Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2015 - Gavin Rye ""

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Film Discoveries of 2015 - Gavin Rye

Gavin Rye is a life long film fanatic and sometime filmmaker when time allows it. He can be found on twitter @jewbo23, or more actively on letterboxd
Requiem for a Village (1975)
The BFI Flipside label is filled with gems from British cinema. Some of their releases have never even seen the light of day on VHS, let alone DVD and their Blu-Ray packages are always stellar quality. Requiem for a Village is set in rural Britain, which always strikes a chord with me as I live in a small town surrounded by farmland. The film is hard to describe, but we are basically shown around a village in Suffolk and then, as if from nowhere, the past comes alive, literally, as the dead rise from their graves and go to church to continue their daily lives. This is certainly no zombie film though, the dead all rise well dressed and with no taste for flesh at all. We are then just casual spectators to the rural way of life. We witness such things as wheel making and blacksmiths as they hammer away at red hot horseshoes. Things do threaten to get a little dull, but at just 66 minutes long, it knows not to out stay it’s welcome and makes for a wonderful, gentle watch.
High Noon (1952)
I’ve never been a fan of the western. I’m not sure why, but they have always left me underwhelmed, even the classics, but in my aim to watch every film on the IMDb top 250, I gave High Noon a go with zero expectations and was taken back by how much I liked it. It’s beauty comes from it’s simplicity. A very basic plot of a town sheriff trying to rally people together to help him fight a group set out to kill him. We just follow him around town in real time as person after person refuses to help him. It exudes tension and it pays off in a great final showdown.
How to Slay a Vampire (1995)
I love shot on video horror from the 80s and to me, the kings of that sub genre are Mark and John Polonia. The twins have a filmography of nearly 40 films and Mark continues to direct after John’s untimely death a few years back. I limit myself to just a few of their films a year as I hate the idea of running out of them. What they lack in technical merit and talent, they more than make up for in heart and How to Slay a Vampire was my favorite of theirs that I saw this year. It stars the brothers as they discover a vampire in a rolled up rug with a used tampon in his mouth. The film is almost entirely just the pair on screen chatting away and sending everything up. They talk about how bad the film is, chat to the director and even consult the script. At one point they even stop the film to watch and review a cartoon. It’s an odd experience that needs to be seen to be believed.
Rope Cosmetology (1978)
I delved into the Japanese Pinku sex films a little this year and found a few surprises, but none as surprising as this one. Kanako, has a husband that doesn't seem all that interested in sex and so when she sees an old friend that is treated like a dog by her husband, which includes being led around on a leash and being made to bark, she convinces her husband to come along for a session and then gets trained herself. Not for the light hearted, Rope Cosmetology goes from one depravity to another, each one topping the last until we get to the pinnacle where a real dog is introduced to the game. Not one to show your mother lets say.
Monkey Kung Fu (1979)
I’m slowly making my way through the Shaw Brothers kung fu catalogue and Monkey Fu was the best I saw in 2015. It has elements of comedy, which don’t always work with these films and it doesn’t always here. But we do get some of the most amazing fight scenes I’ve seen in any martial arts movie. Highlights include an old man giving a beating to a younger guy with a rolled up mat whilst hardly even getting up from a sitting position and a great scene where a man fights whilst holding a birdcage, expertly keeping it level at all times. Another pair fight as they are chained together by the leg, incorporating the chain expertly into the choreography. The story is a little thin, but with a stunning fight scene every five minutes or so, that’s easily forgiven.
Possibly in Michigan (1982)
I was originally drawn to this short film by it’s title. Possibly in Michigan. I don’t know why, but I find it to be one of the best titles I’ve ever heard. It’s like a vague answer to a question never asked. As for the film, I’ve seen nothing like this before in my life. The film put me into a trance for 11 minutes. Sing song dialog, Strange cut aways to a man running, a guy with a creepy wide mouthed mask on just meandering in the background constantly. There’s a strange soundtrack of catchy songs too that haven’t left my head since watching. It all feels like an amazing dream you’ve had that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t explain it to anyone. It’s all borderline genius and genuinely one of the best things I’ve ever seen. I’ve showed it to everyone willing to watch and some that weren’t and it seemed to leave an impression on all of them.

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