Under the Radar?: “John Dies at the End”

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“John Dies at the End” is a 2012 supernatural horror comedy starring Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes and Paul Giamatti.

Let’s see… how do I explain this?

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Under the Radar?: “Compliance”

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A frustrated fast food restaurant manager receives a call from the police regarding one of her young employees. She’s informed that the young girl has stolen from a customer earlier that day, and that the theft was witnessed by a surveillance team. Acquiescing to the police officer’s requests, the manager takes the girl into a back office, and eventually is talked into strip searching her.

Only, the caller isn’t a cop.

It might sound far-fetched, but the movie is based not only on an actual event, but an actual event within a rash of national events that took place over the course of a decade.

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Under the Radar?: “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is a romantic dramedy starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightly as two neighbors who meet for the first time as the earth faces an impending cataclysm in the form of a massive asteroid on a collision course. With the planet having mere weeks left before it’s obliterated, the two haltingly help each other find their loved ones during the final days.

One-third comedy, one-third romance, and one-third drama, “Seeking a Friend” is an enjoyable indie that’s bound to make audiences think about what’s important in their lives.

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Under the Radar?: “Robot & Frank”

Robot and Frank

“Robot and Frank” is a unique indie film about a man who befriends his home healthcare Robot… by teaching it to help him commit burglaries. After Frank is given the robotic home health care aide by his concerned children, he finds a way to manipulate its programming in order to help him reinvigorate his life of crime.

Starring Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, Liv Tyler, James Mardsen and the voice of Peter Sarsgaard, “Robot & Frank” is an indie gem that will entertain and warm your heart.

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Under the Radar?: “Searching for Sugar Man”

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I had intended to check out this movie and feature it here in this series for some time, I had heard nothing but good things about it. It’s Oscar win Sunday night for Best Documentary Feature finally pushed me to watch it, and I couldn’t be happier that I did.

“Searching for Sugar Man” tells nothing short of a miraculous story. A story that, honestly, I still have a hard time believing. I think that anyone who watches will be amazed and inspired.

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Under the Radar?: “Killer Joe”

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Last summer, “Killer Joe” was released into 75 theaters nationwide and grossed less than $2 million. Directed by Academy Award winner William Friedkin (“The Exorcist”, “The French Connection”), and starring Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Gina Gershon and Thomas Hayden Church, “Killer Joe” tells the story of a trailer trash family that puts together a poorly thought out plan to hire a hitman, leading to unfortunate consequences.

Full of violence, depravity and brutality, “Killer Joe” is certainly not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But if you’re looking for a dark little movie with a side of WTF, “Killer Joe” may be just the pic for you.

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Under the Radar?: “Safety Not Guaranteed”

“Safety Not Guaranteed” is a 2012 indie starring Aubrey Plaza as Darius Britt, a low-key young woman who “expects the worst and tries not to get her hopes up”.

Darius is working as an intern for a local magazine when she gets sent to assist on a humorous piece about a classified ad.

“Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety not guaranteed.”

Of course, what they find is not what they expect, and everyone involved winds up questioning the way they saw things at the start.

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Under the Radar?: “Kill the Irishman”

Kill the Irishman is a 2011 film starring Ray Stevenson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Christopher Walken and Val Kilmer.

It’s the story of Danny Greene, a mobster who rose to the top of organized crime in Cleveland during the late 1970s. It’s very much a mob movie, with sit downs and shoot outs, and union corruption, etc. Except with an Irish flair, which means more car bombings than I’ve ever seen in a single movie.

Also featuring a virtual who’s who of mob movie character actors, “Kill the Irishman” is a solid, low-budget gangster flick for those who are fans of the genre.

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Under the Radar?: “The Hunter”

“The Hunter” stars Willem Dafoe as a mercenary hunter who gets retained to do a highly sensitive mission for a biotechnology corporation. He’s to travel to Tasmania and investigate a recent sighting of a Tasmanian tiger, an animal thought to be extinct. Should he find the tiger, he’s to kill it and bring back its DNA to the company.

Under the cover story of  being a university professor, Dafoe obtains lodging with a local family and begins his forays into the wilderness. He faces staunch opposition from the locals – even threats. But the biggest challenge he faces is the truth.

When he eventually closes in on his prey, will he still be willing to see the assignment through?

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Under the Radar?: “Take Shelter”

Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head.

But that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning red!

Cryin’s not for me, no.

Cause I’m gonna quit my job and take out a home loa–

Oh sorry.

“Take Shelter” is a psychological drama from last year, starring Michael Shannon as a man who begins to have extremely graphic nightmares about catastrophic storms. The dreams are severe enough that they begin to encroach on his daily life… affecting his relationship with his wife and child, his performance on his job, and leading him to question his own sanity.

It’s a harrowing movie, driven by an intense lead performance, and definitely worth your time to check out.

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