Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Phil Nobile Jr. ""

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Phil Nobile Jr.

Phil Nobile Jr is a writer and producer of non-fiction television content, and in his spare time is privileged to write about film for and its new print publication Birth.Movies.Death - More of a film enthusiast than a critic, Phil's first film memory is watching The Exorcist from the backseat of his parent's station wagon at the drive-in in 1973. You can find him on Twitter at @PhilNobileJr.

His column on what's interesting in the world of streaming movies at the moment - Phil's Big Streaming Pile - is always a great place to get recommendations. 

SUNDAY IN THE COUNTRY (1974) - I saw this as part of Exhumed Films' Ex-Fest in Philly, a 12 hour marathon of random titles which could easily comprise an entire "discoveries" list. When the credits rolled I called this The Last Borgnine On The Left. In the film a gentle, kindly farmer (Borgnine) enacts bloody Old Testament vengeance when he is mildly inconvenienced by three bank robbers on the run. Borgnine's overreaction to the gang's transgressions against his homestead would make this a good double feature with Street Law, the Italian thriller in which Franco Nero goes full-on Death Wish when thugs belittle his manliness.

RADIOACTIVE DREAMS (1985) - Another Ex-Fest discovery! This is a gem - 80s sci-fi dystopia packaged as a Hope and Crosby "Road" movie, courtesy DeLaurentis Entertainment Group. Michael Dudikoff sings and dances! And it's kind of a musical, because this happens:

LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (1945) - I'd been itching to see this since Martin Scorsese talked about it in his great documentary A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies. Leave Her To Heaven is, as far as I know, a singular creature - a Technicolor film noir! Every frame is a a marvel to look at, and the escalating nightmare of a plot rides the razor's edge between noir and melodrama perfectly. Twilight Time's blu-ray is gorgeous and limited and last I checked, still available. I'm also embarrassed, having made a 90 minute documentary on 1987's Fatal Attraction, that I never before realized how much that film's original ending borrows from this one.
THE HILL (1965) - Sidney Lumet's first collaboration with Sean Connery, about a military prison in Africa and the battle of wills between the jailed and the jailers.  Lumet's live television drama roots are showing in this stark, raw presentation, filling the screen Connery's (and a wealth of great character actors) face in high-contrast, sweaty close-up. It's so good that Lumet confidently presents his story with no score at all!

THE CONSTANT GARDENER (2005) - Sitting on the more emotional end of John le CarrĂ©'s "ineffectual protagonist" spectrum, The Constant Gardner goes beyond the author's trademark dry spin on espionage to delve into the terrifying, quiet evil of Big Pharma. Fiennes is spectacular here, but if you're a 40-something year-old male struggling with feelings of inadequacy, this movie might send you into a week-long depression.
THE ASSASSINATION BUREAU (1969) - Released the same year as On Her Majesty's Secret Service, this movie also shares a villain (Telly Savalas) and a leading lady (Diana Rigg) with that film. It's also a bit more arch, silly, and flat-out funny, but despite the tone and period setting, it provides the barest glimpse of what an Oliver Reed 007 might have looked like. 

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