Rupert Pupkin Speaks: 2013 ""

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Bryan Connolly

Bryan Connolly is one of the co-authors of one of the greatest film books in recent memory (Destroy All Movies). He works at the great Vulcan Video in Austin Texas and has a vast knowledge of cinema and a love for Jerry Lewis. He is also an avid VHS collector/advocate and can be seen prominently in the new documentary ADJUST YOUR TRACKING:
http://www.adjustyourtracking.com/
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Butterflies (1975)
Dir: Joe Sarno
I love the films of Joe Sarno. They are sex films that are about sex. How people interact with one another and use each other through it. Real emotions here, which is all the more surprising considering that the actors are adult film stars usually just put in films for naked reasons. This movie gets really sad at the end, but towards the beginning it has a bumbling sweaty underwear salesman who seemed to wander in from another film. 

Naked Obsession(1990)
Dir: Dan Golden
William Katt is a politician ready to destroy the slimy part of his town. Before he can do that though he pays the neighborhood a visit to see what it's all about. Soon enough he's partying with a hobo at a strip club and falls in love with Maria Ford.  Yes, it has the usual white wine drinking, torrid affairs and falsely accused murder one expects from the genre, but as erotic thrillers go this one gets pretty strange.  This might be my favorite title for an erotic thriller. Either someone has a great sense of humor or was incredibly lazy when thinking of it.    

Barfly(1987)
Dir: Barbet Schroeder
It took me forever to see this movie because assholes kept on stealing this out-of-print dvd from the video store. It is as good as everyone says it is. I was surprised at seeing Mickey Rourke look like a real person. It's been so long. He's great. Frank Stallone is awesome. I wanna hang out with him. I heard he and his brother Sly are very helpful and nice to their mother. I like to hear that. 

Remember My Name(1978)
Dir: Alan Rudolph
This is one of the best movies I have ever seen. Top ten list of all time. No joke. It's hard to find, but damn if I wasn't floored by this. My friend Bret told me to see this and I was reluctant because I've never like a Rudolph film ever. This must be the good one. The pacing is wonderfully very seventies slow and the deliberate build up to what the hell is going on is so fascinating. Why is Geraldine Chaplin sneaking around Anthony Perkins' house? Why is Perkins so angry and nervous? It has the best drink ordering scene in movie history. True brilliance. 

Bottoms Up(1974)
Dir: Franz Josef Gottlieb
Everyone told me to stay clear of Bavarian sex comedies. That it is the worse film genre to have ever existed. That they are all unwatchable. I guess those people never saw this one. The first forty minutes of this movie are as if someone filmed my dreams and made them into a film. Busty women. Old men falling into barrels.  It really is the perfect balance of sex and slapstick. These movies are truly horny and zany, so much so that they make The Benny Hill Show look like The Turin Horse. I now want to see every one of these damn movies. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Scream Factorized - DIE, MONSTER, DIE! on Blu-ray

Boris Karloff is one of the greatest things in all of moviedom. He, like his contemporary Vincent Price, was so perfectly suited to a certain type of gothic cinema that he truly embodies the word 'icon'. In Peter Bogdanovich's debut film TARGETS, Karloff started as a horror actor character very much like himself in a lot of ways. An iconic boogeyman of sorts. That's really how I feel about him, but even more than that he's a great actor. His prescence alone elevates most any film he's a part of. Like his and Vincent Price's  effective work in the film adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe's writings, Karloff is a perfect fit to an H.P. Lovecraft story. Wheelchair bound with a blanket on his lap, he is nonetheless creepy and menacing. Karloff was an actor that filmmakers could use as a tool to add mood and atmosphere much like a great set designer of cinematographer could. The subtleties of his vocal inflections, his movements and facial expressions were powerful enough to carry pathos, horror and dread.
What we've got here in DIE, MONSTER, DIE! is a good old fashioned haunted house type mystery story with something not quite human at the center. As I mentioned, the film is an adaptation of Lovecraft, in this case his short story 'The Colour out of Space'. The movie has a bit of a Twilight Zone-y kind of feel to it, which makes sense as the adaptation was done by TWZ and Outer Limits scribe Jerry Sohl. The story is slightly reminiscent of FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, but the setting is more contemporary and there is more science fiction than supernatural elements. This all makes it feel more like a Hammer film than anything in the Corman/Poe cycle. Being a big fan of sci-fi, all this appeals to me. My favorite Hammer films (QUATERMASS & THE PIT etc) all involve sci-fi elements so it's no surprise that I dug this movie. As we've seen from Scream Factory before, this is a nice widescreen (2.35:1) transfer that does the film plenty of kindness.

