Thursday, January 16, 2014

GUEST POST: Steven Fahrholz's Favorite Older Film Discoveries Of 2013

The following are five older films that I discovered in 2013. Somehow, these gems eluded me for years and I am glad I finally watched them.   Follow Steven Fahrholz on Facebook here:

MEDIUM COOL (1969) Director/writer Haskell Wexler really captured an era with this one. Robert Forster gives a commanding performance as a television reporter trying to expose what is really going on in the streets. There is a scene with him in the Chicago ghetto interviewing people that is particularly eye-opening. The jump between documentary and narrative film is extremely effective. Talk about being at the right place at the right time;Wexler was there to capture the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention and make it flow perfectly with the rest of the film.

TOUGH GUYS DON'T DANCE (1987) Why, oh why,have I ever let critics influence me on watching any films? I was one of those idiots scared away from this one by the toxic word of mouth from critics. Luckily, I started seeing praise that got me interested in seeing it. Norman Mailer's hardboiled tale of a writer trying to unravel the mystery of a bender-induced blackout is mesmerizing. Full of memorable characters and some of the best film quotes ever,this will stay with you. It has a pretty straightforward story. However,it doesn't feel like it is. At least, it doesn't upon your first viewing. This is one that demands you watch it repeatedly to fully appreciate it.

TRUTH OR DARE? A CRITICAL MADNESS (1986) Tim Ritter's film had completely been off my radar. That changed when Elijah Wood sang its praises while promoting the remake of MANIAC. The tale is one of a man going on a violent rampage after catching his wife cheating. It is a scrappy,true independent shot on 16mm and released direct-to-video. The look is what gives it a lot of its appeal. Among the many psycho killer films of the '80s, this is one that stands out. It has more than a fair share of cheesiness. However, there are a few scenes that have a genuinely creepy feel. The "truth or dare" camping scene,in particular,is a definite highlight.


VENUS IN FURS (a.k.a. PAROXISMUS) (1969) I feel like I have failed somewhat as a horror fanatic. Somehow, I had never watched a Jesús 'Jess' Franco film in all my years of film-watching. I had no good reason for that as I had watched many Jean Rollin films and many people who are fans of one of them are also fans of the other. Then, Franco passed away and I felt guilty about ignoring his films. Oddly enough,I picked one of Franco's non-horror films to introduce myself to his work (though, not totally without some horror sensibilities). It is the tale of a jazz pianist and a woman who has possibly returned from the dead to get revenge on the sadists who murdered her. However, that description doesn't even come close to doing the film justice. It is a psychedelic, kinky, hypnotic blast of a movie.....also,it has Klaus Kinski in it.

THE WOMAN ON THE BEACH (1947) Jean Renoir's dark love triangle is a classic noir. Robert Ryan plays a Coast Guard officer who becomes infatuated with a blind painter's wife. Furthermore,he is convinced the painter is faking his blindness to keep his wife trapped in their relationship. A lean character study anchored by the always reliable Ryan, this is a noir that stands up there with the stronger efforts in the genre.