Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2018 - Marya E. Gates ""

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Film Discoveries of 2018 - Marya E. Gates

Marya E. Gates does social media for TCM, Noir Alley, and FilmStruck (RIP), runs Cinema-Fanatic.com, and can be found on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, and iCheckMovies. Her first movie in theatres was Willow in 1988 and she’s been obsessed ever since.
I always love contributing to this blog series and it is always the hardest task of the year! I saw a little over 650 new-to-me films this year, 550 of which were not released in 2018 and thus are the films I drew from for this list. Most of the best discoveries I had this year were found on FilmStruck (RIP)/the Criterion Channel or from Videorome, the last video store here in Atlanta, so I split this list up accordingly.

Videodrome Rentals:
Central Station, 1998 (dir. Walter Salles) - This had been on my radar for twenty years and I finally rented it and was not disappointed. A stirring portrait of a thoroughly terrible woman capable of one great kindness.

Love Is All You Need, 2012 (dir. Susanne Bier) - I love Bier's earlier films best, but this romantic comedy filled me with such warmth.

Turn Me On, Dammit!, 2011 (dir. Jannicke Systad Jacobsen) - A great teen sex comedy set in a small Norwegian town.

Smooth Talk, 1985 (dir. Joyce Chopra) - A terrifying coming-of-age thriller highlighting how women go from carefree girls to cautious, cynical women.

FilmStruck:
The Films of Bill Morrison - After being a fan of Dawson City Frozen Time last year, it was so great to finally see his earlier work.

Série Noire, 1979 (dir. Alain Corneau) - Sometimes a film just hits the exact mood you're in and this French Jim Thompson adaptation did just that.

Torch Song Trilogy, 1988 (dir. Paul Bogart) - I always loved Harvey Fierstein, so I'm glad I finally saw his crowning achievement. The most romantic film I saw all year.

Zou Zou, 1934 (dir. Marc Allégret) - Josephine Baker only made a handful of films and this one is the only one I felt fully utilized her unique talent.

The Seduction of Mimi, 1972 (dir. Lina Wertmüller) - My favorite Wertmüller by far. Perfect blend of romance, satire, social commentary, and comedy.

The Diary of a Lost Girl, 1929 (dir. G.W. Pabst) - As much as I like Pandora's Box, this is Louise Brooks at her finest.

Something Different, 1963 (dir. Věra Chytilová) - So grateful I was able to see more of Chytilová's films beyond Daisies. This portrait of two modern women trapped in a society that doesn't understand them broke my heart.

Criterion Channel:
Angela, 1995 (dir. Rebecca Miller) - Miller's debut film is about a little girl who has visions of an angel as a coping mechanism for her completely broken family.

Set Me Free, 1999 (dir. Léa Pool) - A coming of age film about realizing your queerness, finding solace in rock music, and falling in love with cinema. What more could you want?

Science Is Fiction: 23 Films By Jean Painlevé - I would never have stumbled across these surreal French science films without Criterion's help. They're bizarre and wonderful and I'll never look at octopi or seahorses the same way again.

FanFan La Tulipe, 1952 (dir. Christian-Jaque) - The French's answer to Indiana Jones or Robin Hood, but far more funny. I smiled the whole way through this film.

The American Friend, 1977 (dir. Wim Wenders) - Wender's really gets the desperation in Patricia Highsmith's crime writing.


I fell in love with Japanese cinema during the last month of FilmStruck and these four films in particular:

Shozo, A Cat, and Two Women, 1956 (dir. Shirô Toyoda) - Based on a novel by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, no movie has truly understand the ridiculous bond between human and cat as perfectly as this movie.

Carmen Falls In Love, 1952 (dir. Keisuke Kinoshita) - Kinoshita! What an amazing filmmaker. This is actually a sequel to Japan's first Technicolor film, Carmen Comes Home, but I liked it better. Feels like a 1930s Joan Blondell/Glenda Farrell film.

Mr. Thank-You, 1936 (dir. Hiroshi Shimizu) - This movie will make you believe in the inherent goodness of humanity.

Women of the Night, 1948 (dir. Kenji Mizoguchi) - There are many great films about the various sex workers of Japan, but this film, made just as the practice was becoming criminal in the post-WWII years, gets the complexities like none other.


This was my 3rd year at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival and while everything they show is extraordinary, these two films were the standouts for me:

L'Atlantide, 1921 (dir. Jacques Feyder) - I saw the G.W. Pabst's version of this story earlier this year and it is good, but this silent film is everything you want in a romantic epic. It's sweeping and grand and full of desperation and passion. Unfortunately this brand new restoration may never see the light of home video and that is a real tragedy.

The Last of the Mohicans, 1920 (dir. Clarence Brown and Maurice Tourneur) - I was so afraid this was going to be racist and dated, but aside from Wally Beery playing the Native American antagonist, it was actually far better adaption of the source material than the better known Michael Mann version (which inexplicably whitewashes the protagonist???), and is filled with the kind of awe-inspiring cinematic silhouettes we mostly lost with the advent of sound.

1 comment:

SteveQ said...

Now following on Twitter, just based on this list. The things I've seen on it are terrific and there are even a couple I hadn't heard of - which is extremely rare!