Twilight Timey: THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD on Blu-ray

In taking my son to see Peter Jackson's latest epic, THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG, I couldn't help but let thoughts drift to Harryhausen afterwards. What an amazing (and heartwarming) legacy of influence he has had and continues to have. One of the great genres that cinema can bring to life is fantasy. Fantasy films have the indelible ability to transport us from that seat in a crowded multiplex to truly another world. There is little that I enjoy more than losing myself in a place of darkness, magic and remarkable fictional creatures. Jackson's new HOBBIT features a pretty amazing sequence with a dragon that certainly would have been a completely different animal (pun intended) had the film been made in the 1960s or even 70s. While it's tough not to marvel at such a sequence done with the latest CGI effects, lest we forget the man who inspired a veritable legion of filmmakers and special effects artists to do what they do. If I had a nickel for every time I've heard a prominent present-day filmmaker mention seeing THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD and how it blew there mind as a kid, I'd have a large sack of silver in my possession. 
The cinematic adventures of SINBAD with effects by Ray Harryhausen ran from 1958 to the 1977. GOLDEN VOYAGE arrived in theaters in 1973, late in the cycle. THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, arguably the best of the bunch came out in 1958. Harryhausen's effects were quite novel around that time but may have seemed less sophisticated in 1973 (and the stories themselves may have been not quite what the public was looking for at that time). That being said, the films as a group are lovely fantasy adventures and Harryhausen's work on them  holds up to any he did previously. He really brought a wonderful flavor to that type of film and it still seems like a perfect combination of storytelling elements.
Let's talk about Caroline Munro for a second. She is positively gorgeous here. She was one of those cool gal veterans of genre fare like this Her resume reads like a fun month-long lineup of drive-in features: STARCRASH, CAPTAIN KRONOS - VAMPIRE HUNTER, AT THE EARTH'S CORE, THE LAST HORROR FILM, SLAUGHTER HIGH, MANIAC and two DR. PHIBES films! She's a cult actress if there ever was one and I always hope more folks will stumble upon her work. Her most widely seen film was probably THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. I can't explain just what it was about her, I mean she's obviously a stunning beauty, but there's also something about the look on her face a lot of the time. It has this air of mischievousness about it, like she can't completely be trusted. But the thing about her is that she, much like a mermaid, is oddly mesmerizing onscreen so one finds oneself sucked in rather easily. She is absolutely a highlight in this film along with the aforementioned Harryhausen effects.
The Blu-ray transfer looks quite nice here, however, as can be expected, the scenes with special effects stand out more as lower quality (because of the matting and other processes used). It's not too distracting if you're used to it, but you may notice it of course.
Included on this disc are several short featurettes on MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, THE 3 WORLDS OF GULLIVER and EARTH VS THE FLYING SAUCERS. All three are about 7-11 mins in length and feature Harryhausen speaking about the processes involved in making the special effects for each of the films. The FLYING SAUCERS featurette has Joe Dante interviewing Harryhausen which is pretty neat. 
Twilight Time's Blu-rays can be found at Screen Archives.com: http://www.screenarchives.com/display_results.cfm?category=546

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Vinegar Syndrome - Russ Meyer's FANNY HILL on Blu-ray

It's not at all difficult to slot Russ Meyer into the auteur category. His films all have their own universes that they exist in. Some are campier than others (in a good way), but they all share the common ground of being populated by gorgeous buxom women and containing a very specific cheekiness that must have originated in part with Meyer's own sense of humor. In this case Albert Zugsmith (COLLEGE CONFIDENTIAL, CONFESSIONS OF AN OPIUM EATER) is also uncredited as a director as well, though this feels more like a Meyer film to be sure (Zugsmith was a producer on the movie).

