- minute forty four -

Movies, Craft Beer and Geek Stuff

Movie Recommendations, Movies, Web design

Movie Recommendations: Web Designer Takeover!

Get this! I asked some of my favourite designers/developers/creative types to give me one obscure/overlooked movie that they wanted to recommend to you, my lovely readers… and guess what, they ever so kindly replied! At first I just thought it would be cool to post their recommendations but when they started arriving in my inbox I realised that they reflected, in a unique way, the designers’ individual style and mentality. I really enjoyed reading them and have added each one to my to-watch list.

Gavin Strange (JamFactory) – Blood: The Last Vampire (2000)

Gavin Strange is a web/graphic design powerhouse. By day he works as Senior Online Designer at Aardman Animation (Home of Wallace and Grommit) and by night he hand-crafts “pretties” in various forms from websites, to logos, to vinyl toys, to skateboard graphics all under the name JamFactory. Gav appears to live in a parallel universe where there are 300 hours in a day. His recommendation is, of course a wonderous animated film; Blood: The Last Vampire.

Gavin Strange recommends Blood: The Last Vampire

“Clocking in at just 45 minutes, this beautiful fusion of cell animation and CGI is my recommendation for a movie you have to see. It’s dark, violent and brooding but not in an extreme way, it’s all balanced very well and you have to marvel at how aesthetics of the whole piece.”

“It’s not the most engaging of films with lack of character development but my, it is pretty. There’s a live-action version being released real soon, so it’d be interesting to see how those two fair against each other.”

John O’Nolan – Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999)

John O’Nolan is a freelance web designer working in West Sussex. His company, Lyrical Media is going from strength to strength and he regularly writes articles about his experiences in the business over at his blog. John’s recommendation couldn’t be more fitting for this post.

John O'Nolan recommends Pirates of Silicon Valley

“The film is called The Pirates of Silicon Valley, and is *incredibly* hard to get a hold of – it was only ever released on VHS I think, and then later a few were printed on DVD’s in the US, but nowhere else. Took me ages, but I eventually found a download for it online recently.

The movie follows the lives of our good friends Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates as they go through university and start tinkering with computers. It tells both of their life-stories as well as covering a really interesting history of Apple and Microsoft and how the companies have always been very closely tied for one reason or another.

It’s probably the best computer-related film I’ve ever seen, and I find it so interesting seeing the birth of the technological age through the eyes of its creators. Highly, highly recommended!”

Rick Nunn – The Boondock Saints (1999)

Rick is a web/graphic designer with a strong print background. He regularly wields a Canon 50D, has a fetish for strobes and shallow depth of field and has an ongoing 365 project on Flickr. As well as that, he’s very recently re-launched his personal site. Rick’s tastes pretty much mirror my own when it comes to movies so it was tricky to find a movie he loves but I hadn’t seen. Luckily he did it, so here’s what he has to say about The Boondock Saints.

Rick Nunn recommends The Boondock Saints

Boondock Saints is a great independent film written and directed by Troy Duffy. It follows two fraternal Irish brothers who, after getting mixed up with some Russian mobsters, get hand picked by god to rain vengeance on the guilty. It has some great characters, good dialogue and best of all it taps into everyone’s secret desire for to be a vigilante.”

Tim Van Damme – Speed Racer (2008)

Tim Van Damme is a Web/Interface designer at Made By Elephant. He’s based in Belgium but regularly darts around the globe attending and speaking at various web events. He writes a personal blog and takes some great photos. He is, as his blog says, a superhero sans disguise. His recommendation is a movie I’d heard about but that had never appealed to me. Oddly, Tim was the second person that day to recommend it to me… so I might check it out.

Tim Van Damme recommends Speed Racer

“I really liked Speed Racer (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0811080/).

It’s about a boy (first name Speed, last name Racer), who’s been dreaming about car racing for his entire life. Not racing as we know it, but on tracks with loops and hoops, and where the drivers use a lot of dirty tricks.

It’s fast, it’s over the top, it’s way too colorful, but I love it.”

Jonathan Snook – Paperhouse (1988)

Jonathan Snook is a Canadian web developer, designer and author of two acclaimed web development books. He regularly writes about his craft over at snook.ca and has worked on high profile projects with Sidebar Creative and Squarespace. As well as all that, he speaks at many web design/development events all over the world. Jonathan’s recommendation is certainly one I’ve never heard of but it sounds super interesting so I’ll be sure to check it out.

