Discover Movies is all about highlighting lesser known films that we want you to enjoy as much as we do. You won't see films such as The Godfather listed because we all already know that's a great film. Instead we'll provide you a list of films by genre that have the potential to entertain audiences as much as other cinematic classics.
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The Last Boy Scout (1991)
Directed By: Tony Scott (Top Gun, True Romance, Crimson Tide, Enemy of the State, Man On Fire)
Starring: Bruce Willis, Damon Wayans, Taylor Negron, Noble Willingham, Halle Berry, Chelsea Field, and Danielle Harris
Plot Synopsis: A down and out cynical Private Investigator teams up with a down and out ex-quarterback to try and solve a murder case involving a pro football team and a politician.
Shane Black. Ever heard of him? He wrote: Lethal Weapon (1987), THIS movie, The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), Iron Man 3 (2013), and The Nice Guys (2016), while also directing the last three said films. While not inventing it, he did help establish the Buddy-Cop formula of the 1980's and has since perfected it. Besides all the Action and Thrills his films have to offer, they also contain just as much, if not more, humor. Black is great at writing snappy dialogue and The Last Boy Scout is probably the best example of this. Bruce Willis is terrific as the smart-ass-tough-as-nails P.I. and Damon Wayans is a perfect complement to that as this film came out in '91, when these two were both at the peak of their careers.
Other Points of Interest: Halle Berry plays Damon Wayans' stripper girlfriend in one of her earliest roles. Bruce Willis' daughter in the film is played by Danielle Harris where you might remember her as Jamie lloyd in Halloween 4 & 5 as wells as One Life to Live and dozens of other T.V. shows. The film also opens at a Pro Football game that ends with the most shocking and bizarre Touchdown run you've ever seen in your life. Guaranteed.
Hard Boiled (1992)
Directed By: John Woo (A Better Tomorrow 1 & 2, The Killer, Hard Target, Broken Arrow, Face/Off)
Starring: Yun-Fat Chow(Chow Yun Fat), Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Teresa Mo, and Anthony Chau-Sang Wong
Plot Synopsis: A Hard-Boiled Hong Kong detective, who lost his partner in a gunfight, teams up with an undercover cop to stop a ruthless crime lord from smuggling guns and killing innocent people.
Director John Woo is one of the most revolutionary action directors of his time, or any time for that matter. He became one of the hottest Action directors in the world after films like A Better Tomorrow, and The Killer in the 1980's. Hard Boiled was the last film he did before coming to America where he enjoyed a lot of success in the 1990's. What sets apart his films from other Action films and the reason he was a revolutionary at the time is the Gunplay. John Woo took Gunplay, stylized it, and made it into an art form. Woo took certain conventions from Martial Arts films, most notably swordplay, and applied it to guns. In his films, characters use guns as they would swords basically. There's a lot of choreographed dodging, parrying, jumping, and diving in his Action scenes similar to a sword fight. Another aspect of Hard Boiled that makes it such a landmark achievement is the camera work. Woo moves the camera in a way that was not seen in Action movies up until that point, specifically with tracking shots. It was still a rare thing at the time to see a movie with long tracking shots, but no one used them for action scenes. It was unheard of at the time due to not only the painstaking process of choreographing scenes for an extended period of time, but also incorporating dangerous stunts, explosions and other pyrotechnics. This film is routinely near the top on pretty much any Top 10 Action movie list, and you'll know why after you see it.
Other Points of Interest: This movie holds a lotta records as far as Action movies go. I believe it still holds the distinction of being the "most violent" or "bloodiest" Action movie ever made with a body county of 307. 3......0......7. That's how many people are shot/blown up in this movie. All the guns used in the film are also real. They had to be shipped in from outside the country and then inspected by Hong Kong police before use. It is said that over 100,000 blanks were fired filming this movie.
Directed By: Barbet Schroeder (Single White Female, Desperate Measures, Murder By Numbers)
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Faye Dunaway, Alice Krige, Jack Nance, and Frank Stallone
Plot Synopsis: A Semi-Autobiography of poet/author Charles Kukowski during the time he spent drinking heavily in Los Angeles.
