful world of Ghibli. Since then I have grown up watching these films and I have to say, Pom Poko is one of THE most underrated films i have ever seen. Written by legendary Hayao Miyazaki, tells a story of raccoons trying to save their land from the humans who continue to deforest their home. They’re no ordinary raccoons though, these are shapeshifting raccoons. And they will fight to survive; whether that means they put on a psychadelic, full-on trip-out show to strike fear, or simply blend in. I found myself laughing at some of the going ons because it’s actually quite funny. Yes, Pom Poko took me by full surprise.

PS: Hayao Miyazaki is no stranger to telling stories about ‘humans and their deforestation for their industrial greater good’, Princess Mononoke anyone? Pom Poko is just a little more comical.

Ernest and Celestine (2012)

Another animated feature that became an instant favorite of mine. Ernest and Celestine is a French film, in English, delivering the laughs and, i must say, is quite cute. When Celestine befriends the bear, Ernest, which is taboo, they must depart from the city life, but not without the marshmallows. The authority says other wise hence they have unfinished debts to be repaid. I truly cared for what happened between the newly found friendship as they found they are not that different at all. This movie had me laughing at the expressions being made and other situations, all making me fall in love with the genius behind this creative animation. Simply one anyone will enjoy.

PS: Anyone get a flashback to Totoro when the mouse started poking the bear?

Mary and Max (2009)

Mary and Max is a sweet story about long distance friendship. Based on a true story, Mary lives in Australia and writes to her friend, who she has never met, Max, who is living in a New York apartment and is diagnosed with asberger’s syndrome. They send each other letters about their private lives and sometimes a box of local goodies. The stop motion animation is fun and the different color schemes when bouncing back and forth between Australia and New York really adds to the whole experience; giving each other separate moods. Sometimes the subject matter can be dark or unexpected but it’s hard not to care for their friendship and hoping that they one day meet. I enjoyed this movie, lending me a good few chuckles which lead to a near tearjerking end.

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Bargain Bin 1

With so many movies releasing every year it’s hard to keep up. A lot of time is spent on which one to watch?  Hoping you wouldn’t regret your decision after the two hours are up. You may choose one through networking because a friend told you to watch it. Or this other flick was hailed by a bunch of critics. Or perhaps you decided not to listen to anyone and watch some random movie out of the mainstream or whatever the case may be. Well, here’s someone else not to listen to: me.

I have compiled a small list that shouldn’t take up much of your time to skim through; a random selection of movies on different budgets, languages, genres, and other rubbish you may find amusing. Whether whatever weather outside, you sit on fur or leather, this is your chance to be pickey-choosey for your pleasure.

Here you go:

Hunter Prey (2010)

This small film caught me off guard. Whilst i was binge surfing on Netflix I decided to give this movie a try. I knew nothing about it and was rather impressed. A small squad is traveling with a cloaked prisoner on a distant planet when he gets loose and they must find him. Simple right? Hunter Prey is really well done for what it sets out to accomplish. Even though the soldiers’ costumes look like they were borrowed from the Clone Trooper sweat shop, it’s easy to write off for it’s still believable and the make up is also well done. Just please, do not watch the trailer. You are better off not knowing anything since the trailer somewhat ruins the twist and makes it seem more like an action movie.

PS: If you liked Enemy Mine you’d like this.

13 Assassins (2010)

I love Japanese culture and their art style. I love samurai movies even more. Takashi Miike gives himself a break from his outrageous horror/gangster films and brings us a story about thirteen samurai who are set on taking down a corrupt, evil leader. And he is evil. The film is set up in two parts basically, the first is build up. This is when Shinzaemon Shimada collects the twelve other samurai on a suicide mission and in contrary, the evil lord shows us just how evil he is. For some, the first hour may seem slow as it really lets us get to know a little bit about each character. Those who are patient, however, will be rewarded. The last hour is nothing but blood shed as the thirteen face off the many in epic fashion.

PS: I love the wide range of colors presented in every frame. Most notably when Japan’s landscape is shown. 

