Rupert Pupkin Speaks: December 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Guy Hutchinson

Guy Hutchinson has worked as a radio talk show host and personality on WHWH and WMGQ radio in NJ and is currently the co-host of the 'Adventure Club' and 'Camel Clutch Cinema' podcasts. Over the years he has interviewed Bernie Kopell, Andy Richter, Bebe Neuwirth, Joe Camp, Robbie Rist and many other entertainment figures. 



A blogger since 2004, Guy blogs on bunchojunk.com and is the sole correspondent for the Ken PD Snydecast Experience. You can find links to all of his work on guyhutchinson.com.

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This year I kept a 'film journal' for the first time. It certainly made it easy to put this list together! 


The films below were all movies I had never seen before this year, and stood out to me as exceptional (in one way or another.) 


To be honest, I go pretty easy on films. The only films I REALLY disliked this year were the 1967 comedy The President's Analyst and the 1983 Robin Williams vehicle The Survivors. 


I was baffled by the 1982 film National Lampoon's Movie Madness which didn't even resemble a movie. I also saw some so-so films like Good Morning Vietnam, The Land Before Time and Hollywood Barn Dance, none of which I felt deserved a place in the list below.


I prefer older films to new films and like to watch films from a variety of different genres. While I do have favorites I watch over and over, I really like watching a film for the first time. As you'll see, I watched some classic examples of fine cinema and some total trash yet I enjoyed all of it.


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966)
Witty, silly, wonderful music and well acted! I enjoyed this so much that I actually re-watched it later that day and found I missed a few jokes because I was laughing out loud.




Valley Girl (1983)
I had always assumed that I had watched this film. However, about 15 minutes into it I realized I never had. I likely had a memory based on a movie poster and trailer and (perhaps) confusing it with Fast Times At Ridgemont High.
Regardless, I liked it a whole lot. It was not the film I thought it was, it was much better.




Just You and Me Kid (1979)
I love George Burns, especially films made during his "second run" in Hollywood. I had never stumbled across this one, it's not out on DVD/BluRay, but luckily it showed up on TCM.
Burns is in his element, slinging one liners about age with a young Brooke Shields. Wonderful supporting cast including Ray Bolger, Burl Ives, Carl Ballantine and Keye Luke.


Billy The Kid Returns (1938)
This is a Roy Rogers B movie with a running time under an hour. I have a handful of public domain Roy Rogers sets and like to watch 'em early on a Sunday morning. It sets the pace for a relaxed day. This particular one was new to me and stood out a bit from the pack. Roy is terrific in a double role (he's both the virtuous Roy and the villainous Billy the Kid) and there is plenty of fun moments throughout.



Harlem Globetrotters (1951)
A mediocre story about a newly recruited Globetrotter is bolstered by some fantastic game footage. Really great to see the classic Globetrotters do their thing.




Go, Man, Go! (1954)
This film tells the story of how the Globetrotters came to be. Its more fun than the 1951 film and features more great Globetrotter action.




Rhubarb (1951)
A silly little film where a cat inherits a baseball team. I tracked this down after seeing Orangey (the cat who plays Rhubarb) in the Vincent Prince film The Comedy of Terrors.
The cat is impeccably trained and is a marvel to watch throughout. There is also a 'hard to spot' Leonard Nimoy appearing (uncredited) as a baseball player.




Casey's Shadow (1978)
A delightful Walter Matthau drama, telling the story of a  down on his luck horse trainer who risks it all.




All Hands on Deck (1961)
Buddy Hackett is charming in an over the top (and borderline racist) portrayal of a sailor named Shrieking Eagle Garfield. Pat Boone and the lovely Barbra Eden fill out the cast.




Beware! The Blob (1972)
Every year I attend "Blobfest" in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. It's a festival dedicated to the 1958 film "The Blob" and it takes place in (and in front of) the iconic Colonial Theatre (which is the theater the Blob attacks in the film.)
Having seen the original many times (and the remake) I decided to finally track down this Larry Hagman directed sequel.
It's not bad. I can't say I recommend it highly, but I had a blast watching it. Great scenes of the Blob at a bowling alley and a skating rink and numerous shots from Blob's perspective. It's not as good as the original (or the remake) but it's a fun little romp.




Here Comes The Tigers (1978)
I picked up this Bad News Bears rip off in a discount bin for $3. It certainly doesn't have the charm of Bears, but it's a neat little film and fun trip down memory lane. Nostalgia overload when the Tigers go to the local arcade to play video games and to the local cinema to see Star Wars!




