Rupert Pupkin Speaks: November 2018 ""

Friday, November 30, 2018

Underrated '78 - Ira Brooker

Ira Brooker is a writer, editor and trash cinema enthusiast living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. His Letterboxd account is a document of a life poorly spent. You can find his writing all over the place, and especially at atalentforidleness.blogspot.com, irabrooker.com and @irabrooker.
Also, Check out Ira's horror fiction story "Voices" on the Psuedopod podcast." http://pseudopod.org/2018/11/09/pseudopod-621-voices/

Mardi Gras Massacre (Directed by Jack Weis)
I’m not even going to try mounting a defense for “Mardi Gras Massacre” being one of my all-time favorite movies. This sort-of story of a well-dressed religious fanatic sacrificing “evil” women to a pagan god while the dullest detective in New Orleans half-heartedly tries to track him down is a sloppy, cheap, slow-moving, incredibly repetitive chunk of regional filmmaking that’s more or less an uncredited remake of Herschell Gordon Lewis’s “Blood Feast.” Like Lewis’s film, this one featured enough rubber-torso gore to land it the list of banned British “Video Nasties,” but there’s not a whole lot setting it apart from a few dozen other proto-slasher flicks of the era. And yet…

There’s something about “Mardi Gras Massacre” that just clicks for me. As a former New Orleans resident, I’m a sucker for most forms of NOLAsploitation, even/especially a Mardi Gras-set movie that’s 80% interior shots of people chatting in dimly lit rooms. I love everything about this film, from leading man William Metzo playing his serial-sacrificer sort of like Tony Randall doing a Boris Karloff impression, to the agonizing romance between our charisma-free cop and an erstwhile sex worker, to the parade of delightfully non-professional bit players who add the movie’s only splashes of authentic New Orleans weirdness.

Look, if you told me you were disgusted, annoyed, or just flat-out bored by “Mardi Gras Massacre,” I wouldn’t argue with you for a second. Me, I just can’t escape the allure of clunky car chases through an empty French Quarter, a rhyme-slinging hippie pimp named “Catfish,” a ritual murderer who knows the local Chinese delivery joint’s number by heart, and all the other skeevy, low-rent charms of this lovable little mess.
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The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (Directed by Fred Schepisi)
While this movie routinely turns up on lists of the greatest Australian films of its era, it seems to be largely overlooked here in the United States. That’s a real shame, not just because it’s rather a great film, but also because it’s still deeply relevant. Tom E. Lewis cuts a memorable figure as an eager, upwardly mobile young Aboriginal Australian slowly and painfully realizing that the turn-of-the-century white society to which he’s worked so hard to ingratiate himself will not only never accept him, but will never stop scorning him outright.

It’s a work as visually beautiful as it is thematically ugly. The climactic sequence where a final racist indignity pushes Jimmie over the edge — which landed the movie on the fringes of Britain’s Video Nasty scare — is one of the most frankly brutal scenes of violence I can recall on film. Filled with echoes of American Westerns and blaxploitation movies, it’s all the more effective because its brutality is as much psychological and societal as it is physical. Even though it runs up against some of the problems endemic to a white writer and director tackling a thoroughly non-white story, it stands as a striking bit of work that still has a lot to say.
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China 9, Liberty 37 (Directed by Monte Hellman)
Quick, name me a more attractive onscreen couple than Fabio Testi and Jenny Agutter circa 1978. Whoever you just said, you’re incorrect, because there ain’t no such animal.

Ordinarily it kind of grosses me out when reviewers focus too heavily on actors’ physical attractiveness, but in this case it’s a key part of what makes this gorgeous Western work so well. Hired gun Testi is contracted to bump off Agutter’s stubborn husband Warren Oates, whose homestead has the temerity to block the way of a planned railroad line. Things get complicated when Testi strikes up a friendship with Oates and a romance with Agutter, inevitably spiraling into a deadly showdown fueled in no small part by Oates’s resentment at being the least beautiful corner of a love triangle.

