Rupert Pupkin Speaks: December 2018 ""

Monday, December 31, 2018

Just The Disc - Episode 87 - Favorite Blu-ray Discoveries of 2018

Brian is joined by returning guest Patrick Bromley (of F This Movie!) to talk count down each of their five favorite older films they saw for the first time in 2018 - on Blu-ray!

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Some Discs We Mention on this Episode:
ALOHA BOBBY AND ROSE (Scorpion Releasing)
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THE FLY ULTIMATE COLLECTION (Via Vision)
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THE HUNTING PARTY (Kino Lorber)Amazon Button (via NiftyButtons.com)

JEKYLL & HYDE...TOGETHER AGAIN (Olive Films)
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THE NIGHT WALKER (Scream Factory)Amazon Button (via NiftyButtons.com)

SCALPEL (Arrow)
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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Film Discoveries of 2018 - Travis Woods

Travis Woods is a freelance writer whose bylines have included Bright Wall/Dark Room, The L.A. Times, Paste Magazine, ScreenCrave, and others. He spends way too much time thinking about movies. He also has an Elliott Gould tattoo.

You can read some of his work here: https://traviswoods.contently.com
Or you can just yell at him on Twitter: @aHeartOfGould

BUTCH AND SUNDANCE: THE EARLY YEARS (1979; Richard Lester; discovered on 35 mm)
Let’s be real: BUTCH AND SUNDANCE: THE EARLY YEARS isn’t exactly a lost classic, nor does it come close to the undeniable perfection of the original. So, why include in my list? For the unique experience of it:. Seeing the film in vivid, light-shot 35 mm on the re-opening night of the New Beverly Cinema here in Los Angeles (after an entire year of the revival theater being closed for renovations) was something very special—and not just because it’s my favorite place on Earth. We all know how the original BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID ends: our smartass anti-heroes die bloody at the hands and guns of a world that has passed them by. So, to watch a film about those two doomed bankrobbers as younger men—despite already knowing how their story will end—just for the sheer cussed aesthetic pleasure of it…It reminded me of why we go to places like the New Beverly Cinema in the first place. We know the world has (mostly) passed projected film by, that digital has won, etc., and yet we return to theaters like this to watch the past revived, to see it come to back to life at 24 frames per second before our very eyes. We return to see our heroes come back to life, despite knowing how it all will end, and we get to do it on film. That’s the magic of seeing a movie (including this one) on 35 mm, and that was the magic of seeing Butch and Sundance ride out together, one more time.
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CRISS CROSS (1949; Robert Siodmak; discovered on DVD)
A doomed love affair, an impeccably-planned heist, gorgeous monochrome photography of 1940s Los Angeles, and a grimly determined Robert Lancaster weave together into a razorwired cable that binds Robert Siodmaks brutal film noir about pasts-gone-bad and plans-gone-wrong. The gist: A smaller-timer (Lancaster) pitches a mobster on the perfect crime, all while planning a sub-heist of stealing his ex-wife back from the boss. Shockingly bleak and fogged with an impenetrable fatalism that’s nearly as thick as the smoke that clouds the film’s gasmasked heist, CRISS CROSS more than lives up to its title—in addition to the chain of flashbacks crisscrossing back and forth in time that form the film’s narrative backbone, the plot is an ever-escalating series of double-, triple-, and quadruple-crosses to escape the past and outpace the present, climaxing with noir's most perfect, most ironic lament for a future that will never come: "I'll know better next time."
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INSIGNIFICANCE (1985; Nicholas Roeg; discovered on FilmStruck)
It’s probably fitting that I discovered Nicholas Roeg’s INSIGNIFICANCE on FilmStruck just one week before the director’s death and two weeks before FilmStruck’s demise (all within the apocalyptic vibe of 2018 in general), as this is a film consumed by endings, by death, by annihilation. A smirking and stinging cubist portrait of one fictional night in a New York City hotel in 1954, Roeg’s typically time-fractured film finds Albert Einstein (Michael Emil), Marilyn Monroe (Theresa Russell), Senator Joseph McCarthy (Tony Curtis), and Joe DiMaggio (Gary Busey) running wild throughout the building, alternately interrogating and debating the nature of love, sex, guilt, and death. DiMaggio stresses over marriage, McCarthy sweats over secrets, Monroe questions the nature of the physical universe, and Einstein strains over the guilt of Hiroshima, all while Roeg interrogates midcentury Americana with its own iconography and exquisitely ends things with a big bang and a bigger smile.
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JERICHO MILE (1979; Michael Mann; discovered on Blu-ray)
Michael Mann’s first feature-length effort (originally a TV movie for ABC) is as lean and to-the-bone as its main character, a long-distance runner and Folsom Prison inmate who endlessly sprints the sole-worn dirt track just inside the prison’s perimeter. The proto-loner of Mann’s long line of ascetic, acidic men unswervingly dedicated to a single effort, Larry “Lickety Split” Murphy (Peter Strauss) is not only a convicted murderer, he just may be the fastest miler in the United States and a potential asset to the nation’s Olympic hopes. Shot on location in Folsom amidst clashing rivals like the Aryan Brotherhood, the Black Guerrilla Family, and the Mexican Mafia, Mann’s hard-edged verité style thrives as he presents an aggressively compressed microverse of American society, with one man running desperately within its center to survive.
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THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS (1949; David Lean; discovered on FilmStruck)
Doing press for his exquisitely sexy/beautiful/weird PHANTOM THREAD in the waning weeks of 2017, Paul Thomas Anderson repeatedly mentioned the influence of this somewhat lesser-seen Lean upon his own film (the wonderful hotshots of PURE CINEMA PODCAST have also repeatedly sung its praises); at the time, I made a mental note to check it out and then promptly forgot about it, content to watch PHANTOM THREAD over and over and over again like any other sane human being. Nearly one year later, emerging from my THREAD fog to find that the simply too-good-to-be-true FilmStruck was coming to an end, I chose THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS as my final viewing of the streaming service on its closing night. An achingly beautiful, complex, and bittersweet inquiry into the nature of adult romance, the film is set within a love triangle in which a woman loves both her husband and the married man she’s secretly seeing. Gorgeous Swiss vistas and tortured inner landscapes ensue. And in the end, it was a fitting choice for the streaming service’s last call—the film’s gorgeous melancholy mirrored the mood of the moment, in which the sweetness of having something as wonderful as FilmStruck was tinged by the sourness of its loss.
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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Film Discoveries of 2018 - Andy Wolverton