Session 9 (2001)

A little known horror film that came across my way through a friend. This wasn’t a movie i thought he would even like in the first place so when i watched it I was surprised that HE was the one who found it. Session 9 doesn’t need jump scares, no need for gore, just the real Danvers Mental Hospital to film in. At first, everything seems easy enough for our asbestos cleaning crew in an eerie, haunting asylum. But not everything is what it seems in this psychological horror. Hiding secrets can result in brutal fatalitie. Brad Anderson’s editing, shots, and music is what really creeps up your nerves. As well as the session tapes. There’s something about this place that will leave you feeling mental.

PS: Even though the movie isn’t widely known, those who have seen the ending and were left scratching their skull were not satisfied for it’s rather ambiguous. This is a movie worth watching with some people who are open for conversation. I, myself, loved this film for it will have you thinking for days to come.

The Fisher King (1991)

What to say about this delightful movie? I blessed myself when i purchased this without giving it a first look and  it was the one of the best decisions i ever made. It’s a story about fate and moving on from the past. When a radio DJ (Jeff Bridges) who lost his fame due to assisting a woman’s suicide, crosses paths with a looney hobo (Robin Williams) with a tragic past, becomes a comedic tale of redemption and love. Jack (Jeff) befriends the bum hoping he can help him find his true love and aid his past. All performances  are top-notch giving Robin enough room to be weird and heart warming, and letting Jeff be the down-beat cool guy. A favorite of mine from Terry Gilliam.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

I’m a little butt hurt this movie isn’t more well known, or to my knowledge it is not. You have a kick a** cast and amazing one liners. Scrap that, the whole script must be heard. Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr are perfect together, seeing that Val nearly steals the show in every scene.  Their chemistry and delivery couldn’t be any more pluperfect. The story line is a little everywhere which will take you a couple times to re-watch this. That’s not a complaint though, do yourself a favor and have fun solving this jazzed up mystery. I couldn’t recommend it enough.

PS: Still reading? Stop, i found your movie. 

Chef (2014)

Chef (2014) via IMDb.

Ah, Chef. Man, if this isn’t in my top 5 (there are a lot of movies out there) then it’s in my top 10 for sure. The music, the vibe, the characters, and the story kept my interest throughout the entire film. Like it was promising me an authentic cuban sandwich by the end of it. Every time  food was being stirred, boiled, or fried I just wanted to reach through the screen and snatch it. I could smell it.

Jon Favreau has a fun and deliciously enjoyable film. By far a favorite of mine that has been cooked up from his mind. It’s about friendship, love, family, and the changing world around us. The best way to display this was between the father and son. The father: lonely, out of touch with the world and self-centered. Then his son: who needs his father and helps him rekindle a lost flame and discover the power of social media. Their bond is the perfect link between the old and new. And the storytelling is so dynamic leading one place to the next. I honestly didn’t know what to expect first time round, but really enjoyed it. Second time i fell in love. It gave me warm happy feels with a smile that resisted giving in. Especially when the food was on screen, I’d say that was the star of the show.

Everyone bounced off each other so well. You’d believe you just walked into these people’s lives for a split second to see it turn for the better. I loved it. It was made with so much love and passion. Everyone involved seemed to have fun making this as well. The dynamic flow of the film and the character interactions left no dull moment, just one tasty pleasure after the next.

Someone once asked me if i were to have made a movie, what movie would it have been? I didn’t know how to answer at first, but now, now I have found it. Did you smell it? Or maybe you started tapping your foot to the music? It’s Chef everyone. A nicely blended fiesta for everyone to dig in. Make a meal, grab a friend, poor some wine, and enjoy, my friends.

BTW: This movie is similar the French film called Le Chef. Although that film follows more along the lines of Ratatuoille. Le Chef is worth checking out when given a chance.

Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014)

Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014) – IMDb

Are you happy? What is happiness to you? Hector, a psychologist, sets out on a grand adventure around the world searching for the meaning of true happiness, something his nice and tidy life seems to be missing. During his meetings with his patients, he just hears their stories and problems but not listening. He eventually comes to the conclusion, with help of a psychic who is a patient, that he must undergo a journey for himself and bring happiness to his bland life. But if you have the woman you love and your day follows the same routine, pattern by pattern, day in day out, and you are safe, what more would you want? Hector and the Search for Happiness isn’t just about us watching Hector on his spiritually awakening journey to the corners of the Earth, but perhaps it’s him who takes us and shows us there is more out there to understand and be happy about.This is a turn for comedic British actor Simon Pegg, making this rather more mature and thought provoking than his other features, although still consisting a fun and humorous trip.

