Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Justin Oberholtzer ""

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Justin Oberholtzer

Justin writes for and handles PR for the Freakin' Awesome Network:, hosts a new podcast called "Justin Oberholtzer's Film Rave":, writes for the Wide Weird World of Cult Film:, occasionally writes for the Gentlemen's Blog to Midnite Cinema:  and will shortly be rewriting for the renovated
He's a busy dude, check him out!
(he's also on twitter here:


-American Job(1996)
Pseudo-documentary by Chris Smith ("American Movie") about an average joe drifting from one thankless job to another. Biting look at minimum wage industry (from fast food to factory work to janitorial service) that will certainly depress and fascinate those who've had the misfortune of being stuck in these positions!

-Angel Heart(1987)
Finally watched this contemporary classic! Almost everybody at least knows the story, so no need to jot down the plot synposis. All that needs to be said is that, if you've been holding off on this, watch it! It lives up to the hype! The performances alone are worth a watch.

-Calamity of Snakes(1983)
Snake abuse aside, extremely entertaining tale of a calamity of snakes (what else?) invading the construction sight of a new hotel. If you've ever wanted to see a man use kung fu against snakes (honestly, who hasn't?), this is the movie for you!

Ralph Bakshi's animated satire of race relations is wildly engaging! With a cast that includes Barry White, Scatman Crothers and Philip MIchael Thomas, it's a unique treasure to behold!

-Dark Days(2000)
Fascinating documentary examining the homeless in New York who reside in a makeshift community underneath the subway! Both an account on their everday lives and the legality of their living situation.

-Dark of the Sun(1967)
Manly, action-packed story of mercenaries traveling through deadly terrain to rescue $25 million in uncut diamonds. Rod Taylor is in fine form!

-The Dragon Painter(1919)
After finally reviving old prints, TCM aired this 1919 William Worthington film about painter whose heartache brings forth wondrous art. Once he achieves success and finds his true love, his skill begins to diminish. Heartwrenching look at love and passion with a gut punch of an ending!

-Dream Deceivers: The Story Behind James Vance vs. Judas Priest(1992)
Rightfully harsh attack on James Vance and his lawsuit against Judas Priest, citing their music influenced him to lead a rebellious lifestyle and attempt suicide. David Van Taylor pulls no punches in his defense of the band, using interviews and his own personal opinions to combat the "idiocy" behind the belief of musical influence.

-Duck Soup(1933)
Finally watched this classic Marx Brothers comedy and was not disappointed! Consistently funny political satire that still rings true today!

-The Flying Deuces(1939)
Arguably one of the better Laurel & Hardy comedies that has the duo falling in love with married Foreign Legion officer, which leads to desertion at a firing squad (where they eventually become officially sentenced). Highlight is hijacking of airplane.

-The Golem(1920)
Carl Boese & Paul Wegener classic about giant clay creature being brought to life to protect the Jewish from persecution. Directors' political views ring loudly in well crafted and stylish film!

Dark Todd Solondz film takes an honest look at a group of peculiar and depraved individuals. Allen (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), a pathetic loser who has a crush on Helen (Lara Flynn Boyle), a poet who revels in mens' lust for her; Bill Maplewood (Dylan Baker) is Allen's therapist (who also sees one) who is a closeted pedophile, which is unbeknownst to his chirpy housewife, Trish (Cynthia Stevenson); Trish is sisters with Helen and Joy (Jane Adams), who is the black sheep of the family who just broke up with Andy (Jon Lovitz), a weirdo who got her an engraved reproduction ashtray as a gift (despite the fact that she doesn't smoke). The film is filled with dark humor, but is also a stark and harsh look at these people. Shocking in the best of ways!

Lovely tale of Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart), whose imaginary friend, Harvey (a human-sized rabbit) causes trouble with his family and friends. Examination of psychology may be light (like the film's tone), but the story is hard to resist!

-Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer(1986)
Finally seen this brutal biopic (of sorts) of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. Michael Rooker is perfect in the role of the coldblooded killer, bringing the creepiness to the role. Film has been hailed as one of the scariest of all time and I can't dispute that. John McNaughton does his best to keep the audience at unease.

-The Hidden(1987)
Fun B-movie with alien on the run in America. He hides out in human bodies and kills anybody in his path. Great special effects and tight direction by Jack Sholder (not to mention a solid cast) make this very entertaining when, in the wrong hands, it could've been really dull!

-The Long Good Friday(1980)
Bob Hoskins gives one of his best performances as Harold, an English gangster who starts his day off on top and slowly unravels as the day moves along. One of the premier gangster films!

-The Masque of the Red Death(1964)
If all you think of Roger Corman is that of a B-movie King, you must watch his adaptation of the classic Edgar Allen Poe tale! Vincent Price is well cast as Prince Pospero, who terrorizes the local peasantry while using his castle as a refuge against the Red Death plague. Gorgeous cinematography by Nicolas Roeg mixes well with Corman's skillful direction!

-Memories of Murder(2003)
Joon-ho Bong crime thriller revolving around investigation in South Korea (province of Gyunggi, to be exact) of string of murders. Harrowing and exhausting look at the effects a long case has on the cops and the intricate ways the killer crafts and plots his murders.

-Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence(1983)
Peculiar look at a 1942 Japanese prison camp over Christmas that centers around Col. John Lawrence (Tom Conti) and Maj. Jack 'Strafer' Celliers (David Bowie, who surprisingly holds his own), one who is working at the camp (and viewed as a traitor simply for trying to cooperate with the Japanese) and the other who is a prisoner. Nagisa Oshima does get lost with the flashbacks, but his views on the prison camp are riveting!

