Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Jeff Williams ""

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Jeff Williams

Jeff Williams, aka Shiftless, is a man who has a knowledge of so many underappreciated gems and I am always pleased to get a list from him. Read his blog - Scared Shiftless in Shasta!

Every time you discover a great, previously unheard of film, an angel gets its wings. Ok, maybe that's not true, but the experience does remind me of a time in college when I went to a party where I knew no one and fully expected to be miserable. However, not only did I have a good time, I wound up befriending my best buddy from college. Yes, that's what discovering a great film is like - meeting a new friend unexpectedly. And, I think an angel does at least get a coupon for Raisinets, Milk Duds or a small orange soda from the celestial concession stand. Anyway, here are my newly made friends from the past year:

One Potato, Two Potato
(US 1964)
An incredibly courageous film to make during the height of the civil rights movement. Barbara Barrie and Bernie Hamilton are just superb as a middle class interracial couple facing bigotry from all corners, plus you'll never look at Richard Mulligan the same way again.

Nobody Loves Me (Keiner liebt mich)
(Germany 1994)
A quirky, lighthearted and bittersweet story of an airline screener who is looking for love and obsessed with death. An utterly charming performance by Maria Schrader, who is like a teutonic Tautou, and an equally winning performance by Pierre Sanoussi-Bliss as her strange, but helpful, gay neighbor. Excellent direction is on display by Doris Dörrie along with great use of the song, "Non, je ne regrette rien".

(New Zealand 1984)
Gritty, period piece, dual revenge tale with great New Zealand actors like Kelly Johnson and Bruno Lawrence. The exotic setting and western-type story are the highlights along with Lawrence's ridiculously large, multi-barreled shotgun.

Desyat negrityat (10 Little Indians)
(Russia 1987)
The Russians made a version of Agatha Christie's 10 Little Indians, who knew? Not me, until this year at least, and it's the most meticulously faithful version of the half dozen that are out there. Anyone (like me) who is frustrated with the change in the novel's ending by every other adaptation, will be extremely happy with this film.

X: Night of Vengeance
(Australia 2011)
The film starts out like a pretentious, Zalman King-like, soft-core, snooze-fest but quickly turns into a harrowing chase involving a worldly, high-priced, call girl and an inexperienced street walker. Super-gritty and smart with a wicked streak of black humor, this movie makes Vice Squad look like a trip to Disneyland.

Werckmeister Harmonies
(Hungary 2000)
I do not exaggerate when I say, at several points, I was literally hypnotized by this movie. Béla Tarr's stark, but beautiful, black and white photography, ultra-long takes and metronome-like sound design sucked me in and would not let go. I can see a lot of people being put off by the extended takes and existentially bleak look of the film, but I found it a near hallucinatory experience. I was also impressed with the lead, Lars Rudolph, who has a great, character actor's face and knows how to use it.

Messiah of Evil
(US 1973)
The set decoration alone is reason enough to watch this movie. Directors William Hyuck and Gloria Katz bring an art house sensibility to the horror genre and it works to create a unique and unsettling atmosphere from start to finish. Plus, I really liked the weird albino guy.

Union Station
(US 1950)
I'm a sucker for movies with trains or subways and this one's a riveting crime drama starring Bill Holden and Barry Fitzgerald as train detectives hot on the trail of a kidnapper. Fast-paced, tense and thoroughly enjoyable with an all-business performance by both leads.

The End of August at the Hotel Ozone
(Czechoslovakia 1967)
My favorite genre is post-apocalyptic and I love black and white so this film was the perfect peanut butter cup for me. The fact that the scavenger/hunter characters are women is an interesting twist and brings a unique PoV to the story.

(US 2009)
Brilliant, original, pseudo-documentary/found footage film that actually drew me into its crazy premise. The subtextual potshots the film takes at Scientology, cults and conspiracy nuts are amusing but the film still sustains a disturbing edge to it.

The Call of the Cthulhu
(US 2005)
I was of the opinion that no filmmakers had ever gotten Lovecraft right, until I saw this, a micro-budgeted, short, silent film that really captures the spirit of the mythos.

Forgotten Pistolero aka Il pistolero dell'Ave Maria
(Italian 1969)
Ferdinando Baldi adapted a Shakespearean-like tragedy into this classy, operatic, spaghetti western. Very well shot, with solid looking sets and costumes as well as a great musical score.

1 comment:

Kev D. said...

I also discovered Messiah of Evil recently and had my mind blown. Great list.