Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Josh Johnson ""

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Josh Johnson

Josh Johnson directed a wonderful documentary all about VHS called REWIND THIS! and it is available digitally with extras here(including the soundtrack which is awesome): It is also now available on DVD and VHS here:
Follow Josh's exploits on twitter here:  


This early Don Siegel film shows the peculiar mixture of workmanlike professionalism and character-driven eccentricity that would define most of his later classics. A fairly standard police procedural occurs, but the film comes to life in the scenes between crooks Eli Wallach and Robert Keith. The duo have a very strange, sinister, and arguably sexual dynamic that brings an unexpected dimension to their interactions. 

Released by Hammer Films between the first two QUATERMASS films, this is a fine example of British sci-fi with a dark edge. It delivers all the thrills of similar Cold War creature features, but with a sharp intelligence that transcends the genre. Jimmy Sangster devises a premise worthy of Nigel Kneale's work of the time, and sees it through to a thrilling conclusion.

Racial tensions, gender inequality, psychiatry, and systemic failure collide in a fiery crash of exploitation cinema. This movie is genuinely shocking. What makes it so special is that it is also thoughtful and occasionally insightful. It succeeds as a drama, despite the outrageous content it revels in. This is the frustrating dilemma at the core of the film: it has a lot to offer to a far broader audience than will ever be willing to sit through it.

GUMS (1976)
I never would have expected to enjoy a porn parody this much, or even at all. It is hard to resist a film this scrappy and irreverent though. While sending up various scenes from JAWS, along with its legendary score, it takes a lot of unexpected and slightly surreal detours. Featuring bizarro performance artist Brother Theodore in the scene-stealing role of Captain Carl Clitoris.

THE WELL (1951)
This film should be shown in classrooms, THE WELL takes a hard look at the racial divide in small town America like few films have dared to, and in 1951 no less. A black girl falls into a well, and her disappearance ignites a race war that brings an entire community to the verge of collapse. What happens next is best left unsaid, but the second half of the film explores and redefines its characters in fascinating ways. This is a lost gem that needs to gain wider exposure as soon as possible.

One doesn't necessarily expect to find the Ku Klux Klan as the villains in a story without any racial component, but that is exactly what happens here. The Klan is seen as a gang of individuals who keep their streets clean by occasionally criminal methods. Ronald Reagan is extremely effective as a district attorney who would love nothing more than to shut them down. Tense, focused, and a lot of fun.

Burt Lancaster is the ultimate charlatan, selling faith to those who need it. The whole movie feels like a molotov cocktail being hurled at the religious establishment, but also treats its characters with respect and sympathy. It uses a liar to expose other liars, and leaves us to figure out what we can allow ourselves to believe in.

A three and half our study of the trials involved with being in an open relationship. Jealousy, anger, resentment, excitement, lust, repulsion, love, and a range of other feelings are explored in depth, all while maintaining a loose, improvised feeling. It's as charming as it is devastating. 

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