I'm recommending this movie "TO ALL MY FRIENDS!" Barfly is a fun look into the Alcohol-fueled daily life of Poet/Novelist/Short-Story writer Charles Bukowski in 1980's L.A. Bukowski also penned the screenplay although his character's name is Henry Chinaski. Henry is played by Mickey Rourke during the prime of his career and he is terrific in here. Henry spends his days drinking non-stop, commiserating with the local bars' clientele, and writing. He gets into fights with his favorite watering hole's bartender (played by Sylvester Stallone's brother Frank) on a daily basis. Bukowski wrote about such topics as Lower-Class Americans, the monotony of work, writing itself, and of course, alcohol. Think of it as romanticizing the "American Lowlife" in a way. Early on, Henry meets his alcoholic partner in crime, Wanda (played by Faye Dunaway). From there, they embark on a series of drunken misadventures. I think this is another film that is best described as an Amusement Park ride. At the end of the ride you realize you're back were you started and didn't go anywhere, but what a fun ride it was.
Other Points of Interest: One of the main bar patrons is Janice, who is played by Sandy Martin (Mac's mom on It's Always Sunny In Philidelphia, and Napoleon's Grandma on Napoleon Dynamite). It's a fun movie to drink with, just don't try to keep pace with Mickey Rourke or Faye Dunaway.
Smiley Face (2007)
Directed By: Gregg Araki (Mysterious Skin, The Doom Generation)
Starring: Anna Faris, Roscoe Lee Browne(voice/narrator), John Krasinski, Danny Masterson, Jane Lynch, and Adam Brody
Plot Synopsis: After a young actress unknowingly eats her roommate's marijuana cupcakes, her day becomes a series of misadventures.
Anna Faris, who doesn't get enough credit for her comedic talents, is hilarious in this cult-stoner comedy. Faris plays Jane, an "aspiring actress" who's really just a pothead slacker. One morning after her traditional Wake-N-Bake, she decides to eat her roomate's cupcakes that he'd been saving for a Sci-Fi Convention. Little does she know the DOZEN cupcakes she just ate were all infused with Weed. Imagine being high, AND THEN eating 12 pot cupcakes. Her original plan was to eat the cupcakes and then bake more to replace them, but after discovering their contents, the proverbial wrench is thrown into it. Jane struggles with the most menial of tasks. Talking to strangers and later, the police, become monumental tasks. This movie is definitely silly, as all stoner comedies usually are, but Smiley Face seems far more grounded in reality. Jane doesn't drive a van made out of marijuana, ride a cheetah in the woods, or kill a diabetic horse. Instead, her misadventures stem from situations that most of us run across every day.
Other Points of Interest: Any economy majors out there? Marxism, Capitalism, and Economics in general play a big role in this movie. Faris' character plays a "Rain Man"-level Economics savant. She graduated Summa Cum Laude for Economics but turned to acting after it "didn't really work out." Great cameos in here with people from the stoner comedy culture including John Cho (Harold and Kumar movies), Comedian Brian Posehn, and Danny Masterson(That 70's Show). Lastly, Alex "The Bicep" Jones gave me a framed picture of former President Garfield for my birthday a couple years ago. The answer to why he gave it to me is in the film.
National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 (1993)
Directed By: Gene Quintano
Starring: Emilio Estevez, Samuel L. Jackson, William Shatner, Tim Curry, Kathy Ireland, and Jon Lovitz
Plot Synopsis: In this parody of buddy-cop Action/Comedies, General Curtis Mortars and Mr. Jigsaw are lacing Wilderness Girls cookies with Cocaine. It's up to Sergeants Jack Colt and Wes Luger, to put a stop to it.
When people talk about traditional Spoofs, Airplane! is usually considered the greatest of all time. While I agree wholeheartedly, and with apologies to the Naked Gun, Hot Shots!, and Scary Movie franchises, National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 is a close 2nd. Emilio Estevez and Samuel L. Jackson are hilarious as Sergeants Colt and Luger in an obvious send-up of the Lethal Weapon films and other buddy-cop Action Comedies. If that weren't enough, this movie also contains an insane amount of cameos. So many in fact that I won't list them because I don't want to spoil any of the jokes in any way. Loaded Weapon 1 is one of those films that I saw a lot as a kid and then kind of forgot about it for about a decade or so. I think the main reason for this is that I'd never really met anyone that had actually seen it, almost to the point where I started questioning if the movie even existed at all through some parallel universe (Looking at you Berenstain/Berenstein Bears). What about Loaded Weapon 2 you ask? Well I can confirm there was no sequel made. Initially there was a deal in place for a sequel but after Loaded Weapon 1 only had a moderate box office take, that was all she wrote. That, and the fact that 1993 was right at the end of the giant wave of spoofs coming out over a 5-year period with Naked Gun 1, 2, and 3, and Hot Shots! 1 and 2 in the late 80's and early 90's.
Other Points of Interest: Cameos, cameos, cameos, and more cameos. This movie contains a Who's Who of Television and Movie stars of the time. William Shatner chews the scenery as General Mortars, the main antagonist, and he is joined by his right hand man Mr. Jigsaw played by Tim Curry.
