Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2014 - Paul Freitag-Fey ""

Friday, January 16, 2015

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2014 - 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!

Here's his 2013 Film Discoveries list:

The Glass Cage (1964)
The death of actress Arlene Martel caused me to Antonio Santean's crime thriller, one of her sole starring roles, in which she plays a pair of twin sisters involved in a murder plot.  More than just a great showcase for Martel's talents (the sisters are, of course, diametric opposites), THE GLASS CAGE manages an odd, hypnotic tone halfway between BLAST OF SILENCE and DAUGHTER OF HORROR, a dreamlike nature that the film's low-budget origins only help.  It's an impressively lurid tale that certainly deserves more than the obscurity it currently has, and King Moody steals the show as a deranged artist who finds his affections unwanted.

Detention (2011)
I'm not quite sure why I dismissed Joseph Kahn's DETENTION so easily when it was released a few years back -- maybe because it's from a director mostly known for music videos and TORQUE or due to the only big name actor in the film being Dane Cook.  In any case, I'm glad I caught up with it, as it's a wild, genre-bending high school adrenaline rush in the best of ways, and the fact that the film is misdescribed as a tale of a vengeful prom queen may work to its advantage, as there's no way to properly explain the relentlessly bizarre happenings that the film actually entails.  Just sit back and enjoy the ride -- you'll be able to judge within the first minute if the breakneck pace is your speed or not.

Death Occurred Last Night (1970)
The Eurocrime films of the '70s have always been intimidating to me, mostly because I'm never quite sure where to start.  Duccio Tessari's DEATH OCCURRED LAST NIGHT, released this year on Blu-ray from Raro, is a fine example of the poliziotteschi at its most lurid, a story of a young, mentally-challenged, sexually ravenous girl who vanishes and the father who wants her back.  DEATH presents an impressive slight of hand in its storytelling, as while the central character is the detective investigating the case, it's Raf Vallone's distressed father that makes the film so compelling. It's a grim, soul-sucking work in the best of ways, even if the bizarrely upbeat score tends to undermine the tone. 

Buried Alive (1990)
I've spent this year looking at the films made for the USA Network during the '80s and '90s, and have grown a new respect for the constricting format of the made-for-TV film.  One of the most pleasant surprises was 1990's BURIED ALIVE, directed by future A-lister Frank Darabont, a surprisingly shocking and grim neo-noir about a love triangle to which the titular event is just the beginning.  Making great use of its performers at their best (Tim Matheson as a nice guy pushed too far, Jennifer Jason Leigh as a duplicitous-yet-confused housewife and William Atherton as a total sociopath) and featuring some genuinely claustrophobic moments, BURIED ALIVE is the type of slow boil thriller that deserves a much greater reputation than its boob tube origins suggests.

Boardwalk (1979)
In 1979, Walter Hill's THE WARRIORS made Coney Island-based street gangs seem exciting, but Stephen Verona's BOARDWALK, released the same year, shows them as symptoms of a changing environment, as an elderly Jewish couple (Lee Strasberg and Ruth Gordon) is forced to deal with the fact that the neighborhood they've lived in for decades is no longer the one they're comfortable in.  A heartbreaking tale of cultural change, BOARDWALK examines issues of race, religion and urban decay with care, thanks to a solid script and excellent performances.  The poster art, for some reason, sells the film as a comedy about old people doing zany things, which may account for the film's unfortunate dismissal. 


George White said...

The wrong poster for Buried Alive. That poster's from the 1990 Harry Alan Towers Pleasence-Vaughn-Ginger Lynnn slasher.

highwayknees said...

@George white: I beg to differ Mr. White. The poster/box has the right actors names and credits printed on it. Not that a mistake like you are posing couldn't happen but, I also recognize Tim Matheson in the pic- so , that would be a difficult mistake to make!