In FANNY HILL, a young naive girl (Leticia Roman) is taken in by the matriarchal figure of a brothel (Miriam Hopkins) in 18th century London. This was a black & white film for Meyer and it looks nice on this new Blu-ray. It's a comedy of manners of sorts, but with the Meyer sensibility about it. I must admit that FANNY was a Meyer film I had never heard of prior to this release, so it's always cool to see a less known entry like this get a good transfer. It is intriguing to me to see screwball film star Miriam Hopkins in this movie, a full 32 years after her classic turn in Ernst Lubitsch's TROUBLE IN PARADISE. FANNY was released in 1964, the same year as his much note well known film LORNA. He kicked off his film career with the nudist comedy, THE IMMORAL MR. TEAS in 1959 and great financial success (it cost less than $25,000 and grossed $1 million). In 1965, Meyer would go on to direct MUDHONEY and perhaps his most famous feature, the cult classic FASTER PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!
Also included in this set is the Albert Zugsmith western slapstick comedy THE PHANTOM GUNSLINGER from 1970. Unlike FANNY HILL, this film is in bright color and the transfer pops pretty good. A nice inclusion. Zugsmith and Meyer have interesting senses of humor and these two films show and a nice contrast between their styles. PHANTOM is kind of a dopey film, but I believe it will be of interest to Zugsmith fans. FANNY HILL is available from Vinegar Syndrome direct or Amazon.
http://vinegarsyndrome.com/launch/?product=fanny-hill-the-phantom-gunslinger-bddvd-combo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3S-fyBM_dZo

Kino Classics: THE WHIP AND THE BODY on Blu-ray

Bava and Blu-ray: two great tastes that taste great together. Italian director Mario Bava is truly a "cinema guy" as Quentin Tarantino once called him. He mentioned him in the same sentence as Sam Fuller and Nicholas Ray as I recall. All three filmmakers have a distinct sense of visual storytelling and have created many memorable cinematic images in their time. One of Bava's most memorable qualities is his use of highly creative and stylized lighting in all his films. Each of his frames is striped or splashed with shafts of lights throughout. Bava is absolutely right at home in this sort of gothic story , set in an old castle. Also at ease in this kind of tale is the great Christopher Lee. Sadly, the two only made a few films together, but I feel like Lee is the perfect choice to inhabit the role he does here. This film resembles a gothic Giallo or something along those lines as there is a bit of a murder mystery aspect to it. Christopher Lee is well suited to his role as Kurt Menliff and he brings a diabolical charm to it that few actors at this time could probably have pulled off.
 In terms of chronology, THE WHIP AND THE BODY came out in 1963, wedged between BLACK SABBATH (also 1963) and the glorious BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964). The 1960s were Bavas most fertile period wherein he directed other such classics as BLACK SUNDAY (1960), PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965), KILL BABY KILL (1966) and DANGER DIABOLIK (1968). I find it interesting that this was a very "gothic friendly" period in cinema as Roger Corman was also digging into this type of thing with his Poe cycle of films around the same time. Something like MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, which was shot by the great Nicolas Roeg is a nice companion piece to the gothic Bava films of this time. Both MASQUE and the Bava films (which he almost inevitably shot himself), have gorgeously stylized color palettes and production design. In a time of much stylization through CGI, I have come to appreciated a great set, lighting and camera angles more than ever.