Jonathan Snook recommends Paperhouse

“I’m going to pull a rabbit out of a hat and go with Paperhouse (1988) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098061/).  It’s about a girl who draws a house and finds herself able to visit the house that she’s drawn. She begins to see a connection between what she’s drawn and the real world.”

“It’s usually labelled as a horror movie but I think calling it a fantasy suspense film might be more accurate. I saw this movie when I was a teenager and haven’t seen it since but I still remember enjoying it.”

Jeremy Keith – Primer (2004), Below (2002), Cypher (2002)

Jeremy Keith is a web developer currently working for ClearLeft in Brighton, England. His reputation for shaping the world of modern web development is extraordinary. As well as writing two books, Jeremy often speaks at some of the biggest web conferences in the world such as FOWD and SXSW. Jeremy has knocked it out of the park with not one, or two, but three excellent recommendations. Blam!

Jeremy Keith recommends Primer, Below and Cypher

Primer by Shane Carruth. A film about start-up culture and time travel. Shot on a shoestring, it features authentic performances and the most internally consistent plot of any time-travel tale. It demands your full attention and, unlike most twisty films, this one rewards repeat viewing.”

Below by David Twohy. My favourite submarine movie. It starts as a straightforward World War Two thriller before turning into something very different. A lot of the enjoyment in watching this is the playful way that the film toys with its own identity: is it a war film, a mystery, or a horror?”

Cypher by Vincenzo Natali. The best story that Philip K. Dick never wrote. It’s a Kafkaesque tell with a wry sense of humour that plays with questions of identity far better than big-budgeted Total Recall ever could.”

Elliot Jay Stocks – Lost Highway (1997)

The final contributor to this post is simply one of the most well respected people in the industry. Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, illustrator author and speaker who, as if all that wasn’t enough has recently released an EP of his own music. Having worked for Carsonified, Elliot has since launched a very successful freelance career and recently re-launched his personal site. Elliot’s recommendation is great because it gives a unique insight into the way he views design.

Elliot Jay Stocks recommends Lost Highway

“Thanks for asking me. I love movies. I really can’t watch enough. I tend to favour those that convey a distinct atmosphere and leave me with a particular feeling, and for that reason Lost Highway is one of my all-time favourites. I’m a big David Lynch fan anyway but I think Lost Highway is Lynch at his best: a deep, dark, thought-provoking piece of cinema that doesn’t go too far in its complexity, which sadly he did with Mullholland Drive (although I also love that) and Inland Empire (which just plain sucked).”

And if that wasn’t enough, Elliot threw in a bonus recommendation that I, for one, can totally agree with!

“My other all-time favourite is The Big Lebowski. It’s a movie that gets better and better every time I watch it. It’s really got its own charm and it’s not just because The Dude is such a great character; the whole film is an immersive world that you can happily get lost in. And what a strange story. I love it!”

Well there you go, folks. Hope you enjoyed the recommendations. I’d like to thank all the wonderfully talented web-folk who took the time to participate. I haven’t included all of you in this post but I’m hoping to do a part II around Christmas time so your recommendations will be included then. As always let me know what you thought of the movies.

Don’t forget to browse all my other recommendations!

Until next time.



  1. Rick - October 28, 2009 11:20 am

    Awesome post Dan, thanks a lot for including me. There are some great recommendations, I have added all the ones I haven’t seen to my “to watch” list.

  2. Ashley Baxter - October 28, 2009 11:30 am

    Good post Dan! I’ve only seen Primer, recommended by Jeremy, and I absolutely hated it. Haha, but other than that these are all new to me. And where can I get Pirates of Silicon Valley?!

    Rick, is The Boondock Saints anything like In Bruges? Reading your description made me think of that movie.

  3. Rick - October 28, 2009 11:44 am

    No, it’s a completely different film but well worth a watch, even if it’s just for Willem Dafoe’s awesome performance.

  4. Lee Munroe - October 28, 2009 12:05 pm

    Haven’t seen most of these movies. Guy Ritchie’s Snatch does it for me – throw that in with a bit of Ace Ventura FTW

  5. JohnONolan - October 28, 2009 12:09 pm

    Awesome post Dan! Thanks for allowing me to be a part of it 🙂

    @Ashley – The film is *very* hard to find, even online, but it is out there!

  6. Luke Jones - October 28, 2009 12:11 pm


    Speed Racer is one of my favourite films ever. I actually recommended it to Dan, the writer of this blog!

    Great article!

  7. Jamal Ahmad - October 28, 2009 12:26 pm

    12 Angry Men, – that’s a movie I want to watch again !!

  8. Japh - October 28, 2009 12:33 pm

    Great collection! Some things for me to check out on my next trip to the video hire place.

