Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2017 - Bernardo Villela ""

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Film Discoveries of 2017 - Bernardo Villela

For more on my views on film you can check my blog ( and for more about my other doings you can see the About pages on the same site (

Savage Beasts (aka Wild Beasts 1984; Dir. Franco Prosperi)
Part of why I will go to the occasional horror convention does have a lot to do with finding random movies I may not have heard of otherwise. My first two selections are those kinds of finds. Savage Beasts tells a tale so simple that to say it has a tight plot would stretch the definitions of both the words tight and plot, despite that it’s not entirely plotless. Its story: PCP gets into the Frankfurt water supply making animals go berserk. Yes, there are characters and there is a bit of unraveling done about what happened and how to deal with it, some setpieces are brutal, some awkward but what makes this movie memorable and enjoyable is the chaos, the animal kingdom taking its revenge, and its immersive atmosphere.
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The Survivor (1981; Dir. David Hemmings)
David Hemmings perhaps best known for his roles in Blow-Up and Deep Red also directed a dozen films, this adaptation of James Herbert’s novel. It concerns a 747 crash wherein the pilot is the sole survivor and is virtually unscathed. As he and the investigators try and understand the cause of this crash, things get progressively stranger and people start to die.
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The Smiling Madame Beudet (1934; Dir. Germaine Dulac)
Germaine Dulac said “It isn’t enough to simply capture reality in order to express it in its totality; something else is necessary in order to respect it entirely, to surround it its atmosphere, and to make its moral meaning perceptible…” that quote applies to all her works I’m fairly confident, however, it proves especially true with regard to the two films of hers I saw that ended up among my favorite discoveries of 2017. I could have picked at least one more of her films, as I discovered her as a historical figure of note for a blogathon entry ( and found both her and her work endlessly fascinating. In this film she directs the adaptation of a tale by Guy de Maupassant about a wife pushed past her limit by her insufferable husband. It has also been cited as the first feminist film (
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The Seashell and the Clergyman (1928; Dir. Germaine Dulac)
About the Seashell and the Clergyman Maryanne DeJulio wrote “After more than seventy years, Germaine Dulac’s film The Seashell and the Clergyman surely merits that we take another look, as we reclaim Dulac’s rightful place among pioneering filmmakers of the early avant-garde.” ( It is quite the surrealistic film, again a milestone as Dulac was the first woman to create such a film and had many experiments in the form worth checking out. Yet even in its surrealism tells a very clear story of a priest struggling with guilt and against the sin of lust. Both the films cited here can be found fairly readily online.
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The Secret of the Nutcracker (2007; Dir. Eric Till)
This is another film I watched for blogathon last year (

“If you’ve seen my Battle of the Nutcrackers post (, you know I don’t tire of new versions of The Nutcracker. Learning that he’d been in a unique film version that the Alberta Ballet and Alberta Symphony Orchestra were involved in and got Brian Cox to be in, it’d have to be one of my first viewings.

It is definitely more film than ballet, however, as opposed to the ballet where Frank’s analogue (Fritz) drops out after the first act, he has to carry much of the action as part of a brother-sister team and does so effectively.”

What I didn’t mention above because the blogathon entry was a three-parter mostly about acting was that the transplantation of the story goes not just from Germany to Canada but from the 19th century to World War II, which adds some emotional depth to story in addition to the normal Christmastime fuzziness.
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