Rupert Pupkin Speaks: June 2018 ""

Monday, June 18, 2018

New Release Roundup for the Week of June 19th, 2018

NIGHT OF THE LEPUS on Blu-ray (Scream Factory)
https://amzn.to/2taONBf
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TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN on Blu-ray (Warner Archive)
https://amzn.to/2sY3w3s
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UNDER CAPRICORN on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)
https://amzn.to/2sZnY3B
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THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)
https://amzn.to/2MuYIKJ
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EL SUR on Blu-ray (Criterion)
https://amzn.to/2LUR2R0
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MY SISTER EILEEN on Blu-ray (Twilight Time)
https://www.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/35561/MY-SISTER-EILEEN-1955/

MY GAL SAL on Blu-ray (Twilight Time)
https://www.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/35560/MY-GAL-SAL-1942/

TAKE A GIRL LIKE YOU on Blu-ray (Twilight Time)
https://www.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/35562/TAKE-A-GIRL-LIKE-YOU-1970/

LET'S MAKE LOVE on Blu-ray (Twilight Time)
https://www.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/35559/LETS-MAKE-LOVE-1960/

I, JANE DOE on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)
https://amzn.to/2yaCcUq
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JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)
https://amzn.to/2HTb0co
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LIONHEART on Blu-ray  (MVD Rewind Collection)
https://amzn.to/2ldvbsQ
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ALIEN PREDATORS on Blu-ray (Scream Factory)
https://amzn.to/2HSWx07
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UNSANE on Blu-ray (Universal)
https://amzn.to/2t8KuGI
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Friday, June 15, 2018

KL Studio Classics - THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD and THE MAZE (3D)

THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD (1975; J. Lee Thompson)
Peter Proud is having bad dreams. He keeps having one nightmare in particular wherein he finds himself - as another man - swimming out to a rowboat at the night in the middle of a lake. There’s a woman in the boat (Margot Kidder) and as he reaches the edge of it, he apologizes to her for an argument they’ve just had. She forgives him and says they shall never speak of this again. As he begins to pull himself into the boat with her, she smashes him on the head with s wooden oar and he falls back into the water. She then whacks him one more time on the skull for good measure - drowning him. Proud wakes up screaming in a voice that isn’t his own. All of this really creeps out his “girlfriend” and perfectly perplexes a sleep study doctor who Proud has taken to seeing for assistance. All the while he keeps having flashes of something that seems clearly to be from another life. The “reincarnation” of the film’s title. It’s very much the tale of a man whose former life is trying to make itself known and heard through his present day life/identity. He becomes obsessed with trying to find out why. It’s a really fascinating mystery that is far more experimental than most anything else that director J. Lee Thompson ever did. It feels very much of a piece with some of the strange and ambiguous cinema of the 1970s. It's kind of a trippy film and the periodic flashes of memory bits - a woman, a building, embraces between several men and women - all make for a bizarre atmosphere that adds to the mystery. There's a bit of a VERTIGO vibe to the whole thing. I’m sure that’s part of what drew David Fincher to the material in the first place. I once read that he was angling to remake this movie and was attached to it for a period.
Michael Sarrazin, who plays the lead, is one of those 70s actors who isn't remembered all that well and that I have a lot of affection for from his varied and interesting career. He feels to me like some kind of amalgamation of Robert Redford and Peter Fonda (or something along those lines). I think I first saw him in the amazing THEY SHOOT HORSES DON'T THEY (also on Blu-ray from Kino) where he starred opposite Jane Fonda (in one of her best performances) and really impressed me. From there, he next cropped up for me in the wacky cross-country road race comedy THE GUMBALL RALLY (which is really entertaining and sadly underseen). If memory serves, PETER PROUD was one of the next features that I saw him in and it truly cemented my fandom for him as an actor.
The Jerry Goldsmith score is quite haunting - it reminds me ever so slightly of the Sonic Youth cover of the Carpenter’s song “Superstar” in terms of the melody, but with some electronic blippy stuff and piano mixed in. While beautiful, romantic and melancholy, it is also unsettling and works well to keep the viewer I’ll at ease.
I can't say for sure how I feel about the idea of reincarnation, but there was a time in my life when I was prone to many spells of deja vu and it made me think that there might be something to it (I was a kid at the time). Now all I can say is that I certainly don't know what to believe, but I am intrigued by the concept and find it makes for a very interesting structural device for a movie. I'm a fan of mystery films in general, but I often find myself more drawn to them when they add a supernatural element as well. This one feels like it has a slight kinship with something like THE CHANGELING, though plays for for suspense than horror. I'd seen PETER PROUD circa 2000 on laserdisc, but had not returned to it since. I know I've said this quite often about a lot of different films, but I am very glad to have this movie finally on Blu-ray. It really has become quite obscure these days and very much deserves a platform for rediscovery.

