Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Larry Karaszewski ""

Friday, January 4, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Larry Karaszewski

Larry Karaszewski is one of my favorite screenwriters and a cinephile of the highest order. I had the distinct privilege of interviewing him for the GGTMC podcast in 2011 and it was one of my favorite interviews that I've done. I could immediately tell I'd found a kindred spirit in the affection for similar kinds of cinema when I spoke to him. If you haven't checked out some of his Trailers from Hell commentaries you are truly missing out. Do yourself a favor and clear out an hour or two for his wonderful enlightening insights.
Larry also occasionally programs films for the American Cinematheque here in Los Angeles and his choices are always first rate. In fact, one of his screenings from 2012(LAST SUMMER) is mentioned on this very site in Ariel Schudson's Discoveries list.


Totally blown away by this Japanese film from director Seijun Suzuki about prostitutes having to band together to protect themselves after World War 2.  The performances, the use of color from production designer Takeo Kimura... everything about the film is top notch.


In the 1960s Elizabeth Taylor was the most famous person on the planet Earth.  She practically invented the modern tabloid celebrity.  She stole Debbie Reynolds' husband, almost died, won the Oscar for playing a call girl in the underrated Butterfield 8, and starred in the most expensive and trouble movie of all time Cleopatra. She started a very public extramarital affair with co-star Richard Burton, and then won the Oscar again for her stunning work in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf.  Then BAM, something changed and she never quite made another good film again.  She became some sort of alcoholic celebrity monster…  so famous, that she could no longer play normal… and the pictures she chose to appear in are some of the oddest movies ever made.  They are almost there own genre.  Weird and depressing.  What is really strange about the movies Elizabeth Taylor made during this time is that the films have left absolutely no footprint… almost none of them are available on home video:  BOOM, UNDER MILK WOOD, HAMMERSMITH IS OUT, X, Y, AND ZEE, DR FAUSTUS, THE BLUE BIRD, and the very strange THE DRIVER’S SEAT with Andy Warhol in a rare acting role. But this one stands out from the pack - SECRET CEREMONY.   It’s a perplexing mood piece from director Joseph Losey with an interesting cast including Mia Farrow and Robert Mitchum.  You don’t know who is conning who in this movie and that is what keeps you invovled.

A Blake Edwards film from the mid sixties with a clever plot from screenwriter and future Exorcist scribe William Peter Blatty.  The movie was supposed to play things straighter but Edwards couldn’t help himself from throwing in comedy bits.  The DVD box acts like James Colburn is the star, but Dick Shawn actually has the most to do.  There's some great supporting players here: Harry Morgan, Carol O'Connor, Aldo Ray and General Burkhalter from Hogan's Heroes, Leon Askin.  And this being a Blake Edwards film, of course there is a bouncy score from the great Henry Mancini.

Sergio Corbucci’s slow depressing spaghetti western with one of the bleakest endings of all time.  Great cast - Jean-Louis Trintignant as a mute and Klaus Kinski as (what else?) the bad guy.  But what makes the film exceptional is that it features one of the best uses of snow ever in a movie...Others being McCabe and Mrs Miller, The Shining, Four Friends and the film this is most compared to: DAY OF THE OUTLAW.

This is a seriously great war film.  Brutal action.  Morally ambiguous characters.  Great performances.  Really well directed by Jack Cardiff. Watching this film made me realize that many of my favorite war films are actually heist films - Three Kings, Kelly's Heroes, The Train… there is something about this genre combo that works for me. The screenplay is credited to Quentin Werty - a pseudonym for Ranald MacDougall, a former president of the Writers Guild.  A terrific cast: Rod Taylor, Jim Brown, Calvin Lockhart, and the lovely Yvette Mimieux.

1 comment:

Ned Merrill said...

I commend you a 1000x for your bringing LAST SUMMER to the American Cinematheque even though I am on the other side of the country and was unable to attend. I dig the FOUR FRIENDS reference in your GREAT SILENCE review. IIRC, you guru'ed FOUR FRIENDS at Cinefamily when I was there in July 2011. Finally, nice to see ever more praise heaped upon DARK OF THE SUN / THE MERCENARIES. It's interesting to look at this film followed by THE DOGS OF WAR which Cardiff shot, but did not direct.