Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2018 - Andy Wolverton ""

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Film Discoveries of 2018 - Andy Wolverton

Andy is the founder and co-host of The Great Movies classic movie series at the Severna Park Library in Severna Park, Maryland, where he works as a librarian. He has also contributed to The Dark Pages: The Newsletter for Film Noir, where he will soon write a regular new releases column.
You can follow him at his blog Journeys in Darkness and Light, on Twitter @awolverton77 and on Letterboxd.

Check out Andy's 2017 Discoveries here:

Mine Own Executioner (Anthony Kimmins, 1947)
Burgess Meredith plays Felix Milne, a London psychotherapist treating an ex-POW named Adam (Kieron Moore) who frequently hallucinates, mistaking his wife for one of his Japanese captors, with the intent to strangle her. While struggling to uncover Adam’s repressed memories, Felix attempts to avoid Barbara (Christine Norden), the woman he’s having an affair with behind his wife’s back.

Mine Own Executioner contains not only strong, believable characters, but also excellent performances, and a powerful handling of what we would now call PTSD. The film refuses to provide pat answers to complex questions, but delivers top-notch tension culminating in a nail-biting conclusion. If you’d like to see how British film noir differs from American noir, this is a great place to start.
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The Hill (Sidney Lumet, 1965)
This is the Sean Connery film most people have never seen and probably haven’t even heard of, but once you see it, you’ll never forget it. Connery, Ossie Davis, and Roy Kinnear are among the newest prisoners of a British military stockade in North Africa during World War II. Running up and down an enormous man-made hill of rocks and sand while carrying heavy backpacks is only part of the brutal treatment handed out by sadistic Regimental Sergeant Major Wilson (Harry Andrews).

Although the film received excellent reviews, it didn’t do well at the box office. Perhaps the script by Ray Rigby (who actually spent time in a military prison) was too frightening and the performances too realistic. Whether you consider it a war film or a prison movie, The Hill is an unforgettable experience.
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The Match Factory Girl (Aki Kaurismäki, 1990)
A plain, unremarkable girl named Iris (Kati Outinen) works in a mind-numbing job at a Finnish factory that, as the title indicates, produces matches. Iris’s home life is just as mind-numbing, doing most of the work while her mother and step-father do almost nothing, other than charge Iris rent. Out of desperation, Iris winds up at a club where she meets a man who mistakes Iris for a hooker. It’s impossible not to watch what happens next and equally impossible not to become mesmerized by who Iris is and what she does. Once you get beyond the seeming passivity of The Match Factory Girl, you realize you’ve actually been hypnotized by a film of unrelenting power. With a short running time of only 69 minutes, The Match Factory Girl is a stunner.
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Come and See (Elem Klimov, 1985)
Fair warning: unless you do not possess a heart, Come and See will leave you shattered. The time is 1943. We follow a boy named Florya (Aleksey Kravchenko) as he joins the Soviet Republic of Byelorussia (Belarus) in their resistance against the Nazis. Florya’s dreams of heroic adventures are quickly squelched as he witnesses firsthand the horror and nightmare of war. In the space of only two days, Florya’s appearance changes from that of a teenager to a man in middle age. Some things are simply too horrifying to witness, whether they unfold in two days or two generations. Unlike most movies about war, Come and See doesn’t feel scripted, but rather like a documentary whose camera lingers far beyond the level of our comfort zones. Roger Ebert stated, “I have rarely seen a film more ruthless in its depiction of human evil.” Director Elem Klimov decided to never make another film after this one. You can understand why. Come and See is not an easy film to watch, but it’s one of those films we must watch.
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The Wind Will Carry Us (Abbas Kiarostami, 1999)
A man (Behzad Dorani) posing as engineer visits a village in Iranian Kurdistan, but he’s actually a journalist hoping to document the burial ceremony of an elderly woman, who seems to be clinging to life. As the journalist’s deadline looms, his anxiety builds as he attempts to maintain his false identity among the villagers. Things certainly don’t go as planned, but the locals have a lot to teach the journalist - and us. Some have dismissively called the film “minor” Kiarostami, while others have hailed it as a comic masterpiece. I fall into the latter category. There are few movies that celebrate the human spirit without becoming sappy and simplistic, but The Wind Will Carry Us is one of the best of them.
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