Hey folks. Michael C here to ponder how future movie buffs will view 2011.
When a film is riding high through awards season, racking up the honors and soaking up the prestige, it must feel to its makers like its title is being etched into the face of cinematic history with a hammer and chisel. Yet we know that even the biggest box office champs and awards winners can make that cruel slide into obscurity the same as the cheapest B movie. Likewise, films that managed to slip in and out of theaters without kicking up too much fuss can find popularity and redemption on their way to the dustbin. Looking through the records of cinema years past is a lot like glancing through a high school yearbook. Why, oh why, was I so love with her, who I now see clearly to be pretty but painfully shallow, and what possessed me ignore that knockout, even if she was a little quirky.
So the question I want to find an answer to this week is which under-the-radar 2011 films are most likely headed for large and loyal cult fanbases? I am going to skip the obvious choices of Attack the Block and Warrior, both of which had their cult status secured the instant they failed to catch fire at the box office, and name three still underseen titles which are likely to hold up better than their initial releases would suggest:
SUBMARINE – Box Office: $467, 602
The initial reaction of much of the film critic community at Richard Ayoad smart, often brutal tale of teenage love and heartbreak was to make brief mention of its impressive visuals, then to simply take roll call of all the other coming-of-age tales it superficially resembled (especially Rushmore). My hunch is that time is going to be very kind to Submarine. It may share themes with other stories of precocious teens in love (how could it not?) yet few such stories ring as true in every harsh, painful and often hilarious detail. And few films of any stripe have such a visually striking creation of time and place.
THE GUARD – Box Office: $5,338,115
The atmosphere of the modern multiplex is not friendly to the low-key character study. The films where you spend more time smiling quietly than guffawing out loud tend to do better with the low-pressure home video environment when the whole night and half a week’s paycheck isn’t on the line. This will certainly be the case for John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard. The movie's shaggy crime story never comes to much, but as a showcase for Brendan Gleesons rumpled charm and flawless comic timing in the title role it will satisfy many a viewer.
BELLFLOWER - Box Office: $168,226
I was not the biggest fan of Evan Glodell’s tale of heartarche, male rage, and Road Warrior obsession. But I can’t deny that it touched a nerve somewhere in the whole mess of flamethrowers, cricket eating, and apocalyptic revenge fantasy. I further can’t deny that there were several stand alone images as memorable as any from 2011 and a mood of pervasive unease that marks Glodell as one to watch. I suspect the home video crowd will be more willing to look past the film’s questionable message, and amateurish lapses to appreciate the raw filmmaking talent contained within. And if Glodell should deliver on his promise in his future projects, forget it. Expect the common refrain among film buffs to be that they were on board with Bellflower before everyone else jumped on the bandwagon.