    My personal favourite from this list is The Boondock Saints. Absolutely LOVE that movie! Looking forward to the sequel coming out shortly too, with @JulieBenz in it 😀

  9. Stu - October 28, 2009 1:08 pm

    Nice post!

    Primer is one of my absolute favourite movies ever! I think I’m probably going to have to go home and watch it again this evening. I feel like I understand it a bit more every time I see it.

    Boondock Saints does remind me of In Bruges a bit, but they’re not very similar in the way they feel. That seems like a weird way to put it, but I can’t quite place it. In Bruges is a lot darker and quieter, and also has one of my favourite ever quotes in it: “A lot of midgets tend to kill themselves.”

    Willem Dafoe’s character in Boondock Saints made me think of Gary Oldman’s character in Léon, which is an absolutely brilliant movie too. Anyone else get that?

  10. Derek - October 28, 2009 2:48 pm

    I think I’ve seen all of these movies, excluding Cypher. Speed Racer was great eye candy. That’s about it. Primer is probably one of my favourite films. It was so well done.

    Pirates of Silicon Valley is great. I found a DVD copy somewhere and bought it. Anyone remember Hackers 2? The story of Kevin Mitnick? With Skeet Ulrich? That was another classic real nerdy nerd movie.

  11. kym - October 28, 2009 3:05 pm

    Awesome idea for a post, Dan!
    Some interesting suggestions. I now have a whole bunch of films to add to my “films I want to watch” list…

    I think I am going to have to start adding more hours to the day too!

  12. Sulcalibur - October 28, 2009 3:09 pm

    My favorite movie depending on my mood would swing between:

    *Speed Racer
    *The Lake House (even though I HATE Keanu Reeve & Sandra Bullock)
    *The Wedding Singer

    If I had to name one, I guess it would be The Wedding Singer.

  13. vasudha - October 28, 2009 3:13 pm

    where can i get pirates of silicon valley?

  14. Dan Schonhaar - October 28, 2009 4:15 pm

    Thanks everyone for the comments and re-tweets. It means a lot.

    @Derek – I’ve never seen Hackers 2.. Hackers 1 was quite enough for me. 😉

    @sulcalibur – The Wedding Singer is up there with Happy Gilmore as Sandler’s best… BUT IT ALL WAS BULLSHIT!!!… classic. 🙂

  15. Stu - October 28, 2009 4:31 pm

    After hearing about the Pirates of Silicon Valley I was trying to remember a documentary I watched on DVD when I visited America for the first time. I managed to find that it’s called Revolution OS. It’s mostly a documentary about the early years of open source software, but I found it really interesting because I was in Sunnyvale, California at the time of watching it, plus I’m a total geek.

    Probably not very interesting for most people, but i enjoyed it. 😛

  16. rich97 - October 29, 2009 11:32 am

    I might have to check out The Boondock Saints. On the subject of vengeance from heaven I can’t believe that no one has mentioned Dogma, it’s such an amazing film. I know this is supposed to be obscure but these are my favorites:

    – Team America
    – Little Nikki (or 60% of the films with Adam Sandler in but Little Nikki is the best)
    – Idle Hands
    – Toy Story 1, 2 and I’m sure 3 wont disappoint either. 🙂

  17. rich97 - October 29, 2009 11:42 am

    Oh for obscure films I seem to have forgot one of my all time favorites.

    Tekkon Kinkreet – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0831888/

    A Japanese anime film, dark, broody and surreal. Took 11 years to make with some of the best Japan has to offer, so the animation is superb along with the voice acting (never watch dub versions, they’re awful) and script, the story, everything is just perfect!

    Very few I’d give 10/10 to but this is one of them. 😀

  18. Dan Schonhaar - October 29, 2009 11:54 am

    @rich97 – Dogma is one of my favourites too. I remember seeing it at the cinema when I was in college and it was the first time i’d seen anything by Kevin Smith. I actually recommended Idle Hands here. That movie is such a guilty pleaseure. You shouldn’t like it but…. you just do.

    As for Little Nicky, I actually thought it was one of Sandlers weakest films. Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer and even Mr. Deeds were far better.

  19. Stephen Bruckshaw - December 11, 2009 6:56 pm

    Awsome idea for a post Dan.

    My favourite, at the mo, is Bladerunner. Mainly for the sets and the atmosphere. I think it is sooo underated.

    There again, I have always loved Pinnocio. I saw it as a little kid and it had a huge effect on me – we were so innocent then!

    Hope you carry this idea on.

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