Top 10 Films You’ve Never Seen But Should See…

Neal Damiano, our resident expert in all things “cult film“, again looks at those lesser known classics everyone should see.

In the top 10 list he was born to write, our resident expert in all things “cult film” Neal Damiano takes a look at ten films you’ve never seen but should have

Shirking mainstream sensibilities and avoiding genre categorisation, these films see their characters operating on the fringe of society, often playing by their own rules. They make for captivating, offbeat character studies that mix dark humour, eccentric people and drama derived from the human condition into a concoction begging not to be pigeonholed. Bold and brilliant, these are the movies you’ve probably never seen but really should check out…

10. Where The Day Takes You


One of the grittiest and most realistic depictions of life on the streets. Where the day takes you is a journey through a group of runaways living and squatting in the abandon buildings of Los Angeles. Starring Lara Flynn Boyle as a runaway from the midwest trying to escape the abuse of her dysfunctional parents. She hooks up with King played by Dermot Mulroney the leader of the runaways. He takes her under his wing and they form a romantic bond. A very intense real look at lost kids just trying to find a sense of family. Dermot Mulroney is exceptionally convincing. I’d say it’s one of his best performances.

9. Swimming With Sharks


A hilarious and twisted look at the dark side of the entertainment industry. Kevin Spacey plays Buddy Ackerman an obnoxious, snarky, and ungrateful hollywood mogul who likes to put his office assistants through hell. Frank Whalley plays his willingly assistant trying to get ahead in the grueling show business game. After taking abuse on a daily basis from Ackerman he finally snaps beyond his threshold planning a revenge that includes being tied to a chair, papercuts, and salt.

8. The Last Seduction


A conniving New York woman cons her medical-student husband into planning a lucrative drug deal, then flees with the money, hiding out in a small town in upstate New York. Master minding an insurance scam, she talks a lovesick claims adjuster into murdering her vengeful husband. What is so fascinating about this film is just how relentless and ruthless Linda Fiorantino’s character is in getting what she wants. One of the most sociopathic, manipulative characters in film history.

7. Before The Devil Knows Your Dead


Sydney Lumet’s last film two brothers played by Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman devise the robbery of their parents’ jewelry store. The job goes terribly wrong the unthinkable happens when their father gets shot and dies during the heist, spiraling off a series of shattering events that send them and their family diving towards a horrible climax. A very suspenseful caper film with themes of greed and betrayal.

6. Welcome To The Dollhouse


Larry Solondz quirky film about a misunderstood and very eccentric smart girl Dawn Weiner in middle school in suburban New Jersey, that has no friends. Dawn tries hard to smile and be friendly as she struggles through the hardships and pain of being a preteen. Life is grim. Nevertheless, she finds her way through the embarrasment and maintains she soon begins to wonder if life might not be better outside New Jersey. Standout performance by Brendon Sexton and Heather Matarazzo.

5. Living In Oblivion


A funny and satirical look at low-budget filmmaking. Steve Buscemi plays a neurotic independent filmmaker in the process of making his indie movie everything imaginable that could go wrong does from the lead actors in a love quarrel to a midget actor quitting in the middle of a scene. Filled with the quirkiest characters Living In Oblivion is a must see for anyone that has an interest in independent filmmaking.

4. The Last Supper


Stacy Title wrote an incredibly original script . The story of five left wing liberal grad students in Iowa share a house together and every Sunday they have supper together discussing left wing politics /socialism and ways they can change the world. They come across a drifter truck driver (Bill Paxton) who comes to their door. Inviting him in for the ritual supper, he turns out to be a fascist,mysoginistic hitler loving ex marine. In an argument with one of the hosts he breaks their arm. They stab him in the back killing him then hide the body in their garden. Deciding this is the only way to make a difference they come up with a twisted idea to start inviting known conservative right wingers for last suppers allowing them to plead their choice of political and social views. Like judge and jury if not up to agreement with the hosts a little poison goes in their wine. One of my favorite dark comedies.

