Absurdity, Twisted Wisdom, and Eugene Hutz: Forget Oscar Season, These Seasoned Underrated Films Offer All You Need
By Alex Vidiani
Elm Staff Writer
In the roaring, tumultuous waters of cinema, sometimes a bad movie will get all the attention, and good movies sadly go unnoticed. Here are a few movies that have, for whatever reason, avoided the spotlight, and undoubtedly deserve more consideration.
“Everything Is Illuminated” (2005)
Based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s intricate and often absurd novel of the same name, this film tells the first (less dark) half of his eponymous story. Liev Schreiber did a fantastic job directing this movie, and it shows especially in the cinematography. He so easily captured the rustic, charming, and usually alarmingly outdated vibe of the countryside in Ukraine, where the story takes place. Besides a great directorial direction, the cast perfectly fits the shoes of Foer’s characters. Elijah Wood gives life to Jonathan Foer’s (yes, the author uses his name for one of his characters) meek and odd eccentricity, and of course Eugene Hutz brings a wonderful, laugh-out-loud silliness to complement his companion’s introversion. Though this film may not be completely accurate to the book, it seems to take on its own unique persona, offering a sort of alternate universe to consider. Definitely worth a watch, preferably before the book because it makes a whole lot more sense.
“Filth and Wisdom” (2008)
Despite how anyone feels about Madonna, this film of hers is without a doubt a unique, sinful philosophical thesis. The story revolves around A.K. (played by Eugene Hutz), a Ukrainian immigrant in England who plays the role of a male dominatrix to pay the bills. He uses his two flat-mates, a pharmacy assistant bent on saving children in Africa (Vicky McClure) and a broke ballet dancer who must resort to dancing at a strip club (Holly Weston), to illustrate the point that filth and wisdom are two sides of the same coin. Add in a blind poet stuck in his own past, a misguided and somewhat creepy pharmacist, and not to mention A.K.’s perverted male clients, and the end result is truly something spectacularly deviant. Actually, the film isn’t Madonna’s love-child at all (sorry Madonna), but Hutz, Weston, and McClure’s, who take control of it and steer it into the realm of quality cinema. Watch this with an open mind and you should come out grinning, or at least smirking.
“Wristcutters: A Love Story” (2006)
This rather twisted love story comes from the mind of writer Etgar Keret, and was brought to life by Goran Dukic. The protagonist of the story, a young world-weary man named Zia (played by Patrick Fugit of “Almost Famous” fame), is trapped in a sort of bland and dreary limbo after his suicide along with his new Russian friend Eugene (played by Shea Wigham and based off of the persona of Eugene Hutz). Soon the beautiful Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon) enters his life. He develops conflicting feelings for her, as does Eugene. All in all, this is a sweet and humorous, albeit rather dark, film. It’s almost like a continuation of Romeo and Juliet, only after they both die in the play. It’s definitely a solid effort, and deserves an equally solid response.
Despite being great films, what exactly do these movies have in common? All three of them share one key aspect: Eugene Hutz. While this may seem silly at first, after watching all three of these I am thoroughly convinced that they would just not be quite the same without him. He has such a spirited and unique acting style, that of a true performer. Also, he rocks the handlebar mustache no like one else in the history of mustaches. Seriously, Google that. It’s glorious.