Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Kino Lorber Studio Classics - GORKY PARK, TRUE CONFESSIONS, MULHOLLAND FALLS and THE NAKED FACE on Blu-ray ""

Saturday, November 1, 2014


GORKY PARK (1983; Michael Apted)
From Kino's site:
"Murder, seduction and intrigue in the Kremlin! Based on the best-selling novel by Martin Cruz Smith, Gorky Park is a gripping and brilliant classic thriller starring William Hurt (Body Heat), Lee Marvin (The Dirty Dozen), Brian Dennehy (Best Seller) and Joanna Pacula (The Kiss). When three murder victims are discovered in Moscow's Gorky Park with their faces and fingertips removed, Detective Renko (Hurt) is determined to identify the bodies and find the killer, but when the clues point toward the involvement of the KGB, Renko is hunted by the secret police and confronted by an intricate web of deception and treachery reaching to the highest political levels. Directed by Michael Apted (The World is Not Enough) with a great supporting cast that includes Ian Bannen (The Offence) and Richard Griffiths (Withnail & I)."
This film brings me a very strange and disconnected sense of nostalgia for some reason. My memories of first hearing about it and seeing it are pretty hazy, but I do recall it being a big deal for my parents at the time it came out. Thinking back on it now and knowing my parents, I'm quite sure their enthusiasm was partially based on having read the source novel and liking it a lot. Based on that, I'm sure they went to see it in the theater or perhaps rented it on VHS. One of the many memories I will never recover as long as I live is that of me perhaps watching it with them when they had the VHS (or maybe it was on an HBO free-weekend?). I kind of like that I cannot pinpoint my exact, specific memories about the film, but rather that it was a big deal to my folks and that that fact alone stood out as kind of a revelation to me. Up to that point I know I had gotten excited to see films, but I'm not sure I remembered a time when I saw them really excited about a "new" movie. Whenever I did finally get to see it and remember it, I did in enjoy the movie quite a bit. In revisiting, I dug it even more.
Here's an interesting interview with Lee Marvin on the set of GORKY PARK in 1983:

Here's the Trailer:

TRUE CONFESSIONS (1981; Ulu Grosbard)
From Kino's site:
"Screen legends Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall deliver riveting performances as siblings embroiled in a shocking homicide investigation that pits them against one another. Based on the true and still-unsolved "Black Dahlia" murder case, this entertaining, intelligent and thoroughly satisfying film noir culminates in a mind-blowing climax that will put you on the edge of your seat! Detective Tom Spellacy (Duvall) and Father Desmond Spellacy (De Niro) find their worlds colliding amidst a flurry of political finger-pointing and public outcries over a scandalous, headline-making murder. As Tom hunts down the elusive killer, his investigation threatens to expose secrets that could ruin his brother... and rock the foundation of his beloved Catholic church. The top-notch supporting cast includes Charles Durning, Kenneth McMillan, Burgess Meredith, Cyral Cusack and Dan Hedaya."
Ulu Grosbard is a name I came to appreciate in a very serious way when I came across his film STRAIGHT TIME on VHS many years ago. I saw the film and it floored me and I quickly made a point of showing my parents and anyone else who would listen to me about it. It's not flashy in terms of style, but has a gritty feel to it that matches the material (is Eddie Bunker's source novel NO BEAST SO FIERCE) and is a wonderful showcase for its equally wonderful cast. Same goes for TRUE CONFESSIONS. While not as good as STRAIGHT TIME, it is similarly gritty in some ways and has a remarkable cast to show off. Grosbard started working as a director in theater before movies so I would assume that he worked and collaborated well actors which would explain these stellar casts.

MULLHOLLAND FALLS (1996; Lee Tamahori)
From Kino's site:
"Nick Nolte, Melanie Griffith, Chazz Palminteri, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Treat Williams, Jennifer Connelly, Andrew McCarthy and John Malkovich star in Mulholland Falls, a brilliant, high-powered crime thriller electrified by hard-hitting action, forbidden passion and shocking intrigue. In 1950s Los Angeles, Max Hoover (Nolte) leads an elite squad of four detectives who play by their own rules, dealing with criminals the only way they know how - with deadly force. But when they investigate the murder of a beautiful young woman, the detectives find themselves embroiled in a brutal war against murder, corruption and high-level conspiracy, as they face a terrifying secret that the US government is determined to keep hidden at any price. Top-notch direction by Lee Tamahori, the director of Once Were Warriors and Die Another Day."
I honestly don't remember all that much about seeing MULHOLLAND FALLS for the first time (when it first arrived on VHS). I do recall seeing it listed in some home video business magazine we used to get at the video store where I worked though. On paper it sounded pretty amazing at the time. I also remember being entrenched in a serious CHINATOWN obsession around that time though. CHINATOWN is still a favorite of mine, but I thought it was the end all be all of cinema when I was in my 20s. Tarantino was also huge for me around that same time. MULLHOLLAND FALLS was an interesting intersection of those two worlds and I know that was part of what hooked me back then. Watching now, objectively I can see it doesn't hold up quite as well as it did then, but I nonetheless enjoyed it as a who's who of fun actors from the 1990s. Director Lee Tamahori followed this film with THE EDGE, which I have always had a fondness for. Also, I noticed that Floyd Mutrux has a story credit here which is cool and interesting as he had a hand in many 70s films I enjoy (DUSTY AND SWEETS MCGEE, ALOHA BOBBY & ROSE, AMERICAN HOT WAX).

THE NAKED FACE (1984; Bryan Forbes)
From Kino's site:
"The Naked Face is a shocking and suspense-filled thriller that takes Roger Moore (The Spy Who Loved Me) out of the world of James Bond and into the world equally dangerous and violent. He stars as a doctor targeted for murder in this gripping film version of the Sidney Sheldon best-selling novel wonderfully directed by Bryan Forbes (Seance on a Wet Afternoon). Dr. Judd Stevens (Moore), an affluent Chicago doctor, suddenly finds himself trapped in a waking nightmare, surrounded by shadowy figures bent on his destruction. Who are these mysterious figures and what are their sinister motives? As the mystery deepens, the web tightens around him and when the police appear to have deserted him, Dr. Stevens is forced to confront his would-be assassins alone. The all-star cast includes Rod Steiger, Elliott Gould, Anne Archer and Art Carney."
This is a film I wish I'd watched before I wrote my Underrated Thrillers list as it would certainly have made honorable mention. Though 1984 is a bit past the prime years for almost all of these actors, it's still a stunning ensemble. Director Bryan Forbes actually has an interesting career full of thriller-type films. From the above mentioned SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON to THE STEPFORD WIVES to even something like THE WRONG BOX, he's made some memorable movies. THE NAKED FACE may have a certain appeal to kids of the 80s raised on endless cable showings of OCTOPUSSY and A VIEW TO A KILL though as it is Roger Moore made this film right in the middle of those two. He's never been my favorite James Bond, but he is certainly an affable and charming actor so it's always nice to see him in something a little less tongue in cheek.

Bonus: Roger Moore on Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, 1985:


Andy Wolverton said...

Apted has done some fine work, but I think GORKY PARK might have benefited from a few more Lee Marvin scenes. I still enjoyed it, seeing it for the first time (on DVD) just a few months ago.

I saw TRUE CONFESSIONS in 1981 when I was in college and thought it was quite good, although it never really seemed to catch on with audiences. (Maybe everybody was still going to see 9 TO 5 and SCANNERS back then...) I'd love to revisit this one, though. I'll seek out MULHOLLAND FALLS and THE NAKED FACE. Thanks for the reviews!

Rupert Pupkin said...

Thanks Andy! Sorry the reviews are so brief!