Directed By: Jorma Taccone (Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping)
Starring: Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Val Kilmer, Ryan Phillippe, Powers Boothe, and Maya Rudolph
Plot Synopsis: Former Special Operative MacGruber is called back into action to take down his arch-enemy, Dieter Von Cunth, who's in possession of a nuclear warhead and bent on destroying Washington, D.C.
MacGruber was one of the biggest box office flops of 2010. It received middling reviews and few people saw it. However, after it was released on Home Video, it built a sizeable cult following. So much so in fact that Will Forte, along with the other Co-writers and Director are currently shopping around the sequel. It's very reminiscent of the TV show Family Guy as that show originally only lasted a few seasons until it was cancelled. It also received middling reviews and wasn't a hit with viewers. After they released the first 3 seasons on DVD, it spread like wildfire. After a couple of years, FOX realized it was their #1 selling DVD and smartly made the decision to bring the show back on the air. The show is still growing strong with an additional 12 years/seasons since it was brought back. MacGruber is based off of a sketch of the same name on Saturday Night Live, which is itself a parody of the 1980's Action/Adventure TV show MacGuyver. Never seen MacGuyver? No matter, as the film doesn't reference the show directly as much as it really just references the 1980's in general. MacGruber is the personification of unrestrained masculinity which meshes very well with the 80's vibe. If you liked the big dumb Action/Adventure movies and TV shows of the 80's, you'll probably like MacGruber. However, if you have nothing but disdain for 80's testosterone then you will LOVE MacGruber as it skewers it to perfection. And, oh yeah...Val Kilmer plays the villian whose name is Dieter Von CUNTH. Oooohh and what a Cunth he is.
Other Points of Interest: This movie contains 2 of the most obnoxious sex scenes you will ever see, I'll just leave it at that. I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the 6 pro wrestlers who make cameo appearances including Chris Jericho, The Big Show, and Kane.
Animal Kingdom (2010)
Directed By: Davd Michod (The Rover)
Starring: James Frecheville, Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Jackie Weaver, and Luke Ford
Plot Synopsis: In this Australian Mob Movie inspired by true events, a seventeen year-old navigates his survival between an explosive criminal family and the detective who thinks he can save him.
This movie plays like a modern, live-action, re-telling of The Lion King. The script for this film was inspired by events involving the Pettingill criminal family of Melbourne, Australia and the 1988 Walsh Street Police Shootings. Jackie Weaver was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as the Matriarch of the crime family, Janine "Smurf" Cody. Weaver is mesmerizing as a mother whose love and compassion is equaled only by her ruthlessness. James Frecheville plays the protagonist Joshua "J" Cody, Smurf's grandson. He's a naive 17 year-old who is taken in by his grandmother after his mother overdoses on drugs, just one of the many illegal endeavors the Cody family is involved in. If you love True Crime-inspired movies, or Mob Movies in general, Animal Kingdom will be right up your alley.
Other Points of Interest: Ben Mendelsohn plays "Pope" Cody, J's psychopathic, evil uncle in a role that introduced him to much of the world. Joel Edgerton is also here showing off his acting chops well before he became a household name. This film also inspired the U.S. Television series of the same name.
A Bronx Tale (1993)
Directed By: Robert De Niro
Starring: Robert De Niro, Chazz Palminteri, Lillo Brancato, Francis Capra, Taral Hicks
Plot Synopsis: A coming of age story about a 17 year old boy, Calogero aka C, growing up in 1960's Bronx. He's befriended by a local mob boss to the dismay of his father and soon finds a love interest that further complicates matters.
The early 90's brought us a wave of mob inspired movies like Goodfellas (1990), Millers Crossing (1990), Reservoir Dogs (1992), Carlito's Way (1993), Pulp Fiction (1994), and Casino (1995). Although these largely grabbed the headlines and history, A Bronx Tale is a worthy addition to this group for several reasons. The film is Robert De Niro's directorial debut and the better of his two efforts to date (e.g. he also directed 2006's The Good Shepherd). You can see elements of Scorsese weaved within the story (including a small role played by Joe Pesci), largely due to the time he spent with the director during Casino and Goodfellas. A lesser known fact is that the movie is actually based off Chazz Palmineteri's one man play of the same name, which he wrote and performed. This movie is not your traditional mob story. It feels more like a mob love story, with C (Lillo Brancato - age 17/Francis Capra - age 9) fighting for the love of his father (Robert De Niro), mentor mob boss (Palminteri), and African American love interest (Taral Hicks). It touches on issues of interracial relationships, the desegregation of schools, and the role people play in shaping your life at a young age. This is all done with a strong soundtrack driven by the doo wop songs of the era. You won't regret adding this genuinely original mob movie to your collection.
