Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Dramas - Sydney Wegner ""

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Favorite Underrated Dramas - Sydney Wegner

Sydney writes for Isle of Cinema, so read her there.

She can be found on letterboxd here:

Twitter here: @WildPalmCity

PUSHER II (2004)
I was impressed with the entire Pusher trilogy but part two was by far my favorite. Mads Mikkelson turns in a stunning performance as Tonny, a man struggling with two sides of himself and failing in almost everything he tries. Tonny comes from a world of extreme violence and crime but never seems to live up to the expectations of his father. When he discovers a local woman bore his child while he was in jail, his dilemma about who he wants to be intensifies. This film has some truly shocking and disturbing elements but what left the biggest impression on me is Tonny's emotional transformation. Even though I watched it over two years ago, the final scene still breaks my heart a little when I think of it.

Though its ideals seem quaint and naive now, Van Heflin's performance as an engineer caught up in a large corporation's cutthroat plans is still just as powerful today as it was almost 60 years ago. Rod Serling delivers a great script, and all the actors are mesmerizing. At 83 minutes long it's fast-paced and engaging, with an ending that manages to be both hilarious and tense at the same time. I also get a huge kick out of any sort of 1950's office setting - I could watch the typewriters, paperwork, secretaries and suits for hours.

I don't think nearly enough people have seen this film! David Mamet's directorial debut about a psychiatrist looking for thrills among a group of con men somehow makes me think of David Lynch - people speak in straight-faced monotones, the world is dark and foggy, and there's some elusive quality that makes things seem off-kilter and strange. I can't say the acting is Oscar-worthy but I do think it matches the overall weirdness of the film. This is one I go to whenever I'm sick in bed or craving a familiar friend.

It might be a stretch to call this one a drama, but hear me out! It is a tribute to the manic relationship between Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski, an incredible actor who caused an enormous amount of pain and trouble but brought to life some of Herzog's best films. It ends on a strikingly touching tone, and even though we are only getting Herzog's half of the story, the fact that he chose to highlight Kinski's tenderness alongside his insanity is powerful. This film shows us that Kinski was not a willingly horrible person, but a deeply sick one with troubles and heartbreaks we can't possibly understand. Herzog's anger towards him comes through, but it is ultimately a labor of love and kindness. This film had a huge impact on me, and set aflame my undying love for Werner Herzog.

I've seen this film pop up on a few blogs lately due to its recent Blu-ray release, but I feel like I need to call even more attention to it. Though it is strange with a plot that is pretty all over the place, what holds it together is a great performance by Robert Blake and some truly stunning visuals (the opening sequence is especially fantastic). This film's central themes about society could be interpreted in a number of ways. For me, it is a story about a man with romantic ideas of being a detective who breaks down when he learns the truth is very different from what he had dreamed.

1 comment:

Tommy Ross said...

Just ordered both PATTERNS and ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE on Amz, thanks SO much for the reco's and great blog!