The phenomenon of the cult film, a movie that is released and sometimes takes a while to develop an audience or catch on is not a new occurrence. However, with the advent of the internet and information being made more readily available this means that smaller films from overseas can now receive a worldwide audience. Independent films now have many more venues and opportunities to be seen and gain an audience as some of these joints start out as arthouse favorites that gained an audience through word of mouth. Here are my twelve personal favorite cult films of the Internet Age...keep in mind that I could’ve gone to 100 easy (c’mon..we’re talking about me here). There’ll be another list, believe it:
Fight Club (1999)
This movie was pushed back because of the Colombine High tragedy as studios were afraid that putting this movie out would contribute to delinquency and spread subversive messages and promote antisocial behavior. After the film was released there was no rise in terrorist activity among groups of young males (although some DID start fight clubs of their own). This movie flew over the heads of most of the audience but this book and the film adaptation still speak to a whole generation that truly feels like “The Middle Children Of History”.
City Of God (2002)
This Brazilian film was an adaptation of a famous novel that told the history of the biggest gangsters in The City Of God, a favela outside of Rio De Janeiro throughout the 60’s and 70’s. It was all factual and the epic film was an international hit but it took a while to catch on in North America after it was released in arthouse cinemas and then on DVD. It became a hood classic almost immediately and now everyone knows what a “favela” is.
This Korean film has one of the best fight scenes ever and while it was released in 2003 it wasn’t released officially in North America until 2005. It was then that this film began to spread by word of mouth between film fans. This movie was thrust into the spotlight after the Virginia Tech shootings and it was partially blamed for contributing to it. Bullshit, that kid was nuts already and this movie didn’t give him the idea to take the lives of innocent people. The media and it’s knee jerk reactions piss me off to no end (not enough to kill someone, though).
Donnie Darko (2001)
If you saw this film and “got it” right away and/or liked the Director’s Cut even more than the original chances are that the government has you on a special watchlist right now. This film is also a red flag item and a favorite of recluses, the anti social and film geeks. The first time I saw it, I immediately played it again from the beginning to see if I caught stuff I missed the first time (only movie nerds do this).
Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
I first saw this movie at work at the CD Spins at Brattle Square (R.I.P.) in Cambridge, MA. My manager at the time, Jay saw it in the theaters and told me I had to see it. He went down the street to the Tower Records/Video (R.I.P.) and bought it on the day it dropped on DVD, came right back to the store and we watched it (it was a slow day). I rented it from the Videosmith down the street from my house (R.I.P.) on the way home and watched it with my brother and my friends again that night. The director of this film, Guy Ritchie would go on to make a movie called “Snatch” in 2000... but that is another story.
Battle Royale (2000)
The first time I ever heard about this movie was early 2001. I got an e-mail from one of my many online Asian film distributors that hyped up this huge ultraviolent movie called “Battle Royale” that was based off of a Japanese novel. The movie was huge in Asia but few people in North America and Europe were aware of it. I read some interview the next day and Quentin Tarantino wouldn’t stop raving about it so I decided to spend $9 and get this movie on VCD. It was money well spent. Since then Battle Royale, a flim that everyone across the board would NEVER be released in America has been greenlighted for a Hollywood makeover. It’s gonna suck, watch the original instead.
This movie took college movie theaters and arthouses all over the country by storm. So much so that Memento fans began to watch the film over and over again going so far as to keep journals of what happened so that they could string together all of the events in chronological order (not me). It got so crazy that there was a specail cut of the film made that went in chronological order that was screened for these fans in the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, MA. I was totally happy with the original version and didn’t need to delve any deeper into the story but to each his own.
The Boondock Saints (1999)
Troy Duffy burned a lot of bridges. Troy Duffy had his dream and completely fucked it up by being an asshole (see the film “Overnight” to understand what I’m talking about here). He was the Bostonian that went to California with a vision and ended up with the entire world at his feet just to go and fuck it all up in less than a year. This is his lone movie...the sequel has been coming for what’s going on seven years now. Damn shame, too...from what I heard “ The Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day” could’ve been a monster.
12 Monkeys (1996)
Terry Gilliam. Bruce Willis. Brad Pitt. Apocalyptic future saga adapted from the groundbreaking short film “La Jetee”. Film geek heaven.
Guy Ritchie’s reup “Snatch” quickly became another hood staple...so much so that dudes began understanding British accents and didn’t need subtitles anymore buy the time “Gangster No. 1”, “Layer Cake”, “Essex Boys” and “Kidulthood” dropped. I’m still completely fuckin’ lost on Cockney rhyming slang, though.
The Way Of The Gun (2000)
The directorial debut of the acclaimed writer of “The Usual Suspects”, Christopher McQuarrie put his own personal stamp on this crime drama. There were no heroes in this film, only antagonists and protagonists. You didn’t have to worry about which character was more likable and the director/writer clearly didn’t take Q ratings into consideration when he made it. I guess that’s why it’s one of my favorite movies.
Ong Bak: Muy Thai Warrior (2003)
This film became a smash in Asia and it was the fastest selling DVD overseas in 2004...this was more than a year before any American company picked it up for distribution. I bought the DVD from Asia and I used to show it whoever came over the house. By 2005 (when it was officially released in the US), everyone in my neighborhood referred to catching a beatdown with the slang term “Ong Bak’d”. Flying knees and elbows plus no wires equals a hood classic. Tony Jaa (Panom Yeerum) has a chance to become the great action star of the 00’s (I love Jackie Chan and Jet Li but they’re both old as hell).
That’s the first twelve...expect the next twelve in a drop next month. Next up: The Essential Anime List Part 2: The Series’.