Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Robert Ham ""

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Robert Ham

Robert Ham has been slowly but surely worming his way into the world of film criticism, having spent the last eight years working as a freelance writer concentrating on the wide world of music. You can read him tackle both categories within the pages of Willamette Week. If you just want to read him write about music, pick up a copy of Alternative Press or The Oregonian, or point your web browser to Spinner. If you just want to read some of his film writing, visit the streaming movie site Fandor.

Funny Games (1997)
A fairly typical but no less brilliant Michael Haneke film, and one that plays with audience perceptions. We are turned from mere observers into strange participants of the action. A devastating piece of work. I'm itching to see the English language shot-for-shot recreation Haneke did in 2007.

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
Walter Matthau does no wrong, and is absolutely marvelous in this nail-biting thriller. Was also surprised at just how sinister Robert Shaw and Hector Elizando could get. Features one of the great freeze-frame endings of all time.

Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
 My intention was to try and watch all the films I hadn't seen that were listed in David Thomson's book "Have You Seen...?" but this was the only one I got to. And I adored it. I mean, it's cornball humor and slapstick action, but there's nothing like watching Bud and Lou play off each other on screen.

Chariots of Fire (1981)
Way too glossy for its own good and overly sentimental. In other words: the perfect film for a Best Picture Oscar. Worth it just for Ian Holm's tart performance.

Hold On! (1966)
You can almost see the movie execs of the '60s deciding, "The kids love those Beatles movies. Let's give 'em some more just like it!" Sadly Herman's Hermits lack the on camera charisma of the Fab Four, and the plot (such as it is) is flat out ridiculous.

The Rise & Rise Of Michael Rimmer (1970)
You have to be a fan of dry, black humor to really appreciate this one. Features some of the greats of British comedy: Peter Cook, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Denholm Elliott, and Ronnie Corbett. A rare film with a wholly distinctive voice; best to dive in with both feet and go with the flow.

Femme Fatale (2002)
Another failed project: watching all of Brian DePalma's movies. This one was sitting on my shelf for ages before I decided to throw it on one quiet night. So glad that I did. Sexy, weird, funny, and mind-bending. Pure DePalma through and through.

The King of Marvin Gardens (1972)
This and the film listed below came as part of Criterion's fantastic The BBS Story set and one of the few in that box that I hadn't seen. A rich character study, with Jack Nicholson and Bruce Dern at their absolute best.

Drive, He Said (1971)
Jack Nicholson goes behind the camera and turns up this strange bit of socio-political commentary. Another film that seems to be working from its own internal logic. One of the lost classics of the independently produced cinema boom of the late '60s/early'70s.

Maidstone (1970)
Speaking of films that work from its own sets of rules...yowza. This one is a barnburner of weird. Notable yes for the rather scary sight of director Norman Mailer and actor Rip Torn beating the holy hell out of each other, but also for Mailer's strange command of cinematic language.

The War Room (1993)
I watched this film to get some sense of contrast between the most recent Presidential elections and the '92 election, which coincidentally was the first political campaign I took any interest in. The back room machinations of the Clinton camp are fascinating to watch, though I wish the filmmakers could have split their time between them and George H.W. Bush's advisors. Still, political theater on this level never ceases to engross.

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