Every year, hundreds of films are released (with the exception of 2020), of the most different nationalities. Many are very successful, so many others are rejected and hated. However, there are those who, while attracting the attention of critics falling in favor of moviegoers, mostly end up passing white to the general public.
With that in mind, CinePOP has prepared a special list for you, focused on finding some real hidden gems. Better yet, they celebrate every 20 years of its launch in 2021. In other words, this is the perfect opportunity to find out. Come and see.
Arguably the great name of representation in North American black cinema since the 1980s, Spike Lee has successfully made peace. His most recent works were again adopted by critics and most important: they fell in favor of the new generation. Infiltrated the Klan (2018) became very popular and even won an Oscar; and Detachment Blood (2020), his latest film released by Netflix, is one of the most lauded of the year. There is nothing better then than to revisit a work somewhat erased from the filmography of the filmmaker.
Showtime (Bamboozled) is written and directed by Lee as a reviewer – perhaps ahead of its time. It is a kind of spring for Hitler (1967) translated to the racial issues of the Afro-descendant universe. In the plot, an executive of a large TV channel plans to be fired and to do this he puts on a program with the aim of extrapolating all and all moral and common sense: a show where black presenters would paint their faces black, bringing back the famous concept of bad taste “Blackface”. But the blow turned against him and the program became a success.
Tigerland – On the way to war
Director Joel Schumacher passed away not long ago, at the age of 80. And it’s one of his most underrated and unknown films. The film is tasked with revealing actor Colin Farrell and brings an impressive performance from him, highly regarded by critics. Farrell plays Roland Bozz, the rebel leader of a group of recruits in training who will be sent to Vietnam in 1971, in this war drama.
Cinephiles and fans of this feature film noticed great similarities with the Hunger Games youth franchise, which was clearly inspired by this Japanese work. Other than that, also based on a book and directed by Kinji Fukasabu, this film has the honor of being hailed by Quentin Tarantino – who considered it to be the best film production of its respective year. In the plot, in a dystopian future, the Japanese government forces high school students to fight to the death, all sanctioned by the revolutionary act known as the “battle royale” – i.e. a mixture of 1984 and A Night of Crime.
Shadow of the Vampire
Mandatory production for fans of horror and vampire films. But the work goes further, being also recommended to lovers of classical art and films on films. Using a lot of creativity in its narrative, the feature film portrays the shooting of the classic Nosferatu (1922) – and stars John Malkovich as German director FW Murnau and Willem Dafoe as protagonist Max Schreck. The great advantage of this production, from none other than Nicolas Cage, is to present the main actor as a true vampire. Shadow of the Vampire was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (Dafoe) and Best Makeup.
Star Renée Zellweger was a bit lost, but this year she returned to the limelight with Judy – Beyond the Rainbow and even won an Oscar for the role (the second of her career). We hope he will continue in vogue and in good roles. Going back twenty years, we come across one of the great performances of his filmography – and which we do not talk much about. Here in this creative and absurd comedy, she sees a woman suffering from a post-traumatic obsession when she sees her husband being killed by professional assassins (Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock). The work is taken in a satirical tone and the protagonist ends up creating in her mind a fantasy world, in which she believes that the story of a soap opera is real. For his performance, Zellweger won that year’s Golden Globe.
Prior to Fast and Furious (2001) and becoming stereotypical as tough character roles in action films, Puerto Rican and Dominican descendant Michelle Rodriguez made her film debut in this sports drama. In the film, the actress plays Diana, a young woman who, without the support of her family, begins to train in boxing and becomes a successful fighter. The work was written and directed by filmmaker Karyn Kusama (The Weight of the Past) and won an award at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
Beyond the limits
Speaking of sports films, here we have one of the most interesting examples of the genre. And the one who is also one of the best novels of the last 20 years in the cinema. What makes a good sports film, if not any good film, is largely the development of its characters. And we only have that here in this book written and directed by filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Old Guard), which is a kind of Before the Dawn trilogy set in the universe of young black basketball players. In the plot, Quincy (Omar Epps) and Monica (Sanaa Lathan) are college boyfriends who must put their relationship aside in order to pursue a career in sports. Thus, over the years, from youth to becoming players of various successes, their lives are intertwined.
Making its debut at the Vancouver Film Festival (not Toronto) in Canada in 1999, this Japanese horror film arrived the following year for the rest of the world. Based on a book and directed by the great Takashi Mike, the film shows a widower leading strange auditions in order to find a new wife. Among the candidates, the young woman who piques her interest turns out to be something different from what she seems.
A tour de force from the great, but sometimes underrated, Oscar winner Ben Kingsley – who even received a new nomination for his performance here as a pushy and menacing gangster. The film is directed by Jonathan Glazer, who made his feature debut and has since ventured twice more to direct a work – always delivering flashy works, see Reincarnation (2004), starring Nicole Kidman, and Under the Skin (2013), with Scarlett Johansson, the latter one of the best productions of the last 20 years. Here, he creates a tense but somewhat fun story about criminals coming out of retirement for one last job.
Dancing in the dark
Accustomed to the controversy on which his career is based, the Danish Lars von Trier knows both the affection and the hatred of critics and the public. Here, however, he creates one of his most unanimous and beloved productions, winner of the Palme d’Or and Best Actress for protagonist Björk at Cannes – which again received Golden Globe nominations from the Best Actress and Best Song (also nominated for an Oscar). In the plot, the singer plays a humble woman, working in a factory to support her son, whose passion is the musical classics of Hollywood. To escape her problems and cruel reality, she resorts to fantasy, imagining herself in such a production. Dancing in the Dark is in itself a musical while showcasing the works of the genre in a unique and very creative way.
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