7. The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)
Robert Mitchum stars as Eddie Coyle in this realistic story about career criminals who observe a moral code of honor (or maybe not). Eddie Coyle is a middle aged criminal who has to find a deal with the police in order not to get another life sentence. He is a loser, a small-time crook who supplies guns to his “friends” for bank robberies. Eddie is on a dilemma to either rat out his “friends” or face possible life sentence in prison.
The title of the film is quite ironic, since Eddie has no real or loyal friends but only some criminal partners. In this way the director of the film Peter Yates exposes the hollowness of the great honor among thieves. However, Robert Mitchum’s performance is outstanding, probably the most believable of his career. It is a quite realistic, full of tension performance that creates a downbeat but suspenseful atmosphere.
Unlike other films of this genre, “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” is a cold portrait of the criminal underworld with a quite shocking and brutal ending. This film is about betrayal and honor making you reconsider who your friends are. A pure cinematic gem.
6. Moonlighting (1982)
Jerzy Skolimowski’s “Moonlighting” tells the story of an english speaking Polish constructor Nowak (Jeremy Irons), who comes to London with some other non english speaking Polish workers in order to renovate a house. This work site looks more like a prison, since the construction workers can’t go out or have some fun. Thus, in order to finish the job, Novak has to conceal valuable information about their families from the workers.
The story is told from Nowak’s point of view, so we can only see his thoughts experiencing the world through his eyes and actions. We don’t actually see the other workers having a dialogue about anything; we have to follow Nowak’s perspective. However, Jeremy Irons manages to deliver an outstanding performance in the lead role.
Not only Skolimowski’s storyline is so innovative and engaging, but also an interesting insight into the meaning of truth. Overall, “Moonlighting” is an overlooked low-key drama with many rewards for cinephiles to discover.
5. Mystery Train (1989)
Directed by Jim Jarmusch, “Mystery Train” is a tribute film to the legendary Elvis Presley (hence the title). It is an indie film that follows three different stories tied together by a cheap motel located in Memphis. Jim Jarmusch is well known for his minimalistic approach to the storyline, so there isn’t actually a real plot. It is more about experiencing the lone adventure of the characters and their emotions.
What best describes this film is the real way foreigners perceive the American Dream. It is a humorous depiction of the western lifestyle where everything is cool and purposeless. To be more specific, the whole movie is a metaphor for the way America actually looks.
Although, “Mystery Train” is a slow, atmospheric, at times funny rock show, it is also a delicate piece of art. Jim Jarmusch never fail to create a borderless cinematic experience where independent house art meets western culture.
4. You, the Living (2007)
Roy Andersson’s second feature film of his “Living trilogy” is another melancholic black comedy of the Swedish culture. “You, the Living” is an underappreciated downbeat film composed by fifty short stories, vignettes and sketches.
There isn’t actual any plot, only some shortcuts of life. The film addresses recurring themes of life, death and dreams. It looks more like a lucid dream filled with tragicomic scenes than a surreal depiction of the reality. Roy Andersson unique technique to film the whole series with a static camera creates a cold atmosphere with suppressed emotions. Thus, everything looks tragic and delusional like a dark weird dream where nothing is real.
Why this film is a cult classic? That’s because it is a blend of minimalistic surreal art and the emotional detachment of Swedish culture. It may have been praised by the critics and cinephiles, but this piece of gem deserves a bigger fan base.
3. Brewster McCloud (1970)
Overshadowed by Robert Altman’s other masterpiece “M.A.S.H.”, which was released at the same year, “Brewster McCloud” is a surreal depiction of a dream world. Bud Cort who stars as Brewster McCloud, is a very weird young man building a flying machine in order to fly away like a bird. He has the help of his mentor Louise (Sally Kellerman), a mysterious woman, and Suzanne (Shelley Duvall) a strange young girl he meets. Meanwhile, a series of murders occur in the city.
“Brewster McCloud” is also a coming-of-age movie similar to Hal Ashby’s other cult classic “Harold and Maude”. Both have Burt Cort as a leading star and depict weird teenage dreams. On the other hand, this film is a metaphor for the Greek myth of Icarus who tried to fly away with wings that his father Daedalus constructed from feathers and wax.
This myth reveals also the tragic, but quite entertaining ending of the film. Moreover, the film is filled with bird flying lessons and cool car chasing scenes that create a cozy and delightful atmosphere.
“Brewster McCloud” is probably the most underappreciated film of Robert Altman’s filmography. It is a hidden gem of cult cinema.
2. Valley of the Dolls (1967)
“So bad, it’s actually good.”
The film adaptation of Jacqueline Susann’s novel “Valley of the Dolls” is an enigmatic, trashy and quite entertaining cult classic. The story follows the lives of three young girls (Barbara Parkins, Patty Duke and Sharon Tate) in show business. They eventually become famous and start taking drugs (or “dolls”, hence the title) in order to deal with their negligible problems.
The acting performances are exaggerated, the film is full of clichés and the characters are uninterrupted stupid. Although it is a “trash movie”, the film creates a unique atmosphere with hilarious scenes and catchy songs. Not only it is a melodramatic soap opera, but also an entertaining view of Hollywood’s dark side.
“Valley of the Dolls” is probably one of the “worst” best movies of all time. An instant cult classic that deserves a couple of repeated viewings to enjoy its true (trashy) nature.
1. After Hours (1985)
Directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese, “After Hours” is probably one of the most underrated films of all time. It is a tense crime-comedy film about Paul Hackett’s (Griffin Dunne) nightmarish night in Soho, New York. After meeting a girl in a coffee shop, Paul decides to visit her house where a series of unfortunate events take place.
It is a suspenseful black comedy, a surreal existential nightmare and a unique cinematic experience. Paul tries desperately to escape from this Kafkaesque reality, but soon he realises that is inevitable. Thus, he has no other choice than to leave everything to fate.
Although Martin Scorsese has created numerous great movies, “After Hours” stands out as a hidden gem in his filmography. Overall, it is a flawless, entertaining and deep exploration of morality and faith. One of the best cult movies of all time.