Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '97 - Bernardo Villela ""

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Underrated '97 - Bernardo Villela

For more on my views on film you can check my blog ( and for more about my other doings you can see the About pages on the same site (

Constructing this list was deceptively difficult. In 1997, I celebrated my sixteenth birthday in late August and it was the second year of my annual BAM Awards ( However, regurgitating the films I selected as Most Underrated that year ( would ignore films I have discovered since. So here goes.

Hijacking Hollywood (1997; Dir. Neil Mandt)
Even though I included this film in my 1997 nominations that was a selection created retroactively when I was in a lamentable phase of revisionism. However, the degree to which I like this movie should not be overlooked or caveated. It features hilarious turns by Scott Thompson; writer/director Neil Mandt, who in this utters a catchphrase I still use; and Henry Thomas. Not to mention that the plot is ingenious. It’s about a disgruntled aspiring filmmaker (Thomas) who is working as a PA on a major Hollywood film (Moby Dick 2), and discovers he can hold the production hostage by absconding with the dailies of the biggest effects shot in the film. It’s insightful and at times over-the-top and always funny. That should be enough to get you interested.
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The Butcher Boy (1997; Dir. Neil Jordan)
When I first heard about this film it was as a salacious bit of news on E!’s The Gossip Show. However, SinĂ©ad O’Connor’s profane first line as the Virgin Mary is a small piece of a film with magical realism elements, dark humor, memorable dialogue, arresting visuals delivered by a virtuoso director it deals deftly with family, religion, mental illness, and friendship and is quite simply an unforgettable film.
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The Boys Club (1997; Dir. John Fawcett)
This was a film I caught on HBO back in the day and it was viewed many times as such, likely one of those where I caught it in progress, got the gist, was hooked, and upon rewatching it liked it even more. Having kids in a situation in which they are seemingly out of their depth is a classic trope but very well handled and suspense-laden in this rendition. In this film the gang meets a man who claims he’s a cop but the boys come to discover otherwise. Chris Penn is a marvelous foil to the gang that features Devon Sawa, post-Casper and pre-Final Destination, and Dominic Zamprogna post-Milk Money.
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The Sweet Hereafter (1997; Dir. Atom Egoyan)
I vividly recall that this was a film I rented at Blockbuster, and I’m nearly sure that’s an accurate memory. The subject matter is one that promises to be harrowing (a lawyer comes to a small town following a bus accident only to find more secrets within) and to be honest, it’s crushing. It’s so crushing I have not seen it since, though I easily could and think of it often and I’m not sure how many people do. All I know is that people should watch and discuss this film more often.
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The Education of Little Tree (1997; Dir. Richard Friedenberg)
Many times it is but through cinema that certain aspects of history or society are brought to light for moviegoers. Forced cultural assimilation of Native American children was something I heard of but it is driven home both here and in other films. As a dual citizen stories of finding or re-finding one’s culture always draw me in: here Little Tree (Joseph Ashton - is brought closer to his Cherokee roots by tragedy and then taken further from them by those with his “best interests” at heart. It is one worth finding, and I believe it was brought to my attention by watching Siskel and Ebert.
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