Hector seems to be trapped under something heavy he doesn’t know and we don’t. Only we find out in the final crucial, unexpected scenes when everything comes to a point. Hector still has a sense of innocence like a child inside him, refraining him from living his life. The movie has little bits of cartoonist transitions that are playful and come as an unexpected joy. He starts off from China to Africa and finally the United States, taking notes on what is happiness. He asks a variety of people who are surrounded by money, sex, and poverty. This also allows it too become an emotional journey for our protagonist. Hector is swept with love in all sorts of colors, also experiences fear but only to overcome it, and making us laugh, even out loud, throughout the movie.

Hector and the Search for Happiness was a surprise for me, normally i know what I’m about to watch but I chose this on the whim. It’s a thought provoking and heart warming movie that can even change your life! (given to a certain degree.) There is a lot to love, learn, and be happy about. You just have to search for it and let it find you. The cameos were also fun to see and be interacted with. I enjoyed this movie, not a dull moment. If I were able to travel like Hector or even for FREE, no one would see me again. I’d backpack to the Himalayas all the way down to the sandy beaches of South America and around the world for another go. Until i came to my unexpected end to an expansive, chaotic life I learned to love.

Extra: Simon Pegg was a character in The Adventures of Tin Tin and he has posters and books of Tin Tin in Hector’s office which was cool to see.

A Fish Called Wanda (1988) – IMDb

via A Fish Called Wanda (1988) – IMDb.

A dark comedy with sex, diamonds, foreign accents, and fish. A Fish Called Wanda kicks off with a group of four burglars who steal diamonds from a bank but unknowingly each of them wants to keep the loot for themselves. John Cleese writes this hysterical farce dishing out one-liners, vulgarities, and a clever-wit accompanied by a great story. This is his personally favorite film of his and he also stars as the lawyer who defends one of the suspects. If he’s lucky enough he may get a share of the loot and even the sexiest, most exciting woman he’s ever seen.

A Fish Called Wanda is a perfectly cast film. Even more so for Kevin Kline who won an Oscar for his performance, which surprised me because you don’t see that happen too often in this genre. It’s a stand out performance you will need to witness for yourself as the loony, don’t-call-me-stupid role, Otto. I can’t help but think if Super Mario was a villain in real life it would be Kevin Kline. I mean, look at how he jumps at the beginning of the movie in the garage when he and Wanda find out the loot has been relocated, reminds me of the older days of 2-D Mario.  Another stand out role is Jamie Lee Curtis who is sexy as ever as the conniving Wanda. She is determined to get her diamonds at any cost even if it means she has to kiss every major role player here (why couldn’t I have been a part of this?). Wanda pretends to be a law student and must get ‘friendly’ with a lawyer, Archie Leach (John Cleese), hoping he could tell her where the diamonds are since he is defending George, the one who relocated the loot. And then there’s the other Monty Python alumni, Michael Palin, as the stuttering K-K-Ken who is an animal lover and possibly has the saddest sub-plot who must kill the only witness: an elderly lady with three dogs. Palin’s father had a stutter so he knew how to transfer his experiences to the film.

Everyone did an excellent job in this funny, funny fare. Cleese wrote a story that is a bit messy but gets flattened out by the end (ba-da-bum-bum). A Fish Called Wanda is a smart, cleverly written movie that has hysterical moments and inside jokes that will leave you laughing so hard your heart beat will race 250-500 beats a minute like the guy in Denmark who died laughing in the theater. Yes, really. A forgotten gem that should be watched to remember how funny a good comedy can be with a smart story line and witty, fun characters. If you decide to watch this with a side of Fish n’ Chips don’t eat the green fish, it’s not ripe yet.

Shrink (2009) – IMDb

via Shrink (2009) – IMDb.

