Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries - Greg MacLennan ""

Monday, January 9, 2017

Film Discoveries - Greg MacLennan

Greg MacLennan is A/V Creative Director for Drafthouse Films and a Film Programmer at Alamo Drafthouse.
@theMacLennan on twitter
Also, here's a recent cool episode of Junk Food Cinema that Greg was on where he discussed his love for the inimitable STREETS OF FIRE:
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Deadfall - (1993) Directed by Christopher Coppolla
Is this one of the best movies I discovered this year? Easily not, but it is by far the most singularly CAGE performance I have ever witnessed. I'm a self proclaimed Cage-a-holic and this is one of the few that had managed to elude me because everyone had always told me all you ever needed to see from this film was the highlights on youtube. But this year I took it upon myself to make up my own mind and SAM-FUCKING-PECKINPAH! I won't bore you with the details of this bizarre neo-noir film starring Michael Beihn, but it features dual performances by James Coburn as twin-brothers, Peter Fonda, an ultra-sleezy Fast Eddie style Charlie Sheen, Angus Scrimm with a robotic lobster hand and Nicolas Cage in the most unhinged performance ever put to celluloid. Skip the youtube and check out the whole tamale.
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Pimpernel Smith - (1941) Directed by Leslie Howard
I was fortunate enough to attend Butt-Numb-a-thon, the annual 24-hour mystery film marathon held at the Alamo Drafthouse, this year and I was not disappointed. Every year I generally manage being exposed to at least one unmitigated masterpiece that I had previously been completely ignorant to, and this year that masterpiece was Pimpernel Smith. Written and directed by the endlessly charming Leslie Howard, this adaptation of the 1934 novel, The Scarlet Pimpernel, follows an archaeology professor traveling around Germany in 1939 using his cover as a way of heroically saving political prisoners with his wits and clandestine skill set. It's the kind of movie that is so pitch perfect in its execution that it seems destined for a Hollywood remake except the only thing you'd need to do is update your now deceased star with Tom Hiddleston and NOT CHANGE A SINGLE LINE from the original script.
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Lawrence of Arabia - (1962) Directed by David Lean
Everyone has a classic that they have yet to check off their list, and mine was always Lawrence of Arabia. I'm fortunate to live in a town that regularly screens this beauty on 70mm and I had always promised myself that that was the way I was going to first experience it. But for one reason or another life always managed to get in the way and I kept missing the screenings. This year was my year and I am truly embarrassed as a professional editor and film enthusiast that it has taken me this long. David Lean and Freddie Young have crafted one of the most beautiful films I have ever laid my eyes on and Anne Coates delivers a masterclass in editing that would make even the titans of the industry rife with jealousy. It's a sweeping epic in every sense of the word and it isn't until you actually commit to sitting down to witness it do you truly understand what makes Lawrence such a timeless classic.
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The Right Stuff - (1983) Directed by Philip Kaufman
This was another one of those movies that I was ashamed to have never seen, but after finally making my way to the tale of the original Mercury 7 astronauts and their macho, seat-of-the-pants approach to the space program, I was completely floored by just how expansive and thrilling it all was. Sam Shepard carries the first half of the film as the last cowboy in the wild west of test pilots that are all slowly going the way of the space program. It's a white knuckle thrill ride through the space race that I just couldn't have enjoyed more.
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What a Way to Go - (1964) Directed by J. Lee Thompson
Shirley MacLaine stars as a four-time widow discussing her marriages to men who became incredible wealthy only to die prematurely. It may seem like it's overstuffed and uneven but everything just works. It's a dark comedy with slapstick and musical numbers. It's sexy as hell and just an all out good time. It features Gene Kelly dancing, Dean Martin crooning, Robert Mitchum sizzling, Dick Van Dyke prat-falling and Paul Newman shirtlessly orchestrating machines to paint masterpieces. It's a movie that stars the greatest men of cinema all falling to their knees in the face of the true commander of this film, the unsinkable, endlessly enjoyable, true American treasure Ms. Shirley MacLaine.
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Lost in America - (1985) Directed by Albert Brooks
Albert Brooks stars and directs this hilarious road movie that chronicles the story of two thirty-somethings that abandon their lives to set out as free spirits across America in a Winnebago. This being a Albert Brooks movie, the shitstorms come early and often, but always to enjoyable effect. This is one of those movies less about the destination and more about the journey and Brooks' comedic timings have never been sharper than here. If this isn't enough of a recommendation to check this movie out, I'd implore you just to watch the casino scene between Brooks and Garry Marshall to witness how to perfectly balance the delicate nature of hilarity with violent discomfort. It's truly an art form that few can achieve and Albert Brooks has completely mastered.
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