Leave 'Em Laughing (1981)
This Mickey Rooney TV movie tells the true story of a wonderful man named Jack Thum who was a clown who entertained children. This bittersweet film features him at the end of his life and his friendship with his hospital roommate played by Red Buttons.




Scenes From A Mall (1991)
Woody Allen and Bette Midler spend a day at the mall arguing about their marriage. Woody is really good in this part and the setting itself is really fun. I found myself glancing at the background constantly for a nostalgic look at a 1991 mall.




Dick Tracy (1945)
Wrestling legend Mike Mazurki plays the evil Splitface in this Dick Tracy caper.




The Sad Sack (1957)
Jerry Lewis brings the comic book solider to life. Private Meredith Bixby, The Sad Sack, ends up in Morocco and Lewis gleefully squeezes every bit of humor out of the situation.




Kramer vs Kramer (1979)
I have often heard this film mentioned during discussions about Academy Award winning films. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was a very touching story and Dustin Hoffman is masterful in the lead.




No Hold Barred (1952)
This was a Bowery Boys comedy and came during the era where The Bowery Boys were essentially just the duo of Huntz Hall and Leo Gorcery . This is a wrestling picture and is full of funny gags.




Circus Clown (1934)
Joe E. Brown was an actor I did not know by name (despite having seen a few of his films) but I will never forget him after his fun turn in this part as an acrobatic clown. He was an amazing performer.




Carbon Copy (1981)
I considered this a first viewing, but that's not entirely correct. I do have vague memories of doing homework in the living room as my dad watched this film. I didn't remember the plot, but I did recall Dad really enjoyed some of the jokes Denzel Washington's character had.
It's a fun, if dated, comedy and Denzel is very funny in this. Also, it's surprising how little he has aged since this film. Denzel of 2012 only looks like the older brother of Denzel of 1981. 




Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977)
This feature length Peanuts adventure tells the story of a boat race. Snoopy and Woodstock provide some wonderful comic relief throughout. 







Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
After seeing Cantinflas, in the 1960 film Pepe, a few years ago I became a fan of his work. He was called the 'Mexican Charlie Chaplin' and it's a very good comparison.
He steals this movie from David Niven with his charming every-man qualities.
The film also plays as a wonderful travelogue and really gives you a glimpse at some far off places, in a time long ago.




Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
This is one of the films I was embarrassed to say I had never seen. It's very well written and Michael Caine is superbly funny in this.




The Rope (1948)
This was one of those films I knew I 'had' to see some day. It's as good as I had heard. The film is noted for being shot in very few takes and it is interesting to watch it with that in mind.




Solid Gold Cadillac (1956)
A cute little comedy starring the adorable Judy Holliday. 



Urban Cowboy (1980)
I had this DVD sitting on the shelf for a long time. The subject matter really intrigued me, but the 135 minute running time scared me away. Not that I don't enjoy an "epic" story, but this seemed like it wouldn't be epic and it would just be a movie that  was 45 minutes too long.
When I finally did watch it , it flew by. It's a great story and is, dare I say, it's epic.





Kill the Umpire (1950)
William Bendix is superb in this baseball comedy, particularly in the crazy chase scene that concludes the film.



Holiday Inn (1942)
This classic is famous for the inclusion of the song "White Christmas" but interestingly showcases many different holidays from throughout the year.




The Bishops Wife (1947)
I had seen the remake, The Preacher's Wife, in theaters in 1996 and it didn't impress me. This film, on the other hand, was a delight. Cary Grant is really fantastic and it's fun to see the actors who played "Young George Bailey" and "Zuzu Bailey" from It's a Wonderful Life show up in THIS Christmas classic.




Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker (1991)
I went into this with low expectations and that certainly helped. A low budget slasher film with Mickey Rooney playing a crazed Santa! It's not The Bishops Wife, but this may just become a yearly tradition at my house.



New Years Evil (1980)
A tightly wound slasher film about a killer that is racking up victims at the stroke of midnight in each US time zone and phoning the Los Angeles New Years Eve TV host after each kill.
It won't replace The Poseidon Adventure as my 'favorite New Years Eve film', but it's a fun little flick!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Noah Lee

Noah Lee is a part time contributor to Film Threat (http://www.filmthreat.com) focusing mostly on coverage for SXSW and Fantastic Fest and also one of the HorrorsNotDead team (http://www.horrorsnotdead.com). He also watches hundreds a movies a year and keeps track of them with the Tallyteers, a group of fanatical movie watchers. Check him out at Twitter at @noahphex, his personal website (http://www.noahphex.com) or at his movie logging website (http://movielogr.com/members/noahphex). 



