Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Lars Nilsen ""

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Lars Nilsen

Lars is a programmer at Austin Film Society and there he curates repertory series in addition to midnight movies, new releases, independent films and classics. 
I love this quote from  AFS Artistic Director, Richard Linklater, regarding Lars being part of their team: “We have known Lars and his work for years, and are happy that one of our community’s most cherished and gifted curators will remain a major part of Austin cinema culture...” 
The Austin Film Society can be found here:
and Lars excellent AFS Viewfidners Facebook group can be found here: 

Also, check out Lars' lists from previous years:

BLONDE DEATH (1984): Zack Carlson turned me onto this shot on VHS obscurity. It is written and directed by James Robert Baker (aka James Dillinger). It was produced for L.A.'s EZTV video collective who commissioned "a film for young people." They got one. It's a rabidly nihilistic and deeply funny Bonnie & Clyde story from the cynical heart of the '80s. Violent, hilarious, the BEST. Partially filmed inside Disneyland!

CLEOPATRA (1934) (the DeMille version): Doomed to be overshadowed by the Elizabeth Taylor version, this one is actually a lot more fun. A big, kinky epic from the grandmaster of big kinky epics, Cecil B. De Mille. Claudette Colbert plays Cleopatra in this version and she is real woo-bait in her wigs and finery. The dialogue and its delivery are hysterical. Like a dream you never want to wake up from. Shortly after seeing this I programmed it at AFS and people still tell me they loved it.

EXECUTIONER (1974) (Sonny Chiba): Wow. This is seriously one of the most hyper-violent, super-stylized movies I've ever seen. I realized as I was watching this that I had been looking for JUST THIS MOVIE for years but hadn't known it. It's that rare thing, a completely satisfying action movie. Directed by the late great Teruo Ishii, who specialized in making secret art films within genres.

THE HUMAN DUPLICATORS (1965): I feel a little sorry for people who can't slow down their metabolism enough to enjoy classically psychotronic movies. I know that most people can't hang with the hypnotic, slow pace, but they should really try. Here's a good place to start, if you can find it without a bunch of unfunny robots talking over the soundtrack. Richard Kiel stars (and has a lot of lines) as a robotic sentinel who comes to earth for some reason or other. Full of very low-budget, ultra-psychedelic effects. I sometimes have a sneaking suspicion that higher lifeforms made movies like this to teach us something and that it's our job to decode the messages.  

LUCKY GHOST (1942): This is a 'race film' - a movie made for black audiences with an all-black cast. I had seen Mantan Moreland in "white" films, playing porters and wisecracking servants, but here he doesn't have to Tom it at all and he is hysterically funny. It's a huge revelation to see how black performers presented themselves to black audiences and how it differs from the way blacks were portrayed on the mainstream screen. A very funny movie about a couple of fun-loving drifters who drift their way into high (sepia) society, solve a mystery, and find love.

MEXICALI ROSE (1929): Barbara Stanwyck's second talkie and first real meaty part. I programmed this sight-unseen as part of a Pre-Code Stanwyck series at AFS and was glad I did. It's a typically hokey, stagey early talkie in a lot of ways but man, Stanwyck is from the future. She manages to not only assay the part of a gold-digging tramp with great vigor, but also to embed little indicators about how she feels about the role and the film. You can't take your eyes off her. She's the best.


PLAGUE DOGS (1982): I asked the Zellner Brothers to program one of their favorite films as part of our "That's Genius" series and this was by far their top pick. Filmmaker Martin Rosen joined us for a screening of his gorgeous 35mm print. Most people in the room had not seen it before, including me. I've rarely seen animation this good at all and most of it was from the pre-1950 era. Rosen's storytelling conception is perfect and the voice acting could not be improved. Some people probably avoided this film because it's sad. It is. But it is also really good. You should see it.

STRANDED IN CANTON (2005): We did another "That's Genius" show with Andrew Bujalski, whose COMPUTER CHESS is maybe the best new film of the year. He chose the movie that inspired him to shoot his film on a Sony Porta-Pack camera. The photographer William Eggleston used the camera to depict a bunch of Mississippi weirdos he knew as they sit around their living rooms, drinking, playing music, ranting, and pulling guns on one another. There are also moments of great beauty, such as when Eggleston's girlfriend smokes a cigarette underneath a rainy eave. It's a trip.

THE SWORD OF DOOM (1966): This one knocked me over. Chale Nafus played it as part of his Janus Films retrospective series. It's a samurai movie focusing on a villainous traitor played by the great Tatsuya Nakadai. I won't spoil the ending. I'm also not sure I could explain it. It's abstract and pure. It feels like it could be the culmination of the art itself in a way. It actually quickened my pulse a little and made me feel out of breath.

THE VICTIM (1980) (Sammo Hung): Can we give Sammo Hung some kind of major award please? You know for years people didn't talk about Chaplin or Keaton as directors, because their personalities overshadowed their brilliance as movie makers. Same with Sammo. We all love to see the fat man fight, but he's also a master of the camera and better than almost everyone at getting great physical performances. THE VICTIM is a cheap, cheap movie - but it has more complex setups and ambitious storytelling than practically any big budget movies. Sammo is a hero to everyone who truly loves movies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kudos for this line: "THE HUMAN DUPLICATORS (1965): I feel a little sorry for people who can't slow down their metabolism enough to enjoy classically psychotronic movies. I know that most people can't hang with the hypnotic, slow pace, but they should really try."

I hate it when I attend a revival screening and there are folks who start clucking at the screen like they are so above those old-time movies. So juvenile and childish. And, like you said, it's THEIR LOSS!