3. 24 Hour Party People


Covering the Manchester music scene from 1970 to the 1990s Tony Wilson played by Steve Coogan is an ambitious but frustrated TV news reporter looking for a way to make a name for himself. After witnessing a performance by an unknown band called the Sex Pistols, he convinces his station to air one of their shows and soon Manchester’s punk groups are asking him to manage them. Wilson and his friends start the legendary Factory Records and the Hacienda Club. Bands like Joy Division, New Order, and the Happy Mondays emerge to change the music scene forever. The film does a great job of showing just how vibrant and energetic that scene was in England at the time. Coogan’s adaptation of Tony Wilson is nothing short of amazing.

2. 13 Conversations About One Thing


The film centers around a group of people living their lives, unaware of the connections that bring them together. A cocky lawyer who becomes a fugitive following a hit-and-run incident, a math professor whose wife is the victim of a mugging, an insurance company manager who is jealous of an over optimistic coworker and dealing with problems from his ex-wife and delinquent son, and a young woman trying to get over a car accident. All of them dealing with their own problems but somehow intertwine together by a common thread that makes us human and that is emotion. A very intelligent well written film with exceptional acting.

1. The Wackness


The Wackness is such an intelligently crafted film with the most eccentric characters. Luke Shapiro played by Josh Peck is a 17 year old who sees the world as dull and takes nothing seriously in his life. His parents constantly fight about money and he is not popular at school and can’t wait to move out. To finance this goal he comes up with a plan to become a drug dealer who pushes his product through an ice cream vendors pushcart.

He’s about to finish high school and hopes he graduates virginity too. The summer before college Luke deals with his world – weariness by trading his psychiatrist marijuana for extra therapy sessions. Jeffrey Squires (Ben Kingsley) an aging hipster takes the marijuana to help him cope with his mess of a marriage and moody stepdaughter Stephanie (Olivia Thirlby)

Spending time with Luke makes the bong tapping Dr. Squires feel his youth again. Hanging out with Dr Squires brings Luke closer to the desirable Stephanie. All the quirky characters misunderstand themselves and give each other wrong advice, assistance, and friendship.

Doctor and patient become pot selling partners and the therapist – client relationship reverses several times before the story is through. Luke searches for his first real romance, Dr Squires regresses back to childhood but learns like us all no matter how much money you spend or time you spend with the young you can’t get back your youth. A very original entertaining script. The acting is phenominal, amazing performances by Ben Kingsley and Josh Peck.

Written and compiled by Neal Damiano

Follow Neal (@Nealreviews1) on Twitter by clicking here and read more of his reviews at FilmWad

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Your turn – what are your favourites? Which films will you now be checking out?

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About the Author
Neal Damiano calls himself “an unhip film geek” who mixes his passion for movies with an enthusiasm for travel, music and journalism.

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  1. ruth Reply

    I’ve only seen The Last Seduction but that was years ago. Whatever happened to Linda Fiorentino?? I’m curious about Before The Devil Knows Your Dead, I should give that a shot.

  2. Dan Reply

    I’ve seen six of these. Woo! Nice picks. 24 Hour Party People is a great movie, and Swimming with Sharks is a nasty look at doing anything to get ahead. Good stuff all around.

  3. Jack Deth Reply

    Hi, Neal and company:

    Great choices and critiques!

    ‘Swimming with Sharks’ is the nastier, more obnoxious extension of the pitching and deal making of ‘the Player’. Though with a huge dose of payback, cunning and black hearted humor.

    ‘The Last Seduction’ is Linda Fiorentino’s best work as an amoral, ice cold bitch. Mostly seen through they eyes of her mark than the usual, other way round. Last I heard, Ms. Fiorentino moved into production and shuttles between New York and L.A..