As you already know if you’re familiar with the Monte Hellman brand, none of this plays out conventionally. Sure, there’s as much Western violence as befits a movie that casts Sam Peckinpah in a supporting role, but the overriding tone is one of melancholy and yearning. It’s a far cry from your standard-issue Western, buoyed by three hugely charismatic leads and the impeccable eye of one of ‘70s cinema’s most undervalued mavericks.
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Rings of Fear (Directed by Alberto Negrin)
It takes a fair bit to qualify as a particularly sleazy entry in the grimy field of Italian giallo flicks, but intercutting an overtly sexualized abortion sequence with a wild dildo orgy at an all-girl boarding school will do the trick.

Otherwise a fairly standard mean-girls murder mystery, “Rings of Fear” (aka “Trauma”) is peppered with audacious flourishes that set it a cut above many of its genre-mates. A grounded lead performance from the eternally charismatic Fabio Testi keeps things from tipping too far into silliness, no small feat in a movie that involves marbles as murder weapons, a rollercoaster as a torture device, and some unintended applications of the aforementioned dildos. 

The Uranium Conspiracy (Directed by Menahem Golan)
Before Menahem Golan and Cannon films really established themselves as the 1980s’ leading purveyors of nutso schlock, they tried their hands at some more earnest genre filmmaking. From what I’ve seen of those earlier films, they tend to be messy, uneven affairs punctuated by moments of inspired lunacy, which is certainly the case with “The Uranium Conspiracy.”

Built around a charismatic lead performance by... well, I’ll be, it’s Fabio Testi again! I really like Fabio Testi. Anyway, Testi anchors a mildly James Bond-ish espionage thriller about a murky plot to sell the titular uranium to terrorists. The story’s neither here nor there, as the big hooks for this film are the swell lead turns by Testi and Janet Ă…gren, some impressive location shooting (it was filmed in The Congo, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Venice, Gibraltar, Salzburg, and Trieste!), and a number of thrilling action set pieces, including a boat/car/foot chase through the canals of Venice that’s maybe the best one of those that I’ve seen.

So yeah, this is the third-best Fabio Testi vehicle, the second-best Venice-set thriller, and the second-best Italian-Austrian crossover on this list, but that says more about the awesomeness of 1978 than it does about “The Uranium Conspiracy.”
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Cat in the Cage (Directed by Tony Zarindast)
Would you like to see several seasons’ worth of soap opera plots condensed into a single, barely coherent, vaguely gothic thriller? Sure you would! There’s hardly a point in me trying to describe what happens in “Cat in the Cage,” because EVERYthing happens in this movie: vengeful cats, feuding families, ocean treachery, Colleen Camp, possible cannibalism, killer nurses, aimless car chases, secret siblings, gonzo gunfights, scheming chauffeurs, and Sybil Danning playing to somewhere several stories above the rafters.

You get the idea that writer-director Tony Zarindast had half-a-dozen ideas for weirdo melodramas that he just couldn’t wait to get on the screen, so he chucked them all into the same plot. Nothing makes a lick of sense, major plot threads are introduced and abandoned willy-nilly, and it all adds up to a boggling, slightly exhausting burst of madness.
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Magnum Cop (Directed by Stelvio Massi)
Fans of Maurizio Merli (and if you’re not, you really ought to be) look to him as the most righteously furious of all the ‘70s Italian movie cops, an even more aggro Clint Eastwood with a quick fist and a world-class moustache. That makes it a bit of a shock to see Merli smirking and fumbling his way through a comedy-tinged detective flick playing a private eye who’s way closer to the Elliott Gould model than the Humphrey Bogart one. I can’t say casting Merli against type works 100%, but the movie’s a blast regardless.

Down-and-out private dick Merli gets called to Austria to track down a missing heiress, and along the way gets tangled up in a high school prostitution ring that may have ties to murder, blackmail, and Joan Collins. It’s all as sleazy as you’d expect, but played with a breezy touch that brings to mind a low-rent take on Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye.” Also, despite the title, Merli is pointedly not a cop in this, but that sure wasn’t gonna stop anybody from trying to coast off of Dirty Harry.

