Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Death Rattle Aaron ""

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Death Rattle Aaron

Aaron is a very good dude. His writings can be found over at The Death Rattle  & The Gentlemen's Blog to Midnite Cinema. He was also just a guest with me on a recent GGTMC Podcast about favorite older film discoveries from 2012:

THE KING OF COMEDY (1983) - Martin Scorsese
I think the person who runs this fine blog that you're reading might be a fan of this movie, but I'm not sure. Anyway... Scorsese? One of my favorite directors of all time. Robert De Niro? Favorite actor of all time. That said, I couldn't tell you why it's taken me so long to watch KING OF COMEDY, but I'm glad I did. It now definitely sits pretty close to the top of the list as far as my favorite Scorsese films. I never had any doubt in De Niro's abilities, but he's so good in this that it was easy for me to forget I was watching an actor play a role; he brings the likable but scary character of Rupert Pupkin to life so well that it seems effortless on his part.

ENDANGERED SPECIES (1982) - Alan Rudolph
I went into this one blind when I watched it, and to say that I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. Jobeth Williams and Robert Urich team up as a small-town Sheriff and hard-assed New York City detective respectively to solve a string of cattle mutilations that defy explanation. The results are disappointing, but the journey that the characters take to find them is intriguing, thrilling, and very X-FILESy, which was perhaps the most surprising thing about this film. Bonus points for the impressive electronic/proto-Industrial score.

MANDRILL (2009) - Ernesto Diaz Espinoza
This was a pleasant surprise and one that was suggested by a friend. Going into it, I expected it to be nothing more than a showcase for lead actor/martial artist Marko Zaror, who, admittedly, I'm not very familiar with. MANDRILL turned out to be a fun but somewhat poignant film with a doomed love story and an interesting revenge plot buried underneath a slick veneer and a bunch of flamboyant fight sequences. I won't rush out and see any of Zaror's other films any time soon, but this was a quick, enjoyable watch.

HEIST (2001) - David Mamet
"You know why the chicken crossed the road? Because the road crossed the chicken."

Next to GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, I'd go so far as to say that this film has my favorite David Mamet dialogue. The dialogue is a bit much at times, even by Mamet standards, but it all comes down to who's delivering it. Story-wise, it's about an aging thief on the verge of retirement who decides to do one last job with his crew. Double-crosses and a whole bunch of cussing ensues. Nothing really needs to be said about Gene Hackman, who plays the lead character. Danny Devito and particularly Delroy Lindo were really good in this. I've always liked Delroy's intense mannerisms and how he delivers his lines, and he definitely knows how to work Mamet's dialogue. A lot of the heist stuff was a bit ridiculous, but this was a good watch overall and one that I'm looking forward to seeing again.

WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1968) - Ishiro Honda
Me and some friends had a discussion about this film recently, and the way that I summed up my feelings on WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS with them is this: If I were to ever fulfill my unrealistic dream of opening a movie-themed bar that had a different B-movie playing on every television in the place, WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS would be one of the films that would be on constant rotation. While I enjoy them, I've never really sought out any Kaiju at any point in my life, so this is one that I've been meaning to watch for a while. It's not your typical Kaiju, in that you have these two humanoid beast-creatures who are rather mobile as opposed to the oversized, clumsy-looking reptiles and dinosaurs in your average GODZILLA movie. The fight scenes betweent the titular Gargantuas are pretty explosive and they take up a good portion of the film's running time, which is one of the reasons I dig this one.

RAIDERS OF ATLANTIS (1983) - Ruggero Deodato
This is one of those crazy, obscure cult movies that lives up to the hype. RAIDERS is easily one of the craziest post-apocalypse, action-adventure, Sci-Fi hybrids that I've ever seen. Who knew that the director of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST could be capable of making something as fun as this? Just imagine a shit-load of Filipino extras dressed in some of the most ridiculous costumes you've ever seen, enough modified motorcycles and cars to make Lord Humungus and his crew do a double take, a villain who wears a crystal skull mask, and a thumping Disco score from Italy's De Angelis Brothers, and that's not even scratching the surface of what this insane and entertaining movie has in store.

WITNESS (1985) - Peter Weir
Watched this while doing a brief but rewarding run of Peter Weir movies. This is a really interesting thriller in which Harrison Ford plays a good cop amongst a bunch of bad cops who goes into hiding with an Amish community once some shit goes down. Lukas Haas is great as a wide-eyed Amish boy, Ford is as charming as usual, and the parallels between Ford's character and an Amish woman played by Kelly McGillis are interesting. Viggo Mortensen turns up as one of the Amish in what I believe was his first widely released film. And what an odd but effective score Maurice Jarre - it's really something else. Really interesting, eye-opening look into the Amish community as well - I admire their DIY ethic.

BOB LE FLAMBEUR (1956) - Jean-Pierre Melville
When 2012 started, I hadn't seen a single Jean Pierre-Melville movie, so I decided to make him a project of mine and watch all of his films, Luckily he only has about nine that are readily-available, and BOB LE FLAMBEUR was one of them. It wasn't my favorite of the ones I watched, nor would I call it the "best" of them all, but it's one of the two Melville movies that stuck with me the most and left an impression on me. It seems that when most people talk about "cool" performances in Melville's films, they usually bring up Alain Delon is LE SAMOURAI, but Roger Duchesne is too cool for school as the titular Bob - a broke gambler who assembles a group of people to help him rob a casino. BOB LE FLAMBEUR is probably the best heist film where the heist never actually happens, and it also has one of the most on-screen slaps I've ever seen.

THIEF (1981) - Michael Mann
Speaking of heist movies, THIEF is a doozy. It was interesting to watch this after having seen (and loved) 2011's DRIVE considering its director, Nicolas Winding Refn, clearly lifted a few things from this film. James Caan absolutely kills it in the lead role as a master thief who gets mixed up with the wrong people, and the film has that neon-light, synth-music style and dreamy atmosphere that Michael Mann's 80's output was known for in spades.


Ned Merrill said...

I never tire of THIEF. My favorite Mann by far. Love how stripped down and focused it is in comparison to most of his later, more recognized films.

The scene with Caan and Weld in the rest stop coffee shop overlooking the freeway--if you've ever lived or been through Chicagoland, you will recognize such places--is an acting and writing master class.

Aaron said...

I meant to say "best on-screen slaps" in the BOB LE FLAMBEUR write-up, not "most". Whoops. Thanks again for asking me to contribute, Mr. Pupkin!