Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2017 - Samuel B. Prime ""

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Film Discoveries of 2017 - Samuel B. Prime

Samuel B. Prime is a moving image advocate, writer, and curator based in Los Angeles. He spends his days working at Annapurna Pictures in West Hollywood, CA. He is also a contributor to MUBI, The Village Voice, and LAist (R.I.P.).

Check out his Film Discoveries from last year here:
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/2016/12/film-discoveries-of-2016-samuel-b-prime.html


LOLITA (Adrian Lyne, 1997)
Far sleazier than Kubrick's version. How sleazy, you ask? Jeremy Irons literally slaps the milk moustache off of Dominique Swain. Exquisite trash. The audience that I saw this with at the New Beverly in LA burst into applause upon its conclusion. Every little tidbit of this film is razor sharp.
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JAZZ BOAT (Ken Hughes, 1960)
Earlier this year, I was on a bit of a Ken Hughes kick (which I desperately need to resume) that began with Mae West's final film, SEXTETTE (1978). Of the three films that I watched, I loved all of 'em, but JAZZ BOAT (1960) was the highlight. I have yet to make good on my promise to myself that I would make its titular theme my ringtone, but my sincere appreciation of this fun-loving, swinging sixties jewel heist musical is no less for it. There's even a song - "Take It Easy" - where the hoodlums at the center of the picture cavort through an open-air marketplace toppling over the elderly and stealing everything in sight. An absolute delight! This is my kind of movie.


WICKED (Michael Steinberg, 1998)
Like a nearly forgotten, top-shelf Lifetime movie aching to be embraced by its cult audience. With a soundtrack featuring Kittie and Jack Off Jill and a story surrounding troubled teeny goth Julia Stiles, the result is a supremely weird, thoroughly creeptastic love story between a lonely middle-aged father and his young daughter (who may or may not be possessed by the spirit of her recently deceased mother). Other things to love about this movie: big, ugly, suburban houses that all look identical and hold dark secrets; the smooth jazz underscores scenes involving a detective played by Michael Parks; and weird one-off lines thrown out into the ether such as: "I hit my brother over the head with a hammer when I was young. If I had killed him, my life would be very... different."
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STREETS OF FIRE (Walter Hill, 1984)
Sweaty, suncaked, and coated in neon glaze: a mid-80s, 50s-inspired carte blanche western-musical. Everything roars in this movie. I felt like I couldn't even walk in a straight line after seeing it on the big screen. I know I'm extremely late to the party, so this title is included with all humility.
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DESERT HEARTS (Donna Deitch, 1985)
I can't tell you how many times I've thought about the following heart-melting line in the past year since seeing this film: "You deserve to be with someone who realizes just how wonderful you are." This is sublime cinema, a celebration of love and individuality. Can't wait to revisit it via the recent Criterion release.
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NIAGARA, NIAGARA (Bob Gosse, 1997)
Dark, passionate, humorous, but also hopeless in its pursuit of criminality and young romance. I also included this title on my Underrated '97 list, as it deserves as much attention as it can get. I fell for this movie as fast as its lead characters - two teenage shoplifting ne'er-do-wells - fell for each other. Really special. Of a piece with other insightful, touching, and ponderous 90s-era indies like FLOUNDERING (Peter McCarthy, 1994) and LITTLE NOISES (Jane Spencer, 1992).
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BOARDING GATE (Olivier Assayas, 2007)
As much about mediatized ghosts and technological screens as Olivier Assayas' most recent film PERSONAL SHOPPER (2016). My favorite thing about this film is that - unlike most of Assayas' movies - it doesn't lean on the over-utilized 'fade to black' technique; instead, he offers hard cuts, sound bridges, superimposed cityscapes. In a phrase, a refreshing tech-noir for the modern era.
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MOTHERHOOD (Katherine Dieckmann, 2009)
This movie only made £88 in its UK theatrical release. As a result, everyone (myself included) pretty much assumed that it was atrocious, unwatchable garbage. Well, having spent a whole two dollars on a DVD copy from a local 7-Eleven, I am here to say that it is trash, but not in the way that anyone expected. MOTHERHOOD is delicious filth masquerading as a middle-brow comedy. Casual conversation topics in the midst of the film include: klansmen, nazis, golden showers, and even masturbation with children's bathtub toys. The fact that the main character and her best friend are obsessed with Jodie Foster (who they sometimes spot in a local park - Jodie Foster alert! - is the cherry on top of this film that's good for no one, but undeniably tastes great. Sure, it tries too hard and the kitschy soundtrack seems to narrating the onscreen action, but all the try-hard elements seem to be in on the overall joke of the movie: that it is dirty to its core, yet sells itself as a saccharine mommy-marketed vehicle. Not perfect, of course, but a hell of a surprise.
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WRITE A BOOK ABOUT IT (Actually Huizenga, 2010)
A lo-fi plasmodic snuff-art musical from the future. A party movie not fit for human consumption. A deranged home movie from the netherworld of Los Angeles. Singular and thoroughly disturbing.


IN GIRUM IMUS NOCTE ET CONSUMIMUR IGNI (Guy Debord, 1978)
A film with a healthy contempt for populist entertainment, yet an earnest desire to be seen as art.


THE BROWN BUNNY (Vincent Gallo, 2003)
The best film that I saw all year, amidst new and old alike. Just... fully realized in every way. Simple on the outside, complex on the inside. I am embarrassed that it took me almost fifteen years to get around to seeing it. It is a heartbreaking road movie about trauma, deep-seated grief, culpability, helplessness, and the unwelcome repeated rediscovery of your irreparably crippled sexuality in the wake of trying to desperately assemble one cheap romantic simulacrum after another in hopes to recreate the only love that ever felt real, no matter how toxic, inadvisable, or doomed it always was.
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