Favorite Older Films First Viewed in 2013 (Part 3 of 5)

This is a list I first saw on Rupert Pupkin Speaks. The idea is to list your favorite films from the past year that you saw for the first time, but exclude new releases. This allows much more variety and creates a lot of great suggestions if you read many of them.

Since I tracked these films much more closely this year my list grew long. I will occasionally combine selections by theme, but there is enough for five posts. These choices are in no particular order.

Enjoy!

Maya (1966)

Maya (1966, MGM)

This is one of two titles that appears on this section of the list thanks to their being made available by Warner Archive. This is one of the great things about Warner Archive is that they do rescue these titles from obscurity. This was one of Jay North’s rare film roles after Dennis the Menace was done airing, and it was apparently popular enough to spawn a TV-Show spin-off that ran for a season, which starred both himself and his sidekick Rajid Khan.

Maya tells a simple tale of a boy who runs away in India after a fight with his father, but does so very entertainingly and creates great adventures, and a wonderful bond between its two leading characters.

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955, MGM)

If you like films that take place all in the course of 24 hours it’s kind of hard to do better than Bad Day at Black Rock. The film brilliantly takes its time, paints xenophobia and builds tension. Furthermore:

This film sets itself up so well and does things that work in its favor constantly. It deals with xenophobia, with regards to its ghost character; it deals with the stranger-in-a-strange-land trope brilliantly, with its protagonist; however, it also makes the paranoia felt in this town so palpable the lead is instantly on the defensive, such that you’re left unsure as to what his business in town is. It’s a cloistered and oddly claustrophobic tale, in what looks like an inhabited ghost town that’s well worth watching.

Bolt (2008)

Bolt (2008, Disney)

This was one of my more fortuitous viewings of the year. It was already into my March to Disney theme it was early on a Sunday, before you even ponder doing much of anything, and this came on Disney Channel. I found myself not only pleasantly surprised that this was a good Disney animated feature of recent vintage that I didn’t give a fair shake when it was released theatrically, but also that it shared similar themes and topics as a classic with modernized touches.

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971)

Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971,  Apollo Pictures)

When you’re dealing with the two titans of Italian horror you’re lucky to find a new-to-you film. Recently, prior-to-its-reissue, I happened upon a region-two DVD of this hard-to-find film.

When one gravitates towards Italian horror and starts to navigate it, one is generally made aware of the two most titanic figures in it: Argento and Fulci. Many viewers make it seem like you have to embrace one and scorn the other. I do not believe that is so. They both operate in rather different ways, but this title perhaps could be viewed as the closest to there being a stylistic overlap, certain tropes are similar: the approach to the narrative highly stylized, while the protagonist “witnessed” the incident in a dream, or fugue state early she (like us) is trying to make sense of what she saw, to identify the culprit, going in chase of them parallel to police activity, and independent of them.

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin may not be Fulci’s greatest work, but it is another great work of Fulci’s I was glad to discover.

The Smart Set (1928)

the-smart-set

I will admit there is an unevenness to the lead performance in this title. William Haines is a jokester who has to start realizing the consequences of his actions and be brought back down to earth. He loves a girl, he’ll want to win her. Perhaps one of the brilliant things about the film is that is does work despite the fact that for about 30 minutes Haines seems to be enacting a slapstick performance from the decade prior. However, when he starts acting more like a person he is pretty good and charming. The film is funny, romantic and dramatic and really starts to kick into gear. This was a film I discovered thanks to Coy Watson, Jr.’s biography, and he does brilliantly in his small role. The standout may be the reconstructed, gorgeous score of the film. Many thanks to Warner Archive for that and for making this great film available.

Sisters (1973)

Sisters (1973, AIP)

One way I chose selections for 61 Days of Halloween was Stephen King’s list of standout horror films from 1950-1980. On it a few selections were Brian De Palma films. I went into this film a virtual blank slate and was very glad I did.