The big special feature included on the disc is a deeply informative commentary track by Tim Lucas, a Bava expert if there ever was one. If you've never heard a Lucas commentary, they are always Criterion quality and above, packed with details about the production, each actor in the cast, the crew, as well as Bava and his thematic regularities, techniques and special effects. It really like taking a 90 minute master class on the film. I've yet to come across a Lucas commentary on a Bava film that wasn't truly enlightening. Highly worthwhile.






Saturday, December 28, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Peter Gutierrez


[Peter Gutierrez writes for Rue Morgue and pretty much any other publication that will let him.]
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Le Main du Diable (Maurice Tourneur, 1943)
“Do you know what infinity is? I've been there. It's very pretty.”Maurice Tourneur’s Le Main du Diable, aka Carnival of Sinnersaka The Devil’s Hand, may very well be my personal discovery of the year. Available in the U.S. via Hulu though not, I’ve read, on disc, Tourneur’s film earned that status by making me feel like an explorer stumbling across an entirely new continent. Sure, elements of Le Main du Diable recall countless other classics: the frame story of the mysterious stranger, the centrality of a severed hand, the “mad artist” archetype, and the entire Faustian premise. Indeed, the playfulness of the latter may draw favorable comparisons to Dieterle’s The Devil and Daniel Webster, made just a couple of years earlier, but overall this is a unique blend of unearthly delights in the form of fantastic film.

L'assassin habite... au 21 (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1942)
Inspired by watching Pierre Fresnay in Le Main du Diable, I decided to seek out another film with him in the lead. There’s no good reason for why it’s taken me this long to see The Murderer Lives at Number 21, especially as I adore Fresnay and directorClouzot’s next collaboration Le Corbeau (The Raven). Though this is decidedly lighter in tone, it may be deceptively so—just check out the early subjective-camera killing sequence, which feels like something made three or four decades later, not to mention the air of frank sexuality throughout.

Late Spring (Yasujiro Ozu, 1949)
Speaking of long-delayed viewings, I feel kind of embarrassed including this Ozu masterpiece especially as it’s often considered an all-time great. Recently I heard someone cite the late Donald Richie’s observation that Ozu’s films aren’t boring so much as they have their own sense of time that the audience capitulates to once succumbing to everything else that’s so artful about them. I think this may be particularly true of Late Spring, which I could’ve watched if it had lasted a hundred hours—and I still would’ve been devastated by its ending. Also, expect to add one star to your personal rating for every decade your age is past thirty.

Late Autumn (Yasujiro Ozu, 1960)
Recently I was able to catch Late Autumn on the big screen at New York’s Japan Society, and going into it I’d expected mostly a now-in-color updating of Late Spring as I’d always heard that it was a quasi-remake. Little did I know how much else was altered, with the story expanded and made far more layered and complex—and all of this done in ways that are thoroughly satisfying. What’s more, Ozu’s supposed “gentleness” is belied by the incisive dark humor and, for lack of a better word,subversiveness that are consistently on display.

The Shout (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1978)
I’d wanted to see this since its original release and only this year realized that it was on YouTube. The screen resolution of that version stinks, but that only underscores how remarkable the film is, since I found it hugely memorable anyway. The reasons: the intriguing unreliability of the narration, psychosexual gamesmanship reminiscent of Losey’s The Servant, and fearless performances from all three leads All in all, I’m not sure why this isn’t generally considered “essential ‘70s viewing.”

Friday, December 27, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Jill Blake

Jill Blake is the owner/managing editor of the classic film website Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence. She is also the co-host of the annual Summer Under the Stars Blogathon. In 2012, she was interviewed on-air by Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz, and a featured guest on the TCM podcast in 2013. In her spare time, Jill is a stay-at-home mom, wife, fried okra connoisseur, and the neighborhood’s own L.B. Jeffries. Follow Jill on Twitter at @biscuitkitten. 
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Unfortunately, 2013 has been a year of not many new-to-me movies. Thus is the life of a  toddler wrangler. However, I finally managed to watch some films that, for one reason or  another, had remained elusive to me. I’ve selected six films, two of which I saw for the  first time in truly grand style at the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. Although  most of these films have been known to the entire world for decades, they only became known to me these last few months. Some of the films I’ve selected would generally be  considered major classics, and I would say I’m ashamed to have only seen them this  year, but I’m not. They are my greatest discoveries of 2013.
 

