Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '66 - Brandon Smith ""

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Underrated '66 - Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith is an avid collector of films that is on an endless quest for more shelf space. Chef by trade, one the the few, the proud, the AGFA interns, and plans to one day be able to train his cats to sit. New to Letterboxd with three followers at Bsmith8168. On Twitter @Bsmith8168.
Check out his Underrated '76 and '86 lists here:
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/2016/08/underrated-76-brandon-smith.html
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/2016/06/underrated-brandon-smith.html
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The Face of Another
This film is in my top one hundred films of all time list, and I feel it should be as celebrated as any classic to come out of the '60s New Wave movement from around the globe. The Face of Another has everything going for it the acting is perfect, the tension is always cranked all the way up and makes you left hanging off the edge of your seat due to how explosive the lead is. After an interesting opening sequence of a man reciting dialogue shot through an x-Ray image we are shown the main character already covered in bandaged from an accident that has left him extremely scarred for life. After receiving an experimental mask from his doctor, the scarred man becomes a new person of sorts and all the mental damage that came with the scarring seems to form a new obsession that makes for a pretty amazing plot turn late in the film. Expertly shot in one of the most gorgeous black and white films I've ever had the pleasure to view, there really isn't a single thing I would change about this film. 10/10.

The Diabolical Dr. Z
Early Jess Franco piece that isn't completely loaded with sex and focuses on his other passion of violence. Horror/SciFi film that is about a mad scientist and his daughter and the human experiments performed to master mind control. The film is beautifully shot in black and white and has a certain grim tone that is a staple in the early films of Franco. Has a certain Eyes Without a Face (1960) vibe, mixed with classic early '30s mad scientist films, all mixed together with a French New Wave twist makes for a very unique formula. Not the usual balls to the wall film that Franco is known for, but is one of his best.
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Chappaqua
Chappaqua is a young man's journey through alcoholism and into narcotics and hallucinogenics and all the oddball characters he meets along the way. The is more or less an exorcise in style and playing with different types of editing techniques with a nonexistent plot. The lead runs into all kinds of counterculture icons like Ginsberg, Burroughs, and even Ravi Shankar as he seems to be in a downward spiral of drug use, but by the end of the film there really isn't any clear message as to if the drugs were a bad thing or not. They just are. Like almost everything on this list this film is not for everyone, as for it's lasting impact I think all the drug films that have come out since this lost wonder have a great deal they owe to Chappaqua.

Ride in the Whirlwind
Ride in the Whirlwind is an amazing study of paranoia is the old lonesome west that is well cast, shot, and told. When a group of upright citizens hole up for a night with what they seem to assume are outlaws everything is hunky dory until the law comes in with a wake up call. The good and the bad guys are lumped together into a massive shootout that turns everyone into a criminal. The tension is nonstop from the opening frame till the last, the subtle horrors of the great expansiveness of the west is shown to be just as frightening as the close confines of a small house in this film and I think that plus the exposure of a couple huge actors before they hit big make this film one that can compete with the gritty Spaghetti Westerns that were the rage at this time. I saw this decades ago on a VHS rental and I liked it a lot but now the fully remastered Criterion release really pushes how great this film is.
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Who are you Polly Maggoo?
William Klein's film within a film is a great piece of '60s Avant Garde cinema meets the French New Wave and is something that stands all by itself. Essentially the film is about a documentary crew that is filming an upcoming model that the public does not know much about while she is being romantically pursued by some foreign prince. There is a lot going on in this film and it seems like it could go off the rails at any moment, but thanks to some great experimental shooting and animation the film stays in control and churns out something that could only be made at this point in history. Pretty much Klein's debut film is different than anything the director made following this. Not for everyone, the more adventurous filmgoer should find something to appreciate in this rarely seen gem.
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Violence at Noon
Mid career Nagisa Ôshima film that makes great use of some awesome black and white photography and extreme close up shots that convey emotions brilliantly. The story is about a love/hate triangle of a schoolteacher, her brute of a husband, and the young girl that he rapes after she survives a double suicide with the man that would of become her husband. Sounds a lot more insane then it really is and basically Ôshima's entire career is underrated.
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The Bite (The Pimp)
At first this film started to come off to me as almost every other nudie film from this era where such as plot and pacing are thrown out the window in exchange for a quick glimpse of a breast. Stick with this one on the other hand as the film reaches it's half way point the plot begins to own this film and transforms from some smut film to a minor classic. The film follows a young Japanese man named Koichi that is involved in all sorts of sexual business, the most profitable is that he seduces young women preferably virgins and takes them to a room that is actually a peep show run by his boss that will not stop at anything to keep him under her control. After Koichi falls in love with his latest conquest things begin to spiral out of control and all culminate into a tragic Shakespearean ending. For such a short film it is surprising how well the story develops in this extremely rare grind house quickie brought to you from the director of Tokyo Deep Throat.

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1 comment:

beamish13 said...

Great recommendations. I saw The Face of Another on a double bill at the L.A. County Museum of Art with Nanami: The Inferno of First Love (1968). I adore the Japanese New Wave, and I think Oshima Nagisa may be the greatest Japanese filmmaker to ever live.