Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Giles Edwards ""

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Giles Edwards

Giles Edwards works in acquisitions within the UK film industry, occasionally writes for assorted blogs and publications such as Frightfest, Time Out, has made one short film, is obsessed with a variety of horror sub-genres and generally lives for his wife, his twins, his little house in the country and the endlessly allure of rampant cinephilia.
He can be found on twitter here:


1. DAYS OF HEAVEN(1978; Terence Malick) - Timeless, ravishing, achingly beautiful; a film who's overwhelming style more than accentuates its straight forward, though deceptively complex, substance. The only Malick I had somehow never seen and an instant Top 100 film of all time.

2. THE DEVILS DIRECTOR’S CUT(1971; Ken Russell) - Ferocious -- and contextually quite different, certainly more emphatic and impactful in this revised cut -- revisiting of Ken Russell's sordid, pitiless, stone cold masterpiece.

3. ROCKY(1976; John  G. Avildsen) - There are cult movies and there are movies that develop a cult of personality through sheer genetics. John G. Avildsen and Sylvester Stallone's remarkable drama is defiantly the latter. In danger of being dragged down by every cliché it has inspired in over 30 years, I can attest that, as a first time view, this fable of a small-time pugilist has lost none of the simple power and overwhelming charm upon which its formidable reputation has been built. As much a product of the neo-neo-realism of an era that gave us Cassavetes, MEAN STREETS and THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE as it is a precursor to the rambunctious rah-rah-rah of the 1980s sports movie, it's ultimately a beautifully told story, an artfully documented sense of time and place and a quietly intelligent study of character. It simply works. I genuinely air-punched and welled up during the big training montage and again at the end. (Ditto, it must be said, for ROCKY IV.)

4. MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW(1937; Leo McCarey) - Leo McCarey's exquisite drama about mothers, fathers and their sons and daughters (the selfless dedication of the former and the selfish drive for self-betterment of the latter) is, to quote Orson Welles, perhaps "the saddest film ever made." It's certainly not one for the sensitively disposed or lachrymose. A purported influence on Ozu's more contemplative TOKYO STORY and shot through with the cold, desperate cynicism of the still raw Depression, it's a vital, beautifully acted and elegantly paced drama about the tragedy of unconditional love.

5. DOUBLE INDEMNITY(1944; Billy Wilder) - Sexy, sassy, sneaky...and that's just Fred McMurray. Justifiably influential film noir trailblazer from one of the greatest writer/directors there ever was, this story of lust and death pings and pows and punches and pops with elegance, wit, sass and scorn. Also features one of my favourite characters in all of cinema: indefatigable blood hound, Barton Keyes. I'd give anything to find out they'd made a spin-off series about Edward G. Robinson's delightful creation.

6. MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA(1929; Dziga Vertov) - Dziga Vertov's blistering, bustling, staggering info-dump of silent cinema is an antidote to anyone who complains that a genius like Tony Scott took the soul out of the image with all of his lightning fast cutting and radical, almost subliminal technique and what have you. It's all here. In 1929. And it's something quite wonderful to behold. Perhaps the most primal and exciting film I saw all year.

7. I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG(1932; Mervyn Leroy) - Righteous social consciousness filmmaking at its best. Paul Muni is as admirably indignant a desperate hero here as he was an anti-heroic desperado in the same year's SCARFACE. Great double bill with SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS too.

8. RUMBLE FISH(1983; Francis Ford Coppola) - One of biggest surprises of my movie year. Another movie with an almost daunting reputation. From its stark, stylised opening frames, this is thrilling, vibrant, vital stuff made with the impulsive, passionate, percussive beat of a true blood artist firing on some hellishly risky cylinders. But it delivers effortlessly. Where the hell did *this* Coppola go!?

9. I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING(1945; Powell/Pressburger) - Simply sublime early Powell & Pressburger. A truly elemental love story of empowerment and destiny.

10. ISLAND OF LOST SOULS(1932; Erle C. Kenton) - Plainly speaking, the house of pain ain't nothin' to fuck with (to clumsily mix hip hop memes). A bold and ballsy almost Jacobean tragedy of a horror film, part KING KONG, part FRANKENSTEIN, part Poe. Banned for decades after its initial release in the UK, it's as radically nasty, expressionistic and taboo-busting as a film Sayer Of The Law, Bela Lugosi, appeared in two years later, the similarly intense psycho-sexual shocker THE BLACK CAT.


Unknown said...

Nice to see you embrace Powell and Pressburger Giles, just don't ever watch The Boy Who Turned Yellow, possibly the worst way possible to sign off such illustrious careers

giles edwards said...

I love their mid-period, infamous output (THE RED SHOES is an All Time Top 10 for me). But it was terrific see stuff like this and Powell's solo THE EDGE OF THE WORLD in the last few years. Thrilling, essential stuff.

Ned Merrill said...

There are many longtime favorites of mine on this list--a reminder that I may need to get reacquainted with a few this year. Was fortunate enough to see a pristine print of RUMBLE FISH years ago, for my first viewing of it, in a film class. Later was able to study with one of the foremost Vertov scholars in the world and got to see his works projected on film.

Love CHAIN GANG, the first in a cycle of "chain gang" films made in the early '30s. I've seen Rowland Brown's HELL'S HIGHWAY and have been wanting to see Ed Cahn's LAUGHTER IN HELL forever, which has just been rediscovered and is starting to be screened in 2012-13.

giles edwards said...

HELL'S HIGHWAY is going right on the list of pictures to track down - thanks!

Robert M. Lindsey said...

You got some really good stuff. Double Indemnity is on of the best films ever made.

I had Rocky in my list this year also.

giles edwards said...

Thanks! For some reason I'd never seen ROCKY, only fragments of ROCKY III on TV so I ended up doing I-IV on a marathon and feeling like an elated 14 yr old again.

I actually love having such great white whales on the "still to see" list. Each one brings with it a fascinating cultural baggage which only adds to experience watching it in the wider context (as we all tend to do).

Tawdry Living said...

Love this for the visuals (a given), and the fact it was a love story from the male POV, but was no less romantic.