The special features include a new and insightful commentary track from Lee Gambin. In addition, the disc also has:
-Spanish Super 8 Bathtub Scene with Spanish Audio
-Spanish Super 8 vs US - Side by Side w English Audio
-TV Spot
-30 Second Radio Spot
-60 Second Radio Spot
-Animated Image Gallery – International Posters and Lobby Cards (5:38)
-Animated Image Gallery – International Promotional Material (1:55)
-Animated Image Gallery – International Home Video Releases (0:48)
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THE MAZE (1953; William Cameron Menzies)
I have a small obsession with this era of 3-D movies - 3-D in general honestly, but there’s something aesthetically enjoyable and compelling for me about the ones that came out in the 1950s in particular. I can’t explain what it is, but it has something to do with the blocking of the actors and the arrangement of the frames to “optimize” the format that draws me in. Often it can lead to somewhat clunky narratives (as is the case with THE MAZE), but I'm fine with that as long as they can deliver on some fun 3-D. The one thing I would say about this film is that with that title as the hook (for me at least), there’s not quite enough maze in it. Of course it is a cinematic (and often budgetary) tradition to withhold things until the last reel, but the big reveal with this one ends up being a little silly to say the least. That said, I was still amused by it overall and I must admit that I really did want to know the answer to the mystery at the center of the movie. 
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON fans will immediately recognize actor Richard Carlson (who was also in IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE among others) and wish he perhaps had a little more to do. He plays a man who is engaged and about to be married in two weeks, when he is called away to deal with the ailment of a his uncle who lives in a creepy castle in the Scottish Highlands known as Craven Castle. When he's gone for weeks with no response to her telegrams, his fiance (Veronica Hurst) drags her aunt to the castle to see what is going on. When they finally see Richard Carlson again, he looks as though he's aged twenty years and almost immediately insists that the two women leave the castle at once. Clearly something is up, but for some reason he can't talk about it. He is just incredibly grumpy and inhospitable to them and offers no explanation for the weird sounds coming from the maze and creeping through the castle at night. That's the frustrating thing I think is that Carlson is forced to just acted annoyed for the second half of the movie and not given a whole lot else to occupy himself. Nonetheless, I couldn't stop watching it so I must give it credit for drawing me in in that "what's really going on in this creepy old castle" Scooby-Doo kind of way, so props for that. Also, this 4K digitally restored print (from the original left and right eye camera negatives) looks quite nice - actually much better than I expected. It also has restored three-channel stereophonic sound, which was nice.

The special features on this disc include an excellent commentary from Film Historians Tom Weaver, Bob Furmanek, Dr. Robert J. Kiss and David Schecter as well as an Interview with actress Veronica Hurst (6 mins).
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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Underrated '98 - Ashley Harris

Ashley is hopelessly obsessed with cinema, completely consumed by Francois Truffaut and Humphrey Bogart's eyes, and can be found fawning over David Lynch on 25yearslatersite.com. You can also find her on Twitter @oOoOoBarracuda.