Andy is the founder and co-host of The Great Movies classic movie series at the Severna Park Library in Severna Park, Maryland, where he works as a librarian. He has also contributed to The Dark Pages: The Newsletter for Film Noir, where he will soon write a regular new releases column.
You can follow him at his blog Journeys in Darkness and Light, on Twitter @awolverton77 and on Letterboxd.

Check out Andy's 2017 Discoveries here:
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/2018/03/film-discoveries-of-2017-andy-wolverton.html

Mine Own Executioner (Anthony Kimmins, 1947)
Burgess Meredith plays Felix Milne, a London psychotherapist treating an ex-POW named Adam (Kieron Moore) who frequently hallucinates, mistaking his wife for one of his Japanese captors, with the intent to strangle her. While struggling to uncover Adam’s repressed memories, Felix attempts to avoid Barbara (Christine Norden), the woman he’s having an affair with behind his wife’s back.

Mine Own Executioner contains not only strong, believable characters, but also excellent performances, and a powerful handling of what we would now call PTSD. The film refuses to provide pat answers to complex questions, but delivers top-notch tension culminating in a nail-biting conclusion. If you’d like to see how British film noir differs from American noir, this is a great place to start.
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The Hill (Sidney Lumet, 1965)
This is the Sean Connery film most people have never seen and probably haven’t even heard of, but once you see it, you’ll never forget it. Connery, Ossie Davis, and Roy Kinnear are among the newest prisoners of a British military stockade in North Africa during World War II. Running up and down an enormous man-made hill of rocks and sand while carrying heavy backpacks is only part of the brutal treatment handed out by sadistic Regimental Sergeant Major Wilson (Harry Andrews).