To Be or Not to Be (1942)
d. Ernst Lubitsch

Starring Carole Lombard and Jack Benny
I’ll be honest: Prior to 2013, I had seen bits and pieces of Lubitsch’s wartime dark  comedy, but never enough to really know exactly what was going on. I’ll admit I’ve  largely avoided this film over the years because...well, I don’t know exactly why I avoided it. All that matters is, thanks to a beautiful transfer from Criterion, I finally sat  down and watched Lubitsch’s masterpiece (yes, I said masterpiece). It is, by far, one of  the edgiest and funniest comedies ever made. It’s an absolute treasure even if the topic  is a hard sale to friends and coworkers (“it’s a comedy about Nazi occupied Poland”).
 

3:10 to Yuma (1957)
d. Delmer Daves

Starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin
I’m not typically a fan of Westerns (or of Glenn Ford), but I had heard great things about  3:10 to Yuma and its atypical style for the genre. Once again, Criterion released the film  on Blu-ray (it is definitely one of the greatest releases of the year), and it piqued my  interest. I thought I would never say this, but Ford’s performance is outstanding, as is  Heflin’s (of course I always think Heflin is great). Yuma is quickly becoming one of my  all-time favorites.
 

The General (1926)
d. Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton

Starring: Buster Keaton and Marion Mack
Alright. This is a big one. I’ll admit that I haven’t watched many silent films. I would  definitely label myself a novice, but I have seen quite a bit of Buster Keaton’s films. I  was taking a film class in college and was first introduced to Keaton’s work through Our  Hospitality (1923). I fell in love. Over the years I saw more, but whenever The General  was on, I turned the television off. For some reason it didn’t feel right to watch it for the  first time that way. I had an opportunity to see The General at The Fox Theatre here in  Atlanta back in 2010. Ben Mankiewicz from TCM was there to introduce and there was  live organ accompaniment. At the time I was about 8 months pregnant and sitting  through a movie without making 15 trips to the bathroom was an impossibility. This year  at the TCM Classic Film Festival, the closing night film was Keaton’s The General with  live accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra. This was the very last screening in TCL  Chinese Theatre (Grauman’s!) before the conversion to a stadium-style IMAX  arrangement (although the upgrade was true to the original elements of the theatre). I  waited in line with friends for two hours to get a seat in the capacity screening. Robert  Osborne introduced the film which also featured the Keaton short One Week. To say it  was one of the greatest theatre-going experiences of my life would be an  understatement. It goes without saying that The General is a favorite. I am so glad I  waited to see it.
 

Journey to Italy (1954)
d. Roberto Rossellini

Starring: Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders
This is another film I saw for the first time at the TCM Classic Film Festival. I hadn’t  originally planned on attending the screening for it. In all honesty, I knew very little about  this film; who was in it or what it was about. When I discovered that two of my favorite  actors, Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders co-starred, I had to check it out. Bergman  and Sanders starred together in one of Bergman’s first American films, and one of my  favorites, Rage in Heaven (1941). Although the two seem like an odd pairing, their  romance in Heaven is believable. In Rossellini’s Journey to Italy, Bergman and Sanders  are married and their relationship is falling apart. It’s beautiful, real, and devastating. I  had an emotional experience watching this film that I will never forget. Like To Be or Not to Be and 3:10 to Yuma, Journey to Italy has been released by Criterion as part of the 3  Films by Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman set.
 