    ‘Before The Devil Knows Your Dead’ opened up a whole new vein for Philip Seymour Hoffman as the slimy, even whinier older brother eho knows which buttons to push. An unsettling little gem!

    ‘The Last Supper’ is just great fun! Bill Paxton, Mark Harmon and Ron Perlman own their characters and scenes in a scathing, smarmy, snarky black comedy.

  4. Anna Reply

    Oh, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is fantastic. It’s a hell of a film for Lumet to cap off his career.

  5. Pete Reply

    I’ve seen numbers 1 and 3. Big fan of The Wackness, not so much 24 Hour Party People. I really want to see quite a few of these though, especially The Last Supper!

  6. Evan Crean Reply

    I thought I knew about obscure movies, but I’m surprised to say that I haven’t seen a single one on this list. Definitely have some interesting movies on here that I’d like to check out. The Wackness and 13 Conversations about One Thing especially sound like films I would enjoy.

  7. The Vern Reply

    Very cool list. The only ones I have not yet seen were The Wackness, Where the Day takes you, 24 Hour Party People and Before The Devil Knows Your Dead. Linda Fiorantino should have been up for an Oscar. Her role was classic Femme Fatale.

  8. fuzzyian Reply

    8/10 Don’t bother with ‘The Last Supper’

  9. mark Reply

    Seen four of these…

    Seems to me that we are moving into cult film territory, where there really is no accounting for taste.
    Could bang on for hours, but I’ll be brief:

    (1) Cutter’s Way
    (2) Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
    (3) The Dead Presidents
    (4) Livers Ain’t Cheap

  10. Scott Lawlor Reply

    Just the one for me!! I suck. Great list matey

  11. Dan Reply

    Of the films I often hear people haven’t heard of, the little seen and vastly underrated Wonder Boys starring Michael Douglas and directed by Curtis Hansom is one I always recommend. Some fantastic performances – Douglas is great but there’s particularly good support from Robert Downey Jr. and Frances McDormand.

  12. dave Melia Reply

    Haven’t seen a few of these,added them to my lovefilm. Living in Oblivion is fantastic

  13. Neal Damiano Reply

    @Mark first off thanks for reading and having a response that means this list is affective. Second all the films you have listed I only have not seen one. Third none of these films on my list I would even consider a cult film maybe the only that would come close is Welcome to the Dollhouse and again that’s more of a 90s indie classic. Fourth how you could even say that none of these films have taste shows you really don’t know that much about film..but it’s all subjective. Thanks again for reading.

  14. Neal Damiano Reply

    @fuzzyian I appreciate your interest but I would suggest watching The Last Supper over again it’s quite a great dialogue centered film and the story is very original and stylized. Sorry no car crashes or big sp effects here!

  15. mark Reply

    “Fourth how you could even say that none of these films have taste shows you really don’t know that much about film..but it’s all subjective.”

    Neal: Errrr, I think you misunderstood me; either that or I was being vague … the comment wasn’t about a lack of taste; rather it was about one’s definition of cult film, which you gotta admit is kind of broad (I could quote Danny Peary here, but it means getting up out of my chair).

    Personally I think it’s a good list – of the four I’ve seen, the one I least liked was number 10. I thought the Lumet movie was one of his best works (such a heartbreaking piece of cinema); 24 Hour Party People was a great film (and educational to boot); plus I’ve blogged here before about The Last Seduction (I lamented the fact Linda wasn’t in MIBII) … it too is another good film (unless you’re feminist, then it gets sticky).

    Plus I actually have seen some of Swimming … it’s one film I’ve been meaning to get back to.

    As for my meagre list of suggestions, they’re not replacements, merely adjuncts to what I thought was a well thought through list.

    Keep up the good work.

  16. mark Reply

    Also, I agree with Dan … The Wonder Boys is a great film …

  17. Neal Damiano Reply

    @Mark oh no worries the way it was written it just seemed offensive so I did misunderstand your post. No big deal I understand your reply now and thanks for the interest and compliment keep reading my top ten lists.

