Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Matt Lynch ""

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Matt Lynch

Matt Lynch works at the wonderful Scarecrow Video, one of the greatest stores known to cinephile-kind(It is a place I have yet to visit myself, but I hope to correct that before the year 2020). To say Matt watches a metric shit-ton of movies would be an understatement. Following his film watching exploits on twitter, tumblr & Letterboxd, is highly recommended. You should also listen to this interview I did with him a while back:
Also, Matt hosts the always enjoyable Scarecrow Video Podcast which is a favorite of mine. Listen to all of their episodes via itunes here:


Director Gregory La Cava's strange political fever dream begins with a useless U.S. President (Walter Huston, apparently loosely based on Hoover) winding up comatose after a car accident. When he miraculously recovers, he claims divine inspiration and begins a sweeping policy reform that resembles nothing so much as fascism. The Constitution is suspended and martial law set in place. "Enemies of the people" are rounded up and summarily shot. Other countries' financial debt to the U.S. for WW1 is called in under threat of military force, which is also used to blackmail the rest of the world into unilateral disarmament. All of this is seen as God's will for America. Deeply weird. I watched this on Election Day and yikes.

THE CLOUD-CAPPED STAR(1960; Ritwik Ghatak)
Rivaling even Ray's APU TRILOGY, this melodrama about a poor young girl's mistreatment at the hands of her family and her community is probably director Ritwik Ghatak's most widely seen film, but I'd never heard of it or him until this year. Largely relating to the British Partitioning of India, this is not just a devastating film but a painstakingly beautiful one, with nearly every frame exhibiting some physical division between the characters. Hard to track down but worth every effort.

THE RESCUERS(1977; John Lounsbery/Wolfgang Reitherman)
I love watching animated films about little micro-worlds and the systems used by their inhabitants to mirror our own lives, like say the ant society in A BUG'S LIFE. THE RESCUERS is chock-full of little bits of similar weirdness surrounding a secret society of animals who seek out and assist abused or missing children. They even have their own United Nations.

HONDO(1953; John Farrow)
A lean little John Wayne vehicle that I found mostly interesting for having been originally filmed in 3D (which explains why this 83 minute movie has an intermission -- it required dual projectors that had to be reloaded halfway through). Apparently John Ford, uncredited, directed the climactic action scenes.

THE BLACK CAT (1934; Edgar G. Ulmer)
One of the single most lovely and disturbing horror films you'll find, containing images so indelible I get chills just thinking about them. Go in cold with this one.

STARTING OVER(1979; Alan J. Pakula)
Burt Reynolds in a comedy about a recent divorcee co-starring Jill Clayburgh, written by James L. Brooks and directed by Alan Pakula. What are you waiting for?

ABOVE THE LAW(1986; Corey Yuen)
No, not the Steven Seagal one. This 1986 HK cop thriller stars Yuen Biao as a lawyer fed up with a rotten justice system who teams up with policewoman Cynthia Rothrock to dispense a little vigilante justice. The legendary Corey Yuen directed this and it features one lightning fast, incredibly violent fight scene after another. The ending will melt your face clean off. Unmissable.

Pure nightmare fuel about an adorable little unicorn who makes everyone he comes into contact with incredibly happy but who is doomed to never know happiness himself.

BADGE 373(1973; Howard W. Koch)
Robert Duvall in a nasty little cop drama loosely based on the work of Eddie Egan, who also inspired THE FRENCH CONNECTION. Written by journalist Pete Hamill. Duvall is the quintessential racist, abusive, miserable rule-breaking cop. He takes on a gang of Puerto Rican gunrunners. Extra points for a lengthy mid-movie car chase involving a city bus.

HEAT(1986; Dick Richards)
Legendary screenwriter William Goldman wrote the script from his own novel. Burt Reynolds plays a Las Vegas private detective/bodyguard who gets more than he bargained for when tech millionaire Peter MacNicol hires him to teach him how to be a tough guy. Further complicating matters? Reynolds is a gambling addict. This is a really seedy, low-rent little concoction that punctuates a lot of blunt violence with a seriously melancholy tone.

TOYS ARE NOT FOR CHILDREN(1972; Stanley H. Brassloff)
One of the most diabolically sleazy films ever made. A young woman is abused by her mother and abandoned by her father, on whom she sexually fixates for the rest of her life. She grows up and gets married, but won't sleep with her husband, who eventually leaves in disgust. Eventually she becomes a prostitute who imagines that her tricks are actually Daddy, whom she knows frequents hookers. You can guess where this is headed. Ick but wow.

FEAR CITY(1984; Abel Ferrara)
A fantastic 42nd Street scuzzball thriller. Tom Berenger is an ex-boxer still obsessed with the time he killed a guy in the ring. He runs the most successful strip club in the city. Only a few problems: Billy Dee Williams, a no-nonsense cop, wants to shut him down, the mob wants a piece of his action, and a martial-arts-obsessed maniac is slicing up his girls. An exploitation masterpiece from the great Abel Ferrara, who also directed...

DANGEROUS GAME(193; Abel Ferrara)
Wherein Harvey Keitel, basically standing in for Ferrara, plays a film director at the end of his rope. He's making a movie about a disastrous, disintegrating relationship while his own marriage falls apart and he carries on an affair with his lead actress (Madonna). All the blurring of reality and fantasy that you'd expect but with a level of intensity you are absolutely not prepared for.

NUITS ROUGES(1974; Georges Franju) aka SHADOWMAN
An absolutely thrilling pop contraption. A masked mastermind known only as "The Man Without a Face" conspires to steal an ancient Templar treasure with the help of his underground criminal network, only to run afoul of a mad scientist attempting to create an army of brainwashed drones to replace mankind's poor, working class and soldiers. Imagine an even more deeply weird DANGER: DIABOLIK shot on the cheap. This would also make an incredible double feature with UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING.

GENOCIDE(1968; Kazui Nihonmatsu)
There's plot enough for two movies in this 83-minute cheapie about megalomaniacal sentient hallucinogenic bees bread by an insane holocaust survivor. This comes in the Eclipse Series set "When Horror Came to Shochiku" highlighting Japanese sci-fi horror films. The other three in the set, GOKE: BODY SNATCHER FROM HELL, THE X FROM OUTER SPACE and most especially THE LIVING SKELETON (which is like BRANDED TO KILL meets CARNIVAL OF SOULS -- beat that) are also highly worth your time.


Robert M. Lindsey said...

I've seen Burt Reynolds movies come up a few times lately. Interesting that his movies would come to be re-evaluated now.

Ned Merrill said...

STARTING OVER is excellent, I agree. One of my best $3 Big Lots finds a few years back.

Saw FEAR CITY and BADGE 373 for the first time this years as well, as part of my ongoing love affair with NYC films of the '70s and early '80s. Didn't love 'em as much as you did, but both have things to recommend.

Even though he hasn't essayed a New Yorker in awhile and his Tom Hagen from THE GODFATHER is so well known, I was still so impressed and taken aback by how convincing he was as a hardened, working class NY cop.


Saw Toys Are Not For Children back in the day at an X Rated drive in on a double bill with Sassy Sue

dfordoom said...

Toys Are Not For Children is classic American sexploitation, and yes I agree this one has a rather high Ick factor. The Black Cat is magnificent. And Gabriel Over the White House - movies don't come much stranger than that one.

MrJeffery said...

whoa. what a great, eclectic list. 'toys are not for children' looks amazing.