The Bloodstained Shadow (Directed by Antonio Bido)
A young academic visits his priestly older brother in Venice just in time for the local cabal of wealthy occultists to start getting bumped off by a mysterious, cloaked assassin. This moody murder mystery gets big points for style, bringing to mind the great Italian gothic horror flicks of the ‘60s. Lino Capolicchio breaks the macho mold with a refreshingly nerdy lead turn, and the murders are impressively staged, particularly a motorboat showdown in the Venetian canals. It all comes off feeling almost wholesome by giallo standards, which, considering that the plot involves blasphemy, pedophilia, elder abuse, and serial murder, says a fair bit about the genre.
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The War of the Robots (Directed by Alfonso Brescia)
When the subject turns to insane, overly ambitious European “Star Wars” rip-offs from 1978, most folks will understandably gravitate toward “Starcrash.” While I’ll agree that “War of the Robots” doesn’t quite measure up to that particular bundle of bright-eyed sci-fi madness, I’ll note that “War of the Robots” DOES feature an army of androids in matching Emo Phillips haircuts.
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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Underrated '78 - John Cribbs

John Cribbs is the co-founder and head writer of The Pink Smoke (http://thepinksmoke.com/), where for the last 10 years he's offered a spirited defense of Robert Altman's QUINTET, passionately extolled what he feels to be the most underrated killer rat movie and delved into the seedy underworld of movie novelizations. Feel free to hit him up on Twitter at @thepinksmoke or @thelastmachine and hey, if you feel like watching SNEAKERS he's always up for it.

Check out his Underrated '98 list here:
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/2018/05/underrated-98-john-cribbs.html
and Underrated '88 here:
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/2018/09/underrated-88-john-cribbs.html

Debuting in 1978: Halloween. Martin. Blue Collar. The Driver. The Fury. The Marriage of Maria Braun. The Silent Partner. Gates of Heaven. American Hot Wax. The Star Wars Holiday Special. And me. I debuted that year, and reviews were mixed: most viewers damned me with faint praise, "Cute but smelly and kinda stupid." Not sure if I deserve reappraisal 40 years later, but these movies definitely do.

Remember My Name (dir: Alan Rudolph)
This one's come up on quite a few lists in this series, can we officially crown it Most Underrated Film of 1978? It's either this or THE SILENT PARTNER, and since NAME hasn't even earned itself a DVD release to date (most of us have to wait for it to turn up on the TCM schedule) I'd say its legacy has depreciated slightly more than that of the similarly neglected Canadian bank robbery classic. There's a reason Alan Rudolph's film failed to gain an audience 40 years ago, and it's the same reason it deserves to be seen today: it's intentionally elusive, impenetrable in a lot of ways, asking us to connect with an emotionally unstable character who's potentially very dangerous. The L.A. Rudolph presents is one of wonder and sadness, full of beautiful banalities and casual cruelties upon which he unleashes a volatile avenger in Geraldine Chaplin's calculating ex-con. Her Emily is the whole show: weaving in and out of social quagmires and sexual politics, instantly rejected by everyone she meets, she responds by making sure they won't forget her. This desperate insistence on her own existence is almost achingly relatable; on the other hand, it comes from a place of selfishness and anger that nobody could easily identify with and as a viewer you're constantly unsure as to how you're supposed to respond. The beauty, as Brian said, is in the watching of it. REMEMBER MY NAME is to classic Hollywood female melodramas what THE LONG GOODBYE is to classic Hollywood detective yarns, a reappropriation of something in which moviegoers find comfort made compellingly uncomfortable - that's why we remember this movie.

