Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Rupert's Favorite Discs of 2016 ""

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Rupert's Favorite Discs of 2016

2016 was, as the last several years have been, a great time for cinephiles. You can feel perhaps a certain urgency on the part of those putting out and licensing catalog films for Blu-ray, but that's not a bad thing as far as I'm concerned. Though it is a tricky thing to isolate favorites in a year with such an abundance of good stuff, here is a large group of the ones that were most dear to me (as usual, it is a mix of great discs and films that I personally love):

THE MARX BROTHERS SILVER SCREEN COLLECTION (Restored Editon) on Blu-ray (Universal)
This set includes some of my favorite comedies of all-time. They're all good, but DUCK SOUP, HORSE FEATHERS and ANIMAL CRACKERS are next-level comic masterpieces. If you aren't on board the Marx Brothers train, this is a great place to hop on.

THE THING Collector's Edition on Blu-ray (Scream Factory)
I may or may not have mentioned that this is pretty much my favorite film - period. It is one of the few movies that I can really find now flaw with, no matter how many times I watch it. This Scream Factory Collector's Edition is superb and a real must-own for fans.

MY BODYGUARD on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
A still as yet underrated 80s classic. It is truly a personal favorite for me and I've pretty much never failed to covert anyone into a fan when I've shown it to them. I always say that if you're not fully invested by the time that final scene rolls around, you must be heartless. A touching and funny story with dynamite performances all around - especially from Matt Dillon (who plays the ultimate evil bully). Disc includes a nice commentary from director Tony Bill that I very much enjoyed.

ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS on Blu-ray (Criterion)
I'm a full-on Howard Hawks fanatic as I'm sure you already know. RIO BRAVO is still my favorite, but ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS has been climbing the shortlist for me for a while now. This Blu-ray has probably cemented it in the top three Hawks films for me. Essential.

CUTTER'S WAY on Blu-ray (Twilight Time)
A Danny Peary Cult Movie book discovery for me from way back and a film that I've been dying to have on Blu-ray for a long time. John Heard is only remembered these days for his dad roles, but he is a remarkable actor and makes for an unbeatable duo with Jeff Bridges here. Dark, neo-noir mystery that is not like much on anything you'll see today. Feels very 70s.

PRETTY POISON on Blu-ray (Twilight Time)
Hats off to Twilight Time for releasing not one, but two of my favorite Cult Movies Book films in the same year. This is an amazing film and for those that only know Anthony Perkins from PSYCHO, please give this a look and see what else he is capable of. Tuesday Weld ain't no slouch herself and plays one hell of a film fatale.

MIDNIGHT RUN Collector's Edition on Blu-ray (Shout Factory)
Truly one of the great comedies in the history of cinema and the buddy movie to end all buddy movies. Given about another decade, I think this flick will finally start to register as the knock-down-drag-out classic that it is. De Niro and Grodin are out of this world stellar together and the comedy - and ultimately emotion - that comes out of their relationship in the film is quite spectacular.

STRANGE BREW on Blu-ray (Warner Bros)
One of the great cult comedies of the 1980s and it still holds up. I've even show this one to my teenage son and not surprisingly, he loved it and we still call each other "hoser" on a weekly basis.

Speaking of epic cult comedies, this is one of the greatest. Another stellar Shout Factory release and you should really clear out a spot on your shelf for it.

CAT PEOPLE on Blu-ray (Criterion)
I love all the Val Lewton produced films from this period and this one isn't even my favorite, but I do think it is worthy of being discussed alongside the Universal Horror classics in terms of its importance to horror cinema in general. Basically one of the originators of the jump scare (called "sound buses" in this case) which will always be a part of scary movies until the end of time.

BLOOD AND BLACK LACE on Blu-ray (Arrow Video)
Probably my favorite Mario Bava movie among a career filled with lushly photograped, stylish gems. Kind of a giallo, but better.

One of the creepiest movies out there that isn't a straight horror film. Jodie Foster annihilates with her turn here as a girl who may or may not be without her parents whilst being suspiciously stalked by the landlady's son (Martin Sheen). Don't read about this one, just watch it.

MCCABE & MRS. MILLER on Blu-ray (Criterion)
One of Altman's best, with beautiful cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond and music by the late Leonard Cohen. If you love Altman like I do (he's one of my favorite directors), you cannot be without this disc.