1. The Carrier (1988)
A small town goes insane when a carrier of a disease that infects inanimate objects with the power to kill when touched is running loose. It’s as crazy as it sounds and five times as fun. Saw this at our weekly Horror Movie Night back in January and it’s been a stand out in my mind ever since.


2. Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984)
This Gordon Liu martial arts flick features some of the most intense and complex fighting around. The version I saw wasn’t dubbed, but like a lot of kung-fu flicks it is easy enough to follow along and if you can’t, you’re still treated to some of the best ass kickery ever put on film.


3. Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
I had seen all the classic car chase movies (Bullitt, Ronin, Blues Brothers, Vanishing Point, etc...) but hadn’t ever had a chance to really sit down with this 1974 H.B. Halicki flick until this year. It doesn’t disappoint. There’s nearly a hundred cars destroyed in 93 minutes and a chase scene that goes on for 40 of those. If you’ve put it off, like me, you owe it to yourself to sit down and be amazed.


4. Prison (1988)
Renny Harlin directs Viggo Mortensen in this 1988 horror flick about a prisoner who comes back to haunt the prison he was executed in. Full of gruesome, fun kills and a dirty, dark atmosphere, this movie is a thrill from start to finish.


5. Death Weekend (The House by the Lake) (1976)
This movie is unfairly lumped in with the extra rapey Last House on the Left, and it does have a similar aesthetic, but is a much better film. Brenda Vaccaro, who is especially outstanding
in this, and her boyfriend drive past some rednecks on the way to a vacation home and then end up terrorized. It’s violent, but justifiably so and is one of the most female empowered of the exploitation movies of the 70s I’ve seen.


6. Oddballs (1984)
This Canadian camp comedy made in 1984 is something else. Over the top absurdity and goofy gags that had me laughing the entire time. If you don’t like silly, you’ll hate this. If you want to see terribly parodies of other movies, listen to corny sound effects and see a summer camp with no filter, Oddballs is for you. I love, love this movie.


7. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
I’ve actually held off watching a lot of old John Wayne and John Ford movies. And it’s not because I don’t like Westerns. Here you have not only Ford directing Wayne but also Lee Marvin and Jimmy Stewart. I was lucky enough to watch a beautiful 35mm print this summer and was blown away by the film. It’s quality through and through.


8. The Boys Next Door (1985)
I picked this movie for our biannual film festival we do in Austin called BTSNAT (Brian Trenchard-Smith Numb-A-Thon) because it was a Penelope Spheeris flick. I’m a giant fan of her documentary work and while she’s been hit or miss with comedies, anytime she addresses darker subjects I think she does outstanding work. Starring Maxwell Caufield (Grease 2)
and Charlie Sheen it’s the tale of two, young, psychopathic teenagers on a violent road trip. Spheeris really made something special here and this had me squirming and slack jawed at two fine performances from Sheen and Caufield. This is a very underseen and underrated gem.


9. Possession (1981)
Holy fuckballs is this movie crazy! Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani are a couple on the rocks when Adjani’s character seeks emotional and sexual solace in someone else. When it’s discovered who it is, his world and your psyche will never be the same. I can’t hardly even believe this movie exists. Between this and The Sentinel (which I almost put on my list), I saw two of the greatest and most flat out wacky films I’d put my eyes on in ages this year.


10. Fail-Safe (1964)
This Sidney Lumet film I hadn’t even heard of until a movie buddy, Neil, showed it for his birthday screening in 35mm. I left this movie floored. Not only is the subject matter deeply shocking, especially for someone who grew up in the Cold War, but everything from the performances, the cast, the editing and cinematography is another level. A nuclear attack goes beyond the fail safe setup to stop them from happening on accident and we’re stuck with the political machinations to try and stop the end of the world. I cannot recommend this movie enough.


11. The Devil’s Gift (1984)
Another Horror Movie Night winner, where a possessed monkey doll given to a little boy as a present wrecks evil havoc on a suburban family. I’m not going to claim this is a stunning piece of work. It’s not, but it sure is a lot of fun. It’s a film that has some hilarious logic jumps, the best neighbor ever, and a final act that had me rolling. That goddamn monkey!


