Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2014 - Sarah Jane ""

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2014 - Sarah Jane

Sarah Jane has seen over 4,100 films. She is partial to exploitation genre. She originally hails from Southern California but it currently stuck somewhere in the South West. She once studied to be a script supervisor. She generally uses a lot of curse words in her writing. Her ramblings can be found at letterboxd.com/fookthis.
--------

Sorcerer (1977; Directed by William Friedkin)
​I watched this amazing film back in April. I knew nothing about it going in. Briefly, four men, on the run for various crimes, end up hiding in a remote town in South American country. An oil company runs the town and when a fire happens at the refinery the only way to extinguish the fire is with explosive. The criminals are offered loads of cash to transport said explosives through the jungle back to the refinery. The journey of explosives is one of the most harrowing experiences I’ve had watching a film.
​By the time the movie ended I felt like I was punched in the gut. What an experience. It is rare for a film to make me feel something physically but this one managed to do it. Sorcerer is one of the films (along with Deep End and Fade to Black) that I feel is deserve a bigger audience.

Fade to Black (1980; Directed by Vernon Zimmerman)
A May discovery for the ages. Where the hell has this movie been all my life? Cinemonster @ Letterboxd turned me on to this one and thank goodness for it.
Dennis Christopher is one of a kind. I think you either appreciate him or you don't. There is no in between. In this film, he is an obsessed movie fan. In fact, I think obsessed is a little light. He is absorbed by cinema. Christopher is a bit of an odd duck. I've seen him in films like Breaking Away, California Dreaming, and Django Unchained. Again, I think you either get him or you don't. In this film, he is literally out of his mind. He dresses like Dracula. He thinks he is Cody Jarrett. He seems to have the best job on the planet, working in a film house. A young Mickey Rourke is one of his co-workers who gives Christopher shit. ​​​​I love the look and the locations of this film. I grew up in Southern California during this time period and everything looks fantastic. It made me want to flash back to this time period. I thought the interweaving of old films and the modern story was done well. I especially thought the use of Christopher Lee's Dracula was a nice touch. Whether that was because of the producers not being able to get the rights to the Universal film or whether it was a genius move, I am not sure, and don't really care. The print I saw was pretty pristine.

Killing American Style (1991; Directed by Amir Shervan)
I discovered this little gem back in July. This was my first (and not my last, thank you Samurai Cop!) Amir Shervan movie experience and what an experience it was. Shervan is an auteur in the sense that he was responsible for writing, producing, and directing this crazy piece of work but not in any PTA sense, just to clarify.
The film stars Harold Diamond (of kickboxing and AndySidaris films fame), Robert Z'Dar (of Amir Shervan movies and having the largest face ever fame), and Jim Brown (yes, THAT Jim Brown fame). I won’t bored you with the plot details. All you need to know is Z'Dar=bad guy, Diamond=good guy, Brown=cop. Well, that and this is bad filmmaking at its finest.
I love watching movies like this. Yes, they are really horrible but, like this one, they are mostly fun to watch. This one includes bad continuity, weird locations, and some nice kickboxing action from Diamond. I am all about a 'flurry'. If I see more than 5 fast hits/kicks in a row, I'm all in. Oh, Jim Kelly, how I miss you so...

Black Dynamite (2009; Directed by Scott Sanders)
Black Dynamite: Your knowledge of scientific biological transmogrification is only outmatched by your zest for kung-futreachery!
Here is another film I was introduced to in July. You should know I love Blaxploitation films. My (now) husband turned me on to the genre just after we met 10 years ago. So my love for them knows no bounds. I was afraid going into this one that I wasn’t going to like it. Thankfully, I was really surprised. I thought this film was terrific. I really enjoyed it. I felt it was an awesome and loving tribute to the genre.
Nothing gave me more joy when the pimp council scene started and I said to my husband "THAT is from Willie Dynamite!" There were so many amazing scenes and lines of dialogue in the film. Oh, and, Black Dynamite's black leather trench coat was brilliant. I hope Michael Jai White kept that piece of wardrobe. Or maybe, he already owned it. Even better!

Deep End (1970; Directed by Jerzy Skolimowski)
More July goodness was had when I watched Deep End. Where has this movie been all my life? Thanks to Letterboxd, I saw this on someone's list (I apologize for not knowing who posted it, but thank you!) and knew I had to see it.
The film is about "Mike" (John Molder-Brown), astunningly beautiful 15 year old who just left school. He gets a job at a public bathhouse (a bathhouse in the tradition sense of the word). There he meets "Susan" (Jane Asher); a slightly older but ever so hot red-head who he becomes obsessed with. Their relationship culminates in such a way that is both tragic and gorgeous. Clearly, there are some dubbing issues here (most of the crew and actors were German) but after a while I didn’t notice it. I was too busy being stunned by the beauty of what was happening on screen. If you haven’t already seen this, please seek it out.

Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (1960; Directed by Cyril Frankel)
This film from Hammer was a late November discovery. The story is about an English family who immigrates to Canada. The father has been offered a position as a school principal. The town is run by a rich and powerful family. This family has a secret; their patriarch is a known pedophile. The principal’s daughter and her friend are molested by the patriarch (along with countless others over the years). No one in the town has ever dared to have the old man prosecuted. That is, until the principal does.
​This black and white mystery/thriller is taught with suspense all the way through. I believe this might have been one of the first studio films that not only mentions, but openly discusses, the nastiness that is child molestation. This little film is well worth seeking out. The acting and direction are quite fine. Hammer made quite a few of this types of dramas. There was nary a monster to be found, well, at least not the kind that wears a black cape.

1 comment:

KC said...

I love the way you write--so fresh and open. It sounds like July was an especially great movie month for you! Great list.