Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Scott From Married With Clickers ""

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Scott From Married With Clickers

Scott and his wife Kat run the Married With Clickers podcast. It's a great show and you should listen. This is Scott's 4th year doing a discoveries list - see his old ones: Here 's his list of his top 10 discoveries of 2010: 2011:
1. Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
I bought a used DVD of this film purely on the basis of a photo in Foster Hirsch's Dark Side of the Screen. This Technicolor marvel has a really nasty underbelly.  Gene Tierney is brilliant as the jealous bride, unwilling to share her husband's attention by any means necessary. Director John Stahl gets downright Hitchcockian as we watch Tierney's character slowly unravel but are unable to warn those around her. It's a near perfect 'Noir in Broad Daylight' undermined by Vincent Price's hamminess in one of the final scenes. 

2. Reign of Fire (2002)
When a muscle-bound Christian Bale is the least macho member of the three male leads (Matthew McConaughey and Gerard Butler round of the group), you know you're in for some sweaty, manly fun. Did I mention that there are dragons? Did I mention that there's a great pseudo-scientific explanation of how dragons conquered the world? Did I mention that they kind of spoil Empire Strikes Back? This movie is dumb, but it sure is a lot of fun. Whoever made the decision to shave McConaughey's head should win an Oscar. I loved this one on so many levels.

3.  Rescue Dawn (2006)
It is difficult to find a director more attuned to the environment around him than Werner Herzog. From the mountains of the Andes to the caves of southern France, Herzog is a master of turning the natural world into a character. This is certainly the case with Rescue Dawn, as the cheerful optimism of German-American pilot Dieter Dengler is juxtaposed against the dense prison jungle encircling him. When Christian Bale's career comes to an end, people will have a treasure trove of performances to pick as his best. His work here gets my vote. Steve Zahn was also a revelation.

4. The Burglar (1957)
Dan Duryea looks as though he's aged 100 years in the decade that has passed from his heyday as Film Noir's favourite slime ball in the 1940s, but he wears it well. Rather than despise his small time crook trying to fend off his former allies and shady cops, all we feel is empathy for him. Jayne Mansfield is quite remarkable in a quiet, supporting role. The film has a sense of sweaty desperation and the use of Atlantic City as a backdrop helps drive the point home. This film inspired me to read more work by David Goodis and I will always be thankful to it for that.

5. Miami Connection (1987)
Have you heard about this kooky martial arts movie in with a bunch of friends play air guitar and fight their way through the mean streets of Orlando? Of course you have, but I finally saw it in 2013. I was lucky to see it on the big screen at the TIFF Lightbox with an eager crowd. I laughed; I cheered and maybe even jeered. It was the most fun I've had at the movies in ages.

6. A Farewell to Arms (1932)
This one is terribly old fashioned, nauseatingly sappy and pretty much near perfect. Let me say that the novel is one of my all-time favourites, so I went into this expecting the worst. How do you get that raw emotion onto the screen? If you try to ape Hemingway, you're doomed. Frank Borzage makes the wise decision to find a different way of fleshing out the characters and telling the story.  The action sequences are very impressive for 1932 and Cooper's performance is both charming and heart-wrenching.  It may not be perfect, but it inspired me to pick up my copy of the book the next morning and give it another read.

7. Juggernaut (1974)
Fasten your seat belts for some good, old fashioned fun in this disaster-thriller set on an aging cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic. It features a terrific cast led by Richard Harris, who will make you believe that he can steady his hands long enough to diffuse a bomb in rough waters. Director Richard Lester is able to manufacture suspense at all the right moments, but he also sprinkles some rather dark humour throughout, including a very dour costume ball that goes on as planned despite the bomb threat. This is a true treasure from the 70s.

8. The Lion in Winter (1968)
You know all of those movies about families bickering over Christmas? None hold a candle to the squabbles in the Lion in Winter. Katherine Hepburn won a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Eleanor of Aquitaine, but it is Peter O'Toole who steals the show as he morphs into the aged, weary but still vital Henry II. It is hard to believe that this is the same, slim, bright eyed youth who starred in Lawrence of Arabia and How to Steal A Million just a few years earlier. A very young Anthony Hopkins also gives a multi-layered performance as a future king battling some personal turmoil. The witty script combines with the masterful performances to make this 800 year old tale as relevant as ever.

9. Alphaville (1965)
Was I really going to live forever, and ever without having seen Alphaville? I had always been intrigued by what I knew of the film but had never found the time in my 41 years to sit down and watch it. Lucky for me, the TIFF Lightbox screened it this year and I had the pleasure of seeing it with an appreciative crowd. It was not at all what I had expected with a fairly loose narrative structure, some jarring editing and an overall weirdness (I'm still not sold on that computer voice), but I was won over by the visuals, the set design and, above all else, Eddie Constantine's granite face.

10. Chosen Survivors (1974)
It's a hybrid genre film (Animals Attack/Apocalyptic/Disaster/Government Paranoia) made on a modest budget (Holy Bat-Effects!) with a sub-Love Boat level cast (Jackie Cooper, Richard Jaeckel and that guy from Escape From the Planet of the Apes). This is by no means a 'good' movie and it may not even be a 'so bad it's good' movie' but it is entertaining in its own right and actually quite unique. The subterranean 70s sets are great and the over the top action set pieces somehow rise above their ineptness.

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