Celebrity (Woody Allen)
Celebrity is an often overlooked entry in Woody Allen's filmography. It's dialogue-heavy with a sharp wit, as all of his films are, though it is a bit more pensive than a usual Allen outing. Kenneth Branagh and Judy Davis play a divorced couple who must rediscover their identities after their union crumbles. A quieter, more deliberate attempt at self-realization, Celebrity invites the audience to examine their own lives and how much we know about ourselves. When the half of the former couple that was expected to enjoy success proves to flounder, it reminds us that no matter how much we think we have life figured out, it will forever offer surprises. Filmed in glorious black and white photography, Celebrity should sit nicely among Allen's best.
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Addams Family Reunion (Dave Payne)
Sure, Tim Curry is excellent in any role, but he was especially captivating as Gomez Addams. Playing opposite Daryl Hannah as Morticia, Curry perfectly chewed scenery until there were none left. Payne takes the familiar story of The Addams Family and sets them on a mission to find their family in hopes to prevent the elder Addams' from turning "normal." Reunion was my introduction to The Addams Family and watching this zany band of misfits as a child made me eager for more spooky outings.
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Meet Joe Black (Martin Brest)
With a stellar cast including Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins, Martin Brest adapts the 1934 film, Death Takes a Holiday as Meet Joe Black for 1998 audiences. Death, played as alluring as ever by Brad Pitt, decides to take on human form to learn about life. While on earth, death misfires and falls in love realizing, first-hand, the grip love has over the human, or in his case, non-human spirit. I love any movie that brings with it a self-awareness that demands audiences evaluate their existence which, no doubt, is best done through a film dealing with existential themes such as Meet Joe Black.
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Gods and Monsters (Bill Condon)
Any horror fan looks up to James Whale for first bringing to the screen the classic universal monsters in films such as Frankenstein and The Invisible Man. Who wouldn't want to imagine having the opportunity to spend time talking to and befriending the famed director? Gods and Monsters imagines Whale near the end of his life, only moderately happy, living in the shadows of the giants he created. Never finding lasting love, and feeling forced to suppress his sexuality for most of his life, it is heart-wrenching to think that despite all of his contributions to film and audiences, Whale was never able to beat the demons in his mind. Ian McKellen dazzles as James Whale, and Brendan Fraser turns in a career-best performance as the veteran-turned-gardener Clayton Boone who desperately tries to inject some life back into Whale during their time together.
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Run Lola Run (Tom Tykwer)
Run Lola Run is a film I don't hear talked about nearly enough for my liking. The story is a frenetic one and follows Lola throughout her quest to reach her boyfriend and deliver to him the large sum of money he lost while smuggling it into the country. If she does not reach him with the money in time, he will rob a store to obtain the money he owes. The catch--she only has 20-minutes to get the money to him. Throughout the film, we are shown three different outcomes based on the three methods Lola uses to get the money. Effectively illustrating how much simple events can change the course of our lives, Run Lola Run offers a commentary on the depths of control we have over our lives and delivers at a break-neck speed. The pace and the energy electric made only more exciting by its earnest outlook on life.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Underrated '98 - Matthew Stanford

Matthew Stanford is a writer, TV reviewer at https://tvandcity.com, musician & IT Professional. He is not the QB of the Lions, but Charles Barkley has seen him fall off a treadmill at the gym. You can message him at https://twitter.com/@stanfordsays


1. Following
What if I told you there was a movie that was made for $6,000 dollars starring the writer/director’s friends and family and they all had full time jobs and could only film on the weekends? Sounds like it would be pretty terrible right!? This is the case for Following, however the writer/director in question is Christopher Nolan. This movie means a lot to me, it taught me that sometimes less is more and it is the reason I started writing screenplays.