Sisters is a great little gem. I use that term because it starts with a fairly small series of events one after another that slowly turn in to a much bigger plot than was intimated at first. The simple Hitchcockian mystery element gets more byzantine as it progresses; even throwing some last second misdirection, making certain things even weirder than they are.

Hell Night (1981)

Hell Night (1981, Compass International)

This is a choice I owe completely to my being invited to participate in my first ever podcast as a guest. Because of that I finally got around to viewing this film. If you want more in depth discussion of the film you can go check that out. For a quick blurb that may convince you, read this:

It may be another slasher, another slasher with college co-eds but it does try to spice things up. Firstly, the four pledges who are locked in the house of ill-repute overnight are two different factions: those very much into the fraternity/sorority process and those not so enamored with the idea, doing it because they feel they have to.

And as mentioned on the podcast, it does masquerade as a haunted house film a bit which gives it an additional layer.

The Neverending Story (Original German Cut) (1984)

The Neverending Story (19484, Warner Bros.)

This was an alternate cut that I didn’t even know existed until I saw an announcement from Diabolik DVD. If you’re interested in specific, detailed explanations of what changes in this version the IMDb does have an exhaustive user-submitted list.

In short: some of the voice talent is different, the score is different, some scenes play out longer and better. You have to be a huge fan of the film to want to pay to get this version (the Blu-Ray is region-free, by the way), but if you are it’s well worth it, as there is a different, at times darker feel to it. It also has a German dub that I may try out one day.

Dead Souls (2012)

Dead Souls (2012, Chiller)

There are a few noteworthy things about this film. First, it’s the newest title and second it’s the only made-for-TV movie that appears on the list. It’s one that I wish I had sneaked into my 2012 BAM Awards. As it stands, I didn’t and it makes an appearance here.

What this film does that’s slightly off the beaten path is that it plays out like a haunted house/ghost story, but also has an element of occult building and that puts it’s own spins on the events.

It leaves its protagonist John (Jesse James) alone much of the time. That’s good for character work, especially when there’s an expressive actor in tow. James has a natural sensitivity that exudes off the screen and allows him to carry the vehicle quite easily. He effortlessly handles the notes he has to play in the film: thoughtful, quiet, scared – and, upon learning what he deals with, feeling an emotional pull to the place and his family he’d never known. He does brilliant work here.

It’s definitely worth checking out.

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My Radar

This is a post that I’m creating for a few purposes. First, it will serve as an unofficial checklist for my BAM Awards. I will not hold up the awards in anticipation of seeing these films. A deadline is a deadline. It will help me either define Gray Area films or keep an eye out for undistributed titles. Secondly, this will serve as a back-up to my watchlist on GoWatchIt, which is a great site to get notifications about film releases. I anticipate I’ll update this bi-weekly as I do with films watched and older film posts.

1. The Fifth Season

Played SxSW 2013. Belgian film about a endless winter. Made known to me by Scott E. Weinberg.

2. To the Wonder

New Malick. Ebert’s last review. SOON TO BE VIEWED

3. White Elephant

From Strand Releasing. Look for it on Netflix.

4. Sister
Foreign language film nominee. Missed Theatre N date. Seek out on video.

5. Amour

Amour (2012, Sony Pictures Classics)

Only nearby engagements in 2013. Have missed them. For more about qualifying for the BAM Awards read this.

6. 56 Up

Knew it was hitting both Philly and local theaters and didn’t get out to it.

7. Our Children

Heard of it during Oscar-season last year, appears to be hitting screens, at least in the UK.

8. Mud

Heard of it last year at Cannes. Has been at Philadelphia Landmark theater(s) for two weekends and I haven’t been yet.

9. In the House

Heard of Ozon’s latest in late ’12. Have followed some reactions and release dates. Have had three weekends to see it. Haven’t yet.

10. The Dirties

The Dirties (2012, Phase 4)

Heard it was picked up by Phase 4 this week in THR.

11. Cody the Robosapien

There’s a one sheet. Not much in the way of release date information as of yet.

