Rupert Pupkin Speaks: INDICATOR - BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING and FAT CITY on Blu-ray ""

Sunday, March 26, 2017

INDICATOR - BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING and FAT CITY on Blu-ray

BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING (1965; Otto Preminger
BUNNY LAKE is an example of one of those "is it real or a dream?" movies. Early on in the commentary accompanying this disc, screenwriter Lem Dobbs mentions Kafka and Orson Welles' film THE TRIAL as points of comparison and that's an apt way to go. Though BUNNY LAKE's narrative is much more grounded in reality, it is still nonetheless disorienting in parts. What Otto Preminger has created here (in what I consider to be one of his best films) is a haunting mystery fable of sorts. We are introduced to two characters (played by Keir Dullea and Carol Lynley) and it is not immediately clear what their relationship is. What is clear is that Lynley's character discovers that her daughter Bunny has disappeared from her school. Through a variety of circumstance, we start to question if Bunny really exists or not. This premise was recycled later in FLIGHT PLAN with Jodie Foster in 2005. It's a great dramatic premise, so it's easy to see why. As a parent myself, it's hard to shake the feeling that there's the ever so slightest chance that my little girl could be snapped up and whisked off if I take my eyes off of her for more than a minute. That thought alone is so relentlessly panic-inducing that it aligns nicely with movie storytelling as its something many parents can relate to. How horrible would it be to lose your child and to have no idea where they are? That is pure terror incarnate. So with BUNNY LAKE, we have that anxiety combined with a slow burn mystery that begins to evolve when an older police Inspector (Laurence Olivier) gets involved and begins his investigation. I don't want to talk much further about the plot as it's a movie that I went into fairly cold my first time and I recommend that any new seekers do the same. There are a few other notable things about this film I'd like to mention though. First, it has a disturbingly creep title sequence by the great Saul Bass which features a silhouetted hand ripping strips of what appears to be child's construction paper off of parts of the screen to reveal each group of credits. As is the case with most Saul Bass title sequences, this one is quite inspired. Secondly, BUNNY LAKE features the popular 60s band The Zombies in a silly but enjoyable spotlight role (they are playing on TV in a bar at one point). Now many folks may be familiar with their hit song "Time of the Season" (as I was), but when I heard them play "Just Out of Reach" in the movie, it grabbed me in a big way. I sought out more of their music and they've since become one of my favorite groups ever. The connection I made to The Zombies because of this movie in combination with it being a fun psychological mystery makes it a personal favorite. 

Disc Features:
• Region Free
• 4K restoration from the original negative
• Original mono audio
• Audio commentary with film historians Lem Dobbs, Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman
• Carol Lynley Remembers (2006, 27 mins): the actress discusses her career and working with Otto Preminger
• Clive Revill Remembers (2017, 14 mins): the celebrated actor discuss his role as Andrews
• Isolated score: experience Paul Glass’ original soundtrack music
• Original theatrical trailers
• Image gallery
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive 24-page booklet with a new essay by Chris Fujiwara, archival interview material with Otto Preminger, rare colour on-set photography, and a selection of contemporary reviews

You can buy BUNNY LAKE from Indicator here:
FAT CITY (1972; John Huston)
I wish I could find this list that I first heard of FAT CITY from. It was a list of actors and directors naming their favorite underrated and underseen films. It included things like David O. Russell talking about THE HEARTBREAK KID and SHAMPOO and Jodie Foster talking about MISHIMA. It was a great list. Director Ron Shelton (BULL DURHAM, WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP) talked about his affection for FAT CITY and I had honestly never heard of the movie before. Even though it was directed by John Huston, a director whose work I enjoyed very much, I had somehow never seen it mentioned really. This was of course pre-IMDB, so that says a little something, but nonetheless. I was immediately intrigued by the combination of elements at play in FAT CITY - boxing, Stacy Keach, Jeff Bridges, and John Huston. Susan Tyrell I was unfamiliar with, but after seeing the movie I could not believe I wasn't aware of her. This movie is a veritable smorgasbord of amazing performances and on top of that, it was shot by the stellar Conrad Hall so you know it looks fantastic.
FAT CITY (based on the book of the same name by Leonard Gardner) is set in the dilapidated city of Stockton in central California. It is a far cry from the Philadelphia that Rocky Balboa hailed from. In fact, FAT CITY is quite a different movie from ROCKY in a lot of ways. Though both movies deal with boxers on the fringes, FAT CITY is not particularly the story of triumph that ROCKY ends up being. FAT CITY, like a lot of Huston films, focuses on some kinda doomed and downtrodden dudes trying their best to keep their heads above water. The story focuses on Billy (Stacy Keach), an over-the-hill ex-boxer who spends his time as a day laborer in the nearby farm fields and Ernie (Jeff Bridges) who is a young pugilist trying to work his way up. The two men's lives converge at a local training gym and a friendship develops. It's sort of a mentorship kinda thing, but as I said, this movie isn't your standard sports tale of redemption. Billy is an alcoholic and a loser and Ernie is just desperate. What's neat about FAT CITY is that it is the beginning of John Huston's "second wind" of remarkable films in his latter career. Not to say that he made a lot of bad movies, but FAT CITY to me is the start of a special segment of his filmography wherein he would crank out such dramatic powerhouses as THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING, UNDER THE VOLCANO and WISE BLOOD. KING is a movie people seem to remember pretty well (perhaps in part because of Sean Connery and Michael Caine), but the other two (and FAT CITY) are oft overlooked and are all cinematic achievements of greatness. So as much as there was a huge "youth movement" happening in movies in the 1970s, here is an old guard filmmaker still putting out great stuff early on in that oh so golden decade. What he's put together is one of the great boxing films of all-time and he does so by focusing less on the boxing and more on the lives of the boxers.

Disc Features:
• Region Free
• 4K restoration from the original negative
• Original mono audio
• Alternative 5.1 surround sound track
• Audio commentary by film historians Lem Dobbs and Nick Redman
• Sucker Punch Blues: Looking Back on John Huston’s 'Fat City' (2017, 55 mins): new documentary featuring interviews with actors Stacy Keach and Candy Clark, casting director Fred Roos and assistant cameraman Gary Vidor.
• An American Classic (2015, 22 mins): a newly illustrated audio interview with Fat City author Leonard Gardner
• John Huston on Fat CIty (1972, 6 mins): an archival interview filmed for the French TV programme Pour le cinĂ©ma.
• The John Player Lecture with John Huston (1972, 88 mins): audio recording of an interview conducted by Brian Baxter at the National Film Theatre, London
• Isolated score
• Original theatrical trailer
• Image gallery
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive 28-page booklet with a new essay by Danny Leigh, a contemporary review, and John Huston's reminiscences about the film

You can buy FAT CITY from Indicator here:
http://www.powerhousefilms.co.uk/product/fat-city-dfe

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