Although the film received excellent reviews, it didn’t do well at the box office. Perhaps the script by Ray Rigby (who actually spent time in a military prison) was too frightening and the performances too realistic. Whether you consider it a war film or a prison movie, The Hill is an unforgettable experience.
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The Match Factory Girl (Aki Kaurismäki, 1990)
A plain, unremarkable girl named Iris (Kati Outinen) works in a mind-numbing job at a Finnish factory that, as the title indicates, produces matches. Iris’s home life is just as mind-numbing, doing most of the work while her mother and step-father do almost nothing, other than charge Iris rent. Out of desperation, Iris winds up at a club where she meets a man who mistakes Iris for a hooker. It’s impossible not to watch what happens next and equally impossible not to become mesmerized by who Iris is and what she does. Once you get beyond the seeming passivity of The Match Factory Girl, you realize you’ve actually been hypnotized by a film of unrelenting power. With a short running time of only 69 minutes, The Match Factory Girl is a stunner.
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Come and See (Elem Klimov, 1985)
Fair warning: unless you do not possess a heart, Come and See will leave you shattered. The time is 1943. We follow a boy named Florya (Aleksey Kravchenko) as he joins the Soviet Republic of Byelorussia (Belarus) in their resistance against the Nazis. Florya’s dreams of heroic adventures are quickly squelched as he witnesses firsthand the horror and nightmare of war. In the space of only two days, Florya’s appearance changes from that of a teenager to a man in middle age. Some things are simply too horrifying to witness, whether they unfold in two days or two generations. Unlike most movies about war, Come and See doesn’t feel scripted, but rather like a documentary whose camera lingers far beyond the level of our comfort zones. Roger Ebert stated, “I have rarely seen a film more ruthless in its depiction of human evil.” Director Elem Klimov decided to never make another film after this one. You can understand why. Come and See is not an easy film to watch, but it’s one of those films we must watch.
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The Wind Will Carry Us (Abbas Kiarostami, 1999)
A man (Behzad Dorani) posing as engineer visits a village in Iranian Kurdistan, but he’s actually a journalist hoping to document the burial ceremony of an elderly woman, who seems to be clinging to life. As the journalist’s deadline looms, his anxiety builds as he attempts to maintain his false identity among the villagers. Things certainly don’t go as planned, but the locals have a lot to teach the journalist - and us. Some have dismissively called the film “minor” Kiarostami, while others have hailed it as a comic masterpiece. I fall into the latter category. There are few movies that celebrate the human spirit without becoming sappy and simplistic, but The Wind Will Carry Us is one of the best of them.
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Monday, December 24, 2018

Film Discoveries of 2018 - Andy Ross

Andy Ross is a humorist and film writer, whose weekly column “Batteries Not Included” has been a staple of the Tri-Cities, TN regional arts magazine “The Loafer” for almost 13 years. He’s also a member of the board of directors for the historic Capitol Theater in downtown Greeneville, TN--where he also serves as a film programmer heading up their “Classics at The Capitol” series. Andy is also a contributor at The Retro Set and an improv performer. He can be found blogging from time to time at his blog Andyland, USA and can be found on Twitter @ThatAndyRoss.
https://theloaferonline.com/category/batteries-not-included/
http://andylandusa.blogspot.com/

“Cleopatra Jones” 1973
A few films on this list were discoveries that happened thanks to the much lamented and much missed FilmStruck (Why can’t we have nice things?). I was house sitting this Summer and passed the time by binge-watching their Blaxploitation section they had just added. I went into this film with no expectations and had an absolute blast watching it. It’s fun, funny, there’s some cool as hell stunt work, plus you have the powerful force that is 1970s Shelly Winters. I haven’t seen the sequel to the film yet, but I hope to soon.

There’s some James Bondian kind of moments going on in this movie, it’s really fun to see them turned on their head a little bit here. Rated PG, this is sort of a tamed down “Foxy Brown” meets a proto-superhero film if you ask me. Tamed down in violence, but not tamed down in terms of coolness. Really cool movie, love to see this one get a blu-ray.
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“A Matter of Life and Death” 1946
Talk about a movie that floored me in every possible way. A movie that is so absurdly perfect in every detail that it reminds you why you fell in love with movies in the first place. I’ve not seen a lot of Powell and Pressburger, much to my shame, but as I’ve begun to discover their work it just blows me away. For starters, not only is there an amazing cast in this film--and for the record, I’ll watch anything with David Niven--but the whole look of the film and going from this black and white deco heaven to this gorgeous, saturated Technicolor of the earth is stunning.

