Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Jeremy Kinney ""

Monday, February 18, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Jeremy Kinney

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For about half my life, movies made prior to my birth year (1973) weren't worth my time. Every time someone would make me watch an "old" movie, I was always put off by the black and white or the stagey performances of the time. There were a few that were able to overcome this aversion, but only because I was too young to know better when I first saw them; also, most of those had monsters in them, and what little boy doesn't like monsters? Try showing me Citizen Kane in high school though, and holy hell, did I find that boring. Truth be told, I still do.

Without experiencing a sudden surge of interest in film noir in my early 20s, I might still be of that same mindset. I'm on my way to seeing more than 200 films released in 2012, and I still always look forward more than I do backwards. But I still love movies, and here are some I just got around to seeing. Some are older than others, but all are great times at the movies.

The Ipcress File - 1965 / Funeral In Berlin - 1966 / Billion Dollar Brain - 1967
I somehow had these all labeled incorrectly and ended up watching them ass-backwards. So, to me, this progression began a little more on the goofy side and ended a little more seriously. Had I seen The Ipcress File first, I think I might not have enjoyed the charms of the other two as much as I did. I prefer it serious, but it's hard not to have fun whenMichael Caine appears to be having a blast.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service - 1969
I'm not a Bond guy. I enjoy some, dislike more. Before Daniel Craig, my favorite Bond was Timothy Dalton, which probably tells you more than you need to know. In preparing for Skyfall, I thought I'd give old Lazenby a shot. I'm so glad I did. It immediately became my third favorite Bond movie and Lazenby became my third favorite Bond. Sure, it's a tad silly in that Bond spy tradition, but I enjoyed seeing Bond fleshed out into a believable man. And Britt Eckland? HOO BOY, she sure is purtty. The ending of this one kicked me in the sac so hard, I have a hard time believing it exists.

Slap Shot - 1977
I'm also not a big sports guy, but thanks to forced exposure to NHL 99, I'm a hockey fan. Not being a fan prior to that, I never cared to see this. At first, I didn't even know if I liked it. It wasn't until Michael Ontkean does what he does in the climax that it clicked for me. It was like a light bulb went off and I understood. Thank God.

Swordkill - 1986 / Smokey Bites The Dust - 1981
These films should never be put together under normal circumstances. I watched Swordkill as a time-waster. Four-hundred-year-old, recently unfrozen samurai running around in modern times. I knew what I was getting into, and I loved it. I didn't know I was going to fall in love with Janet Julian. I immediately sought out everything in which I could find her. I don't know much about Jimmy McNichol, but I had his and his sister's album when I was five years old. I can't even begin to describe the craziness of Smokey Bites The Dust. Does it have a plot? Maybe. But it's all in service to see high schoolers Jimmy & Janet on the run from the law. The entire movie is basically a non-sensical car chase. Lots of crashes. Lots of fun. From the director of Eat My Dust, I expect no less.

The Glove - 1979
John Saxon plays a bounty hunter hired to chase down a killer who kills with his giant metal glove. YES PLEASE.

Red Surf - 1989
I wasn't expecting much out of this pre-fame George Clooney effort other than myself looking googly-eyed at my man crush. What I found was a taut little revenge drama with Clooney giving a great performance as a drug-dealing surfer who just wants one last score so he can get out and give his woman the life she deserves. Things do not go according to plan. Obviously.

Deja Vu - 2006
At some point, I just stopped caring about Tony Scott. I still watched most of his movies, but some I just let slide by out of pure disinterest. Sadly, it took his death to make me revisit his catalog and realize what a truly special talent he had. This film vaulted to the top of my favorites before it was even over. One of my favorite car chases ever, with just one car! Every emotion is richly deserved and reminded me that when he had the material, Scott was a gifted storyteller as much as a visualist.

Busting - 1974 / Hanover Street - 1979
I ran across a Japanese poster for Busting that blew my mind and made me seek it out immediately. Elliot Gould & Robert Blake as cops, directed by Peter Hyams. Sounded like heaven to me. It was. It also made me realize that I had forgotten how much I LOVED Peter Hyams, at least his films of the 80s. I queued his entire filmography as soon as I was finished. I had never heard of Hanover Street, despite its starring Harrison Ford. I looked up the reviews of this and discovered that most people didn't seem to really care for it. I found it to be a great throwback to classic Hollywood romance / adventure films like Casablanca. Romance and adventure was a side of Hyams I'd never seen, and I'm sad he never really got to go back there.