The Whole Shootin' Match (dir: Eagle Pennell)
In Eagle Pennell's Austin-based indie we find another unlikable character you still can't help but root for in Frank, a deadbeat husband who drinks, cheats on his sweet wife and has no problem belting his kid after a long day of well-earned failure. He does nothing productive but tag along with best buddy Loyd, who leads the duo into several quirky enterprises from polyurethane spraying to inventing a revolutionary mop. It's this friendship with Loyd, sitting around sketching out inventions on the inside of a pizza box and fantasizing about Indian gold hidden in the hills (he's played with irresitible swagger by the great Lou Perryman), that largely redeems Frank: the notion that maybe two fuck-ups equal one success story sits in the peripherals of the entire film. Following them around on their misadventures, Pennell finds unexpected poignancy in car washes, dousing rods and washroom discussions about how 'rhythm' can prevent pregnancy, the proceedings accompanied by a delightful banjo & harmonica-heavy score and the ambient droning of radio OKC evangelist 'Brother Bob.' Considered a classic among the Texas film scene (it supposedly inspired Linklater to pick up a camera), SHOOTIN' MATCH stands as a forerunner to the hopeless blue collar dreamers of MELVIN AND HOWARD while the film's long takes in attractively economic black & white anticipate the ones in STRANGER THAN PARADISE.

Warriors Two and Enter the Fat Dragon (dir: Sammo Hung)
If there's a conversation about the greatest year for kung fu movies, the standing defender would have to be 1978. Just step back and look at it: DRUNKEN MASTER, FIVE DEADLY VENOMS, CRIPPLED AVENGERS, INVINCIBLE SHAOLIN, HEROES OF THE EAST and THE 36TH CHAMBER OF THE SHAOLIN, to name only a few legendary releases. Sammo Hung almost single-handedly seals the deal, since on top of the ELEVEN movies he worked on that year, he directed and starred in two outstanding ones, WARRIORS TWO and ENTER THE FAT DRAGON.

Sort of a dress rehearsal for Hung's THE PRODIGAL SON (both films are revered for their accurate use of Wing Chun style), WARRIORS TWO is an epic martial arts movie in its own right. Featuring wall-to-wall action with moves like the Hand-Tying Running Hammer, the One-Inch Power, the unmovable Goat Stance and "Sticky Hands," designed to beat an opponent's reactions to the brain, its highlights include Bryan "Beardy" Leung (who's also in FAT DRAGON) fighting off baddies WHILE HIS FOOT IS STUCK IN A BEAR TRAP and Sammo in a six-sword melee that has to be seen to be believed. As usual, Hung is innovative in front and behind the scenes (at one point he has a guy fall crotch-first into the camera!) and seasons the kung fu mania with high concept physical comedy, one example being a full-length blind-folded fight (Sammo's character cheats, of course).

FAT DRAGON is an even more interesting venture. GAME OF DEATH, the largest and most reputable of Bruceploitation efforts (given that footage of Bruce from an unfinished project were edited into the movie), had been released internationally by Golden Harvest in June. Hung was the fight coordinator and action director of GAME's newly-shot, non-Bruce sequences using stand-ins (including Hung's Peking Opera School brother Yuen Biao) which straddle the line of homage and grave-robbing. Possibly feeling a tinge of guilt over this, Hung released ENTER THE FAT DRAGON in July, casting himself as a pig farmer/Bruce fan who takes it upon himself to beat the shit out of a Bruce Lee imitator on a movie set and declaring, "He's my hero - you're nothing like him!" There's much more to love about the film, with Hung channeling the spirit of the Little Dragon to defeat a gang of kidnappers, but this moment of reflection on the Hong Kong action market is what makes it surprisingly profound.

The Demon (dir: Yoshitaro Nomura)
THE DEMON came recommended as a Japanese horror movie, so imagine my surprise to find not a single demon (at least not of the yokai variety) in the entire film. But it's a horror movie for sure, one of the most disturbing I've ever seen. Finding herself cut off financially and fed up in general, a single mother of three drops her children at the doorstep of their alleged father (Ken Ogata, setting off a series of incredible roles that would include three collaborations with Shohei Imamura and playing Mishima for Paul Schrader) and then promptly disappears. Already overwhelmed by the demands of his print shop and bullied by his spiteful wife, Ogata turns to some truly horrific measures to deal with this fresh inconvenience. Fair warning: this movie pulls no punches in dealing with the callous mistreatment of children and neglecting of familial responsibility that suggests modern civilization hasn't progressed far from the survival-first days of old. Hard as it is to watch, it's a tour de force from the prolific Yoshitaro Nomura, who started his career as an assistant director for Kurosawa. The American DVD art for DEMON even evokes IKIRU, but make no mistake: there's no bittersweet, life-affirming sentiment to be gleaned from this film, only a cold unfeeling pit the viewer follows Ogata down, not realizing there's no bottom. (p.s. It's really good!)

