Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '99 - Brandon Smith ""

Friday, July 26, 2019

Underrated '99 - Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith has been a film junkie since the yesteryears of VHS and Laserdisc, also a hardcore advocate of physical media. @bsmith8168 is dedicated to seeking out any under seen and underrated film from around the globe. In his spare time he helps out the good people at AGFA to help in the preservation and distribution of many of oft talked of titles that many thought lost in the malaise of the grindhouse era.


Tomie
Early entry in the J-Horror genre that produced eight sequels, not nearly as popular as other franchises like Ringu or Ju-on, but still has enough to offer as far as thrills and chills. The story revolves around a young woman that is traumatized by something out of her past that she can’t recall so she starts hypnotherapy. During her treatments she seems to say the name Tomie a lot, which is the same name of a different girl that went missing recently. The typical am I just crazy or is the ghost of this girl seems to be haunting me twists starts happening. Prime for reassessment and the beginning into a series with a lot to offer.
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Mifune
Mifune is the third film to be made by the Dogme 95 rules and is quite a wild ride. The film centers around Kresten who has just recently been married to his boss’s daughter and seems to have everything going in the right direction when he hears news of the death of his father. Kresten goes to his family farm where he finds the body of his father and his mentally challenged brother who he has to now find a home for. While getting everything arranged Kresten hires a housekeeper whose last job was a prostitute and this combined with the extended period of being away starts to take a drastic toll on his wife. The style of the film is what you’d expect from a Dogme 95 film and the entire strength is the acting, which seems natural and suited for the story. The tone however will keep you on your toes as it flashes from comedy to some pretty unsavory moments towards the end.
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Dying of Laughter
Alex de la Iglesia's Dying of Laughter is a much underrated comedy that has enough black humor in it to resemble a Coen Brothers film. The film is centered on the relationship of two comedians from a chance encounter to the limelight and as their fame grows so does their disdain for one another. Told in a sort of flashback way the film doesn't really go anywhere that hasn't been gone before, but the two leads have enough charisma to keep the viewer entertained. As always I cannot champion the films of Iglesia enough and even though this is probably one of his lesser projects it still rocks harder the majority of ‘90s genre films.
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The Black House
The Black House is a gem, the beginning of the film takes a lot of time to get going and it probably losses a lot of it’s viewers due to this as other reviews suggest. The story is about a life insurance agent that gets involved with a client that is trying to collect on the suicide of their teenage son who is discovered in his presence. After the family is granted the insurance money the husband cuts both of his arms off at work and enters yet another claim, which is denied. That’s when the wife starts to show her true colors. The evolution of the insurance agent is what makes this film so effective, from the beginning where he is insanely terrified of the discovery of the body of the boy to the end where he finally starts the to fight back. A rewarding film that deserves more attention with fine performances throughout.
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Scarfies
It’s like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Shallow Grave met up in New Zealand, got high, and had a threesome with Misery. The style of the film is really well done with it’s dark color scheme and the setting of an almost post apocalyptic flat that has an uncanny resemblance of some of the settings of Trainspotting. Even in the beginning of the film when everyone is moving into the flat there is an ominous feeling that something bad is in store for everyone involved. Well made with a great young cast and that how far can a human go for money theme makes this a winner. I had to track down an Australian DVD of this, but it was completely worth it.
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Buddy Boy
Strange film which follows a young Aiden Gillen as Francis the son of an invalid mother that lives in a rundown building that has a perfect spot for peeping on the building across the street. After the visit from a plumber a relationship blooms between the plumber and Francis’ mom which turns into getting shittfaced drunk and smoking crack on a daily basis. At the same time Francis has become consumed by a neighbor that he watches from his peephole. One day he witnesses the woman being mugged and scares off the perpetrator and starts seeing the woman. The woman is a proud vegetarian and pushes her agenda on Francis that is until while peeping he witnesses her up to something devious and it appears that she is killing and eating people. Wild film that is shot really well and is a solid play on Rear Window with a great performance by Susan Tyrell as the crazed mother, not for everyone but worth it for those looking for something weird.
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Witness Protection
Straightforward with a title that sums up the whole deal. Tom Sizemore plays the gangster father that is nearly assassinated one night in bed with his wife. The family is left shook and decides to play ball with the police once Sizemore learns that his old boss is indeed out to put an end to him. What follows is a pretty over the top look at what goes into the lives of people that are put into the witness protection program and the drama really starts as the family starts to implode on itself. This is easily the most Lifetimesque HBO film I’ve ever seen with solid portrayals of actors losing their shit. An all around well acted film with Whittaker and Mastrantonio stealing the show.
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Attack the Gas Station
For such a generic title it’s almost shocking at how deep this Korean film gets by the end. A group of four hoodlums rob a gas station to return at a later date and do it again only this time the boss has handed the money off to his wife before they get there. A hostage situation ensues until the manager can get a hold of his wife, the employees are held in the back where they are forced to fight each other and find inner strength in themselves. Other people start to get involved with the robbers as they pretend to be workers there and start to pump gas and get the situation more and more complex. The final full on showdown kind of had a Gangs of New York or The Warriors feel to it, which was a neat climax. The film is a comedy and gets out of control within the first act. Trying for a little bit in the beginning, but the pay off is well worth it. Now I’m going to have to track down the sequel.
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Life Tastes Good
Low budget bro-Noir film that is told in flashback as the body of a man is found with a tape recorder and the two detectives listen to the recorder as the story unfolds. The dead man was a terminally ill money launderer that ripped off one of his counterparts and then holes up in an old warehouse which is also inhabited by a beautiful woman whose husband was also killed by the same gangsters after the money launderer. The man decides to have a dinner with his kids that also seem to have quite a few problems, but spikes the dinner with psychedelic mushrooms, which brings them closer together. With the low budget and a cast of nobodies the film works well and the all Asian American cast is a nice touch that you don’t see enough.
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Night Train
No budget scuzzy Noir for the skid row crowd. After some slub is released from prison he decides to investigate a cryptic telegram that he received from his brother in Tijuana. Once in Mexico the man goes on an odyssey of rot gut booze and hookers and meets a bum that knew his brother and claims that he is dead after being struck down in the street. The film is shot in black and white and adds to the grittiness, the film seems to be a part of the whole no wave movement of the early ‘80s even though it came out in 1999. Not a masterpiece by a long shot, but a real mixed bag of film techniques and camera tricks that seem reminiscent to something from Guy Maddin. Honestly most people will dismiss this as garbage, but you can tell the director was really trying here and I respect it.
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1 comment:

Sailor Monsoon said...

I haven't heard of any of these
Truly a deep dive into some buried treasures this