Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Zack Carlson ""

Friday, January 24, 2014

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Zack Carlson

Zack Carlson is a creature of modest means who exists primarily on couch crumbs and other sustenance he finds in the ball pit. He's voted for Popeye in the past six presidential elections and he's not going to stop until the man wins. He's seen a few movies in his day, but when confronted about them he typically mumbles about taco fillings. This is Zack's 4th year contributing and I highly recommend going back and looking at his older lists:
Instead, I watched these:

10) DIRTY LITTLE BILLY (Stan Dragoti, 1972)
Tiny, shifty-eyed, nasal creature Michael J. Pollard is possibly the most bizarre human to ever be warmly embraced by the Hollywood system. His supporting role in 1967'sBonnie and Clyde garnered him an Oscar nomination, and critics praised him for the deeply unusual character that he'd devised: a sniveling, neurotic, muttering worm of a man. He was immediately thrown into major roles opposite enormous acting legends like Robert Redford and Oliver Reed... until executives caught on to the fact that Pollard's character in Bonnie and Clyde was actually just HIM. His career trajectory shifted, and he ended up in this tragic, claustrophobic low-budget western from the future director of Mr. Mom. Pollard is reliably squirmy and twitchy here as the pre-legendary Billy the Kid, who shacks up with two self-destructive maniacs in a bar and waits for the world to fall in on them. Also, this film features a lot of mud. Seriously. Too much mud.

9) TOY SOLDIERS (Daniel Petrie Jr., 1991)
Renting a movie that stars Wil Wheaton, Sean Astin and Louis Gossett Jr is like eating a candy bar you find under your refrigerator. In this case, it was a satisfying Milky Way rather than a shriveled ol' Zagnut. 
Terrorists invade a private school and it's up to five juvenile delinquents to bring the trained killers to their knees. Implausible as hell, but unexpectedly violent and well-acted. Keith Coogan (the stoner brother from Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead) spends 90% of the movie running around in his briefs, which is a plus for some viewers but a minus for others. One thing we can all agree on is that there's nothing more heartwarming than the bullet-ridden body of a child actor.

8) A HERO NEVER DIES (Johnnie To, 1998)
I can thank/blame Lars Nilsen for this one. Johnnie To is a master of turning action film cliches into melodramatic lunacy, and here he takes that skill to the infinimegamax. It's a good thing that Hong Kong has no laws, because any western filmmaker that attempted anything like the closing twenty minutes of this movie would be thrown naked into an electric chair.

7) IMITATION OF LIFE (John M. Stahl, 1934)
Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers star as best friends weathering life's many brutalities as they build a major pancake empire. Racism, heartbreak, loss and family tragedy rain down as the two pals battle onward towards the grave. 
In the midst of all this, knee-slapping comic relief is provided by Ned Sparks, a stone-faced character actor whose personality makes Sam Donaldson look like Carrot Top. In fact, Sparks was so devoted to his dour screen persona that he reportedly took out an insurance policy against anyone ever capturing a photo of him smiling.

6) RAYMIE (Frank McDonald, 1960)
A ten-year-old boy enjoys fishing off a pier with old men. That's it. Opening credits theme sung by Jerry Lewis for no reason whatsoever. He doesn't appear on screen. Not even once. Instead, you get raspy grandpas complimenting young Raymie's line-casting technique. I loved every single second.

5) THE SKIN I LIVE IN (Pedro Almodovar, 2011)
Sex is a ridiculous, punishing, horrible error, and no filmmaker champions that fact like Pedro Almodovar. His work reliably features sadomasochism, gender daredevilry, genital hatred, venereal disease and/or life-wrecking infidelity. After nearly twenty features, you'd expect his personal psychopathia sexualis to simmer a bit, but he's clearly just getting warmed up. It's really pretty shameful that this was Spain's biggest cinematic export of 2011 while Hollywood was simultaneously releasing the Russell Brand remake of Arthur. Smooth move, whiteys.

4) CARDS OF DEATH (W.G. MacMillan, 1986)
Gambling addicts in hobo masks being chainsawed by new wave dominatrixes while priests get impaled on fences. Written and directed by one of the lead actors from the third Dirty Harry movie. How the hell did this happen? Look here for answers (but you won't find any):

3) WELCOME HOME, SOLDIER BOYS (Richard Compton, 1971)
A grim, grim, GRIM exploration of the emotional and moral detachment experienced by young veterans returning from Vietnam. Big boy Joe Don Baker and the skinny-assed, underrated Paul Koslo (Mr. Majestyk; Freebie and the Bean) are among a group of four all-Americans set loose on the open road with zero faith left in God, country, and the future of mankind. Their emotionally disabled search for who-knows-what abruptly leads them to one of the most pitch-black screen finales in history, an explosive symphony of violent, sadistic hopelessness. 
I truly can't imagine how audiences would react to the film's closing act, even today. The fact that it was released by 20th Century Fox seems flat-out impossible, and more so considering that the Vietnam war was still well underway when Welcome Home, Soldier Boys hit theaters. I should probably make some kind of good-natured joke to lighten the mood here but I think I'll just go kill myself instead. PS: None of you guys can have any of my stuff.

2) THE BOYS NEXT DOOR (Penelope Spheeris, 1985)
I'm ashamed that I hadn't watched this earlier, especially since Spheeris' previous feature Suburbia is my #1 all-time favorite movie, now and forever. I guess I'd feared that The Boys Next Door would be a massive dip downward from perfection so I'd kept it at a distance. Or maybe it's my innate disdain for Charlie Sheen. Either way, I was being a doof.
Like Welcome Home, Soldier Boys, this film centers on masculine self-destruction AND it has the word "boys" in the title. Sheen and Maxwell Caulfield star as two graduating teens who take a hard look at their lives and then decide to end everyone else's. It's a chaotic, brilliantly written storm of homicidal misanthropy, featuring cinema's single greatest peeing-in-a-pool scene. No contest.

1) BLONDE DEATH (James Dillinger, 1983)
A captured-on-camcorder saga of teen alienation, serial murder and nude butts. A lawless, hilarious attack on parenthood, Christianity and the Disney empire. A major achievement shot for less than $2000 by an ignored genius who'd end his life before making another film. A supremely entertaining lost masterpiece. THE. REAL. DEAL.
Feel free to read the full review here:

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