    Neal

  18. Alex Withrow Reply

    Love a lot of these flicks. Many still think Swimming with Sharks contains Spacey’s best performance. I wouldn’t go that far, but he’s damn fine in it.

    The Last Seduction… Christ, Fiorentino is so perfect.

    Before the Devil, Dollhouse, Party People, 13 Convos, Wackness… I agree, all solid flicks more people need to see!

    Great write up.

  19. Jess Reply

    I’ve only seen Welcome to the Dollhouse, but now I have to add most of these to my netflix queue! Seems like a great list of interesting films. Thanks!

  20. Neal Damiano Reply

    Thank you for the kind comments……..I appreciate you all for reading my lists and the response!!

  21. Colin Biggs Reply

    Going to have to give most of these a watch, except for Todd Solondz, just don’t “get” his purview.

  22. Neal Damiano Reply

    @Mark BTW

    cult film is a film that attracts a small but devoted group of obsessive fans or one that has remained popular over successive years amongst a small group of followers.

    That’s it really!! I hope you saw my top 10 cult film list 🙂

  23. mark Reply

    Neal: Or as Peary said all those years ago: “Hard core cultists … insist that their favourite films are the most intriguing, unusual, outrageous, mysterious, absurd, daring, entertaining, erotic, exotic and/or best films of all time.”

    A moot point perhaps, but I know one thing … when I stumbled across his books and started reading other stuff about the midnite movie circuit, I looked at a number of the films reviewed and thought to myself: “Now there’s something that I haven’t seen but should have”.

  24. Neal Damiano Reply

    @Mark Yes I have seen many of theses types of films, my list is simply to inform some of what I feel are cult films worth seeing and have maintained a following base throughout the years, that’s all. As in all my lists to inform fans of film and to express my opinion- this is my art!!

    Thanks for reading my stuff.

  25. Neal Damiano Reply

    Some of that stuff is way to out there….for the common viewer. Mark I suggest you see Liquid Sky that is a cult film in every sense of the word!

  26. mark Reply

    Neal: Saw Liquid Sky in 1983 … it was just a wee bit too esoteric for the likes of me. They had a cinema screening of it recently in my home town, but I still couldn’t muster the courage to revisit it. Think I’ll work my way through what I haven’t seen of your above list first … then I’ll look for Night of the Comet.

  27. Neal Damiano Reply

    @Mark Yes Liquid Sky is a little too out there for me as well. I saw it at York Sq Cinema years ago didn’t quite get it I have a friend who swears by it though says it is the greatest cult lim made. Film is so subjective!

    Please check out Night of he Comet I think you’ll quite enjoy this zombie madcap classic!

    The films on this list here that you have not seen I think you will like too.

    As always thanks for reading my stuff.

    Cheers
    Neal

  28. mark Reply

    Neal … also, in the Lumet movie, it’s not the father who gets shot – it’s the mother. Had it been the father, they may have gotten away with it…

    One of the saddest American films ever made ….

  29. Neal Damiano Reply

    @Mark I have not seen it in a while viewed it when it first got released yes, a very intense film and if I remember correctly I believe both parents got shot and the mother died. But I could be incorrect like I said haven’t viewed it in quite sometime busy watching other films!

  30. Neal Damiano Reply

    You know I appreciate you people on this site I have to say. The Facebook audience can be quite brutal they concentrate on frivilous things looking for AP style writing and take everything literal. I like an audience who concentrates on the content, the recommendation of films, film knowledge, and the choice of films selected in the lists!! Your a good audience thanks for the positive response. Hats off to Dan for running this great webzine!! I had to get this off my chest.

  31. Neal Damiano Reply

    This came about because some dimwit on facebook reached out to me and told me he didn’t like the title of this list. He took the title way to literal his qoute “The list is a misguided assumption. I understand what he is saying by the title but he took it entirely to literal. Yes people have seen these films but it’s simply a reference guide to people who haven’t to check them out.

