Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2015 - Joe Gibson ""

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Film Discoveries of 2015 - Joe Gibson

Joe is a tireless regular contributor here at RPS and he made Underrated '85, '75 and '65 lists in 2015:
He can be found on twitter @Karatloz and on Letterboxd (a highly recommended follow) here:

NEMESIS (1992)
One of the directors I spent 2015 catching up on (a futile effort, given how prolific he is) was Albert Pyun, the infamous genre film king. I've been interested in his work ever since I saw him introduce his Captain America at the Drafthouse in 2011, but I have to admit that before I saw this I didn't really get what people meant when they called him a particularly kinetic or dynamic filmmaker. This may be his masterpiece, though, with beautiful firepower and special effects, all in a beautiful smog sunset LA tech noir atmosphere. Watch it the next 
time you're in the mood for cyborg shoot-outs.

Saw this at an Austin Film Society show but I'm still claiming it as a discovery. It's one of those underground horror movies that ended up being way more unsettling than it was intended to be, thanks in part to 60 years of retrospection. It's been a few months since I saw, and the image that's stuck with me the most is a corpulent, corrupt rich guy falling out a window to his death, followed by a bunch of his money - you can't take capital with you.

This was a Drafthouse show but I'm still counting it. The way Varda blends 80s video game aesthetics with lyrical romance is something that was always going to appeal to me, but I think it's meaningful that I didn't walk away disappointed. You might be if you're expecting a martial arts movie though.

This is actually for a specific short subject in the Seven Deadly Sins anthology - 'Lechery' by Jacques Demy. It is extremely good, funny and sexy in a much more irreverent mode than Demy usually operates in. I also watched a bunch of other Demy stuff for the first time this year, and I've yet to come across a less-than-very-good one.

BONE (1972)
But my most important auteur watching project in 2015 was catching up with the films of Larry Cohen. It sort of pains me to say it, but his first feature film is the best of the lot (of course, I haven't gotten to The Ambulance or As Good As Dead yet, so who knows), since Bone has a kind of art-film ambiguity that his later genre exercises only hint at. It's hard to imagine how different Cohen's career and reputation would be today if he'd continued making movies in this vein, darkly satirical without following the mandated commercial plot beats of less ambitious movies. All-time great Yaphet Kotto performance.

A samurai series by the Austin Film Society led me to Eiichi Kudo's "Samurai Revolution" trilogy, this being the final one. If you've seen Miike's 13 Assassins, you know the general plot structure, but what Kudo loses compared to Miike's carnage and bloodshed he makes up for in induced-documentary intensity. These are like the Battle of Algiers of samurai movies.

Tobe Hooper's followup to Texas Chain Saw Massacre seems on paper like it would be a rote rehash, but actually it couldn't be more different. Where TCSM makes no concessions to artifice in its pursuit of shock and terror, Eaten Alive is ALL artifice, splashy colors, wall-to-wall music, and deranged, over-the-top performances (including one from The God William Finley). The sick sense of humor that's buried under the surface of the earlier film is in full bloom here, much like it would later be in Hooper's actual Texas Chain Saw Massacre sequel. Deliriously entertaining.

I watch a lot of movies, and it's hard to always know which ones are going stick with you. I probably wouldn't have guessed this one would, but I find myself thinking about it a lot, not because it's particularly haunting or weighty but because it's such a superb example of its form, a lovers-on-the-run yarn set against the country music industry in pre-Linklater Austin, TX. OK, maybe I should have guessed this one would stick with me.

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