The Macomber Affair (1947)
d. Zoltan Korda

Starring Gregory Peck and Joan Bennett
I was introduced to The Macomber Affair by Theresa Brown (who wrote a wonderful guest post on the film on my site for the Summer Under the Stars Blogathon). I am a  huge Gregory Peck fan and this was one of a few of his films I hadn’t seen yet. To my  knowledge it isn’t available on video and the print shown on TCM wasn’t the greatest quality. However, the print quality didn’t matter. I was completely transfixed by this film.  It’s full of passion, sexual tension, big game hunting (it is a Hemingway story) and masculinity. I must see it again, and a better copy at that. Here’s hoping someone like Warner Archive can obtain and release it.
 

The Great Sinner (1949)
d. Robert Siodmak

Starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner
Gregory Peck and Ava Garner made three films together: The Snows of Kilimanjaro 1952), On the Beach (1959), and The Great Sinner (1949) which was their first pairing. The two were great friends, and that is always evident in their performances together. I found The Great Sinner through Warner Archive and was sold not only based on the two leads Peck and Gardner, but the stellar supporting cast: Melvyn Douglas, Walter Huston, Ethel Barrymore, Frank Morgan, and Agnes Moorehead. This film is incredibly dark, especially for MGM, and I found myself watching it two nights in a row to take it all in.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Laurent Bouzereau

Laurent is a longtime film fanatic as well as a remarkably prolific documentarian. This is his 4th year contributing a list, see his 2012(http://rupertpupkinspeaks.blogspot.com/2012/12/favorite-film-discoveries-of-2012_25.html) 2011(http://rupertpupkinspeaks.blogspot.com/2012/01/laurent-bouzereaus-favorite-older-films.html) and 2010(http://rupertpupkinspeaks.blogspot.com/2011/01/laurent-bouzereaus-top-5-films-seen-1st.html) lists as well. He never ceases to provide me with films I need to discover for myself! Oh and if you haven't checked out his book on Hitchcock, you really should: http://www.amazon.com/Hitchcock-Piece-Laurent-Bouzereau/dp/0810996014
THE RAINS OF RANCHIPUR (1955; Jean Negulesco)
The film has an amazing disaster sequence -- incredible special effects and very impressive for the time. Directed by a forgotten director to remember: Jean Negulesco.

THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (1962; John Ford)
A classic western worth revisiting or visiting if, like myself, you've never seen it!!  

THE GREAT GATSBY (1974; Jack Clayton)
Jack Clayton's version... I'd never seen it all the way through... Performances are memorable -- watch for Moonraker's Lois Chiles! And it is a beautiful film.

CONVOY (1978; Sam Peckinpah)
Peckinpah's spectacular classic. Great fun.  Love the signature slow motion action scenes!!

SWASHBUCKLER (1976; Jame Goldstone)
When Universal tried to re-invent Pirate movies...  A few years too early! Has an amazing device of 'the devil' literally present in all the scenes with baddy Peter Boyle.  Only at the end, do you realize it was the devil...  This is sort of like Pirates meet Bergman's The Seventh Seal.

CHATO'S LAND (1972; Michael Winner)
A cool Bronson western I had never seen!!  The year would not be complete without a new Bronson flick!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries 2013 - Jeffery Berg

Jeffery is a longtime contributor here at RPS and also runs his lovely blog JDB Records:
HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR (1959) / LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD (1961)
It was wonderful to watch two Alain Resnais films for the first time this year. 

Hiroshima, My Love, with a radiant Emmanuelle Riva (who recently delivered a quiet but incredibly potent performance in Amour), is a devastating, elliptical tale of two lovers that is fascinating stylistically with an amazing script.

Haunting and strikingly filmed, Last Year at Marienbad somehow behaves both like a freewheeling dream and a logical mathematical equation.


OVER THE EDGE (1979)
Oh my god what a movie. I was really floored by this visually and thematically and it's easy to see why it became one of Kurt Cobain's favorites and influential on many modern filmmakers. I think I had first heard about it on this blog and went to seek it out. These bored kids in a barren, economically shifting Western suburb driven to violence in an operatic school house climax are funny, frustrating and heartbreaking. A gorgeous depiction of brash, confused youth in the late 70s paired with a dynamite soundtrack (The Who, The Cars, and Valerie Carter's poignant version of "Ooh Child.")