IN A LONELY PLACE on Blu-ray (Criterion)
People remember Bogart for CASABLANCA and other films and though this movie is far from ignored, it shows a dark side to Bogart that perhaps has less appeal than some of his hero roles. All in all it is a clever and emotional noir as well as a look inside the Hollywood filmmaking machine of the time.

TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. Collector's Edition on Blu-ray (Shout Factory):
I had forgotten how much I like this movie until rewatching it in this nice Collector's Edition. As much as Friedkin made a car chase for the ages with THE FRENCH CONNECTION, he does his best to top himself here. I forgot just how epic this car chase is and how much I miss the craftsmanship that used to go into such things.
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THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
Would be fun to double this with TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. actually - in a "one from the 70s and one from the 80s" kind of taught thriller double feature. Great, suspenseful hostage situation kind of thing with an outstanding cast. Good commentary from actor Pat Healy and his brother Jim (a long time film programmer).

JOHNNY GUITAR Signature Edition on Blu-ray (Olive Films)
My favorite of the Olive Film's new Signature line from this year (with HIGH NOON being a close second). These are nearly Criterion-level releases in terms of picture quality and extra features. I highly recommend looking into the whole Signature line honestly.

ON DANGEROUS GROUND on Blu-ray (Warner Archive)
It's never a bad year when we get TWO Nicholas Ray noirs out on Blu-ray and this one stands up to IN A LONELY PLACE in terms of story and the transfer looks stunning. An informative Glenn Erickson (DVD Savant) commentary is included.

FANTASTIC PLANET on Blu-ray (Criterion)
There really aren't too many films like this one. It is an island of glorious fantasy unto itself. Another that I just recommend buying for a pretty singular cinematic experience.

THE IRON GIANT on Blu-ray (Warner Bros)
One of the best animated films in the past twenty years. The further we get from when this film came out (and didn't find an audience) the more it looks like a modern classic. An amazing documentary about the making of the film and its history is included here and is an imperative view for animation fans.

THE GANG'S ALL HERE on Blu-ray (Twilight Time)
One of the great Busby Berkeley musicals that gets less love than his other work. The Coen Brothers have clearly seen this on though and used it as an influence.

TOO LATE FOR TEARS on Blu-ray (Flicker Alley)
Flicker Alley killed it this year with two really solid film noir releases (this one and WOMAN ON THE RUN). This was my favorite of the two, but both are recommended pickups.

99 RIVER STREET on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
Another great unsung noir - this one from director Phil Karlson (KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL, THE PHENIX CITY STORY) - and the disc features an excellent Eddie Muller commentary to boot.

THE INSPECTOR on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Animation)
My favorite set from Kino Lorber Animation's Depatie/Freleng Collection. Hilarious and extremely clever, this cartoon is fantastic fun if you've not seen it.

TIME AFTER TIME on Blu-ray (Warner Archive)
I am so glad Warner Archive put this out on Blu. It's just an all-around solid time travel movie featuring H.G. Wells (Malcolm McDowell) pursuing Jack the Ripper (David Warner) through time to the "present day". Nice fish-out-of-water romance with true to life chemistry between McDowell and Mary Steenburgen (who began dating and married after this film). From the director of STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, Nicholas Meyer (and with a nice commentary track from him).

XANADU on Blu-ray (Universal)
I don't really believe in "guilty pleasures", but a lot of folks see this film that way and I understand why they might. For me though, it is a delightful fantasy with some excellent music by ELO that I get lost in every time I watch it. I feel like this one will end up being a favorite for my daughter at some point.

ROLLERCOASTER on Blu-ray (Shout Factory)
Another movie that I think I love more than most humans, but I've come across some other hardcore ROLLERCOASTER-ites in my time. It has a lot to do with the locales (I guess I just love amusement parks) and the way that George Segal and Richard Widmark are trying to out grump each other the whole time. So glad to have this on Blu-ray.

Honorable mentions:
HOW I WON THE WAR on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)

THE KNACK... AND HOW TO GET IT on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)

RICH KIDS on Blu-ray (Olive Films)

FRENCH POSTCARDS On Blu-ray (Olive Films)

TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE on Blu-ray (Shout Factory)

TROUBLE MAN on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)

FIGURES IN A LANDSCAPE on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)

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