Other Points of Interest: Francis Capra plays C at age 9 and steals the show in my opinion. His witty comments and engaging back-and-forth with De Niro pull you in right from the beginning. Although probably Capra's best performance as a kid, he's best remembered for his triumphant work as Max Connor's in the Shaq-tastic Kazaam (1996). Don't tell me owning a hall of fame basketball player turned genie isn't gangster.
Directed By: Noel Marshall
Starring: Tippi Hedren, Noel Marshall, Melanie Griffith, John Marshall
Plot Synopsis: A family goes to Africa to meet their father who lives with wild lions.
If you're wondering what a "Novelty" movie is like, I think Roar is a great example. Noel Marshall had an idea for film that told a story with wild animals; none of which were trained. The film is actually pretty terrible. What little plot there is doesn't even make much sense. So why might you like it? Well if you're an animal lover there's plenty of fascinating documentry-style camera shots that get up close and personal with Lions, Tigers, Cheetahs, Cougars, Jaguars, and others. How close? Dangerously close....like people-almost-died-close. 70 cast and crew members were mauled and/or otherwise injured inthe production of this movie. Cinematographer Jan de Bont was mauled and scalped by a Lion and required 120 stitches to sew his scalp back on. The Writer/Director/Star Noel Marshall was attacked and injured so many times that he developed gangrene. Assistant Director Doron Kauper was attacked by a Lion and his throat was bitten open. Melanie Griffith was mauled/partially scalped and almost lost an eye. She needed 50 stitches as well as plastic surgery. Tippi Hedren was bitten on the back of the head by a Lion necessitating 38 stitches, and also fractured her leg when she was bucked off an elephant. A lot of these injuries were captured on film and were left in the movie, helping to make this film an underground guilty-pleasure cult classic.
Other Points of Interest: You might remember Tippi Hedren (Minnesota Native) from another animals-attacking-humans movie when she played the main protagonist in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963). This movie took 11 years to make because of an array of delays, ended up costing 17 million dollars, and has been described as the most expensive home movie ever made. This movie is also considered to be maybe the most dangerous film ever made.
Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Directed By: Robert Hiltzik (Return to Sleepaway Camp)
Starring: Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, Karen Fields, Christopher Collet, Mike Kellin, and Paul DeAngelo
Plot Synopsis: Angela Baker, a traumatized and very shy young girl, is sent to Camp Arawak with her over-protective cousin Ricky for a summer of fun. However, the fun soon turns to murder and horror shortly after their arrival.
Terrible acting? Check. Cheesy dialogue? Check. Horrible fashion? Check. The list goes on and on. Sleepaway Camp checks off about every box you can think of when you're looking for a campy 80's slasher movie. It was released in 1983 which was at the height of the summer camp-slasher craze of the early 80's, but what separates this movie from countless others like it is the ending. This film has become a more well-known cult classic in recent years which I believe can be solely attributed to it's final scene. I won't describe it in any way because not only would it ruin the whole purpose of seeing this movie, but also because there really aren't words to describe the way this movie ends. At least accurately anyways. While the ending of this movie might be the main reason to watch it, the other 80+ minutes of 1980's cheesiness is icing on the cake.
Other Points of Interest: This was the last film of Tony-nominated actor Mike Kellin before his death. Following the moderate success of the first film, Sleepaway Camp 2 & 3 were released shortly after starring Bruce Springsteen's real life sister, Pamela. Another sequel, Return to Sleepaway Camp was released in 2008 and features a return of some prominent cast members from the first film. After watching the movie, listen to Episode 26 where Mr. Jones and I discuss all the craziness this film has to offer.
Directed By: Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Before I Wake, Ouija: Origin of Evil)
Starring: Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Trucco, and Samantha Sloyan
Plot Synopsis: A deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears at her window.
Home Invasion movies are a dime a dozen, but every so often one will stand out above the others for it's originality and/or creativity. Hush is one of those movies. Very similar to other films of the sub-genre but with one twist; The woman being stalked is deaf. One may think it would be way too easy to sneak up on a deaf person, but this movie shows evidence to the contrary. The movie turns into a very clever game of cat and mouse with surprisingly few, if any, plot holes. Total run time for this movie is 81 minutes which keeps it a tight, well crafted piece of Suspense.
Other Points of Interest: The protagonist, played by Kate Siegel, married Director Mike Flanagan in 2016. They came up with the idea for this film while on a dinner date in 2014.