Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Zack Carlson ""

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Zack Carlson

Zack Carlson is a self-professed hobo/drifter/subterranean cannibal who spends his days driving a cab with Mr. T, Adam Baldwin and Gary Busey and his nights rocking and rolling with Jon Mykl Thor. He has a measured IQ above most pizza toppings and claims to have uncovered a ancient recipe for the greatest Steak-umm sandwich known to mankind. He's also melted his brain with an insane amount of film viewing. This is Zack's 3rd year and I highly recommend going back and looking at his older lists:

Boy oh boy, 2012 was just FULL of great movies that weren't made in 2012! The following features offered me the most entertainment I've ever experienced... since 2011!:


10) DEFIANCE (1980; John Flynn)
This Jan-Michael Vincent vehicle is probably easily dismissed as "just another NY vigilante movie," which it is. But director Flynn has just enough flashes of maybe-accidental inspiration to make it burrow into your noodle. Most notably the scene where neighborhood kids steal a big dead fish from Danny Aiello and throw it in Jan-Michael Vincent's lap, leading to the immortal line: "Hey, I'm just hangin' out with my fish." Also, this is the first of three Art Carney movies in my Top Ten this year. Call it a sexual obsession.

9) THE SECRET OF MAGIC ISLAND (1957; Jean Tourane)
A week in the life of a small town. We meet the mailman, the schoolteacher, the train engineer, and all the other citizens as they go about their daily business. Oh. And they're all animals. Actual, genuine, bona fide lil' buddies of all sizes and species. Squirrels sweep porches. Frogs hop through crosswalks. And a "villainous space age" monkey kidnaps a cat away to Magic Island, who awaits rescue by a puppy and a duckling. Here's the movie I'd waited half my life to see, and truly believed I'd never find. This would easily have been #1 on this list, except the wee creatures' voices aren't dubbed in. Instead, some sleepy old European fella narrates the entire damn thing. What a jerk. Shut up, le grandpa... we're trying to watch a fox shampoo a goose! 


8) THE GRAVY TRAIN a.k.a. THE DION BROTHERS (1974; Jack Starrett)
Here's the shame title on my list; the one that I shoulda seen years ago. And hotdoggatron, was it ever worth the wait. Two-fisted filmmaking meganut Jack Starrett (who directed the unparalleled Race with the Devil AND co-starred in First Blood) serves up a spastic, conscience-free hoedown of goofball gunplay, instilled with 100% incredible performances from leads Stacy Keach and Frederic Forrest. Also, ever wanna see a six-man battle in a collapsing building while a wrecking ball is smashing through crudbags in cheap suits? Well here ya go.

7) WINTER KILLS (1979; William Richert)
John Huston is widely considered to be one of Hollywood's greatest directors, but it's his acting that really flibbers my jibbits. His performances in wingnut films like The Visitor and the notorious Myra Breckenridge established him as one of cinema's wildest wildmen. Here, at 69 years old, he appears in a speedo and shatters all rules. The movie is a blinding barrage of nonsensical espionage, packed with violence (Jeff Bridges actually breaks Anthony Perkins' arm on screen) and unanticipated nudity. Sterling Hayden -- who was at this point a nigh-schizophrenic lunatic -- portrays a nigh-schizophrenic lunatic. Elizabeth Taylor shows up uncredited to add another layer of wide-eyed shrugs to a dangerously entertaining cornucopia of international subterfuge horseshit. Highly recommended!!

6) THE UNHOLY THREE (1925; Tod Browning)
A grim, absorbing circus-flavored crime thriller from the great Dracula filmmaker and Lon Chaney Sr, who gives the best performance I've seen from him. Three good-fer-nothin' circus goons (including dour midget Harry Earles from Browning's Freaks) hatch a cross-dressing scheme to bilk folks from their hard-earned cash. Things go awry, damsels get distressed, and everything goes to hell in this melodramatic silent whammy.  

