This week we have several movies that buck the trend, movies that just didn't do what they were expected to. We have an Oscar winner that could have been dull but isn't, and is actually highly entertaining and often exhilarating. We have Oscar favorites that did not win, or won only one. We have movies that had production troubles, or distribution troubles, and still managed to come out worth seeing. And we have movies by successful filmmakers that are generally overshadowed in their filmographies. Enjoy!
Now on Netflix
Milos Forman's king-sized costume epic Amadeus (1984) won eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, Screenplay, and of course, Art Direction, Makeup, and Costume Design. But what could have been a three-hour snooze-fest — most studios did not want to make it — is actually an incredibly vibrant, entertaining, passionate, and even funny movie experience. As the movie ravenously feasts on jealousy and revenge, the images themselves grow more fevered, as if manipulated by the heavens.
F. Murray Abraham won an award as court composer Salieri, who has the emperor's favor, but who knows deep in his heart that he can never be as brilliantly talented as the cackling, irresponsible upstart Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce). Hulce also received a nomination for his vigorous, juicy performance, while Jeffrey Jones is dryly, humorously memorable as the not-too-bright emperor ("too many notes"). Peter Shaffer wrote the screenplay, adapted from his own play. In 2002, Forman was allowed to release a director's cut, 20 minutes longer than the original, and that's the version Netflix has available.
The Wachowski siblings did not always make futuristic movies about the "chosen one" that saves the world. In their directing debut Bound (1996), they created a twisty, character-driven crime film that was good enough to evade comparisons to Quentin Tarantino. In it, ex-con Corky (Gina Gershon) tries to go straight with a job as a painter and a plumber, but she meets gangster's moll Violet (Jennifer Tilly), who seduces her. Together they cook up a plan to steal $2 million from Violet's volatile husband, Caesar (Joe Pantoliano). The movie includes a famous sex scene between Gershon and Tilly that is celebrated for its beautiful frankness and passion.
In the years since this was made, directing brother Larry Wachowski had a sex change and became Lana; one wonders if she had a special affinity for the characters? Otherwise, the movie's accomplished use of dialog, rhythm, sound design, and color palette are all highly inventive. The unrated cut that Netflix offers runs 14 seconds longer than the theatrical cut.
Initially scheduled for release in September of 2001, Gregor Jordan's Buffalo Soldiers (2001) was shelved until the summer of 2003, due to fears of how it would be perceived after the 9/11 attacks. Perhaps now it can be seen as the rowdy military comedy — part Stripes, part Three Kings — that it was intended to be.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.