Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2018 - Sarah Jane ""

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Film Discoveries of 2018 - Sarah Jane

Sarah Jane is a contributing writer for where she writes the Overlooked & Underseen column. She hails from Southern California but now lives in Austin, Texas. She wishes people would stop saying Manos: The Hands of Fate is the worst movie ever made. You can find her on Twitter as @fookthis.

I didn’t watch as many movies in 2018 as I normally do in any given year but I still managed to find some gems in among the ones I did watch. Let’s take a look!

Interrabang (1969) – Directed by Giuliano Biagetti
What do you get when you cross a giallo with a photographer, his wife, her sister, and a model all on one small boat parked off the coast of an island? I guess you get an interrabang? But you also get this movie that’s a groovy take on the genre. There’s a killer on the loose. There’s a murder, or maybe there isn’t? There’s lots of canoodling, too. Have I sold you yet? Look, it’s one of those movies where it’s a lot of style but not a lot of substance but that’s okay because there’s so much style, it makes up for everything else. Trust me, seek this one out.

Detour (1945) – Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
I’m kicking myself for not watching this one sooner. Wow, what a wallop this one packs! Ann Savage and Tom Neal star in this mean, little noir. Neal is a piano player whose life takes a turn when he accepts a lift as he hitchhikes his way to California to be with his girlfriend. He later runs into Savage and his life takes another turn. This movie is full of turns and all you can do is hold on for dear life. Everything about this movie is terrific; the acting, the photography, the direction… all of it. This one is getting the Criterion treatment later this year so that’ll just make it all that more special.

Hell and High Water (1954) – Directed by Sam Fuller 
Sam Fuller and Cinemascope; two great tastes that go great together. Starring Richard Widmark, Victor Francen, Bella Darvi, and a young Cameron Mitchell, Hell and High Water is about a submarine commander (Widmark) who is approached by a nuclear scientist (Francen) to lead an expedition to a remote island in the South China Sea to find the source of mysterious nuclear radiation. There are some very tense moments in this Cold War era movie. Most of it takes place in a submarine and, by the end of it, you’ll feel like you were one of the crew and might be suffering from claustrophobia. Shout out to Cameron Mitchell, the man who never met a cigarette he didn’t like. He’s actually really great in this. It’s nice to see him in early in his career because he’s really doing the work not just phoning it in. Fuller will not disappoint you here.

Report to the Commissioner (1975) – Directed by Milton Katselas
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I adore the work of both Michael Moriarty and Yaphet Kotto so when I saw they were in a movie together I was all over it. The film, based on the 1972 novel of the same name by John Mills, is about a rookie cop (Moriarty) who is assigned to a case looking for a missing person (Susan Blakely). There is some chicanery afoot involving a cover-up and it all get very messy for the rookie. Kotto plays senior partner to Moriarty. Kotto (kinda) tries to keep the new guy out of trouble but that doesn’t really work out. There’s some outstanding work from these two actors. The supporting cast includes Blakely, Hector Elizando, Bob Balaban, and William Devane. A very fresh-faced Richard Gere even puts in an appearance. If you like this one, also check out Across 110th Street (1972).

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (1968) – Directed by William Greaves
Try and say that title three times fast. It’s kinda hard to describe this movie in one short paragraph. It’s documentary, yes, but so much more than that. Actor/Director Greaves decided he wanted to make a documentary about the auditioning process actors had to go through but didn’t like the way it was turning out so he switched it up. It became a documentary about a documentary about the auditioning process. But then it became a crew shooting a crew shooting a movie so there were actually three crews on this thing. Yeah, it’s meta. Super meta. But it’s also terrific. Greaves plays the part of a director who doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing but his crews don’t know that, they just think he doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing. At one point they try to stage a mutiny! Really, it’s a treat and you should definitely track this one down.

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