-Miami Connection(1987)
Irrestibly goofy and charming action flick about Dragon Sound, a martial arts rock band that go up against a band of motorcycle ninjas who reign supreme in Miami's narcotics trade. Y.K. Kim & Woo-sang Park's message about peace and tolerance may be muddled (as is the dramatic elements, which are unintentionally hilarious), but their heart is in this and it's hard to resist!

-Mr. Majestyk(1974)
Charles Bronson plays a melon farmer (!) who gets involved with the local organized crime unit who want him dead for employing foreigners. Do I need to say more? If you're a fan of Bronson, you can't beat this!

-Playing Columbine(2008)
Gripping documentary takes a look at "Super Columbine Massacre RPG!", a role playing game based on the tragic Columbine shootings that challenges the player to put themselves in the killers' shoes and face how hard and heartless it is to take another's life. Danny Ledonne (creator of the game and director of this documentary) also looks at the media's effect on murder and how they glamourize it.

-Steele Justice(1987)
The epitome of 80's action movies casts Martin Kove as John Steele, an ex-cop and Vietnam vet who tackles the deadly Kwan, a former South Vietnmase general who nearly killed Steele in action and is now a rich and powerful drug lord. If the explosions and gun play weren't enough for you, Steele has a pet snake named Three Step, because, after he bites you, you'll be dead after three steps.

-The Spy Who Came in from the Cold(1965)
Adaptation of John le Carre novel doesn't dumb down the material by becoming a James Bond-like British agent action film. Instead, Martin Ritt stays true to the book's tone and crafts a dramatic account of Alex Leamas, an agent who refuses to come in from the cold and takes on another mission, which threatens to be his last. Richard Burton is fantastic in the lead role!

Michael Mann's first film is a stylish and tense account of Frank (James Caan), a professional safecracker who's trying to lead a normal life, but finds it difficult due to the mafia's plans for him. Rarely is a director's first film his best, but I'd argue that's the case here for Mann!

-Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!(1990)
Pedro Almodovar dark comedy is as sleazy and outlandish as you'd hope! Ricky (Antonio Banderas) is released from a mental institution and immediately takes actress Marina Osoria (Victoria Abril) hostage in order to convince her to marry him. Characters may seem unlikable on paper, but the actors win you over.

-Tiger Cage II(1990)
Insane Woo-ping Yuen martial arts flick casts Donnie Yen as Dragon Yau whose involved in a case of laundering money. Honestly, the plot doesn't matter. What does are the amazingly staged battles, leading to a heartpumping finale in a warehouse (naturally)!

-Trained to Kill(1989)
I can thank the GGtMC for introducing me to this gem of an action movie that stars Robert Z'Dar, Henry Silva, Chuck Connors, Kane Hodder, Marshall R. Teague and Ron O'Neal (among others) about... you know what, fuck the plot! It's the average 80s action fare and rightfully so! What matters is the action, which includes bazookas and choppers and knives and anything you can think of! I relate it to "Commando", in that it's a mindless action flick that warrants numerous repeat viewings. It's my new go to film whenever I'm in a bad mood!

-Up the Creek(1984)
Very funny 80s sex comedy has Tim Matheson as a college student (in his 12th year) who spends his time goofing off with his buddies. When they're chosen to represent their University at an intercollegiate raft race or else face expulsion, they must get their act together and win! Typical comedy that meets the requirements (that being laughs) and then some!

Violent William Lustig actioner centers around a group of citizens (led by Robert Forster and Fred Williamson) forming a vigilante group to eradicate the criminals in their town who have either harmed or killed their families. As I said, this is a violent William Lustig acitoner. What's not to love?

Amazing German action flick about a secret CIA organization entitled "Wardogs". This group consists of vets who have been brainwashed to kill innocent civilians. This prompts Charles Stewart (Timothy Earle) to wage war against the "Wardogs", with the death of his brother furthering his vengeance. Insane action sequences are littered throughout, with the film only losing steam near the end!


Dr. Freex said...

Awesome list - made even more awesome by the proper use of "premier", which automatically elevates you in my eyes!

Dusty said...

Really great list, Justin. I envy you: I wish I could see Duck Soup again for the first time. It's amazing how current it feels, doesn't it? Happiness was a real touchstone movie for me. Just the fact that Solondz makes you feel someone empathetic towards his people...but still cringe at the same time.

Can't wait to hear your podcast.

Ned Merrill said...

Many favorites on here. DARK DAYS remains one of my best theatrical experiences, seeing it at Cinema Village in 2000. It's one of the one-sheets they keep hanging permanently, so I'm reminded of that whenever I see anything there.

Was so thankful that COONSKIN / STREETFIGHT came out on legit DVD last year...looks fantastic and I can appreciate and understand it a helluva lot more than I did when I was watching it in '87 when I was 9. ;-)

HAPPINESS is another of my '90s favorites, which I saw a bunch then and haven't revisited in many years...definitely a love it or hate it film, as is the case with most Solondz (we share the same hometown so I feel particularly connected to some of his work). Had that great Daniel Clowes poster up on my wall in sophomore or junior year of college after we brought the film to the campus film series. Good stuff.

THE HIDDEN is another favorite from when I was 9 and 10...I need to revisit.

Agreed about's my favorite Mann by a long country mile. Watched it repeatedly in high school (and listened to the TD soundtrack) and saw a 35mm print a few years ago, which really solidified it for me. Caan and Weld in the coffee shop is a master class in performance and writing.

Hoskins, of course, kills it in LONG GOOD FRIDAY. I need to see MacKenzie's less heralded follow-up BEYOND THE LIMIT, one of these days. And, who can forget Francis Monkman's incessant main theme music?!

Love MAJESTYK, another one blessed with a great Charlie and a great score (this one from Charles Bernstein).

DUCK, I think I need grab my Marx Bros. collection off the shelf and jump into a marathon.