Out (dir: Jim Goddard)
Cheating here, not a movie, just a really fantastic Thames Television series that only ran one season and deserves to be on a list of greatest British crime stories right next to GET CARTER, THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY and THE HIT. It's your standard plot of a crook being released from the nick after an 8-year stint determined to find the man who grassed him out, but it fends off cliche thanks to the strong central performance from Tom Bell as verbal, vengeful thug Frank Ross and the unsentimental southern London location shooting by Goddard (who also directed half the excellent Sam Neill miniseries REILLY, ACE OF SPIES; Martin Campbell directed the other half). Frank finds himself spun around in cultural shock of late 70's London as he attempts to reconcile with his estranged family and match wits with crime boss Brian Cox. If you love THE LIMEY, you'll love this six-part series.

The Mongreloid (dir: George Kuchar)
Patrons of the gone-but-not-forgotten Kim's Video will probably remember their "Color Me Lurid" bootleg vhs of George Kuchar's iconic experimental short HOLD ME WHILE I'M NAKED. The tape included other surprises, one of them being the filmmaker's valentine to beloved dog Bocko, infused with his typically captivating use of color, devious incorporating of showtunes and novelty songs on the soundtrack and a steady dose of the man's trademark eccentric personality (also a cameo by Curt McDowell, director of THUNDERCRACK!, who created the painting of the mongreloid seen in the credits). Kuchar reminisces with Bocko over cherished memories as trivial as when they once got off a train so his pal could take "a cocky in Ogden, Utah!" and it's never less than fascinating to see how an avant garde director films his pet; an ideal double-feature would be Stan Brakhage's SIRIUS REMEMBERED. Yes, most of the 10 minute runtime is a man doting over his dog, but when that man is George Kuchar we're talking about 10 of the most charming and tender minutes ever captured on Super-8. I'd call this the best dog-based film of 1978, which is saying something considering it was the year of Curtis Harrington's unforgettable TV movie DEVIL DOG: THE HOUND FROM HELL.

Money Movers (dir: Bruce Beresford)
Few things are as genuinely bewildering as Bruce Beresford's strange filmography. The man's dropped enough masterpieces with BREAKER MORANT, TENDER MERCIES, MISTER JOHNSON and BLACK ROBE to be considered one of the all time greats, yet his legacy is centered around the dispensable awards whore DRIVING MISS DAISY. And that's before you even start to notice dreck like KING DAVID, HER ALIBI and LAST DANCE littered throughout his career. It's not like Alan Rudolph, whose strengths and weaknesses share a pasture - Beresford moves from maestro to hack from one film to the next. Who is this guy?

Well before any of that, he was the director of what is possibly the greatest armored car heist movie of all time. And we're talking stiff competition: SECOND BREATH, CRISS CROSS, KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL, ARMORED CAR ROBBERY, HARLEY DAVIDSON AND THE MARLBORO MAN. Plotwise, it's probably most accurate to say it's like a gritty, Australian version of THE LAVENDER HILL MOB, its inside job being orchestrated by employees of the security company tasked to protect the $20 million sitting in the firm's vault. Double-crosses, corrupt cops, kidnappings and horrific torture scenes keep things moving, but the real thing to appreciate is the equal detail given to the plotting of the caper from within the firm as well as the plot to try and foil it. Friedkin-esque in its quick-cutting and unflinching depiction of violence, this movie remains frustratingly underseen compared to most Hollywood heist dramas even though it goes toe-to-toe with the best of them (that's a joke for people who've seen the movie). MAD MAX may have been the film to explode the Australian film industry across the world, but MONEY MOVERS is the silent masterpiece of the country and the year.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Underrated '78 - James David Patrick

James David Patrick is a writer with a lifelong moviewatching habit. His current projects include #Bond_age_, the James Bond Social Media Project (thejamesbondsocialemediaproject.com) and Cinema Shame (cinemashame.wordpress.com). Follow him on Twitter at @007hertzrumble.

