Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Dramas - Anna L. ""

Friday, August 2, 2013

Favorite Underrated Dramas - Anna L.

Anna L. has been running her blog Defiant Success since August 2009. She can also be found on Twitter.

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LENNY (BOB FOSSE, 1974)
Fosse has been immortalized for his musicals like Cabaret and Sweet Charity. But when he does straight up drama, that's what most people don't remember about him. Take for instance Lenny, a very far cry from his previous film (and Oscar darling) Cabaret. With Dustin Hoffman's caustic portrayal of comedian Lenny Bruce and Bruce Surtees' crisp cinematography, the film depicts a society too scared to speak their mind and one man who was crucified (and eventually immortalized) for doing such a thing.

TWO LOVERS (JAMES GRAY, 2009)
This is one film that I always seem to recommend to people. For good reason too. Featuring a subtle but devastating performance from Joaquin Phoenix, the film shows a man lost in the world he's a part of, trying to find some meaning in his life after an almost tragedy. (Also worthy of a look are We Own the Night, the previous film Gray and Phoenix did, and Luchino Visconti's Le Notti Bianche, which Two Lovers is a loose remake of.)

 
BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD (SIDNEY LUMET, 2007)
It's refreshing to know that Lumet ended his fifty-year career not with a whimper (as with most directors or actors) but with a bang. And yet his swan song gets lost amid the likes of 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon and Network. (Not to mention the other big titles of 2007.) With the likes of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke and Albert Finney showing their skills, Lumet shows he still had a great film in him even in his prime.

BIGGER THAN LIFE (NICHOLAS RAY, 1956)
To be fair, any film of Ray's not called Rebel Without a Cause could qualify as underrated (with the exception of In a Lonely Place), but I opted for this one in particular. Thanks to James Mason's daring performance, the film deconstructed the image of picture perfect 1950s life long before Mad Men did in its early seasons. And the Criterion Collection's transfer makes Joseph MacDonald's cinematography brings out the horrors behind the white picket fences even more.

THE AGE OF INNOCENCE (MARTIN SCORSESE, 1993)
You may be wondering, "What's a Scorsese film doing on here?" But this a film not often brought up in a discussion about Scorsese. (His crime films usually get the spotlight.) Indeed, the film appears to be more suited for James Ivory than it does Scorsese, but Scorsese proves the naysayers wrong. It's a gorgeously lush romance with fine set details that would make Luchino Visconti proud. (For those who don't believe me on the latter, go see Visconti's The Leopard and then The Age of Innocence.)

Also worthy of a look:
Victim (Basil Dearden, 1961)
My Beautiful Laundrette (Stephen Frears, 1985)
The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1960)
Shattered Glass (Billy Ray, 2003)
The Ox-Bow Incident (William A. Wellman, 1943)

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