Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - A.J. Hakari ""

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - A.J. Hakari

 A.J. Hakari runs CINESLICE( and can be found on twitter here:
His reviews and general movie chatter are worth a look and I must admit he's turned me on to many a film.

Biopics aren't usually my bag; rare is the film that isn't the cinematic equivalent of reading from a famous figure's Wikipedia page. But the brutal and dreamlike All That Jazz is an exception to the rule, a film in which director Bob Fosse reserves the harshest of criticisms for his onscreen surrogate, Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider). Gideon may be depicted as an artist literally working himself to death, but he's also shown to be a confirmed womanizer and junkie forced to think upon his life's many sins as he feels his mortality slipping away.All That Jazz is powerful and potent, bringing an incredible style to an intensely dramatic narrative without coming across as gaudy.

One of the silent era's biggest smashes,The Big Parade was the face that launched a thousand war films. John Gilbert's Jim Apperson guided viewers through what would be among the most no-nonsense depictions of combat at the time, going from a well-to-do youngster to hardened veteran seeing his comrades picked away before him. IfThe Birth of a Nation gets credited as the first major feature to help the cinematic medium be taken seriously, then The Big Parade is one of its swan songs, a great burst of effective storytelling and startling imagery before sound set up shop in Hollywood.

I wrote about A Slight Case of Murderfor our esteemed blogmeister's Underrated Comedies series earlier this year, but I can't stress my love for this film enough. This farce about Edward G. Robinson's gangster in the process of going good is a jolly good riot, filled with all manner of doors being slammed and corpses being carted around. Dark as its undertones may be, the film retains a lightness that makes its appeal irresistible and has even its corniest gags putting a smirk on your mug.

WHITE HEAT (1949) 
Though it seems as if the decades of jokes and references to its famous dialogue might've ruined White Heat, its status as a compelling crime drama hasn't suffered in the least. James Cagney still puts on an amazing, career-defining performance as Cody Jarrett, a disturbed criminal who unknowingly takes an undercover cop (Edmond O'Brien) into his gang. Wondering if O'Brien's character will be found out is suspenseful enough, but Jarrett is so unhinged, you start worrying about the well-being of his own fellow crooks. All the bad Cagney impressions in the world can't bring down White Heat, which is as enthralling as a character study as it is as a caper flick.

The Wrong Man was one of the last major Alfred Hitchcock films I had left on my to-see list, and man, am I kicking myself for not popping it in sooner. It's unlike anything he's ever done, a very cold and realistic procedural following Henry Fonda's everyman musician as he's accused of a crime. There are no instances of droll humor or winks to the camera here; there's only the clang of jail cell doors, the apathy of the law, and Fonda's weary gaze as he asks himself the question that's on our minds for 105 utterly gripping minutes -- Why him?

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