A delightful film. Sitting in my queue on Netflix since it’s release, I finally came around to watching Shrink. Over the years Kevin Spacey has become a favorite of mine, not just for his movie acting but his movie choices. Too bad I didn’t watch this film sooner, It’s a film about movies but more over about how the person next to us could be experiencing a bad time. Everyone goes through time and life differently, Shrink displays this very well and at the cost of two hours, you can spend your time enjoying yourself watching a story that intertwines with other stories. At a minor tempo pacing, the film unfolds at a calm, stoner pace; revealing a storyline thoughtful, heartfelt and honest.
Kevin Spacey is a therapist, Henry, who mostly has meetings with other celebrities; step in Robin Williams cameo, and is struggling over his wife’s death. His recovery consists of heavy pot smoking and drinking next to the pool. Poor guy needs a break but instead is slammed with the responsibility of a young girl who has also suffered a loss. They come to terms that going to the movie theaters is better than talking at an actual appointment. The rest of the story I will let you figure out on your own because it’s a journey worth going through. I’m one of those type of people who like to talk about movies within movies because movie in general are awesome. They can help gravitate to any means we mean necessary and interpret thoughts we occupy daily. Shrink looks at the different angles and explains the story it wants to convey through a simple form of dialogue. Many movies take this form, I’m just surprised by this small movie how it went and went above my expectations.
At times, a darkly comedic film with a rewarding cast. By the end of it all you feel everyone was a close family.
A movie recommended for those who enjoy showbiz flicks like movie buffs or just people looking for a calming, moving title. I like how the story held it’s subtle wit but kept it’s dramatic charm for a story. I myself like to aspire myself to be a filmmaker, one can dream, right? Until then, maybe I should get a celebrity shrink in the process.

Caddyshack (1980) – IMDb

via Caddyshack (1980) – IMDb.

A movie that ages like fine wine. Released in 1980, Caddyshack wasn’t warmly accepted by critics and audience alike saying it was too crass and had no class, I say nay, this movie was ahead of it’s time and people couldn’t see the big laughs presented. The laughs come fast at knock out speed with full attitude. Caddyshack is nothing but zany, silly humor that is both witty and dumb and will none the less end in laughter.
At first, you may think “oh, this is too much and old fashioned, I’m not going to like it” but don’t quit so early, the movie has just begun! I didn’t even catch all the laughs the first time round, or the second; some laughs I found more rewarding once I knew some of the history of the movie. I’ll give credit to the whole crew for all the booz and drugs done off camera. A lot of talent is to be had here, you have three SNL guys and a veteran actor. Ted Knight plays a veteran judge and is very old fashioned. He has with him his wife and the sexy granddaughter who likes to have fun and can palm read. As for the SNL crew they deliver if not all the laughs. Chevy Chase as a cool womanizer who is heading through life kind of aimlessly. His acting is hilarious under his calm demeanor. Rodney Dangerfield delivers the most energy and is the most obnoxious golfer to be around, but only if you don’t know how to party; his delivery on one-liners are stellar and will have you rolling on the floor. And finally, you have Bill Murray, the man who pretty much rewrote his whole script and played such a goofy character trying to kill a golfer, sorry gofer, who has been tunneling all over the golfing premises. I loved every minute Bill was on screen. From the story he tells when he met the Daila Lama to the Cinderella story are just priceless.  What made that even cooler was having Bill and Chevy on the same screen together. It’s a small bit but it’s funny despite the two having quarrel at the time. They were two legends from SNL taking drags from homemade grass and swigs of alcohol, just a beauty on screen.
There are just too many lines to remember, so many scenes to replay in your mind and laugh, thanks to the editing. This is due to the movie length being cut down from like a three hour film to just 98 minutes. Makes me curious as to what was cut out. With all the drinking to the side, there must have been a lot of ad-libbing. And with a comfortable atmosphere anything can happen, thanks to the director, Harold Ramis (Groundhog) who was very level headed and always had a smile on his face. Sad to hear his recent passing but always made movies that had laughter.
Hold the phone, Caddyshack delivers such great comedic performances I forgot to mention there is a storyline, Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe) is an upcoming caddy trying to earn a scholarship by winning the caddy tournament. This simple storyline is just teased through a good portion of the movie, being overshadowed by the comedic performances, the conclusion swings everything nicely together in one hole.
I have re-watched Caddyshack many times and I find more reasons to watch it one more. This movie will grow with you the more you watch it, you get it’s humor and laugh at something you didn’t notice before. It’s great to watch with friends or just to relax for a laugh after a long day. You don’t want to miss out on this comedy classic.

Judge Smails: You know, you should play with Dr. Beeper and myself. I mean, he’s been club champion for three years running and I’m no slouch myself.

Ty Webb: Don’t sell yourself short Judge, you’re a tremendous slouch.