I initially thought this would be a short list. I have a lot of favorites from 1978, but none of them felt slept upon. "It'll be nice to toss this together in short order," I thought. Alas. By the time I'd given the list another pass, I wound up with this mismatched assortment of pleasant eccentricities from the year of my birth.


The Silent Partner (Daryl Duke, 1978)
A Santa Claus with a gun robs bank teller Miles at a bank in a Toronto mall. Instead of immediately alerting the police, Miles figures out how to pocket some of the cash for himself. When the suspect learns that he's been accused of stealing more money than he actually pocketed, he realizes he's been had and launches a campaign of violence and intimidation to retrieve the rest of the loot.

Wacko Christopher Plummer takes on Schleppy Elliott Gould, sociopathic bank robber vs. everyman bank teller. Only in the 1970's could a movie wander in and out of genres like stores in a mall. This gritty Canadian tax shelter production, written by Curtis Hanson (Wonder Boys, L.A. Confidential), serves a twisty yarn with a killer payoff. Shocking flashes of gore and a bevy of nudity causes this to slip into exploitation territory. Crazy Chris Plummer stabs a fish and severs a head and that's not even the half of it.
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I Wanna Hold Your Hand (Robert Zemeckis, 1978)
I don't know if Robert Zemeckis' debut feature is underseen or underrated. It's modestly seen and generally rated, but I think there are still a large number of well-versed movie fans that believe Zemeckis' career began with Used Cars (1980).

One crazy day in the life of six teenagers who drive to New York City on the morning February 9, 1964 to witness the Beatles' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Rosie and Grace worship the Beatles. Pam just wants exclusive pictures. Folk-music loving Janis believes the Beatles to be empty commercialism. So does Tony, for entirely different reasons. Larry just has a car. Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale turn one of the most consecrated pop-culture moments into a study of fame, friendship, obsession, and the possibilities of future beyond high school.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand is at heart a teen comedy, but it's also an earnest love letter to a particular moment in time. Nancy Allen's terrific as the skeptical and button-up Pam, and it's her journey from Beatles immunity to attempted copulation with Paul's bass guitar that gives the film its emotional anchor as the insanity orbits the Ed Sullivan Theater.
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The Big Fix (Jeremy Kagan, 1978)
Ambling, organic-feeling detective tale starring Richard Dreyfuss as Moses Wine, a recovered 1960's activist turned jaded private eye who's trying to track down the author of a doctored, politically motivated flier. Deceptively small stakes turn big as Moses digs deeper and uncovers a disgusting political underbelly.

A great cast (Bonnie Bedelia, John Lithgow, F. Murray Abraham turn up in supporting roles) and paced direction and character development present a mystery that's as much about the actual whodunit as it is Moses Wine coming to terms with his own post-revolution disillusionment. This underseen gem in the Dreyfuss filmography might get overlooked since it dropped in theaters immediately after a run that featured Jaws (1975), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and The Goodbye Girl (1977).
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The Bloodstained Shadow (Antonio Bido, 1978)
Antonio Bido's The Bloodstained Shadow (aka Solamente Nero) recalls Lucio Fulci's Don't Torture A Ducking in that in focuses on the crimes committed within an insular society. Where Fulci goes bombastic to unearth the message in his film, however, Bido peels back layers with tweezers.

Stefano visits his priest brother in the Venice laguna whom warns of a decadent community of evildoing and makes vague allusions to a medium. And because this is a giallo, Stefano then witnesses the strangulation of the medium by a killer (dressed in black, naturally). When Stefano investigates and uncovers the truth about a string of murders, he becomes a target for the murderer himself.

The Bloodstained Shadow has such awkward pacing that you'll forget for long stretches that what you're watching is supposed to be a horror film. Normally, I'd use that very same line as a complaint. In this instance, however, Bido so effectively deploys exotic cityscape cinematography an score (by Stelvio Cipriani and mixed and re-recorded by Goblin) that the languid pacing feels more like a strength. The film has plenty of other weaknesses, but it largely overcomes them by having a unique feel in an otherwise narrow genre bandwidth.
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Newsfront (Philip Noyce, 1978)
Low-key character dramedy about the post-war Australian newsreel cameramen and production staff chasing choice footage. Philip Noyce (Dead Calm, Patriot Games) cleverly intercuts actual newsreel footage to place the individual stories within historical context (between the years 1948 and 1956) as Australia undergoes a time of great of social and political upheaval.