5) GOING IN STYLE (1979; Martin Brest)
I sure do love old men. Their high pants, their shuffling gait, and -- most importantly -- their frustrated, impatient disgust with society. I've been training to be a bitter old man for my entire life. And this movie empowers grandpapas like no other, bringing George Burns, Art Carney and stage legend Lee Strasberg together as a trio of retirees forced into cohabitation by their swindling financial states. As they whittle away their final years, Burns is struck with the realization that life is meant to be lived. And what better way to end the ride than a bank robbery? But the real story is what follows, as the three friends have to deal with the consequences of their actions and the shrapnel of their lives. The movie's a towering pile of unbelievable accomplishments, especially a moment where Burns revisits old memories and loses control of his emotions and body.
on Youtube: HERE

4) FURIOUS (1984; Tim Everitt & Tom Sartori)
 This California-produced transdimensional karate epic features new wave robots dancing while a warlock shoots a chicken out of his fingertip. Feel free to ride the darkness via my review on Bleeding here.


3) FIRSTBORN (1984; Michael Apted)
Teri Garr stars as a hard-working mom whose sons (Corey Haim and Sleepaway Camp's Christopher Collet) are both her burden and her caretakers as she enters into a destructive, co-dependent relationship with a lowlife, convincingly played by Peter Weller. '80s coming-of-age movies are almost universally loaded with parties, convertibles and boners. But take it from someone who really came of age in the '80s: it was an era of single parents, stolen bicycles and the ever-present odor of hopelessness. Peter Weller... what a butthole. 


2) QUEST (1984; Elaine Bass & Saul Bass)
Design legend Saul Bass was best known for award-winning title sequences and groundbreaking poster art, but his few forays into filmmaking show that he shoulda been carried down Hollywood Blvd on the shoulders of billionaires. Quest runs less than 30 minutes but packs in eons of metaphysical insanity, apexing in a scene where a young man plays lazer chess against a sasquatch on top of a ziggurat.

1) HARRY & TONTO (1974; Paul Mazursky)
The day after I watched this movie, I watched this movie. The following day, I went to my pal's house and we watched this movie. A week later, I watched this movie. In fact, I recommend that you watch this movie. 

Art "Art Carney" Carney stars as Harry, a man 20 years older than Carney was during shooting. Sick of his rotten goddamn life in New York, Harry embarks on a cross-country road trip with his feline companion Tonto, encountering washouts, drunks, deadbeats, spazzes, prostitutes, goof-assed cops, and all the mildly-to-wildly broken members of Harry's own family. The performances are so authentic that it's voyeuristic. 

This movie had the most thunderous impact on me out of anything I saw/did/ate in 2012. If you love old men and flawed, truly genuine human beings, Harry & Tonto is the greatest thing you can experience. If you don't like those things, please go straight home and be dead.


Ned Merrill said...

Not as big fan of DEFIANCE when I finally caught up with it a few years back, though I do love Jan-Michael and it's a riot seeing him get jumped at the Delancey St. stop, now part of a heavily gentrified Lower East Side and East Village.

I dig GRAVY TRAIN and Starrett as well--"Startin' to dislike you, boy."--

WINTER KILLS is a good. I still have my old school Embassy VHS. Wild Bill Richert was here in NY a few years ago with his entire oeuvre and showed WK with a brief added on alternate ending. I recommend his follow-up SUCCESS.

FIRSTBORN was on regular rotation in the early '90s on HBO and my brother and I got to know it very well. On top of that, it was filmed in familiar spots in towns nearby our NJ hometown. I wish that Olive Blu-ray had some extras--such as a trailer.

Collet and his wife have a Pilates studio a couple blocks from my apartment, but I STILL haven't run into him on the street.

Paul Mazursky is probably the most underrated NYC director. HARRY AND TONTO was one of my favorite discoveries of 2012, though I chose to put Mazursky's AN UNMARRIED WOMAN on my list.

SteveQ said...

You must not have seen "The Unknown" (1927), an even better Chaney performance in a Browning film (and circus film at that). The psychological horror of the ending actually made me puke, something no gore film ever did.

Unknown said...

I LOVE The Unknown, and you're right. He is incredible in it.