Over The Edge - 1979
Rupert's been telling me to watch this for awhile. I did. He was right. If I didn't put it on here, I'd have to fear his wrath. I'd rather tell on a kid.

Blue Steel - 1989
Somehow this Kathryn Bigelow movie escaped me. A tight little thriller with great performances from Jamie Lee Curtis & Ron Silver.

The Squeeze - 1977
Stacey Keach as directed by Michael Apted in a British crime drama. One of Keach's great performances. I like to think I know my 70s crime movies, so why didn't I know this? Do you? Well, you should.

Deadly Lessons - TV 1983
I also went on a bit of a Diane Franklin kick this year. She's third billed in this made-for-television thriller, but she's the main character and thrust of the story. A weird little bloodless slasher / giallo that pretty much works. Early roles for Ally Sheedy and Bill Paxton, as well. I had fun with it. More movies should have starred Diane Franklin.
Can be viewed on YouTube Here: 

Dangerously Close - 1986
I like me some bad cinema. I'm a fan of Albert Pyun's Nemesis series. This movie surprised me with something I had never seen before in a Pyun film: style. The story (by star John Stokwell) of class war (emphasis on war) in high school is ridiculous, but fun. Future Bond girl Carey Lowell in her first acting credit.

and hands down, my favorite discovery of 2012:

THE NINES - 2007
A friend of mine made me watch it. I knew of it. I like Ryan Reynolds. Written and directed by John August who wrote GO, one of my favorite films of the 1990s. I can't even talk about it. To talk about it is to ruin it. This move blew me away. I walked home from my friend's place with the copy he rented for me and threw it right back on and watched it again. Then I watched it with commentary. Three times in the course of eight hours. Please see this movie. Please don't read the description. Walk in cold and be prepared to see something you haven't seen before. I don't expect it to become your favorite movie overnight like it did for me, but I know as film fans, you won't be able to deny it.

Honorable mentions:

Never Too Young To Die - 1986
Way Of The Gun - 2000
The Locals - 2003
She - 1982
Poliziotto Sprint - 1977
Space Rage - 1985
Saving Grace - 2000
Dangeroulsy Close - 1986
Terror Vision - 1986
River Wild - 1994
Cruel Jaws - 1995
Tilt - 1979
Double Trouble - 1992
Born - 2007
No Contest - 1995
Airborne - 1998
Tough & Deadly - 1995

1 comment:

Ned Merrill said...

Glad you dug OHMSS so's probably my favorite Bond, in that Lazenby's Bond is actually made vulnerable and the neophyte actor pulls it off! There's a seriousness and emotional depth missing from most of the other films, yet it still feels like a Bond film, whereas much as I've enjoyed Craig's Bond films, I'm getting leery of the constant "re-booting" going on in each of his three films and the feeling that the filmmakers are constantly trying to one-up their prior efforts at emotional resonance and import...I actually long for a little more of the goofiness and comic-book stylings, often justly maligned, of some of the Bond films of yesteryear.

Love Newman and SLAP SHOT and I realize it's been about five years since I watched it. Might need to fix that and also get in my dose of Maxine Nightengale's "Right Back Where We Started From."

In my estimation, Hyams made 2 of the greatest cop buddy films, BUSTING, in the earlier, less celebrated '70s phase of the cycle, and RUNNING SCARED made at the height of the '80s phase, which most people think of when they refer to "cop buddy" films. Gould and Blake are 2 of my favorite actors so perhaps my only regret with BUSTING is that Blake is short-changed in terms of screen time and character importance. Agreed that you can't really beat that BUSTING poster, a film that was blessed with about 3 or 4 films worth of awesome marketing artwork, when you collect all the different poster campaigns.

Rupert was right to steer you towards OVER THE EDGE and you were right to listen. That's another film on one of these lists, in which I envy the first-time viewer's opportunity to see it for the first time.

I also looked at THE SQUEEZE for the first time last year and enjoyed it quite a bit, as I love Stacy Keach and British crime films. And, the Warner Archive disc actually begins with the proper Saul Bass-designed red "worm logo," and not one of the new '00s-era Time Warner logos.