Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '86 - Justin LaLiberty ""

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Underrated '86 - Justin LaLiberty

Justin LaLiberty holds degrees in Critical Film Studies and Film Preservation in Archiving. He is currently responsible for programming at Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers, NY and is an itinerant projectionist, ready to run reels if you've got 'em. He is a regular contributor to Paracinema and can usually be found in whichever NYC art-house is showing the most sordid content on a given day.

Check out his Underrated '96 list here:

Almost oppressive in its ability to stylize everything and anything, Carax’s unclassifiable genre oddity melds together tropes of science-fiction, crime cinema and romantic melodrama deftly all the while amounting to something utterly confounding and without peer. It’s a lot of things at once – a bold cinema metaphor for the AIDs crisis; a heist film; a futuristic drama about crossed lovers – but it still manages to be something singular. And it may feature the best use of a David Bowie song in any movie regardless of genre or country of origin, and in 2016 that really matters.

Speaking of movies that try to be a lot of things at once, here is Albert Pyun’s post-apocalyptic neo-noir comedy musical! This has all the makings and trappings of what some would consider to be a “cult classic” – I really fucking hate that classification though – but here we are and I can count the people that I personally know who have seen this on one hand. It’s the post-apocalyptic STREETS OF FIRE that shouldn’t work nearly as well as it does, and that it does is both a testament to Pyun’s steadfast direction and the charisma of its leads: John Stockwell and Michael Dudikoff.

Jean-Pierre Gorin’s politically motivated Francophile cinema is likely not for most people – and almost definitely isn’t what they think of for under-appreciated 80s cinema. But this breezy – almost silly – doc about model train collectors and Manny Farber (what…?) is just too damned strange and fascinating to ignore. It’s also a rather moving testament to the power(s) of nostalgia, creation and collection. Which are things that any cinephile should immediately relate to.

Speaking of nostalgia: who doesn’t get a tiny bit misty eyed when thinking of fast food and/or sex? What about the two together? You’ll be singing along to the toe-tapping theme song in no time “America, you’re getting burger hungry! Hungry for the burger that makes you full!”. And you’ll really, really want that burger bed. Perfect for pairing with GOOD BURGER and or BETTER OFF DEAD with your favorite order from In-N-Out or Shake Shack (your region may vary).
EYE OF THE TIGER (Richard C Sarafian)
Have you ever wanted to watch a movie that uses that Survivor song more often and with more gumption than ROCKY III does? Did you really want that movie to star Gary Busey as a Vietnam vet hell bent on destroying the evil biker gang that has taken over his town? It’s like a mash-up of all of the best things about STONE COLD and ROLLING THUNDER and it’s every bit as awesome as it sounds.
F/X (Robert Mandel)
Two things that I can’t get enough of: movies about making movies and buddy action-comedies. F/X is both. And adds a heap of BLOW OUT style paranoia to the mix. The extended chase scene involving a slew of practical special effects both within the movie and as the movie itself, is great fun.
THE PARK IS MINE (Steven Hilliard Stern)
And we have another movie prominently featuring a Vietnam vet. This time he’s played by Tommy Lee Jones and he decides to take over Central Park in an act of protest. It’s like DOG DAY AFTERNOON by way of HOME ALONE. It’s made-for-TV trappings are fairly obvious and it’s profoundly silly, but there’s something alternately charming and insane about Jones running around Central Park with a shit ton of explosives and ammunition and watching the NYPD bumble around trying to take him down. It’s the type of thing that would cause mass panic now yet seems so quaint (and frankly impossible) thirty years ago.
52 PICK UP (John Frankenheimer)
This isn’t a great movie. It’s not one of Frankenheimer’s best, nor is it one of the better Elmore Leonard adaptations. But it is almost reprehensibly sleazy. Which counts for something. Or a lot, if you’re me. Brought to us by Golan and Globus who could do no (or all) wrong in the 1980s. Featuring an inspired dirtbag performance by Roy Scheider and a sequence set inside a projection booth, which will always get my attention. Rich people should probably just not make sex tapes.
DEMON QUEEN (Donald Farmer)
I can’t believe I’m recommending this to people. Some sort of SOV, neon soaked UNDER THE SKIN by way of the 1980s. It’s barely an hour long and has even less of an emphasis on anything resembling plot and much more of an emphasis on a de-tuned Casio keyboard score as written by that asshole kid you used to babysit that only exists to piss you off and getting gross. The gore effects are pedestrian yet inspired, the T&A is the sort that you feel guilty for watching and the whole thing feels like something that wasn't truly made by or for anyone, yet exists as an artifact as timeless as video tracking lines.
The scene in the video store thrusts this into some echelon of Americana that it wouldn't reach otherwise. It may even be the most American movie of 1986. And that's the year of Top Gun and Howard the Duck.

1986 is definitely the only year that I can get away with including tow Albert Pyun films on an “underrated” list. But DANGEROUSLY CLOSE has to be given some credit. It’s basically THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME set inside a high school but with paintball guns. Because that makes sense. Also from Cannon, because why wouldn’t it be. Stars RADIOACTIVE DREAMS’ John Stockwell and is also from his script. Ripper is a badass. Soundtrack features Depeche Mode and Robert Palmer. Probably the most 80s movie on this list.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

F/X and Hamburger (late night staple in the 80s) are the only two of these I've seen. Look forward to checking out the rest, especially the Pyun films.