12. Split Second (1992)
Let’s see, you got Rutger Hauer, Kim Cattrall, Pete Postlethwaite, and Michael J Pollard in a futuristic semi-submerged London where Hauer is a cop trying to hunt down a monster that killed his partner. Without Hauer this would be nothing but with him, it’s something special.


13. Smoke Em If You Got Em (1988)
A bunch of Australian punks survive a nuclear explosion but are dying from radiation exposure anyways. They stumble on an end of humanity party, fueled by drugs, drinking, music, sex and general obnoxiousness and rowdiness and spend the last few days of their lives living it up. This really has everything I love and at a quick 48 minutes runtime it never has time to get old.


14. Stigma (1972)
A movie who’s trailer plays like some kind of VD-ploitation flick and delivers more of a statement on racism in the early 70s. Philip Michael Thomas, pre-Miami Vice, plays an ex-con doctor who is invited to a remote island that, as it turns out, has an outbreak of syphilis and he’s the sole person looking for the source to help these crazy crackers. His performance is what really makes this movie shine and it can’t hurt that you also get a 5 minute short on VD and a plethora of scruffy rednecks.



15. The Art of Dying (1991)
Two words: Wings Hauser. He not only stars in this 1991 thriller but also directed it. He plays a rough and tumble cop who is on the hunt for a serial killer who is filming snuff films based on classic death scenes. While those are pretty amazing on their own, the true highlight of this movie is watching Wings seduce and make love to a mysterious woman in his life. You’ll never view jelly and milk the same way again. Just ignore the corny saxophone music and learn something about the art of seduction from my man Wings.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Jenni Lee

Jenni Lee (jenni7283 on Twitter) is an art historian, graphic designer, project manager, and lover of film from Austin. She especially loves musicals and horror movies. Her current film project is watching all of Frank Sinatra’s movies in 2012. She’s also a tallyteer, you can follow her schizophrenic movie watching at http://letterboxd.com/jenerator/.



Wake in Fright, Dir. Ted Kotcheff (1971, 35mm)
Originally screened at Cannes Film Festival and one of only two films to screen at Cannes twice, Wake in Fright is a crushing view of the lives of those who live life on the edge of the outback in Australia. You will either want a beer or feel completely blotto without drinking a drop after the movie has ended. Recently, Drafthouse Films bought the rights to distribute this film and actually saved what is believed to be the last 35mm copy from a fiery destruction. This film is beautiful and moving it is a must see for any cinefile. It is currently making the rounds in theaters, but is available for Blu-ray and DVD pre-order now from Drafthouse Films.


The Sentinel, Dir. Michael Winner (1977, Netflix)
Every year I spend the month of October watching new-to-me horror movies, as well as some old faithfuls. This year while doing research on Netflix I stumbled on this gem. The star studded cast is nothing to baulk at and none of the actors give anything less than 150% to their role. The one performance viewers should lookout for is Beverly D'Angelo. She is by far and away the performance that will shock and amaze.


Cabaret, Dir. Bob Fosse (1972, 35mm)
Sometimes there is that film that you will talk about for the rest of your life. Cabaret is that film. It follows the shenanigan filled life of an American cabaret singer in Weimar Republic era Berlin during the rise of the Nazi party. The Technicolor film processing gives the already hyper stylized imagery a unity that is singular to Cabaret. All performances are mind bendingly absurd in their clarity and focus. If you have the chance see it in a film format at a theater, see it that way, if not, you should still check it out on DVD.


Anchors Aweigh, Dir. George Sidney (1945, DVD)
I’ve been watching all of the movies of Frank Sinatra this year and by far this is one of my new-to-me favorites. Anchors Aweigh stars Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra as two young men on shore leave during World War II. This film is more than just a musical where Sinatra croons at every high point, but rather a look into the naivety of young men going off to war. The highlight is Gene Kelly’s famously delightful dance with a certain cartoon mouse.


La Haine, Dir. Mathieu Kassovitz (1995, DVD)
After a young man is beaten by police in 1990’s Paris, France the youth in his neighborhood riot. Shot in black and white, it is a moving commentary on the hate within not only your community, but ourselves as well. It’s stark and very real. Just see it. It will make you see the world in a completely different way. Also, there is a documentary introduced by Jodie Foster called “Ten Years After La Haine,” which is also a must watch.


Chinatown, Dir. Roman Polanski (1974, Netflix)
Say what you will about Mr. Polanski, but when it comes to making films that hook you in until the very last, he is the man. This crime drama mystery is a deep multilayered film noir into L.A.’s real history of water disputes from the early 1900’s. As a hired detective, Jack Nicholson’s character J.J. Gittes, pulls away the layers of surveillance he’s been performing and he finds there is much more to the story.


