Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2019 - Kristina Dijan ""

Friday, February 28, 2020

Film Discoveries of 2019 - Kristina Dijan

Kristina Dijan is a writer and movie fan, a regular contributor to The Dark Pages film noir newsletter, can sometimes be found at her blog and on twitter at @HQofK

Check out her other RPS lists here:

SENSO (1954; Luchino Visconti) 
During Austrian occupation and Venetian resistance, countess Alida Valli is so infatuated and obsessed with scoundrel and con-man Lieutenant Farley Granger that she makes massively bad decisions, like betraying her country in attempt to hold on to her lover and comfortable social status. Along with the juicy melodrama and beautiful leads, enjoy the movie’s opulence, the breathtaking sets, costumes, and photography.
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THE STUFF (1985; Larry Cohen) 
Like Q THE WINGED SERPENT, this has another juicy role for Michael Moriarty. What’s the mysterious source and power of the addictive marshmallow-fluff-like dessert taking the world by storm? Catchy ads for “The Stuff” brainwash the masses, but one boy learns that this ice-cream substitute confection possesses, and then violently vacates, victims’ bodies. Great 50’s monster movie container for more modern views on marketing, militarism, conformity, conspiracy, and questionable food sources.
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ADUA AND HER FRIENDS (1960; Antonio Pietrangeli) 
All-star cast of women (including Simone Signoret and Emmanuelle Riva) playing friends and sex workers who open a country restaurant, to start over and be seen as more respectable, but they’re plagued by the kinds of creeps and troubles bound to foil those goals. Wonderful, deep characterization and sincere storytelling; you get to know all these women and their situations, and feel for them in their frustrations and the heartbreaking unfairness they face.
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Sleazy, entertaining and violent exploitation procedural about LAPD (led by detective Vince Edwards) racing to find a serial rapist (Neville Brand) who has valuable info on a bomber (Chuck Connors). Memorable trio of actors, especially Connors as the madman who feels like he never belongs and is triggered to punish ingrates, ignoramuses, and people with poor manners (no wonder several reviewers compare it to FALLING DOWN).
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CRIME WITHOUT PASSION (1934; Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur) 
Gorgeously shot, thrilling, dark, indie pre-Code gem with an unforgettable opening sequence, that alone makes this worth seeking out. It’s the juicy tale of hotshot lawyer Claude Rains trying to establish a foolproof alibi and planting exonerating evidence after he murders his mistress. Margo plays that victim, a nightclub singer, in a great performance, and also good is Whitney Bourne as Rains’ other snooty love interest.

CLASS OF 1999 (1990; Mark Lester) 
It’s like BLACKBOARD JUNGLE but with punks vs. killer android teachers, who are installed and controlled (just barely) by a devious, albino, crew-cut and rat-tailed Stacy Keach. Pam Grier, karate moves, Malcolm McDowell… one letterboxd reviewer describes it well, as THE TERMINATOR meets THE FACULTY.
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A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM (1990; Jan Egleson) 
Michael Caine puts in so many years as a suffering husband, and loyal hardworking ad executive, that he snaps after he getting passed over for promotion. One accidental death triggers for him a wickedly clever and cathartic murder spree that turns circumstances his way, until he gets too greedy; that part may be predictable but the ending isn’t.
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Ultra-minimal, nearly dialogue-free spaghetti western about a trickster drifter (Tony Anthony) who gets recruited into a Mexican bandito plot to rob an American gold shipment, then has to fight for his share of it.
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A western starring Audie Murphy as a detective gone undercover to stop a gang of bank robbers, who have the unusual M.O. of recruiting ex-cons, fronting them in the heists, then killing them to collect the rewards. Murphy as usual is a nice guy, stoic and determined action hero, plus this has a great role for DeForest Kelley.
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COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT (1970; Joseph Sargent) 
Say, why don’t we put artificial intelligence in charge of all the nukes because we can depend on the AI’s clear logical assessments, 100% free of pesky human emotion; what could possibly go wrong? Well, for starters, the US AI detects and mind-melds with its Soviet version, resulting in a new conjoined superthinkbot that decides to run the world, free of pesky humans, sending its inventors underground to find a way to unplug this mess. Great cautionary story with nice work by Eric Braeden as the classy scientist who must destroy his creation.
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THE SILK NOOSE aka NOOSE (1948; Edmond T. GrĂ©ville) 
A comedy thriller with Carole Landis as a fearless reporter who, along with her fiancé and some allies from the local gym, works to expose a gang of racketeers. Fantastic cinematography and lots of charm from Landis make this a fun crime and murder spree.
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More gems first seen in ’19 worth mentioning:
NIGHTHAWKS (1981), MODEL SHOP (1969), PRETTY POISON (1968), SILENT RUNNING (1972), DOUBLE SUICIDE (1969), J.D.’S REVENGE (1976), STAKEOUT! (1962)plus some newer movies very much worth a look: THE GUILTY (2018), THE DOMESTICS (2018), and BEAST (2017)


KC said...

Amazing list as always Kristina. Never heard of the Silk Noose or that pre-code. Don't know how I haven't gotten around to Class of 1999, that is definitely next on my list.

Laura said...

Ooooh, GUNFIGHT AT COMANCHE CREEK and THE SILK NOOSE sound right up my alley!! Fortunately I recently purchased GUNFIGHT AT COMANCHE CREEK. Must find THE SILK NOOSE!

Always love this series -- and Kristina's recommendations! She watches such a wide variety of titles. :)

Best wishes,

john k said...

Quiet a few of my fave trash movies here-I loved your MAD BOMBER write up in particular.
Wasn't Nigel Patrick a total blast in SILK NOOSE.
GUNFIGHT AT COMANCHE CREEK Audie's only Allied Artists Western let down by constant
"Dragnet" type narration. The original LAST OF THE BADMEN with George Montgomery and
Keith Larsen was somewhat better,I thought.
The Tony Anthony Spaghetti the best of The Stranger trilogy; the third in the series
where he goes to Japan totally bonkers but visually stunning.
Some up-market stuff here as well but thanks for including some of the more trashy
titles to add diversity to the mix.
Your regular blog is sorely missed-hopefully things will be back to normal soon.

Kristina said...

thanks so much all of you for stopping to read & comment!

Pretty sure each of KC & Laura would love the ones you picked out from here, knowing your tastes, and thanks John for the always interesting insight and further suggestions!

Love this series and I get so many tips from the other posts,
Thanks for having me!