Five movies that make me never want to move to the suburbs

Since Netflix created an entire genre called Dark Suburban Dramas and keeps recommending me films from it, I’ve realized that I do, in fact, like dark suburban dramas.  So I’ve created this top five list of movies that make me want to stay as far away from suburbia as humanly possible.

5 – American Beauty

Yes, there’s something about Sam Mendes that makes me want to run screaming the other way suburbia, and American Beauty is his best example.  Annette Bening’s passive aggression, neo-nazi, abusive neighbors, aberrant sexual fantasies.  American Beauty is no place to raise a family.

4 – The Ice Storm

I’m pretty confident that Ang Lee does tragedy better than pretty much anyone working right now.  Except maybe Kelly Reichardt.  The Ice Storm’s cast is nearly perfect. Fraught with wife-swapping parties, awkward sexual awakening, a crazy ice storm, and Sigourney Weaver being a real bitch.  I choose to just say no.

3 – Revolutionary Road

Yes, Sam Mendes and former wife Kate Winslet make two appearances on this short list.  If Mendes is hinting at anything autobiographical in these movies, it’s no wonder why the two got divroced.  Revolutionary Road is more mild than the rest on this list, but it still deals with cheating spouses, insatiability, and [spoiler alert] dangerous abortions that make the glimemer of perfect suburban life make you wonder what’s happening behind closed doors.

2 – Little Children

Tom Perrotta’s book was slightly better than this movie, but it still packs a punch.  Infidelity, pedophilia, chronic dissatisfaction, emotionally distant partners.  Even with Kate Winslet and Jennifer Connelly’s appeal, nothing could make me want to go there.  No, thank you.  I’ll pass on the white picket fence.

1 – Blue Velvet

No one has a more terrifying, distorted vision of America’s suburbs than David Lynch does, and Blue Velvet puts the fear of God in me.  No small towns will be in my near or distant future.  That shit’s just too messed up.

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26 Responses to “Five movies that make me never want to move to the suburbs”
  1. Aiden R. says:

    Is it weird that I’m more freaked out by the key parties in Ice Storm than all of Blue Velvet? Guess the key party thing seems more believable than Frank Booth, and Ice Storm is just so fucking depressing. Awesome pics though, man. Need to watch some of these again.
    .-= Aiden R.´s last blog ..Idiocracy (2006) =-.

  2. I would agree about Blue velvet, a memorable and creepy classic on what’s beneath the surface, I like the metaphor at the start in the grass.
    But “Ice storm” and “Revolutionary Road” I thought were overrated and kind of forgettable actually.

    Although not all strictly “dark suburban movies”, I would throw into that conversation some other good films. They all in various ways depict the hidden side of everyday life : Ordinary People, Sex lies and videotape, Notes On A Scandal, Secrets & Lies, and perhaps Christopher Nolan’s The Following.

    I’ve recently discovered your movie blog while blog hopping, and have become a follower. I’ll link to your site on my blog.

    I would appreciate it, if you, and others, would become a “follower” and/or link on your site to my new movie + music blog, just to help get it going:

    We can help each other discover new movies that we might not otherwise have heard of ( :

  3. Interesting stuff here. I’ve watched 3 of the 5, and sure loved all the 3. American Beauty, in my opinion, was one of the best films of the 90’s – loved its tar black humour. Liked Revolutionary Road though not as much as the Mendes’ debut film. Little Children, too, was an excellent ensemble film. And yes, all really dark & disturbing suburbia tales.
    .-= Shubhajit Lahiri´s last blog ..The Cooler [2003] =-.

  4. KILLER idea for a list, Blake. Really great stuff.

    Didn’t “Donnie Darko” take place in the ‘burbs? If so, that one should be on this kind of list. Lord knows I still have nightmares about that rabbit.
    .-= M. Carter @ the Movies´s last blog ..My thought on today =-.

  5. Blake says:

    @Aiden – I can agree that The Ice Storm is more believable. I started to watch The Ice Storm after I got the screenshot for this post but had to stop because it was really bumming me out.

    @moviesandsongs365 – Revolutionary Road isn’t a favorite movie of mine, it was mostly forgettable, but I totally disagree about The Ice Storm, it’s one of my all time favourites. I thought about Notes On a Scandal but it ended to well. Secrets & Lies is a brilliant suggestion. For some reason, including British films didn’t even cross my mind. I also considered Your Friends and Neighbors, and Donnie Darko.

    I’ll get a link up to your blog today.

    @ Shubhajit – I totally agree about American Beauty. It’s a classic. I can’t recommend The Ice Storm highly enough. Especially if you enjoyed Little Children and AB.

    @ M. Carter – Hey thanks! Donnie Darko just barely didn’t make the cut. I decided last second to keep it strictly non-paranormal.

  6. Anna says:

    have you seen lymelife?

  7. Blake says:

    @ Anna – AH! That would have been so perfect. Damn it. Maybe I’ll make a part two.

  8. I’ll have to check out “Your Friends and Neighbors”, looks good from the trailer ( :
    .-= moviesandsongs365´s last blog ..Movie of the week: Year of the dog (2007) =-.

  9. Fletch says:

    Glad Your Friends and Neighbors was mentioned; didn’t LaBute also direct that awful-looking one with Sam Jackson and Patrick Wilson? There’s another one to consider…or not. 😀

    I’ve seen 4 of these and liked or loved all of them (Rev Road being the exception). It’s a good sub-genre, and I dug Lymelife as well. It’s not tremendous or anything, but a decent addition to the Scary Suburbs lineup. Another possibility – The Squid and the Whale.
    .-= Fletch´s last blog ..The State of the Cabins (5/19/10) =-.