Like Memento, this film is not linear. It jumps around in time but is fairly easy to follow with visual cues such as oh character X is clean shaven now so this must have happened after this part where he shaved. This is in black and white and very much the film noir style. There are 3 main characters, The Young Man, Cobb and The Blonde (actual character names).The Young Man is a loaner and a writer that follows people to ignite his imagination for characters in his stories. He lives by a set of rules the main of which was never follow the same person twice. He breaks this rule with Cobb and The Blonde and is sucked into the underworld of robbing houses or as they say in the UK, burgling. There are a lot of twists and turns and it is only an hour and 9 minutes long. I have watched this movie countless times and it is one of my favorite films. If you love classic movies and have not seen this WATCH IT.
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2. Kissing a Fool
I still to this day can’t wrap my head around why this movie wasn’t a huge hit. To give some context: I am not typically a fan of romantic comedies, I find them to be predictable, repetitive and well… just not for me. There was a period of time where this film played on Comedy Central CONSTANTLY. I would catch bits and pieces here and there and was fairly embarrassed I couldn’t turn it off! Given I was in high school I kept getting pulled away from it for dinner or some other activity and pre-DVR days I couldn’t just record it and watch the rest later. Fate would have it years later I saw the movie in a Walmart 5-dollar bin and went for it. I don’t care what anyone says, this movie is great.

It begins at a wedding and characters are talking about the bride and groom and telling the story of how they met. The bride is established in the story, but you do not see the groom. The movie is a series of flashbacks as these stories are told. You quickly learn there are two best friends played by Jason Lee and David Schwimmer and that both are at times in love with the same woman who is played by Mili Avital. David Schwimmer is a local sports broadcaster and very well liked. Jason Lee is a sad sack writer that drinks a lot. It is written by an unexpected combo of Doug Ellin (Entourage) and the controversial James Frey (Million Little Pieces). It by all means should not work as a movie, but Jason Lee really carries it. He is fantastic in this role and more people should see it.
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3. Suicide Kings
This is a silly comedy/mystery Tarantino-lite movie, but one that is about as 90’s as it gets and fun! An Ex-Mob boss played by Christopher Walken is kidnapped by a group of young men. They don’t have a well thought out plan and make a series of mistakes trying to get ransom for him. Luke Y. Thompson said it best in his review for the film "Christopher Walken is tied to a chair most of the movie, and he's the center of attention. If that's not a selling point, you and I will never agree on anything."

In addition to Walken the rest of the cast is entertaining as well: Jeremy Sisto, Jay Mohr, Brad Garrett, Denis Leary, Sean Patrick Flanery. This film was never going to win any awards, but it is entertaining, fun and worth a watch.
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4. BASEketball
BASEketball was the only project that Trey Parker and Matt Stone were involved with together that they did not have creative control and therefore they HATE it. I don’t know what their end vision was, but I think they are wrong as this movie is hilarious and holds up quite well. This movie is a DUMB comedy. There is nothing high brow about it in any way. The premise is that sports have lost favor with the general public due to endless advertising, sponsorships, and excessive celebrations. Parker and Stone’s characters invent a new game called BASEketball, which is essentially a variation of HORSE. The big difference is that players on the opposite team can do a psych out to try and break the shooters concentration. The game becomes insanely popular and becomes a major sport.

There is a playfulness to this movie that is reminiscent of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker films such as Top Secret, Airplane, Naked Gun. While the quality isn’t as high as those films, I think it is on par with fare such as Happy Gilmore that is beloved by the general public. My favorite parts beyond Parker and Stone are Robert Vaughn as the villain, Ernest Borgnine as an investor in their sport, Dian Bachar as their other friend that they endlessly mock and Bob Costas and Al Michaels in a hilarious turn as the announcers for BASEketball.
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5. Fallen
Fallen is a psychological thriller starring Denzel Washington as Detective John Hobbes. The film opens with a serial killer being executed via a gas chamber. Post this scene, killings begin again in the same manor and John Hobbes knows something sinister is at play. It has a heck of a supporting cast in John Goodman, Donald Sutherland and James Gandolfini.

I do not want to spoil any of the surprises so I will keep plot details sparse, but this is an interesting, creepy, well made movie that I feel is vastly underrated. One last note: If your favorite song is “Time is on My Side” by The Rolling Stones, you should skip this as it will ruin that song for you FOREVER.
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