Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Paul Freitag-Fey ""

Monday, January 13, 2014

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Paul Freitag-Fey

Paul is the man behind the sensational Psychotronic Netflix Facebook group. Go there, like it and watch as the great Netflix Streaming film recs start rolling in!
He's also a writer for Daily Grindhouse and you should check him out there as well:
Newcomer Vinegar Syndrome exposed me to two of my favorite discoveries of 2013, and they're both very different. 
THE TELEPHONE BOOK (1971) is a wild conceptual art comedy about the relationship with the "world's greatest obscene phone caller" (Norman Rose) and a young woman played by Sarah Kennedy.  A surreal screwball farce that defies any kind of rational explanation, it may drag on a bit, but if you wait more than a couple of minutes, the tone and imagery will shift so rampantly that you won't remember any dead spots. 
MASSAGE PARLOR MURDERS (1973) is a different sort of beast, a seedy excercise in sleaze that feels like a more polished H.G. Lewis film.  Essentially a serial killer flick about the murders of purveyors of erotic massages in the New York area, the film has enough sordid charm to make it rise above a lot of the similarly-themed flicks of the time.  And what an ending! 
I'm so glad I had the chance to see THE SWIMMER (1968) for the first time in a theater.  Frank Perry's adaptation of John Cheever's story about a man making his way home by swimming through his neighbors' pools is a great film, with an amazing performance by Burt Lancaster.  Perry continues to surprise me as a terrific, and terribly underrated, filmmaker with each film of his that I come across.

Similarly, I'm glad I got to see SABATA (1969) for the first time in a theatrical setting as well. 
SABATA (1969) is one of the goofier spaghetti westerns I've seen, but it works thanks to the charm of Lee Van Cleef.  It's a simple storyline, but damn, is it pure, unadulturated entertainment. 
I also caught up with John Cassavetes' THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE (1976), another flick I'm disappointed in myself to not have watched years ago.  Ben Gazzara's portrayal of a gambling addict forced into the title action thanks to owing money to the mob is captivating, and you can't look away from him for a second -- even if you'd really like to.  Plus, Timothy Carey! 
I know THE PHYNX (1970) isn't a good movie.  It's pretty much the anti-BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, made the same year, and it does everything BTVOTD does exactly wrong.  The plot is essentially a Monkees episode, as the government puts together a rock band in order to free hostages in a castle in Albania (including Colonel Sanders and Martha Raye), but damn, I fell for the ridiculousness of it all.  Self-consciously goofy and no doubt completely out of touch with the youth of 1970, THE PHYNX is such a facinating enigma that I couldn't turn away.

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