  10. Anna says:

    @fletch: yeah, but ‘the squid and the whale’ is set in brooklyn. doesn’t really count as suburbs, right?

    @blake, have you seen ‘imaginary heroes’? it’s not that good, but it would definitely fit into your list.

  11. Fletch says:

    Anna – fair enough. I couldn’t remember exactly where The Squid was set.
    .-= Fletch´s last blog ..The State of the Cabins (5/19/10) =-.

  12. Blake says:

    @ Fletch and Anna – Labute did do that movie. I’m so embarassed for him. Even worse, he did that remake of Death at a Funeral. At least his plays are still good. I did consider The Squid and the Whale, but like you said Anna, I disqualified it for taking place among intelligentsia in Brooklyn.

    I had never even heard of Imaginary Heroes. But I did shun all media and pop culture and moved to Russia from 2003 to 2005 in a religious fervor. So I missed a lot of good movies then. I added this to my Netflix queue. Thanks for the heads up!
    .-= blake´s last blog ..Five movies that make me never want to move to the suburbs =-.

  13. Anh Khoi Do says:

    The only film I’ve seen in the list is “Revolutionary Road” and I really liked it.

    Anyway, the reason why I don’t want to move to the suburbs is because it’s boring. First of all, I don’t want to stay away from cultural events. Secondly, in my case, if you move in the suburbs of Montreal, you’ll only – in most cases – be able to watch American* films dubbed in French in theatres, which is something I find stupid because more and more people outside of Montreal are able to understand English.

    * PS: In Quebec, a province where more than 80% of people speak French as their native language, Canadian films in English don’t get a release outside of Montreal.
    .-= Anh Khoi Do´s last blog ..[Video] Jay Baruchel and Jacob Tierney Talk About ‘The Trotsky’ =-.

  14. Wow, that is so awesome I never would have thought of that as a subgenre. Way to go netflix for hyper targeting recommendations!
    .-= Shannon the Movie Moxie´s last blog ..Film Fan Fridays for Friday May 21, 2010 =-.

  15. Rachel says:

    Great list, Blake! One film that has me set against the suburbs (though I’m already living in them) would be The ‘Burbs with Tom Hanks. Potential satanic murderers next door? No thanks.
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..Friday’s New Feature Films: 5/21/10 =-.

  16. Castor says:

    Great idea for a list Blake! I have only Blue Velvet and American Beauty so far but I definitely want to check out the three others. I must admit I did not really “got” Blue Velvet as I have seen it only once. All David Lynch movie warrant multiple watch so that’s another thing I need to do.
    .-= Castor´s last blog ..Anomalous Material Update and The Lammy’s! =-.

  17. Blake says:

    @ Anh Khoi Do – Trust me, I totally understand. I grew up in rural Idaho where there’s nothing. So I’m going to keep to urban areas as well.

    @ Shannon – I think Netflix knows my movie tastes better than I do…

    @ Rachel – I had no idea that’s what ‘The ‘Burbs’ is about. I’m going to watch it immediately!

    @ Castor – Congrats on the Lammy noms man. And yeah, Lynch escapes me frequently. I fear I’ll never be able to appreciate Inland Empire.

  18. Simon/Ripley says:

    Oh, there are many other reasons you don’t want to live in suburbia. People, for example. Homeowners’ Society. Lawns.
    .-= Simon/Ripley´s last blog ..Thoughts on About a Boy =-.

  19. Vanessa says:

    Haha! What an amazing post!
    .-= Vanessa´s last blog ..Lost =-.

  20. Branden says:

    I would agree with your choices. I haven’t seen Blue Velvet or The Ice Storm yet.

  21. CMrok93 says:

    Blue Velvet was one of the first movies, to show just how everything in the suburbs wasn’t always free-loving. Some stuff actually is ugly underneath it all.
    .-= CMrok93´s last blog ..Adaptation (2002) =-.

  22. Steve says:

    Its funny how living in the suburbs can creep up on you. I try to make American Beauty related jokes about it, but nobody in the suburbs watches movies like that. No mention of The Burbs? Really?
    .-= Steve´s last blog ..Braveheart (1995) =-.

  23. Reel Whore says:

    Great list of dark suburbia. I think I’d fit in with the Little Children neighborhood. I was quite fond of the idea of Kate & Patrick in the attic & Jackie Earle’s date night was quite spanky (couldn’t help the pun).
    .-= Reel Whore´s last blog ..You Can Leave Your Crown On… =-.

  24. Jessica says:

    As a proud member of suburbia, I must pipe up and say, IT’S NOT THAT BAD. Really.
    .-= Jessica´s last blog ..Newspaper Blackout, by Austin Kleon =-.

  25. blake says:

    @ Simon/Ripley – If HOA fees had its own movie, it would have definitely made this list.

    @ Branden – Welcome back! You absolutely must add those two films to your list ASAP, they’re great.

    @ CMrok93 – I totally agree. Nothing is more terrifying than Blue Velvet.

    @ Steve – Try mentioning those quotes in Utah suburbia. The looks you get are priceless.

    @ Reel Whore – That is definitely my favorite of the five. It’s a total turn on that could be happening next door….

    @ Jessica – As a proud future member of suburbia, I’m happy to report this top five is a joke, and I’ll be eating my words when I move there in the near future. (Possibly into your basement.)
    .-= blake´s last blog ..Today I Feel Like This =-.

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