Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2016 - Todd Liebenow ""

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Film Discoveries of 2016 - Todd Liebenow

Todd writes about neglected cinema at his blog Forgotten Films, which I am a big fan of:
http://forgottenfilmcast.wordpress.com/
He also runs a great podcast about those kind of movies there too and I was just a guest on the show (talking about MIDNIGHT MADNESS):
https://forgottenfilmcast.wordpress.com/2016/01/25/forgotten-filmcast-ep-65-midnight-madness/
Todd also has another podcast called "Walt Sent Me" all about Disney films:
http://waltsentmepodcast.podomatic.com/
He also writes articles for Man I Love Films:
http://manilovefilms.com/author/squonk/

Lastly, find him on twitter here:
https://twitter.com/ForgottenFilmz
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Cornbread, Earl and Me (1975)
I watched this moving drama within days of events which are eerily similar to those portrayed in the film. It features several fantastic performances from the likes of Moses Gunn, Rosalind Cash, Bernie Casey, and most of all young Laurence Fishburne making his film debut. He brings a power and depth to his performance that we rarely see in young performers. It’s a powerful film that remains relevant 40 years after its release.
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The Big Brawl (1980)
The first attempt at bringing Jackie Chan to the American market is often regarded as lesser-Jackie. It is to some extent, as director Robert Klauss clearly didn’t realize how to let Jackie be Jackie. However, the film is still a lot of fun; featuring some wonderful action sequences...not to mention a strange depression era roller derby scene.
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Zero Hour! (1957)
I had heard that Airplane! Was inspired by a 50’s airplane disaster flick, but I had no idea to what extent. The Zucker Brothers comedy is essentially a remake of this film with jokes inserted along the way. Today, it is hard to divorce the two films, but Zero Hour! is a riveting thriller spearheaded by an intense performance by Sterling Hayden. The film also works, though, as an unintentional comedy for those who have seen it’s successor as many times as I have
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Being There (1979)
Every year there is one film on this list that I am ashamed it took me so long to see. This year it is Being There. I have always loved Peter Sellers and this may be his best performance. This quiet and touching film had me enthralled from its first moments. Simple, thoughtful, and funny...this is such a beautiful film.
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Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Often seen as the unwanted stepchild of the Halloween series, Halloween III is the first of three horror franchise sequels that surprised me with how completely wacky they are. In this case we get a twisted tale that is almost more sci-fi than horror and which certainly gets some points for creativity, even when the execution may not be stellar.
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Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
The next horror sequel on the list is one that I’m not going to dare to call a good movie. But for all of it’s failings (which are many), Exorcist II is charming on a certain level for just how out-there it is. It dares to be different from its predecessor, and for that I give it props. Ultimately, though, the bad movie fan in me reveled in Richard Burton’s incoherent performance, Linda Blair turning up the steam, and James Earl Jones as some sort of human locust.
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Amityville II: The Possession (1982)
I was very unimpressed with the original 1979 The Amityville Horror. The first of the many many many many sequels, though, I found to be a crazy and downright effective piece of horror. I found the film quite captivating and it weirded me out at several turns. Besides, who can resist Burt Young as a scuzzy and abusive father?
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I Love Melvin (1953)
After Singin’ in the Rain, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor both appeared in this really really strange musical. Just to give an idea of how bizarre this film is, it features a musical number full of dancing football players where Debbie Reynolds is cast AS THE FOOTBALL! Even through all the weirdness, though, both Reynolds and O’Connor are a real treat.
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Little Fauss and Big Halsy (1970)
Robert Redford and Michael J Pollard both turn in great performances as a couple of guys on the motorcycle racing circuit in the southwest. It’s more a character study really but wrapped up in a few of the traits of a biker flick. It also has an amazing soundtrack headlined by the man in black himself, Johnny Cash.
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The Hot Rock (1972)
Speaking of Redford, this comedy heist flick was an unexpected treat. It’s kind of like Ocean’s 11 but with less guys and they’re all a bunch of screw-ups. Besides Redford, we have George Segal, Ron Leibman, Paul Sand, Moses Gunn, and Zero Mostel rounding out an impressive comedic cast.
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A Man Called Horse (1970)
I found this gritty and slightly psychedelic western to be absolutely enthralling. Richard Harris is fantastic! The notorious sun vow sequence is not graphic but not for the squeamish either...yet very moving. I’m anxious to check out the two sequels.
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Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)
I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting out of my first foray into the world Russ Meyer films...but this far exceeded it. Yes the film is mean and violent, but it’s also a brilliant piece of visual storytelling. The care and creativity Meyer puts into the shot composition here could be the subject of a cinematography class. This goes way beyond what is par for the course with most exploitation films.
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The House on Sorority Row (1983)
Slasher films were never my thing in the 80’s, but I’ve developed a new appreciation for some. This film was unexpectedly clever and gave me a few legitimate surprise moments. Gore fans are also given plenty to enjoy. Head in a toilet...that’s all I’m gonna say.
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