Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '78 - Kevin Maher ""

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Underrated '78 - Kevin Maher

Kevin Maher is a director, comedian and video essayist. (Watch his award-winning work here.) He’s also the host of KEVIN GEEKS OUT, a live video variety show at the Alamo Drafthouse and Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn. Follow him on twitter @KevinGeeksOut.

“Underrated by whom?” That’s the question that makes this so difficult. Especially when it comes to 1970’s cinema. One cinephile’s overrated is another podcaster’s underrated. Alas. Here are some films I enjoy.

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AN UNMARRIED WOMAN (Paul Mazursky)
What I love most about this one is how lived-in the world is. The movie doesn’t really wrap-up, it just runs out of time. Like in a good short story, you get the impression that the characters will carry on and continue their adventures, but we won’t get to see them. This film feels very modern, so 40 years ago it must have seemed ahead of its time. A must-see for people who love “dirty, old New York.”
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EYES OF LAURA MARS (Irvin Kershner)
The best Brian DePalma movie that wasn’t made by DePalma.

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DAMIEN: OMEN II/ JAWS 2 (Don Taylor, Jeannot Schwarz)
These horror sequels occupy similar real estate in film history – they never stood a chance. Each sequel was doomed to be deemed “not as good” as its predecessor. But if you haven’t seen either film in a while, you might be surprised by some of the effective sequences. DAMIEN has the imaginative and upsetting “accident” at an ice hockey game. JAWS 2 features the imaginative and upsetting helicopter crash. And both films get impressive dramatic moments from young actors, there’s an intensity you don’t typically see with fresh-faced performers.
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BLUE COLLAR (Paul Schrader)
My wife and I come from working families and we’ve wondered whether the people John Steinbeck wrote about actually read John Steinbeck books. Likewise, I don’t know if assembly-line workers went to see BLUE COLLAR. Maybe they don’t need a film to tell them “management will divide and conquer.” (Like Pee-Wee says, “I don’t have to see it, Dottie… I lived it.”) I worked on a factory floor and this is one of the most accurate portrayals of life inside a union shop. It’s also some of the best use of Richard Pryor’s acting skills.
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THE RUTLES: ALL YOU NEED IS CASH (Eric Idle, Gary Weis)
Lorne Michaels invited Eric Idle to make a comedy special for NBC. Idle pitched two ideas: a feature-length parody of Ken Russell’s film of The Who’s TOMMY or a mockumentary about The Beatles. It was a no-brainer. (For a taste of what the Tommy parody might’ve looked like, see this sketch from RUTLAND WEEKEND TELEVISION.) With Monty Python movies, Idle has satirized King Arthur legends and Bible stories. Now he was making a hip comedy that went after our biggest pop culture myth: The Fab Four. His secret weapon is songwriter (and John Lennon stand-in) Neil Innes. A former member of The Bonzo Dog Band (who appeared in The Beatles’ MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR), Innes was a master of pastiche sound-alikes. His solo albums include remarkable songs in the style of Elton John, Frank Sinatra or Johnny Cash. But his admiration of The Beatles brings a heart and soul to the music, something rarely found in a typical spoof.
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