Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Kino Lorber Studio Classics - RIVER'S EDGE and FOXES on Blu-ray ""

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Kino Lorber Studio Classics - RIVER'S EDGE and FOXES on Blu-ray

RIVER'S EDGE (1986; Tim Hunter)
This movie has been with me for quite some time. It was an early discovery from the Cult sections of various video stores I used to scour around the Madison (Wisconsin) area. Like LIQUID SKY and a few others, RIVER'S EDGE used to show up a lot in those sections and it wasn't long before my taking note of it turned iinto "Okay, I really need to see this". When I did it was a potent experience. It was amidst other cinematic revelations I was having in high school like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE EVIL DEAD II and HEATHERS. I saw RIVER'S EDGE a little after those, but it immediately distinctified itself in the same kind of way those movies did. It felt like something "else". A different kind of thing from the other stuff I was seeing and it stood out. I had seen STAND BY ME as a younger person and it absolutely impacted me. Here was another story of youngsters going to see a body, but in a completely different, much darker context. RIVER'S EDGE centers around a group of disaffected terms who are attempting to deal with one of their troop murdering his girlfriend (among other things). It's a movie like OVER THE EDGE which shows teenagers in a very "real" way. By real I mean in the way that they interact with each other, get frustrated with each other and so forth. RIVER'S EDGE director Tim Hunter is one of two credited writers on OVER THE EDGE and I find that to be a neat connection between two movies that I considered to be among my all-time favorites. There's an anarchic and raw nature to both films and that is something that I hadn't seen as much before that.
Like so many others, I had seen Crispin Glover in BACK TO THE FUTURE and found him a fascinating actor. His style was pretty unique and stood out even when slotted into the larger context of a Spielberg-produced Hollywood blockbuster. It wasn't until RIVER'S EDGE though that my fandom for Glover took a sharp upward turn and I became obsessed with him and what he could do. Seeing him in RUBIN & ED soon after cemented him as one of my favorite actors out there. His stylized and memorable performances in both films are both outstanding in my opinion. It is his Lane character in RIVER'S EDGE that provides the film with most of its most quotable dialogue. Beyond Crispin, the rest of the cast is something truly special as well. A young Keanu Reeves and Ione Skye hint strongly at the brightness of their careers to come along with Daniel Roebuck and Dennis Hopper who provide some truly outstanding work here and that brings things up to an unforgettable level. Throw in Frederick Elmes' cinematography as icing on top of a delicious if bleak and nihilistic cake and you have a classic of the 1980s. I always loved that Elmes shot this film and also ERASERHEAD, BLUE VELVET and VALLEY GIRL - what a group.
I had the privelege of chatting briefly with Tim Hunter years and years ago during my Laser Blazer (L.A. DVD store) days. I remember asking him if he was "RIVER'S EDGE Tim Hunter" and he said yes and I proceeded to geek out on him a bit. I remember talking to him briefly about TEX as well which is another movie cut from a similar cloth.

Special Features:
This Blu-ray has a fantastic feature to it in a commentary track from Tim Hunter. Having lived with this movie for as long as I have, I was extremely happy to hear Hunters varied and detailed recollections about it. He covers a great deal about the movie throughout the course of the track, and even with some quieter spots, there's a ton of great stuff there.
One of Hunter's anecdotes that I recall was that they went to the Violent Femmes about doing songs for the movie and that they found it morally offensive, which I found kinda humorous. The commentary is great though and the kind of thing you'd expect from a Criterion disc or something along those lines (so hats off to Kino Lorber Classics for getting it).

FOXES (1980; Adrian Lyne)
I love that KL Studio Classics is putting out both RIVER'S EDGE and FOXES at the same time. I have a video store connection to FOXES too. I saw it first in a "customer favorites" section of a small-town Wisconsin Hollywood Video and was immediately drawn to the cast. Seeing that Jodie Foster and Scott Baio were both in and that it was from 1980 immediately set off my campy movie alarm. I think I must have thought that it would be akin to something like THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY or some other silly thing. Maybe Jodie Foster's presence made me think maybe it'd be like a raunchier FREAKY FRIDAY. Well of course I was more than surprised to discover that FOXES is much darker, much grittier and more melancholy than all that, but it was a welcome surprise. It's a remarkable slice of life about several girls growing up in
the San Fernando Valley in the late 1970s. It really does give a neat sense of that place and time. Not only does it do so via the locations and such, but also with the music (which included several popular artists including Donna Summer and her track "On the Radio"). Jodie Foster plays the lead here in what is a neat ensemble which includes Cherie Currie (of the band The Runaways), Sally Kellerman, Randy Quaid, and Robert Romanus (from FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH). Foster shows how the 10 years or so she'd already logged as an actor to this point had served her well and she is as sharp as ever in the role.
FOXES is yet another in a long line of films that clicks with me in a new and more profound way seeing it now as a father with his own daughter. Mine is still quite young, but this is the kind of movie that represents its patriarchs in a not-so-flattering light for the most part so it got me thinking. The father/daughter relationships here are shown as having decayed a bit after years of half-assedness so I was compelled to reflect on some things I might be neglecting right now with my kid. As I mentioned before, there is a streak of melancholy that runs through this movie and it is far from a "girls having fun" kind of scenario. It's neat to see the dynamic of their friendships, but their lives are far from peaches and cream. Sucks a lot to be a chick sometimes.

Special Features:
As with RIVER'S EDGE, this disc also includes a director commentary track which is new to this release. While Adrian Lyne's track has a lot more stretches if silence in it and his memories of the production and it's details are a bit spotty, it's still a nice, informative commentary. 

Crispin Glover on the Letterman show in 1987, supposedly to promote RIVER'S EDGE, but doesn't end up really doing so:

1 comment:

Hal said...

FOXES is a fave of mine too. Loved it then, and it gained more resonance for me later due to the generational dynamics presented. Foster and friends would be the early wave 13ers/X-ers (Strauss and Howe's first book came out in '91 with the first label) and one of the truest representations of what they used to call "latchkey" kids in cinema. Foster had experience with these types of roles, i.e. THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE.

It's amazing to look back and note that FOXES came at the tail end of a decade's worth of films that pretty much presented kids in a negative light (THE OMEN, BAD NEWS BEARS, CARRIE, et al all the way back to ROSEMARY'S BABY) best verbalized by Kellerman's line about them being "short 40 year olds, and tough ones!" Didn't seem to dawn on her or many other cinema parents that they'd been forced to grow up fast!