20 Hidden DVD Gems to Seek Out: Part Three

Over the course of this week, we will uncover twenty titles you need to seek out at your local DVD store. Here is Part 3.

The list is laid out something like this. The title, year it was made, genre, synopsis and finally my rating. I hope to do more of these lists as I uncover some of the treasures hidden at the local videostore.

10. Zero Effect (1998) (Comedy – Mystery)

Daryl Zero (Bill Pullman) maybe the world’s most reclusive private investigator. Along with his assistant, Steve Arlo (Ben Stiller) he solves impossible crimes and puzzles.

When these two crack professionals are on a case they are brilliant but during the off time they drive each other bananas. In their latest case, Zero must find out who is blackmailing a rich executive, and when his client won’t tell him, why. 

What makes this film so unbelievably clever is the performance by Pullman. Imagine a man with no-social skills, a horrible musician and recluse having to deal with the emotions of love. For years, Zero has lived vicariously through his assistant but for once he has to deal with everyday issues that are right in front of him.

Pullman plays this type of character to utter perfection and to top it all off you have the comedic talent of Ben Stiller to play off of. Stiller is hilarious as he tries to deal with how eccentric his goofy boss really is. The mystery in the film is a little flat but the comedic combination of Pullman and Stiller is pure magic. (3.5 of 5).

9. Dead Ringers (1988) (Thriller)

The Mantle brothers (duo role played by Jeremy Irons) are both doctors – both gynecologists – and identical twins. Mentally however, one of them is more confident than the other, and always manages to seduce the women he meets.

When he’s tired of his current partner, she is passed on to the other brother – without her knowing. The whole plot is upset when the shy brother falls in love first and the balance is upset. Brutal, unnerving and sinister, director David Cronenberg weaves a tale that is bound to get the blood pumping.

Jeremy Irons gives the performances of his lifetime as the world of Mantle brothers explodes into a very sinister plot. A lot of the time you aren’t really sure which brother is which and that is part of the magic. It’s a wonderfully eerie ride. (4 of 5) .

8. Love Letters (1999) (Romance – Drama)

“Love Letters” is an adapted play about an ambitious U.S. Senator (Steven Weber) reflects back on his life after the death of a woman (Laura Linney) whom he loved and kept in contact with only through correspondence.

“Love Letters” is told in a series of flashbacks as the two first meet as children and begin their lifelong correspondence. “Love Letters” is a strong and passionate story that is bound to make you cry.

The performance of Laura Linney is unbelievably moving. This version of the stage adaptation is filmed like it’s being played out on a stage in your TV.

The director doesn’t drop in a lot of twisted camera movements but instead focuses on the actors and the story.

It is a pure delight. (4 of 5) .

7. Deceivers, The (1988) (Adventure)

In 1825, India lives in fear. A mysterious religion’s followers murder everyone that stand in their way. When William Savage (Pierce Brosnan), a tax-collector of a British-Indian company, discovers the new sect. Savage disguises himself as a local and joins the sect as he tries to solve the mystery. 

 This is the first of 2 little-known Brosnan films on this list. It’s strange how much interesting stuff he did between “Remington Steele” and James Bond.

With beautiful exotic locales, this Merchant-Ivory production, this film is also a mindbender of a mystery, as Brosnan’s character is pulled deeper and deeper into the cult.

There are times when you aren’t really sure he wants to uncover the mystery but just live it. He falls in love with two different women and that struggle almost develops a split personality. It truly is one of Brosnan’s greatest performances. (4 of 5) .

 6. Gothic (1986) (Drama – Horror)

What happened the night that Mary Shelley (Natasha Richardson) concocted to the horror classic “Frankenstein”?

Drug induced games, ghost stories and betrayals occur during one night at the mad nobleman, Lord Byron’s country estate.

As Mary begins writing her classic story, she is drawn into the sick world of her lover Shelley (Julian Sands) and her cousin Claire (Myriam Cyr) as Byron (Gabriel Byrne) leads them all down the dark paths of their souls.

“Gothic” is a Victorian story turned upside-down. It’s filled with shocking revelations and euphoria that is bound to keep you guessing.

How a great and twisted story like “Frankenstein” was created is a fascinating story but presented, as a gothic horror story itself is mind-boggling. (4 of 5) .

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