Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2014 - Matt Lynch ""

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2014 - Matt Lynch

Matt Lynch is Marketing Co-ordinator at the wonderful Scarecrow Video, one of the greatest stores known to cinephile-kind(It is a place I have yet to visit myself, but I hope to correct that before the year 2020). To say Matt watches a metric shit-ton of movies would be an understatement. Following his film watching exploits on twitter, tumblr & Letterboxd, is highly recommended. You should also listen to this interview I did with him a back in 2012: 
Matt also occasionally reviews movies for and The Stranger.

Here's his list from last 2012:

And from last year:
I wound up with a nice round 50-film list of great new-to-me stuff from 2014, which you can check out right here:

But these in particular stood out:

A huangmei opera film from the legendary Shaw Brothers, about a courtesan (Linda Lin Dai) torn between her love for her Emperor and her duty to her nation. Modern gender politics make the themes of this film somewhat unpleasant. To our eyes she's trapped in institutionalized sexual slavery. But she perceives her position as a royal concubine as the incredible honor her society would have deemed it, and her final sacrifice is all the more tragically beautiful for it. In fact, when she confronts the slimy bureaucrat who forced her into a politically advantageous marriage to a foreign warlord, she berates him: "You are a slave like a prostitute!"

EMMA MAE (1976)
Most versions of Jamaa Fanaka's feminist masterpiece are disingenuously retitled BLACK SISTER'S REVENGE. This is anything but a revenge movie. When naive country girl Emma Mae (brought to scorching life by Jerri Hayes, who unbelievably and unfortunately never acted again) comes to live with relatives in the LA ghetto, her idealism and potential gradually wither into desperation and cynical self interest while we watch as an entire culture is systematically denied socioeconomic opportunity, and every single support system either fails or is too deeply entrenched in the status quo to fulfill any promises. It's easy to want to see Emma Mae as a martyr, but really she's an emblem. That her story is microcosmic allows this to exist somewhat as a blaxploitation film. If it is that, it might be the greatest one ever made.

An astonishingly, blissfully cheap tokusatsu transmission about a 10,000 year-old skull-headed Atlantian superhero battling a claw-handed four-eyed plush doll who plans to destroy Earth by smashing another planet into it. Plus it has Sonny Chiba with a really nice beard and is only 73 minutes long. Shot in gorgeous black and white Toei-scope frames, sometimes dense with styrofoam rock formations or cardboard computers, other times dominated by negative black space that makes this entirely silly movie seem full of mysterious portent. This unquestionably deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as a classic like THE SUPER INFRAMAN.

A deceptively feminist redneck revenge thriller (written by Sue Grafton!), with two rival backwoods families finally erupting into total violence over the passions of a kidnapped young woman, revealing the secret loss behind their years-long feud. The central conflicts here are between emotionally stunted men who outwardly treat women as property but are actually totally crippled by their spiritual dependence on them for harmony and comfort. Directed by Richard Sarafian (of the great VANISHING POINT), with an absolutely incredible cast: Jeff Bridges, Ed Lauter, Gary Busey, Rod Steiger, Robert Ryan, Paul Koslo, Scott Wilson, Randy Quaid, and Season Hubley trapped between them.

One of the best shot-on-video jams I've ever seen, an act of pop vandalism. A lovers-on-a-beer-run movie, BADLANDS meets DESPERATE LIVING. Blown-out golden-lit handheld, wistful contrapuntal narration, but with incestuous spankings, mass murder, theme parks, and an eyepatch-wearing militant lesbian. Fuck your brains out, kill them all, and if you're lucky you'll die standing up on the top of a rollercoaster. Hopefully those heroes at Bleeding Skull will make this available to everyone in 2015, on VHS, the way it was meant to be seen.

Gorgeous, quintessentially Eurocore surrealism about young Sylvia, deeply into humiliation (Haydée Politoff from Rohmer's LA COLLECTIONNEUSE) but very sexually frustrated (she constantly has Super 8-filmed BSDM fantasies that look straight out of ZARDOZ with almost no prompting), who lucks into basically her dream job as a paid companion and submissive "slave" to a rich, vain model who's also a voracious dom. Simultaneously ostentatiously pervy, actually kind of sweet as you watch these two women slowly fall in love with each other, and eventually cynically heartbreaking. Sylvia truly longs to give herself over to her cruel mistress, who herself is anything but a fantasy. Be warned: not particularly transgressive or sleazy, but patience is rewarded, plus killer soundtrack and great clothes. Perfect Techniscope pastel glam.

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