Yesterday, Scott posted a terrific month-by-month report card looking back the 2008 movie scene from the halfway point. With the interval between theatrical and DVD release dates shrinking steadily, a lot of the movies from January through June are either already available on DVD, or soon will be. For your consideration, here are what I consider to be seven underseen, underexposed, and/or unfairly overlooked gems from the year to date. Something to consider next time you log on to Netflix.
In no particular order:
1. Charlie Bartlett - I'll clamber out on a limb and call Charlie Bartlett the most valuable movie for young teenagers this decade (despite its R rating). Most films for kids and teens unthinkingly implore them not to worry about being popular -- do your own thing! Don't worry about what your peers think of you! Good advice in the abstract, maybe, but completely detached from reality for most school-age kids, who have to, you know, go to school, and eat in the cafeteria. Charlie Bartlett is smart enough to realize this. Rather than imploring kids to "be themselves," it wants to say something about what the ones who are actually popular should do with their popularity. For once, it's a movie with a message aimed not at the misfits but at the leaders: the kids who are smart, charismatic and capable; the schoolyard trendsetters and tastemakers. It powerfully suggests the importance of using that influence for good instead of evil. Oh, and it's bright, sincere, and very funny, with a downright miraculous performance by Anton Yelchin.