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Apr 3, 2016

My 2015 Film Discoveries - Part 2

My poor neglected blog.  This past year has put a damper on keeping this site up-to-date, so it's time to get things back the way they should be.  What better way to get things back moving than with the continuation of my film discoveries list from 2015 (ok, so a little late in the year but whatever).

As always, part one was posted on the Rupert Pupkin Speaks blog, and here is a quick rundown of the list of titles.

     BORN FREE
     THE THREE CABALLEROS
     THE STEEL HELMET
     ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS
     BREAKIN'
     THE GUILTY

2015 was a weak film watching year for me (same reasons for the blog neglect) yet I still managed to compile a solid list of discoveries. I'm always coming across titles that confuse me as to why I am only now getting the opportunity to view them.  There are a couple of this list that should have been watched years ago, but better late than never.





MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (1937; Directed by Leo McCarey)

This film has been on my to-be-watched list for the longest time, and thankfully The Criterion Collection put out a gorgeous Blu-ray Disc edition of it (as they always do) which is now a part of my film library.

It is common for children to have to move back into their parent's home for periods of time (I've had to do it twice thanks to strange circumstances that could not be avoided), but what about when the parents have to move in with their children?  Let's face it, we get used to our own space and ways, and even the best of loved ones can be disruptive.

Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi play an elderly couple who can no longer afford to keep their home, and must call upon their children to take them in as they are about to become homeless.  They have waited until the last possible second to tell them, and while some of the offspring are supportive, there are a couple who are put off with the idea of having to help their troubled parents out.

What follows are the struggles each party has with the new situation.  To make it worse, the parents are split up because none of the children can handle having both of them at the same time.  It's a bittersweet and often uncomfortable look at aging, and what happens when you lose everything and have to adjust.  This movie has become even more important in the post-recession society.  You will also more-than-likely call your parents after viewing.




THE COMPUTER WORE TENNIS SHOES (1969; Directed by Robert Butler)

From depressing to something on the completely opposite end of the spectrum.  Here we have a pre-cursor to the TV show Chuck.  It features Kurt Russell as a teen whose mind is fused with a computer, and hilarity ensues.

This is part of the Dexter Riley "Trilogy" of Disney films starring Russell that is set at Medfield College.  It recently got a great Blu-ray Disc upgrade as a Disney Movie Club exclusive, the only Dexter movie to receive that treatment - so far.  It's a fun blast-from-the-past that exemplifies everything that was great about those early Disney movies.  Also worth mentioning are the bad guys - led by Cesar Romero - who eventually get covered in colorful paint for their evil deeds. It is Disney after all.




BOB LE FLAMBEUR (1956; Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville)

I love French New Wave Cinema, and thanks to the Criterion Collection, we get gorgeous prints of these excellent films easily accessible on Disc.

Roger Duchesne is the "Bob" from the title, an old gangster and gambler who is down-on-his-luck, and even though he's advised by many to stay clean, he decides to pull off one last heist - of a casino - to help him finally escape his life misfortunes.

It's the portrayal of Bob that keeps you engaged with this film, and while you think you know what's going to happen, the ending will surprise you.  Definitely worth checking out.




AMERICA, AMERICA (1963; Directed by Elia Kazan)

This stark, gritty, gorgeously shot black-and-white film tells the story of a young Anatolian Greek who suffers every which way possible, and then some, to get to the promised land - the United States of America.

With all the anti-immigration talk that seeps into the news these days, it's nice to see a film like this that chronicles the struggle of someone who wants to make something of themselves, and dreams the American dream (no political message or shots at any political figures intended with that statement).

This was a personal film for Kazan, and you can tell just by watching it and also by the fact that he introduces himself by name in the narration, and reads off the credits personally.




CRACK-UP (1946; Directed by Irving Reis)

It wouldn't be a discoveries list without the inclusion of at least one Film Noir title.

Pat O'Brien is a vet who has a breakdown when he experiences a train-wreck, EXCEPT that it seems the wreck in question never actually happened.

Could it be a master plot to discredit him, or is he indeed losing his mind?  You'll have to watch it to find out.  It's the kind of simple Noir story that has you questioning everything, even though you can pretty much assume what is going to happen.




DOLLS (1987; Directed by Stuart Gordon)

A pair of abusive parents and their daughter get stranded at a house owned by a kindly elderly couple, located in the middle of nowhere during a nasty storm.  Eventually they are joined by a hapless motorist who had the pleasant misfortune to pick up a pair of extremely obnoxious punk-rock women.  The couple own an intense doll collection, enough to creep anybody out.  This is a horror movie, so there is more to this couple and the dolls than meets the eye,

Director Stuart Gordon has a CV of solid horror films (Re-Animator and From Beyond to name a couple) and this is ranks as one of his best.  It doesn't take itself too seriously, has some fun effects and the characters are so over-the-top, you look forward to certain ones meeting their demise.  You'll never be able to look at a doll the same way again.

Thanks to the team at Scream Factory, this film has received their special deluxe Blu-ray Disc treatment with an excellent transfer and several great special features.  Keep them coming Scream Factory because I will just keep buying them.