Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2015 - Peter A. Martin ""

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Film Discoveries of 2015 - Peter A. Martin

Peter is the managing editor of Twitch Film. He began contributing to the site in 2005 and has never stopped, save for occasional periods when he has been "away." He is also a contributing writer for and other fine print and online publications. He is a member of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society. 

Here is another cool Film Discoveries list he did a while back:
Wild Boys of the Road (1933)
This was part of my re-discovery of William A. Wellman, who I knew previously only as the director of enjoyable mucho-macho movies like Beau Geste, Battleground, and The High and the Mighty. Lo and behold, Warner Archive opened up to me gems like Frisco Jenny, Heroes for Sale, Midnight Mary, and this entry, a lithe road movie that in its brisk 68 movies somehow encompasses all of life itself. Brilliant.

Rage (1972)
George C. Scott was so angry! After winning an Academy Award for Patton, he starred in the bristling and terrific The Last Run, the Paddy Chayefsky-scripted The Hospital, and Richard Fleischer's cynical/realistic The New Centurions. Then he made his feature directorial debut with this furious diatribe against the military and government conspiracies in general. His performance reflects the movie's attitude: seething, yet always in control.

The Yakuza (1974)
Before he veered off into larger-scaled, more mainstream entertainment, Sydney Pollack could definitely be mean and dirty, as evidenced by this tough thriller, reportedly written largely by Leonard Schrader, though his brother Paul Schrader reportedly muscled his way to credit along with Robert Towne. Whatever the true story, I loved the way that Pollack makes excellent use of Robert Mitchum as the brooding center of the piece, surrounded by a great cast.

The Cars That Ate Paris (1974) / The Plumber (1979)
My contemporaneous experience with Peter Weir began with The Last Wave, which I saw in a Los Angeles theater not too long after its release. Somehow I never caught up with his other work from that time perod, and I'm glad I finally got to see these two gems, which are dark and dirty and feature a very bleak sense of desperate humor; call them 'Oz noir.'

Hearts of the West (1975)
Jeff Bridges is rambunctious and charming, and he's surrounded by seasoned professionals in the supporting cast, led by Andy Griffith, whose oily persona is covered up by a sneaky smile. Howard Zieff only directed nine features and this rivals the delightful House Calls as his best, most rounded piece of screen comedy.

The Pack (1977)
Wild dogs attack people on an island. That's the premise and director Robert Clouse (Enter the Dragon) delivers exactly what's promised, but Joe Don Baker grounds the thrills with a convincing star turn. The real star, though, is probably film editor Peter E. Berger, who keeps thing super-tight and pulsing.

Demon Seed (1977)
Machines are evil! Granted, the idea of a super-computer raping a woman to produce his offspring is ridiculous and offensive, especially when that woman is Julie Christie. Roll that over in your mind and it becomes more offensive. Yet Christie is rather amazingly good, and the great director Donald Cammell doesn't make anything easy or less than genuine in the movie's stomach-churning terror. This is a movie that I resisted for years, but it's definitely worth a watch.

Angst (1983)
Director and cowriter Gerald Kargl makes a claustrophobic movie about a serial killer freshly released from prison who immediately looks for new opportunities to practice evil. He is despicable, and his actions and words quickly inspire dread that flowers into disgust and a sickening feeling that is even more disturbing than the violence that is depicted.

Pontypool (2008)
Tony Burgess adapted his own novel for director Bruce McDonald and it's startling how effectively it plays out on screen. It's a horror story set in a single location, a radio station in a small town that is struck by a mysterious virus. It's scary and thrilling and very, very dark and entirely disturbing to behold.

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