Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '98 - Matthew Stanford ""

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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