Newsfront feels more like a technical achievement than a narrative. It's a wonderfully shot film that vacillates between color and black and white and provides a rich tapestry to showcase an A-list cast of Australian actors - Bill Hunter, Wendy Hughes, Bryan Brown, Gerard Kennedy among them. That the film fails to provide a satisfying conclusion feels almost irrelevant. It only seems fitting that as the dawn of TV arrives in 1956 Australia, the lives and stories of these intrepid reporters peter out as well. Some critics have called this the best Australian film ever made, and our ignorance of the film speaks to how little Newsfront has been seen outside the land down under.
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Go Tell the Spartans (Ted Post, 1978)
In the hands of someone other than Ted Post, Go Tell the Spartans might be mentioned among the great Vietnam War movies. If you want mechanical blocking and harsh lighting call Ted Post. If you want your violence untarnished by Hollywood flash and glam, call Ted Post. War is hell, told matter of factly - but not without a highly unique cinematic perspective.

As a result Go Tell the Spartans (based on Daniel Ford's 1967 novel Incident at Muc Wa) feels a little like tonal cousin TV's M*A*S*H, minus Hot Lips. What it does so well, however, is offer a perspective on the U.S.'s early involvement in the conflict. These aren't grizzled and disillusioned grunts humping through the jungle and/or screaming into the sky as Agent Orange rains down from the heavens and helicopters block out the sun. Led by Major Asa Barker (Burt Lancaster), these U.S. Army military advisers merely serve as an outpost for the South Vietnamese village Muc Wa. They represent the seeds of eventual disaster.

If you remember Go Tell the Spartans for no other reason, it'll be Burt Lancaster's nostalgic speech about the President walking into a room as he's getting a hummer from the general's wife as an explanation for his lackluster current station.
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Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (Ted Kotcheff, 1978)
Ted Kotcheff has such a bewildering filmography that whenever I hear his name I can't help but mention that the guy directed both First Blood and Weekend at Bernie's. It's a reflex. With Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? he's definitely operating on that Weekend at Bernie's spectrum, with a dose of Theatre of Blood mixed in.

Two of the world's greatest chefs have been killed, per the style of their own specialty. Robby (George Segal) and ex-wife/pastry chef (Jacqueline Bisset) head to Paris to round up all of the next greatest chefs to warn them about the murderer. The brilliant gag here is that obviously none of the chefs want to be murdered, but they all want to be next greatest chef in the world. It's all played broadly, but the absurd premise works practically as a satire of the culinary arts.

The murder mystery plays out predictably - you won't expend too much energy coming up with the solution (and the film devotes too much time to translucent red herrings) but you're engaged in the banter and sleuthing so it doesn't much matter. Plus the film serves up a cast that also contains the scene-stealing Robert Morley, Jean Rochefort, and Jean-Pierre Cassel. This is pure 1970's cinematic comfort food.
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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Just The Discs - Episode 82 - "Collector's Mentality" - Black Friday Shopping with Rob G!

On this episode, Rob Galluzzo is back for another installment of the "Collector's Mentality" as Brian and Rob talk discuss some habits and tips they have for their Blu-ray Black Friday shopping every year and go through some of the pickups they made for 2018!

Please rate and subscribe if you like the show!
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/justthediscss-podcast/id1205661081

The show is also available on Stitcher:

http://stitcher.com/s?fid=131109&refid=stpr

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https://open.spotify.com/show/4pVs0GizflEFQT23FDFsY2

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A Few of The Discs discussed on this episode:

ARACHNOPHOBIA (Disney)
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BATMAN NINJA (Warner Bros)
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THE CHILDREN (Vinegar Syndrome)
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INGMAR BERGMAN'S CINEMA (Criterion)
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