Tuesday, 7 February 2017

The Underrated, Underappreciated, and the Unseen

Here are a number of films from the year 2016 that I feel haven’t quite hit the heights they deserve, be it from low box office takings, positive critical reviews and getting the appreciation it deserves.

Little Men

At under 90 minutes long and making less than $1,000,000 Little Men is a little film that not many people saw (despite the positive reviews from many different publications). It’s about a family who get into a small feud with another, the cause of the feud is the rent for the shop below the apartment owned by the Jardine family which was left to them in Brain Jardine’s father’s will. The rent, for the area, is very low and the Jardine family seek to increase it even though its wouldn't be affordable for the shop owner Leonor Calvelli. Meanwhile, the two young sons of the respective families become close friends.

Little Men marks a rare, intelligent foray into a serious discussion on money issues in modern America. Income for the Jardine family is unsteady because of Brain’s irregular income whilst Leonor’s is virtually non-existent. What the film does well is not take sides, even though Leonor’s dire situation garners strong sympathy, the Jardine family are more than reasonable in asking for the higher rent, it’s evident that they don’t like putting Leonor in such a position and this adds depth and moral complexity to the film. The performances are excellent with the two young stars, Theo Taplitz and Michael Barbieri, sharing a remarkable chemistry for such a young age.

Eye in the Sky

I guess to call Eye in the Sky a film that’s unseen or underrated is flat out wrong considering the fact it made just under three times its budget (the budget was 12 million) and is currently sitting at 95% on Rotten Tomatoes but on how many top 10, 20, 25 have you seen Eye in the Sky on?

Such is the nature of modern warfare that a devastating war can be fought where the enemies are on opposite sides of world and in some cases may never even see the whites of their eyes. Drone Warfare and the robotic, calculative nature of such a war could easily distance the fighters from the human cost of war, but in Eye of the Sky the human cost of war is still a hotly debated issue as a young girl could be the victim of a drone strike on a group of terrorists gearing up for a major terrorist attack. It’s morally interesting film, and this moral dilemma adds emotional weight to a gripping and throught-provoking film.


This fantastic little known Alice Winocour film got its release at the Cannes Film festival last year but was released in the UK in early 2016. It’s about a French soldier, suffering from PTSD, who is hired to protect a Lebanese businessman and his family. The best moments of the film are when Vincent’s PTSD is playing a major role. His paranoia about threats in the shadows distance the film from being a standard thriller as the film plays effectively with reality. It does descend into a more standard thriller, but the first two acts make for fascinating viewing as it does work as a smart and sophisticated look at PTSD.

One of the main unique points of Equity is that it's a film directed by a woman, starring women in major roles in a male dominated industry, written by a woman and shot by a woman. The female voice allows for interesting and in depth discussion of being female in the workplace, especially when it comes to respect from colleagues, job promotion and fear of job security and career progression (especially when pregnant). It may lack the flashiness of The Big Short and The Wolf of Wall Street, but its still a good story that states that women should not shy away from showing ambition and their love of money (the latter is unlikable trait whether you’re male or female).

The Girl with all the Gifts
Despite the great reviews nobody bloody saw this at the cinema (me included), which is a crying shame because its one of the better zombie films of recent years. Harking back to the likes of 28 Days Later with its shots of a deserted London, The Girl with all the Gifts work because it has a strong emotional core. Sennia Nanua is fantastic as Melanie and she superbly raises to the challenge of becoming the film’s emotional core. She is a 'hungry', but shows signs of being able to think for herself and has an inquisitive child like nature and that’s because she is a child.


The reviews for this film were mixed and the box office returns were just over half of its budget, but this historical thriller about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich is one of the finest historical thrillers of recent times. Sticking rigidly to the facts, the film a worthy of the heroes that inspired it.

Elvis and Nixon

Elvis & Nixon is a success because of the inspired casting of Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon, Shannon. Shannon, in particular, is a strange casting but the casting of Shannon turns out to be an inspired one as Shannon gives a raw and emotional performance as the king of rock and roll. Spacey, capturing Nixon’s gruff speaking voice and the cartoonish view of the president, is also terrific and his contrasting performance to Shannon’s underplayed Presley works wonders for the film.

Nine Lives

I’m sorry but I don’t give a shit what you say. I liked this movie. It’s heavily flawed for sure, the GCI cat is rubbish, the ‘suicide ending’ is misjudged and boardroom talk will probably bore the kids as they wait for the cat to be back on screen. However, imagine if a man as grumpy as Kevin Spacey’s character was turned into the cat and he was allowed to say whatever he wanted….he’d be so pissed off he’d be swearing more than Joe Pesci in Casino, Goodfellas and Raging Bull combined..and I find that hilarious.


With two great Korean horror/psychological dramas that came out this year it’s quite easy for this to slip through the cracks. I have already included this on my top 10 horror films of 2016 so I was somewhat tentative of adding it here but more exposure can’t do it any harm. The title sells the film well...it’s creepy.


A film with the subject nature of Christine could easily slip into exploitation. However, the film never goes over that line and keeps the film sympathetic and honest. The film does show Christine to be standoffish and difficult, but it remains a wholly sympathetic depiction of a woman with depression that would eventually cost her life. Rebecca Hall is incredible and was sadly and predictably overlooked for an Oscar.


  1. YESSSSSSSSSS to Christine. I hate that my cinema never even got that and that I had to wait for the DVD to watch. It should've been all over Oscar lists.

    Eye in the Sky was a very good movie, and since it was Rickman's last appearance on screen, I had hoped more people would talk about it.

    The Girl With All The Gifts hasn't even gotten a US release yet, wtf is that?

    Elvis and Nixon was also good.

    I want to check out a few of these. I already put Anthropoid in my Netflix queue after your review and Disorder sounds like one I'd enjoy too.

    1. I saw Christine at the London Film Festival others I would have seen it on at home too considering it was released on demand and in cinemas

  2. I don't know what happened with Eye in the Sky, it was a really good, tense movie, but I just kind of forgot all about it.
    Little Men sounds like something I'd like to see, so thanks for putting that on my radar.
    I SO want to see Nine Lives. No one would go to the cinema with me so I'm waiting on a DVD release :(

    1. It's already out on DVD. That's how I saw it

  3. I've only seen EYE IN THE SKY (I liked it a lot) and 9 LIVES (I loathed it).

    My #1 pick is the movie that was also my favorite of the year: CAPTAIN FANTASTIC. Other picks:

    "imagine if a man as grumpy as Kevin Spacey’s character was turned into the cat and he was allowed to say whatever he wanted….he’d be so pissed off he’d be swearing more than Joe Pesci in Casino, Goodfellas and Raging Bull combined..and I find that hilarious."
    That WOULD be hilarious... but that doesn't happen in the movie.

    1. Haha. I suppose but I did like how dry Kevin Spacey was throughout the whole thing

    2. Also I like your choices, for the ones I have seen. I haven't seen the first two. I didn't include The Witch here because it will be in multiple lists of mine. Kubo and the Two Strings has been discussed a lot in these parts

  4. Hall not being at least nominated for Christine shows everything that is wrong with the Oscars - if the film was picked up by richer distributor who could do a fancy campaign for her who knows if she wouldn't be the frontrunner to win

    1. yeah. It's a shame she didn't get nominated because it was an incredible performance. But, yeah, sometimes the film that shouts the loudest is the one that wins.

  5. Haven't seen any of these, yet. I will eventually get to most, if not all, of them. Thanks for putting Creepy on my radar. I love a good Korean thriller/horror. I'll be sure to find that one.

    1. It's actually Japanese. Didn't mean to insinuate it was Korean.