Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - George Pletz ""

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - George Pletz

George Pletz is a rabid movie fan who can  and should be followed on twitter here:
You should also read him here:

Who is the average film-goer and who is the movie fan? It can not simply come down to the volume of movies watched. With all these tablets and phones and laptops, it seems that there are plenty of opportunities to fit a movie into your day. All of the distractions from watching film cause a lot of variance of how many movies you can actually go to in a day. This leads me to thinking it is about breadth not amount. How many different styles and eras? Does it matter what country a movie comes from matter? Color movies only? The movie fan knows no barriers and just jumps into the deep end. Their sense of taste is a finely nuanced thing. And that is what makes them the best recommenders for the casual viewer. You have a niche itch? Here's this movie you got to see! That joy of discovery is harder to get these days. The world of film is so well lit these days. The problem is certainly not the lack of titles. So here's a list of movies that I discovered in the last twelve months. Here's hoping you find something new.

Five Minutes of Heaven (2009)
James Nesbitt and Liam Neeson are fantastic in this gritty docudrama. A bare knuckled film about the cost of violence and the possibilty of forgiveness. Powerful and direct, the suspense generated by these actors is top notch.

Hud (1963)
This movie is like a stone at the bottom of a cowboy boot. Hard and insistent, it just
works on you with its gritty honesty. I could say its Paul Newman or Melvyn Douglas or Patricia Neal that made this one ache with tragedy. But
it was one unforgettable scene. Without a drop of blood, I just felt my stomach drop.

The Naked City (1948)
New York City is the star here. To see the streets of 1948 through the lens of Jules Dassin is to feel a sense of place in a way that was real and alive. That it is the virtual blueprint of many cop films to follow is a bonus.

Night Warning (1982)
Susan Tyrell brings this tense little film all the way home. It's over the top but connects in a real way even as it goes nuts in the final act. A rare movie that gets to have it both ways. A potboiler with something in the pan!

Nothing Lasts Forever (1984)
In a bizarro version of 30s New York, a would be artist looks for the transformative moment which will make all his struggle worth it. It manages to be funny without being dismissive. It is a sweet and strange film with just a touch of camp and few well placed SNL alums. A truly magical blend

Satan Hates You (2009)
I suspect I'll be alone on this one. Using the Jack Chick religious tract as its template, this pitch black horror comedy really threw me for a loop. The structure of the film threw me off balance as it headed deep into the world of religious paranoia.
The appearance of Angus Scrimm, Reggie Banister, and Michael Berryman lent it just enough horror credit to keep me in unsure terrain.

Scream For Help (1984)
Who knew that child endangerment and bad decisions could be so fun? The back and forth switch between afterschool special and exploitation gave me whiplash. This Nancy Drew /Home Invasion car crash just made me wonder about who the audience was supposed to be. Proves that a movie can be wholesome and sleazy at the same time.
Can be viewed on YouTube here:

The Swimmer (1968)
Burt Lancaster was in his fifties when he made this. He was so set to do it, he was even involved in its production. Based on a Cheever short story, this was an ideal vehicle for the star. A physical role with this much brains and heart was probably getting harder to find. Lancaster pulls it off effortlessly. Despite its sunny appearance this movie resides in darkened psychological spaces. The gravity of the film's central mystery just drew me in.

What's The Matter With Helen (1971)
Intimations of Leopold & Loeb and Shirley Temple adorn this creepy descent into madness, The slow build of the plot leaves these great spaces for characters to be built and explored. Debbie Reynolds and Shelly Winters are fantastic together as their relationship turns toxic over time. Is it me or was this made to be like something Val Lewton would have produced in the 40s?

We Live in Public (2009)
This Andi Timmoner documentary about early internet sensation Josh Harris has stuck with me since I first saw it. I was not aware of his story but as social media has become more omnipresent this year, my thoughts kept going back to it.
Can be viewed on Hulu Here:

It is good to state the obvious sometimes. None of these films are perfect but they were persistent in my thoughts. For me the fact that they grow in hindsight tells
me they were each a discovery.


Ned Merrill said...

I approve of film #8 on this list.

Anonymous said...

I've been on a Film Noir bender for a couple of years.

My number one discovery?