CABARET (1972)
There's always a movie on this list that's a "I can't believe I haven't seen it already" and this year that film is Cabaret. Bob Fosse's snappy, unusually-devised flick, is a hat trick of a movie with an impassioned Liza Minnelli and an eerie Joel Grey. Having seen all of Fosse's films now, it's so apparent what a genius director he was and his ability to marry vibrant stagecraft with rich cinematic narratives in such exciting, bizarre and resonant ways.


A WOMAN IS A WOMAN (1961)
One of the best filmmakers to explore the complexities of cinematic romance and adult relationships, Jean Luc-Godard dives into this distortion of Doris Day comedies with grandiose depictions of love. A primary color splash (his first in color), this film offers so many wonderful moments.

THREE KINGS (1999)
David O. Russell's goofy Gulf War treasure hunt features a lot of movement and electric camerawork (by Newton Thomas Sigel), sharp writing (by O. Russell and John Ridley, who penned the adaptation of this year's 12 Years a Slave) and fantastic performances (Wahlberg, Clooney, Spike Jonze and Ice Cube in particular and Nora Dunn in ruthless journalistic mode).  Lively and broad, it makes a good companion piece to revisit with O. Russell's excellent, exaggerated 70s comedy American Hustle.

SABRINA (1954)
Sympathetic Audrey Hepburn is the charming title character in Billy Wilder's indelible romcom.  Bogart ends up being pretty good in a role he did not want to play and William Holden is as suave and elegant as ever. It's all a tad corny at times but the cast, photography are all beautiful, grounded by Wilder's (and Ernest Lehman's) usual tart script. Also Edith Head's Oscar-winning costuming is a treat.

CAR WASH (1976)
A day in the life of an L.A. car wash. Like most 70s pictures, there's far more than meets the eye. It might be overlooked as fluffy screwball, but Car Wash has a melancholy underpinning to it that stings. And that Rose Royce soundtrack is incredible. 

KILL BABY KILL (1966) / A BAY OF BLOOD (1971)
Kill Baby Kill is one of the best Mario Bava films. A fog-drenched, village ghost story with the creepiest of creepy horror movie children.

Friday the 13th and many modern slashers probably wouldn't exist without Bava's mystery thriller Bay of Blood. It's influence is apparent in plot, scenes and in a few kills. Sometimes clunky and disjointed, but then suddenly beautiful (a shot of sundown through tree branches on a chilly lake).

ENDLESS LOVE (1981)
I thought this would be a standard cheesy love story but it ended up being such a twisty and weird tale!   It helps that lead Martin Hewitt (and for others, Brooke Shields) is so hot in it and that the prevalent Diana Ross & Lionel Richie is so amazing.  Not sure how they'll remake this one and replicate its oddball aura (it's arriving on Valentine's Day, not the best of prospects).

THE GREAT GATSBY (1974)
Here's another literary adaptation panned upon release that I think is better than its original reception.  It was interesting to compare Baz Luhrmann's shiny, creaking hulk of a movie and go back to this quietly melodramatic and subdued flick. Surprisingly, I found the costumes in this more interesting and glimmery. Redford and Farrow are a bit stodgy but they sure are appealing to look at. Good supporting turns from Sam Waterson, Bruce Dern and the late Karen Black. There's also an underlying eeriness (the look of The Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg billboard for one thing) that the new version lacked.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Favorite Film Discovieries of 2013 - 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  'Drunk On Disney.' 'Adventure Club,' 'Flux Capaci-cast' and 'Camel Clutch Cinema' podcasts. Over the years he has interviewed Mick Foley, 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.

2013 was the second year that I kept a film diary. Its a simple list of films I saw with dates and a sentence or two about how I felt afterwards. It's interesting to look back on them. Some films I barely remember, others left lasting memories.
I only saw a couple films that I didn't like this year. I saw a David Mamet film from 1988 called Things Change that felt surprisingly plodding and dull. I also watched the film The Day of the Locust which is often called a masterpiece, but I found the film's ending far too grim to feel positive about it.

