Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Joe Gibson ""

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Joe Gibson

Joe Gibson is a Very Serious Cinephile living in Austin, T. He can be found on twitter @Karatloz and on Letterboxd(a highly recommended follow) here: http://letterboxd.com/zoltarak/. The dude watches an INSANE amount of movies each year. Good stuff too.

Here's his 2012 Discoveries List: http://rupertpupkinspeaks.blogspot.com/2013/01/favorite-film-discoveries-of-2012-joe.html

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I discovered a lot of things in 2013: Unmentionable sexual fetishes, cures for cancer nestled deep within soon-to-be-extinct Amazonian rainforests, and fire. But more importantly than all of that are the best movies older I saw, which I will try to enumerate here. Thanks as always to Brian Saur for asking me to participate.

THE BELLBOY (1960)
I tried to limit this to genuine discoveries, as in movies I hadn't really heard of or known about before 2013, but I had to include The Bellboy out of sheer appreciation for how much it blew me away. I've been learning to appreciate Jerry Lewis in a big way, and this is an early masterpiece from him, completely crystalline yet absolutely hilarious.

STREETWISE (1984)
This screened at the Alamo Drafthouse as part of a series on "tough films" about the late 70s/early 80s punk scene, but it was something of a black sheep among them because it's a documentary and these homeless (or almost homeless) kids in Seattle are fighting for survival rather than rebelling against authority by refusing to play blues riffs during their concerts (no offense to my punk brothers intended).
You might call it "direct cinema" or something comparable, but it has a visually poetic sensibility and a deep emotional impact that belies the way it was made. There's a definite sense of a truly invisible camera here, as director Martin Bell captures some incredibly wrenching sequences between the kids in a way that only a master documentarian could. There is one scene between a boy and his imprisoned father in which Dad seems to be playing to the camera a bit but it's also one of the best and most memorable scenes in the movie, go figure.
INTENTIONS OF MURDER (1964)
Black-and-white Cinemascope! This was my first (and shamefully, only so far) Shohei Imamura film, but it really hit all of my pleasure centers, particularly the ones connected to stylish and unorthodox camerawork and dark, heavy drama. Imamura has a Hitchcockian flair for imbuing mundane objects with menace - if I owned an iron, I'd think about this movie every time I looked at it.

THE ART OF VISION (1965)
One of the more inexplicable passions of the cinephile is the urge to sit in a theater and watch something really long and challenging. It's the cinematic equivalent of Mt. Everest, and my favorite experience in this field so far is Stan Brakhage's The Art of Vision, a four-and-a-half hour completely silent odyssey through Brakhage's psyche and anxieties as a young father in 1965. My friend Ben said "it makes 4 1/2 hours fly by like 3 1/2 hours," and it's completely true. Here's hoping for a screening of Andy Warhol's Empire in 2014 (although I can't imagine it'll be this great)!

THE HARDER THEY COME (1972)
Here's another borderline title for this list, as I'd always heard it was great before finally going to a screening this year. It's a special one, an explosion of Jamaican local color and also a surprisingly insightful examination of gangster myths and how they sometimes intermingle with less-murderous forms of pop culture in disturbing ways. And the music by Jimmy Cliff (who also stars) is OK, I guess.

REDNECK (1973)
I saw this at a Weird Wednesday screening hosted by Laird Jimenez who is taking the Weird Wednesday hosting spot permanently next year. And he couldn't have made his WW debut for a better movie, as this is every Weird Wednesday movie rolled into one compulsively watchable package. Action, suspense, deliciously tasteless plot turns, artistic pretense, bizarre humor, Franco Nero playing against type as a hilariously clumsy criminal, and Telly Savalas not giving a shit about anyone or anything. If you're looking for an entry point into the treasures of exploitation cinema, this is it.

VENUS IN FURS (1969) 
Probably the most important discovery I made in 2013, as it led me to see a bunch more of Jess Franco's films, with exponentially more to come (the guy was prolific). He's an exploitation god, and his sexy comic-strip aesthetic syncs up with my sensibilities like almost nothing else. And sometimes it's nice to start at the top - I've yet to see a Franco film as satisfying as this one, but I'm glad this one was the first. A recommended watch for giallo fans, too, as this one has one or two touches that would later become Dario Argento signatures.

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