Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '99 - Tim Hoar (BeerMovie.net) ""

Friday, June 21, 2019

Underrated '99 - Tim Hoar (BeerMovie.net)

Tim Hoar is an Canberra Australia based film lover. He occasionally podcasts at Driving home from the cinema reviews, even more occasionally blogs at www.beermovie.net and much more regularly sits on twitter when he is meant to be working @beer_movie.

When I set out to write this list, it was for the sole purpose of expressing my love for the first film mentioned (which I’m glad to see has already gotten some affection in the course of this series). But not wanting to put Brian in the awkward position of rejecting my 2,000 word essay on a maligned horror sequel, I dug a little deeper. This is a broad range of films, that probably at times veers into underseen rather than underrated territory, though the two are often strongly linked.


· The Rage: Carrie 2 (Katt Shea) – A genuinely exceptional reimagining of the Carrie story, grounded in a very real level of teen emotion and a searing takedown of jock-led rape culture. Even today there’s a level of shock at how stark the presentation of that culture is in the film. Repurposes beats and scenes from De Palma’s film in a way that works much better than it should, delivering the biggest scares in the process. Builds to a super brutal and bloody ending that still manages to balance our feelings toward Emily Bergl’s Rachel Lang. Retains the spirit of King’s original character and there’s some great gore in that last blast of action and chaos.
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· Beyond the Mat (Barry W. Blaustein) – A personal doco as one filmmaker sets out to explore his love of professional wrestling and the question of why anyone in the world would choose it as a job. This covers a lot of ground and excels in the choice of subjects, even if it is perhaps spread a little thin between them. Blaustein digs into the mindset of people like Terry Funk, Paul Heyman, Mick Foley and Jake the Snake Roberts. The latter provides the most interest and frankly darkness. A portrait of perhaps the greatest mind the industry has ever seen at rock bottom. Intense and pretty blunt picture of the life he’s led. There’s a depth of interest from the filmmaker that makes this worthwhile even for folks who aren’t pro wrestling fans. Climaxing in the toll a brutal match between The Rock and Mick Foley has on Foley’s family.
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· Choke (Robert Raphael Goodman) – I’m surprised that there are two wrestling/combat sports docos on this list. Not sure I can even name another in the genre I’ve seen. This one focusses on Rickson Gracie, an icon in Vale Tudo, the forerunner to contemporary mixed martial arts. Of most interest here is the impact Gracie’s attempt to defend his title in Japan has on his family (a strong connection to Beyond the Mat). Not to mention the overall philosophical bent to the film and the politics of the age old striker vs grappler debate. Of less interest strangely is the presentation of the tournament that the film leads up to.
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· Bicentennial Man (Chris Columbus) – I’m not going to run the argument that this is an undiscovered classic. But I have such love for the first half of this film that I think it is underrated overall. The first hour of this is lovely, human, quiet sci-fi. The second half is… awful. Sam Neill and Robin Williams are both excellent. Williams conveying a lot through voice and physicality, encased in what is a pretty cool suit. The questions of what it is to be human, pretty tired by now, feel like they are uniquely explored in a light drama style. Then right in the middle there is a moment that clunks incredibly hard and the film never really recovers, descending into a pretty awful love story. Perhaps just watch the first hour as a novella length experience.
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· Two Hands (Gregor Jordan) – This is an interesting one. For quite a while after its release, this was a bit of a mainstay on Australian television. But even that has faded. Showcases raw, talent laden and very young versions of Heath Ledger and Rose Byrne, as well as perhaps Bryan Brown’s best ever performance. Nicely stylised visuals and good performances from a supporting cast including Tom Long, David Field and the excellent Susie Porter. Tonally it doesn’t always work. Gets super dark and vicious, perhaps too much so. On the other hand the dark humour is really well realised. Plus there’s a zombie big brother which is absolutely wild. Overall, a menacing and at times hilarious gangster flick with a really nice Australian texture to it.
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