Three other films: the Ronald Reagan drama Night Unto Night, the 1980s actioner Romancing the Stone and the quirky Sammy Davis Jr. romp Salt and Pepper also failed to leave a lasting positive impression.

Here are the films that did leave a lasting impression:


Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Harvey (1950)
The Great Santini (1979)
Mystic Pizza (1988)

I'm grouping these four together for two reasons:
1. They are all so well reviewed that there is little I can add about them.
2. Because I'm embarrassed it took until 2013 for me to see them.
Every year I make it a point to check some classics off my list and these were the ones for 2013. All four were fantastic.



Honky Tonk Freeway (1981)
My favorite new (to me) film was this 1981 ensemble comedy. A star studded cast including Jessica Tandy, Howard Hesseman, Daniel Stern, Terri Garr and William Devane fill out this story of a small Florida town's absurd attempts to lure tourists from the highway. The film brought back fond memories of childhood car trips and made me laugh a whole lot. After seeing it for the first time I invited friends and family over for a second viewing. I even made a trip to Mount Dora Florida to see some of the filming locations.
Of note, this was one of the expensive flops in film history. 

The Legend of Bigfoot (1976)
This was a bizarre (yet captivating) documentary that was essentially a work of fiction put out by a con man. Strange footage and weird narration make for the sort of 'car wreck cinema' that sometimes is just right for a rainy afternoon or midnight screening.


I Will Fight No More Forever (1975)
Wonderful performances from Sam Elliott and James Whitmore light up this dramatic western. A made-for-television  picture, it's full of beautiful scenery and meaty dialog sequences.

The Green Slime (1968)
A fun and exciting Japanese science fiction flick, The Green Slime is the name of an alien race. The Green Slime are one-eyed, they have tentacles and they have the ability to shoot bolts of lightning. Check your brain at the door, but this is a good time.

Single White Female (1992)
A wonderfully creepy performance by Jennifer Jason Leigh kept me guessing throughout. This film was a hit in 1992 and made enough of a dent in pop culture that I worried the film might feel too familiar, but it felt fresh and interesting. 

Disneyland Dream (1956)
Although it's really just a 30 minute home movie, Disneyland Dream was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
It's a fun look at suburban leisure in 1956 and can charm even the most cynical viewer with it's silly narration and corny camera tricks. It also provides a look at Disneyland just a year after it's opening day.

The Double McGuffin (1979)
Joe Camp, director of the Benji films, directs this tightly wound thriller that is full of twists and turns. Great performances by Ernest Borgnine, George Kennedy and a cast of talented youngsters and a masterful job by Camp who keeps the tone pitch perfect throughout.


With Byrd at the South Pole (1930)
A wonderful time capsule, this follows Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd in his 1st quest to the South Pole. The film is full of drama and intrigue and wonderful cinematography.


Hollywood Air Force (1986)
Also released as Weekend Warriors, this silly film features fun performaces by Vic Tayback and the wonderful Tom Villard. Villard died in 1994 at the age of 40. He appeared in a few dozen TV shows and movies and almost always stole every scene. He had marvelous timing, a fun voice and was a master of  comedic reactions.


Kansas City Bomber (1972)
Raquel Welch is breathtaking as roller derby champ K.C. Carr. Norman Alden provides a heartbreaking performance as a fellow skater.
It's well paced and really exciting. Helena Kallianiotes is perfectly cast as K.C.'s main competition. Kallianiotes was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance.


The Legend of Lobo (1962)
A Disney film that pairs wonderful nature footage with the laid back narration of Rex Allen to produce a satisfying and gripping tale. The film is told from the point of view of the wolf, but never gets overly "cute."


Amazing Grace (1974)
A mediocre plot is buoyed by a delightful performance Moms Mabley. Mabley was a veteran of the Chitlin' circuit of African-American vaudeville and is an absolute delight to watch.