Rupert Pupkin Speaks: My Employee Picks Shelf Vol.1 ""

Friday, August 2, 2013

My Employee Picks Shelf Vol.1

Having worked in video stores for nearly a decade of my life, I miss them now that they are all but gone. It saddens me that my little girl will not have had too much of a chance to have the video store experience.
One of the things I most loved to do in regards to video stores was to find their "staff picks" section and check out the selections on display there.
When I worked at video stores, I would habitually swap out my picks every month or so. So many movies to highlight and only a few slots to do it in. My obsessive use of Letterboxd made me start thinking about this again. The profile section there allows for you to pick 4 favorite films at any one time and I've found myself swapping them out on a regular basis there just as I did in back in the video store salad days. So with that in mind, I've decided to start a regular series wherein in I can showcase 4 films I like as if I was offering them up as my "employee picks" for your perusal.

My first 4 Employee Picks:
TARGETS(1968; Peter Bogdanovich)
I must admit I feel a little weird recommending this film in the current climate of gun violence and shootings, but it's a great movie nonetheless and only part of it focuses on a wildman on a killing spree with a rifle. This film came out in 1968 and was one of those great stories of a director pulling something together to fit a unique situation. The situation in this case being that Boris Karloff owed Roger Corman a couple shooting days. Corman gave Bogdanovich carte blanche to make whatever movie he wanted as long as he used Karloff, stayed under a certain budget and as long as he also incorporated footage from Corman's film THE TERROR into it. The ingenious script Bogdanovich came up with(with the help of one Samuel Fuller) positioned Karloff as a character very much like himself - an aging horror film actor at a crossroads. It was Karloff's last major American motion picture and a wonderful swan song.

INTO THE NIGHT(1985; John Landis)
This is certainly one of Landis' most underrated films to date. Released in February of 1985, it beat AFTER HOURS to theaters by about 6 months or so. Though I do prefer Scorsese's interpretation of the "one crazy night" scenario, Landis' is a close second for me. I've been a Goldblum fan since before he first grossed me out in Cronenberg's THE FLY and this is one of those classic Goldblum comedic performances. He's even a bit more subdued in this than normal and he's still great. For me, enjoying Goldblum is all about the enjoyment of seeing him reacting to things. He's a great at reacting. See him below with David Bowie shoving a gun in his mouth to see what I mean.

THE DRIVER(1978; Walter Hill)
"Don't talk unless you have to," is a line spoken by Bruce Dern's "Detective" character in an alternate opening to THE DRIVER(which can be found on Twilight Time's new Blu-ray). That is a nice summation of the characters in this film for sure. Supposedly, Ryan O'Neal's character only speaks 350 words in the whole film. I believe this film got some attention when Nicolas Winding Refn's DRIVE came a few years back. It's an obvious inspiration and it's not difficult to see why. THE DRIVER is a stripped down, throwback-noir, car chase thriller and it's a damn good one. It exists in this bleak, stylized version of Los Angeles that Walter Hill and cinematographer Philip Lathrop have so excellently created. Hill himself was an uncredited 2nd AD on BULLITT and he seems to have picked up a thing or two about filming effective car chases. And if you've not seen Ryan O'Neal outside of comedies, watch him in this(and of course BARRY LYNDON) for some evidence of his ability to be really dramatically awesome. The fact that this movie is out on Blu-ray now is beyond thrilling for me. All is right with the world. 

DEADLY EYES(1982; Robert Clouse)
A killer rat movie from the director of ENTER THE DRAGON, BLACK BELT JONES and THE PACK you say? Why yes, I'd love some of that concoction. You know you wanna see this. Sure, it features dachshunds dressed up in rat costumes, but that is actually a surprisingly effective technique! The rats are therefore quite huge and move in a very realistic way which is creepy as all hell. Features some cool set pieces in a movie theater and some subway tunnels. Also, this movie has the inimitable Scatman Crothers in a small role and his presence alone raises ANY film he is in by half a letter grade. This is a sincere favorite of mine in the 'animals attack' genre. Along with George P. Cosmatos' OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN, it is my favorite 'killer rat" movie ever made(and I don't mean that as faint praise).

1 comment:

the Trash Man said...

What a wonderful idea for a new "series" and a fantastic foursome of picks to start it off. TARGETS has long been a favorite of mine, and I finally got around to seeing THE DRIVER this year. Absolutely loved it. The only one that I haven't watched is DEADLY EYES, but I will definitely have to rectify that sooner than later.

Looking forward to the next batch!