Rupert Pupkin Speaks: My Employee Picks Shelf Vol. 2 ""

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Employee Picks Shelf Vol. 2

 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. This series is just an opportunity for me to highlight 4 favorites at a time, as if they were sitting on a shelf in the virtual Rupert Pupkin Speaks Video Store for you to check out.

here's my vol. 1 of the series:

DESTRY RIDES AGAIN(1939; George Marshall)
One of those movies that really snuck up on me. James Stewart plays a lawman who has made a regular practice of not carrying a gun(but interestingly, he is portrayed holding a gun on the film's poster) and he's in a rough town so immediately there's this great tension, but there's also a touch of folksy comedy too so it's an interesting and uncommon mix. Keep in mind it's not too folksy and that was what I thought it was which is what kept me away for a long time. This movie also helped me great understand the appeal of Marlene Dietrich, as she's lovely and quite good here.

DICK TRACY(1990; Warren Beatty)
For my money, one of the most fun comic-book(strip) movies ever made. I remember being old enough at the time to kind of roll me eyes when I saw commercials for it as it was making its first run in theaters. It was a big summer movie and as much as I liked those in my middle/late teens this one just seemed silly to me. It was one of those movies that was cross-promoted with everything. Seemed like multiple fast food chains had TRACY-related stuff to foist upon all of us at the time. I'm pretty sure I saw it in the theater and immediately forgot about it. It wasn't until the last 3 or 4 years that I started to hear it mentioned again with a bit of reverence and decided to give it another look. I was blown away first of all by the cinematography and production design. They were both gorgeous and not surprisingly so with Vitorrio Storaro(APOCALYPSE NOW, THE CONFORMIST, BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE) behind the lens. Have you seen production designer Richard Sylbert's Filmography btw? Amazing:
So the film has everything going for it visually and then you bring in the cast. Beatty, Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, William Forsythe, Kathy Bates, James Caan, Henry Silva, Seymour Cassel, Charles Durning, Dick Van Dyke, Allen Garfield, Mandy Patinkin, Charles Fleischer, Paul Sorvino, James Tolkan, R.G. Armstrong, Bert Remsen, Michael J. Pollard...and even Madonna. Sure many of them are nearly unrecognizeable in their makeup, but still its a true all-star game. The kind only an actor like Beatty can pull together. Remember this was 1990 so some of these folks hadn't been cast as frequently as they once were in the great 1970s. It's really a 1970s dream cast in a lot of ways. Anyway, the film itself has a fun hero in Tracy, a good "kid" role played by Charlie Korsmo(CAN'T HARDLY WAIT) and some good villains. And a cool ending, very reminiscent of(but better than) a certain summer blockbuster from the year before. Check it out on Blu-ray as soon as possible. Eye-poppingly good-looking.

THE BROOD(1979; David Cronenberg)
I believe I first rented this film on VHS from an old Madison, Wisconsin video store called 'Video Hut', which seemed to really be just a small storefront wherein one guy was renting out tapes from his personal collection. I can't recall if I'd read about it in Danny Peary's Cult Movies books at that point, but I'm pretty sure I had and that is what made me perk up when I saw the old Embassy VHS box sitting on this guys dusty shelf. This is still probably my favorite David Cronenberg film and one that has some genuinely disturbing moments to this day. I wrote a good deal more about it for my review of the Second Sight Blu-ray earlier this year:

THE LADIES MAN(1961; Jerry Lewis)
I came to Jerry Lewis via Danny Peary's Cult Movies book. It took me too long to see it as I'd seen the Eddie Murphy remake and been disgusted by it. When I finally got around to watching it, I not only thought it was a work of genus but also gut-bustingly funny. Jerry's scenes as Buddy Love with the bartender nearly had me in tears. I was just starting to realize Jerry's abilities as a filmmaker when I came upon THE LADIES MAN. What a feat. It's one of those movies that makes you love movie-making and when a filmmaker can be given carte blanche to try something interesting. Jerry shot pretty much the whole film on this dollhouse-like set wherein he could move his camera up and down and around via a crane. The behind the scenes pictures are just a marvel to see. So not only is it a technical marvel, but it is also extremely funny as well. And surreal. Jerry's comedy often transcended slapstick and went to some odd expressionistic place and it was a lovely thing. You can see a certain kinship between him and someone like Jacques Tati when you watch the LADIES MAN. It's a glorious, beautiful comedy.

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