12. Dark Frontier

Saw the trailer for this film before watching Deep Dark Canyon.

13. Jacob

Was to be my second Redbox freebie recently had my other code not expired.

14. Faust

Heard of Sokurov’s version last year. Currently at Film Forum in NY.

15. Tragedy of Man

The Tragedy of Man (2011, Mozinet)

I know this hit an New York screen while I was not there. Haven’t heard about it being on video.

The following films are those which are on my GoWatchIt queue as of today (5/15/13):

Dracula-3D

16. Elles SOON TO BE VIEWED
17. Jack and Diane
18. Dracula 3D
19. In Their Skin
20. Beyond the Hills
21. Antiviral (SOON TO BE VIEWED)
22. Me and You
23. Post Tenebras Lux
24. Reality
25. Good For Nothing
26. Just the Wind
27. Thursday Through Sunday
28. Father’s Chair
29. I Killed My Mother SOON TO BE VIEWED

The following are selections based on Larry Richman’s top picks of 2012.

Dead Europe (2012, Wild Bunch)

30. Stuck in Love
31. Vanishing Waves
32. Una Noche
33. Pavilion
34. The Hunt SOON TO BE VIEWED
35. DELETED – DUPLICATE
36. Apartment in Athens
37. Tio Papi
38. The Playroom SOON TO BE VIEWED
39. I Declare War
40. Funeral Kings
41. Electrick Children SOON TO BE VIEWED
42. Blackbird

And a random one I just called which stars a BAM Nominee from last year for Best Original Song, Troye Sivan.

Spud 2: The Madness Continues (2013, Nu Metro Films)

43. Spud 2: The Madness Continues

The following title was made known to me by frequent reader/commenter Connie:

La Jaula de Oro (2013, Machete Producciones)

44. La Jaula de Oro

The following titles are ones I hear much buzz about recently in general or out of Cannes:

The Kings of Summer (2013, CBS Films)

45. Frances Ha
46. Stories We Tell
47. Blue is the Warmest Color
48. Inside Llewyn Davies
49. Heli
50. Nebraska
51. Ilo Ilo
52. The Past
53. The Kings of Summer
54. The Place Beyond the Pines
55. What Maisie Knew
56. Ginger and Rosa


57. Satellite Boy
58. Blackfish
59. The To Do List
60. Fruitvale Station
61. Only God Forgives
62. Chennai Express
63. Blue Jasmine
64. Standing Up
65. Summerhood
66. Horrid Henry: The Movie
67. The Human Promise
68. Hannah Arendt
69. Child’s Pose SOON TO BE WATCHED
70. The Rocket
71. Blancanieves SOON TO BE WATCHED
72. The Weight of Elephants
73. The Wicker Man (1973) Extended Cut
74. V8
75. The Double
76. Staten Island Summer

77. Leap 4 Your Life
78. Headlong (Corps Perdu)
79. The Art of the Steal
79. Grand Piano
80. Slow West
81. Beyond the Heavens
82. Bunks
83. As I Lay Dying
84. The Lost Medallion SOON TO BE WATCHED
85. Category 8
86. The Fall
87. Side Effects SOON TO BE WATCHED
88. Child of God
89. The Short Game SOON TO BE WATCHED
90. The Contest
SOON TO BE WATCHED

91. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

The-Chronicles-of-Narnia-The-Silver-Chair-Christian-MovieFilm-DVD_5117

Yes, I know the odds are I won’t miss this one. However, not only do I plan for many of these titles to crossover into next year (and beyond) but this is the film I wanted next.

92. The Borgman
93. Joe
94. Concrete Night
95. Rhymes for Young Ghouls
96. WNUF Halloween Special
97. Chennai Express
98. Torment
99. Kid
100. Into the Woods
101. 13/13/13
102. Crystal Fairy
103. Prince Avalanche

See also: John Waters’ Best of 2013 list.
and Cahiers du Cinema for more options.