February 3, 2010

In Memoriam of Miramax: The Studio's 15 Best Reviewed Movies, Our Favorites

This week we take a look at the best reviewed titles by the famed indie/art-house studio. Last week Disney announced that they're closing the studio's doors as they move money around in their budget, and shift their focus onto more family fare. It's a sad loss indeed, as Miramax has more memorable classics in its vault, then some the more recent duds that landed on the big screen in 2009. Founded by the Weinstein brothers, Harvey and Bob -- and named after their parents Miriam and Max -- Miramax produced a number of great films, including four Best Picture winners: The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, Chicago, and No Country for Old Men. Before you head on over to MRQE to check out the full list, we'll tease you here with our favorites, some of which that actually didn't make the cut...

Amélie (2001)

Amelie is for believers and romantics who delight in the little things in life and dream of more. It is a film for vagrants, miscreants of society that hold onto little pieces of art and sneak peripheral glances at the world around them and at times venturing out into the world to change it forever. Not the whole world, mind you, but that little part of Paris that every romantic wants to be their world with its pastries, parks and parasols. Its hard to find a movie more charming, whimsy and inviting, and it's one of my favorite movies.

Amélie helps a blind man see.

Clerks (1994)

For anyone who has worked in retail, this is a must-see movie for you. And speaking from our own experiences, boy does Kevin Smith hit the nail on the head, because retail jobs would be a lot more fun if it weren't for those annoying customers. Smith drew from his own life, going so far as to use the convenience store he worked at as the main set for the movie. The indie flick, not only made him a star, but also grossed over $3 million at the box office, and went on to spawn a short-lived animated TV show, and a 2006 sequel; not to mention giving the world the characters Jay & Silent Bob. While Clerks is sometimes fowl (it originally received an NC-17 rating, before Miramax got the MPAA to drop it to an R), the movie "never loses its own sleazy self-confidence," as Desson Howe of the Washington Post wrote.

The finer moments of retail life, summed up here.

Pulp Fiction (1994)
If Quentin Tarentino came out with a bang with Reservoir Dogs, he brought a cannon for Pulp Fiction. Pulp Fiction is a film that brought countless imitators: some good (BOONDOCK, 2 DAYS IN THE VALLEY, LOCK, STOCK, AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS), and some bad (too many to name) but it's influence will last forever. Not many film change filmmaking, alter screenplay writing and propel its actors into star status the way that Pulp Fiction did. As Roger Ebert stated "Howard Hawks once gave his definition of a good movie: 'Three good scenes. No bad scenes.' Few movies in recent years have had more good scenes that Pulp Fiction".

Quoting the Bible, Tarantino style.

Swingers (1996)

This movie is so money, how could it not be one of our favorites? The slick-talking boys club flick quickly became a hit amongst both men and women alike. Girls, do you want to know what guys talk about when we're just hanging out? Just pop in this movie and be enlightened with the great debates: which director is better Scorsese or Tarantino; which video game has more action NHL '94 or NHLPA Hockey '93? Yeah, this really is what we discuss; that, and how soon after getting digits do we call a girl. As Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly wrote, "The beauty of Swingers lies in the irony of its title: Despite their lounge-lizard posing, these guys will never really live up to their Rat Pack dreams. They're looking for action in an era when talk is what counts." With its swinging soundtrack, the movie also showcased the swing revival happening in L.A. at the time -- only two years later did Gap beat it to death with their khaki commercials. If you're hitting Vegas, baby, this flick's for you.

Ouch! It hurts to watch this...

Bob Roberts (1992)

Prescient in its outlook in American politics, Bob Roberts showed the satirical pen of Tim Robbins in his first directorial effort. The film follows the campaign of folk singing Roberts, who has a definite way with words, as he prods and pokes his opponent with his clever and biting lyrics. Bob Roberts is a movie that accurately satirizes not only the American political system but the media frenzy that surrounds it.

Bob Roberts does Dylan on Wall Street.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)

George Clooney's directorial debut. Based on the memoir by TV's Chuck Barris, the mind behind the classic game shows The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, The Gong Show, and the 60's oldie tune "Palisades Park"; and on top of that a purported CIA operative. The film explores both sides of the man, but leaves the ultimate question up to the audience to decide: is he making it up, or is he really a spy? Barris worked with Clooney during filming, and they both decided upon Sam Rockwell for the lead part, primarily because of his uncanny resemblance to Barris. Clooney, however, never asked Barris if he was making it up. As he told the BBC, "I didn't want to officially ask him, because I didn't want him to say, 'I made it up.' I wanted to tell the story and I thought, how interesting if it was all made up, why someone as wealthy and as successful as Chuck Barris, would have to do that."

Was he, or wasn't he...?

Check out the full list on MRQE!

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