Secret Ceremony, Dir. Joseph Losey (1968, 35mm)
When watching trailers for Fantastic Fest this year there were a collection of repertory screenings highlighting House of Psychotic Women. Secret Ceremony’s trailer had me hooked at Liz Taylor, but when you add in Mia Farrow and Robert Mitchum into the mix you have a trilogy of crazy. What really sold me on seeing this film was the inclusion of a full on slap across the face of Mia Farrow delivered by Liz Taylor. Each of the main actors works out their co-dependent psychosis in a very unexpected way.


Battle Royale I/II, Dir. Kinji Fukasaku (2000/2003, Blu-ray)
42 ninth graders are forced to do battle against each other on an island by mandate of the government issued “Battle Royale Act.” They have three days to have a winner or everyone dies. Make it a double feature with Battle Royale II where the failed Battle Royale Act has a new mission: kill international terrorist Shuya Nanahara.


The Signal, Dirs. David Bruckner, Dan Bush, Jacob Gentry (2007, Amazon Video)
I love AJ Bowen. There. I said it. I didn’t need any lengthy explanations as to why I should see it. I needed to see it right then and Noah Lee (another lister) confirmed I just needed to put it in my eyeballs. It’s the story of a murderous signal that is being transmitted through media turning everyone against each other. The Signal is three part story told from different perspectives.


Rebel without a Cause, Dir. Nicholas Ray (1955, 35mm)
Oh James Dean, you are so dreamy. I had never seen a James Dean act, nor had I ever seen a Nicholas Ray film, but I can say without hesitation our world is a much less talented place without either of them in it. Just a week or so before I had seen the documentary VITO (2011) that chronicles the life of Vito Russo who wrote The Celluloid Closet. In the documentary they discuss the portrayal of gay persons on screen and specifically discuss Rebel without a Cause. Armed with that knowledge it probably made me love Rebel without a Cause that much more. It’s a beautiful commentary on how family life was hidden from the prying eyes of neighbors, as well as the things teenagers will do if they are pushed to lose control.


S.O.B., Dir. Blake Edwards (1981, DVD)
The master of the ensemble cast is Blake Edwards when it comes to comedy writing and directing. S.O.B. is not an exception. It stars Julie Andrews as your typical wholesome Hollywood starlet who sheds her clothes for a down on his luck movie producer trying to obtain the elusive next big hit.


The Loved Ones, Dir. Sean Byrne (2009, PAL Blu-ray)
Brent is teen in Australia dealing with the death of his father, but is also the object of affection for Lola. And when Lola is rejected by Brent as his date to the prom she plots revenge in the most extreme ways. If you can, see the original cut.


Rope, Dir. Alfred Hitchcock (1948, TMC)
Two young men murder a classmate because they feel he is inferior and then invite his family and friends to a party where not only the murder took place, but also where the body is hidden in an attempt to prove how superior they are. This film has a great performance from James Stewart and it has a short 80min runtime.


The Great Dictator, Dir. Charlie Chaplin (1940, DVD)
I’ve tried to start this synopsis about 6 times. It is just one of those films that you should see. A few items to note. This is Chaplin’s first talkie and his highest grossing film. According to the BBC Documentary The Tramp and the Dictator (2002), if Chaplin would have known the extent of the crimes that the Nazi’s perpetrated he would have never made The Great Dictator. World War II started in 1939 during the filming of Chaplin’s film and he used newsreels and Leni Riefenstahl’s film Triumph of the Will, the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, in which Adolph Hitler addresses 700,000 Nazi supporters to mimic his speech patterns and movements.


The General, Dir. Buster Keaton (1926, DVD, Live Piano Accompaniment)
I am in love with this silent movie. I also happened to see it with live piano accompaniment so there was some special flare thrown in during the more tense scenes. It’s a story where boy meets girl and is in love with her... and his train. When he decides to enlist for the Civil War to appease his girl, they reject him because he is such a good engineer, and in turn she rejects him as well feeling he’s not trying to enlist. Totally adorable.


Miami Connection, Dir. Y.K. Kim (1987, 35mm)
Ninjas, motorcycles, Dragon Sound, and cocaine. An 80’s fueled action flick from Y.K. Kim that has just been released from Drafthouse Films is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and limited VHS. Do yourself a favor and try for the VHS. You won’t be disappointed.

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