The love story at the center is so beautiful that I had a sort of double emotional reaction to the film. I cried over both the story and then just the quality of the film itself moved me to tears. Being washed over by this wave of glee, and joy, and delight, and gratitude for seeing the movie that the only way I could react to it was by crying. This is a film that I could go door to door with to convince people to watch it.
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“Middle of the Night” 1959
I have a certain interest and fascination by these directors who began in live TV prestige dramas of the 1950s and then transitioned to film. This was directed by Delbert Mann, and I’m a big fan of if 1967 Christmas comedy “Fitzwilly,” but this is a film that is in a completely separate ballpark from that and I always like to see when you have a director that can make films of quality on different ends of the scope. You’ve got a Paddy Chayefsky script, for one thing, a hell of a supporting cast that has Martin Balsam and Lee Grant, but front and center you have this phenomenal combination in Fredric March and Kim Novak.

I’ve really developed an appreciation for Fredric March over the last two years, and he’s really wonderful in this film as he is in anything I’ve seen him in. What do you need to say about Kim Novak? I think in lesser hands than theirs, this material and this story wouldn’t have the weight that the two of them bring to it. This is a really great movie that more people should talk about, and another I discovered on FilmStruck.
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“Ride the High Country” 1962
I’ve never really been a big fan of Westerns, and I say that with no disrespect meant to the genre, it’s just something that rarely clicked with me or that I felt a need to explore. I’ve started to wonder if maybe I only ever saw really bad Westerns, as “Ride The High Country” is a great, great movie. I caught part of the film on TCM one day when I was cleaning my house. I’ll sometimes put TCM on while I clean to have something in the background, and I kept stopping to watch it. It was about mid-way into the film when I turned on my TV and then when I saw this was added, once again, to FilmStruck, I jumped to watch it from start to end.

Much like David Niven, I’ll watch Joel McCrea in anything. He and Randolph Scott are absolutely fantastic in this film. I think I read Scott decided to retire from acting from this movie as he felt he’d never top this performance. I didn’t realize this was Sam Peckinpah as it’s not a violent type of film he’s associated with. The visuals are wonderful, there’s some beautiful outdoor photography, and again the story and the acting just grabbed me in a way that I wasn’t expecting and I enjoyed the hell out of this movie. Plus, the ending just hits in every possible way. Plus, you’ve got some great actors in the supporting cast: R.G. Armstrong & Edgar Buchannan.
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“Follow Me Quietly” 1949
Another case of having no expectations with a movie, this one I caught recently when it aired on TCM as part of “Noir Alley.” I get really excited over those films from the ‘30s and ‘40s that are in the 80 minutes and under ballpark. Most of them are B films that were shot in just a week or two plus, and I love it when it’s a great hit it and quit it, in and out movie. This runs just 60 minutes but it packs a lot into those 60 minutes. We’ve got a serial killer named “The Judge” killing people he deems morally inferior, and this really fascinating police tactic involving a faceless dummy--the reveal of which is quite damn spooky.

This one grabbed me quick and I just went right along for the ride. It’s 60 minutes, you don’t have to make an epic commitment to this movie, and it pays off two to one in enjoyment than films twice as long. Plus, it’s got a great look to it by Rober De Grasse who would later go on to work in TV as the DP for “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” Really made an impression on me.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Just The Discs - Episode 86 - Favorite Blu-rays of 2018!

We've come to the end of another great year for the kind of Blu-rays we talk about on this show -- and there's A LOT to talk about! Brian is joined by JTD regular Stephanie Crawford to each pick 5 of their favorite Blu-ray releases of the year - that would be enough for one show, BUT there's more! We also have a bunch of honorable mentions to discuss and thus this show is quite epic! Enjoy and happy shopping afterwards!

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:

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And Spotify:

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

Or You can Listen to and download the episode right here:


Follow the Show on Twitter here for Episodes and new Blu-ray News!
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Not going to spoil all of the lists that we reveal on the episode, but here are just a handful of the titles that made the cut for us - either as honorable mentions or above that:


NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (Criterion)
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MODERN ROMANCE (Indicator)
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VALLEY GIRL (Shout Factory)
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A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (Criterion)
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GUN CRAZY (Warner Archive)
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WILLIAM CASTLE AT COLUMBIA Volume One (Indicator)
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CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE (Scream Factory)
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CABIN BOY (Kino Lorber)
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WILD AT HEART (Shout Factory)
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SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (Criterion)
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