  32. mark Reply

    Neal – Come to think of it, I can’t remember if dad is shot in the robbery as well (now that you mention it, I think he was)…. if so, I should have said: “If the father had died (and not his wife), it wouldn’t have become so tragic.”

    I want Ethan Hawke to win an Oscar(TM).

    As for your latter points:

    (1) This IS a great website, and;

    (2) Frank Zappa once said: “F#@k ’em if they can’t take a joke.” Same could be said about Facebook whingers who didn’t like the title of this list. Summed it up perfectly as far as I’m concerned ….

  33. Dan Reply

    Thank you for the very kind words Neal and Mark. Much appreciated.

    I’m afraid Internet “trolls” are always ready to attack. I’ve read some horrible things aimed at fellow online film critics and bloggers. You’re totally right about the title of this list Neal. Like all “top 10” lists on the site they are a guide based on a single person’s opinion. There to be informative, fun…sparking debate. The titles of this and all the other lists aren’t “misguided”, they are attention grabbing and to the point.

  34. Neal Damiano Reply

    @Mark I appreciate the support my friend……well the title wasn’t so much as a joke but rather to introduce films to people that may not of seen. But this jacka** took the title entirely too literal. He missed the point, people on facebook either are silly or take things way too serious I find. Facebook is not an outlet for displaying ones art I found to be, unfortunetly. But I’m greatful for the audience here and this great website!! BTW Frank Zappa was great!!!

    I am not letting this guy dent me at all I just wanted to express thanks to Top 10 Films…if my writing wasn’t favorable I’m sure Dan would not post on his website -understandably.
    I get a great response here!

    Dan, again thanks for running this website/ webzine and supporting my writing and top 10 lists.

  35. Dan Grant Reply

    I’ve seen 6 of these and whoever said don’t bother with Last Supper, exit to the left. It’s one of the best small films I’ve ever seen.

    Great article Neal. I’ll be sure to check out of the ones I haven’t seen.

  36. Dan Grant Reply

    Oh and btw…..I love reading people’s opinions about film. We all have different opinions. I don’t agree with half the stuff I read from other films lovers, but agreeing isn’t the point. The point is understanding someone else’s point of view. Neal is one of favourite contributors here and even if you have a positive opinion about something that I disagree with, I still enjoy reading it because of the way you write it. Good job on all that you do here Neal/

  37. Neal Damiano Reply

    @Dan Grant

    Well I appreciate that greatly Dan, you know I was never one to bash or ridicule someone’s thought or opinion when they are brave enough to display it to the world, but it is my passion so I take the risk. Unfortunetly, over the years with outlets like Facebook it has become a common theme for people to negatively comment on one’s art. I don’t subscribe to this behavior even if I don’t agree with the opinion. I’m so very glad you enjoy reading my lists Dan. It is people like you that make it all worth the while.

    Cheers
    Neal Damiano

  38. Dan Grant Reply

    Well said Neal.

    Cheers.

  39. Vanessa V. Reply

    Others I enjoyed off the beaten path;

    Haven
    Hurley burley
    me you & everyone we know
    the science of sleep
    life is a house
    Suburbia
    Slc punk
    happy accidents
    Angel heart
    she’s so lovely
    Higher learning
    White oleander
    sleepers
    The maxx cartoon movie
    strange wilderness
    Made
    Beat street
    Stand n deliver
    Little birds
    all the real girls
    Love & distrust
    New york I love you
    Born innocent-made for tv movie
    cant hardly wait
    evil dead
    Welcome to 18
    go ask alice
    ….. Im sure theres more but these ones stand out.

    Great list btw…Ive seen 3/4… have to check out the others recently seen Go it was good.

  40. Vanessa V. Reply

    Also wonder boys was good & thirteen also.

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