Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2016 - Scott from Married with Clickers ""

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Film Discoveries of 2016 - Scott from Married with Clickers

Scott and his wife Kat run the Married With Clickers podcast. It's a great show and you should listen. They basically watch movies together and then talk about them on the show. They have themed months and whatnot and always seem to choose interesting films to watch. Check them out:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/married-with-clickers/id418660623?mt=2

Also, they did an episode covering their 2016 Discoveries, which you can listen to here:
http://marriedwithclickers.libsyn.com/married-with-clickers-episode-297-top-10-discoveries-of-the-year
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10. Pretty Poison (1968; Noel Black)
What an oddball treat! In some ways, Pretty Poison can be seen as a funhouse mirror sequel to Psycho. Anthony Perkins plays a young man, recently released from a mental institution. His attempts to reintegrate into society are undermined by his own fantasies as well as by a high schooler played by Tuesday Weld, who may be even more disturbed than Perkins' character. It is fascinating to watch their courtship unfold and then unravel as both leads are mesmerizing. I can understand why it was a flop upon its release as it is difficult to put one's finger on what makes the film so charming and engaging.
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9. The Night Visitor (1971; Laslo Benedek)
I knew nothing about this film when I loaded the DVD into my player (I stumbled upon a used copy and the synopsis got my attention). Max Von Sydow plays a convict serving his sentence at a mental institution. He has devised a way of escaping each evening in order to seek revenge on those who framed him. I found the film to be very compelling and much of it has to do with Von Sydow's controlled performance. Director Lazlo Benedek does such a great job conveying the sense of cold and isolation that you'll want to wear a parka while watching.
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8. The Hunter (2011; Daniel Nettheim)
I was completely engrossed in this deliberately paced film that combines a number of genres (survivalist, eco-thriller, family drama, philosophical walkabout) directed by Aussie Daniel Nettheim. Willem Dafoe stars as a mercenary hired by an evil bio-tech company to track down the last remaining Tasmanian tiger. Along the way he meets some colourful characters including a shady Sam Neill and two endearing and never cloying children. There's a lot to digest with this film and it may be guilty of throwing too much into the mix but the combination of a contemplative Dafoe and the gorgeous Tasmanian wilderness is more than enough in my books.
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7. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993; Takao Okawara)
I grew up watching Kaiju movies TV in the late 70s and early 80s (War of the Gargantuas was a fave) but drifted away from them after I hit my teens. To be honest, I didn't know that there were still making them during the 80s and 90s. My children have shown a real interest in anything Godzilla related so I've been scooping up these films whenever I see them for sale. We watched this one evening after a long day of skiing and had a ton of fun with it. In this film, the UN develops the ultimate weapon in an attempt to finally subdue the big green guy. There's a lot to love about this completely bonkers film including much silliness relating to Baby Godzilla and a support role played by Rodan. What separates it from many of the other Godzilla related films of the era are the human characters. They are fun and fairly well fleshed out and the dubbing has its own charm.
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6. Mother May I Sleep With Danger (1996; Jorge Montessi)
This is perhaps the ultimate guilty pleasure of the mid-90s. If you don't like that phrase, let's just go with the word pleasure. There's a lot of pleasure to be had in this fun romp, which climaxes with Tori Spelling trying to paddle a canoe while fleeing from her psychotic boyfriend, played with devilish glee by Ivan Sergei. This film is, in fact, so 90s that it is even set in the Seattle area, or at least Vancouver posing as Seattle. My only hope is that James Franco's in name only remake will inspire people to track down this slice of cheese.
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5. A Night to Remember (1958; Roy Ward Baker)
For the second year in a row I've got a Titanic film on my Discoveries list. Last year, it was the obscure German propaganda film from 1943. This time around, it is the much better known A Night To Remember, which my wife had always loved but I had never seen. Director Roy Ward Baker manages to keep the most well-known nautical disaster story fresh by focusing on the technical aspects of the response to the collision; both from the perspective of the crew and the slow to respond rescue boats. The effects are still great the impact of the tragedy is undeniable. In other words, your heart will break rather than go on.
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4. The Man Who Would Be King (1975; John Huston)
I'm a big fan of John Huston and count a number of his films among my all-time favourites. I had always heard great things about The Man Who Would Be King but had never actually sat down to watch it. I figured a Blu Ray release was the perfect excuse to join Messrs. Connery and Caine on their adventure. The key word really is 'adventure' as this film has a very old-timey adventure feel to it; befitting a Rudyard Kipling yarn. The chemistry between the two leads is terrific and the Moroccan setting is exquisite. This may be the final "They don't make 'em like that anymore" film.
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3. Secret World of Arrietty (2010; Hiromasa Yonebayashi)
I am very late to the Ghibli-verse and only saw my first Ghibli film a few years ago. It turns out that it's not such a bad thing as I get to experience them for the first time with my kids. We watched this one rainy spring afternoon and I was completely transported to this beautifully rendered world filled with little people trying to live among, yet apart from humans of normal stature. While there is much to admire here, what caught my eye above all else was the inventive sense of design. While there is tension and suspense; the film is so lovely and kind hearted that parents can feel happy in selection this for their kids. Full disclosure: when I was little, I was completely obsessed with the TV show Land of the Giants so that may have something to do with my love for this film.
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2. The Crush (1993; Alan Shapiro)
I was an undergrad student when this was released. Back then, I saw just about every movie in wide release in an effort to achieve the twin goals of avoiding my studies and finding a refuge from cold Montreal winters. I don't know why I missed this one back then; as I would have had a blast with it. Alicia Silverstone stars as a Lolita for the 90s; flipping the script on the unsuspecting Cary Elwes. It is wonderfully over the top; so much so that I have to think that everyone was in on the joke and tongues were planted firmly in cheek. The carousel haymaker scene is one for the ages.
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1. Psycho II (1983; Richard Franklin)
This is how sequels should be made. Trying to tap the same vein as Hitchcock's masterpiece would be a mistake, so director Richard Franklin and writer Tom Holland chose another path. The story begins with Norman Bates' release from psychiatric care and we follow him as he tries to reintegrate into society (see the Pretty Poison connection?). There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot but the real key to the film's success is the performance delivered by Anthony Perkins, as he manages to turn Norman into a sort of anti-hero who will gain the sympathies of the viewer. This is an underrated sequel the stands easily on its own merits.
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