Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2019 - James Curtiss ""

Friday, March 6, 2020

Film Discoveries of 2019 - James Curtiss

James is an optimist to a fault, always trying to find something worthwhile in what others have already deemed worthless. He just wants to watch movies, talk about movies, read about movies. He’s had a podcast (AT THE CHEAP SEATS), a blog (I HEART SEQUELS) and contributed the occasional piece to Blumhouse.com, Femme Fatales, Rupert Pupkin Speaks (of course) and more. You can find James here: https://letterboxd.com/jamescurtiss/


I didn’t watch a lot of old movies in 2019. As always, there were too many new movies (and TV shows, anime, comic books, non-fiction literature [TEEN MOVIE HELL FTW!] and more). The old movies I did watch were kind of basic. But that’s me right now. Basic. I did all my advance studies when I was much younger…


Malone (1987) 
Saw this at the New Beverly as part of a month-long tribute to Burt. You know those movies where you’re sure you'd seen them, maybe more than once, but you just grew up staring at the VHS box art 50,000 times. This is one of those movies for me. Man, I dug it. What a fucking cast. It's lean and efficient, a modern-day Western, which would make for a great double with Clint's Pale Rider.
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Sabrina, The Teenage Witch (1996) 
I did not grow up watching the ABC Sabrina TV show. I read the OG comics and I read Chilling Adventures. My girlfriend, however, started a massive rewatch of the old sitcom on Hulu and I went along for the whole ride. Now I love it. By extension, my girlfriend and I both had never seen this Showtime movie (directed by Tibor Takacs!) that helped launch the show. 1/10 the length of Chilling Adventures Season 2 and makes a lot more sense. A win.
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The Phantom of the Opera (2004) 
Why the fuck did I sleep on this for so long?! I think it’s because I’m a musical theater kid and like so many musical theater kids of my generation, we love to deny our soft spot for Andrew Lloyd Webber. Or maybe I did that dipshit thing where I listened to all the hate (big mistake #1) from all the film fanboys who just hate Joel Schumacher (big mistake #2). Opulent, garish, and as subtle as a chandelier smashing onto an opera house. In other words, a perfect Andrew Lloyd Webber adaptation.
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Out to Sea (1997)
One of my simple, sweet discoveries of 2019. When it first came out, I avoided this film like the plague, especially as it was in close proximity to such garbage as Odd Couple 2, Grumpier Old Men, and My Fellow Americans. But this one works, and it works beautifully. This old-school Hollywood cast is firing on all cylinders, and Brent Spiner is pitch perfect as a snide, scummy villain. The script is lean and funny, and Coolidge stages the whole thing with real confidence in her framing, craft, etc. BONUS - horny Rue McClanahan is always a good thing.
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The Mad Ghoul (1943)
Maybe I’ve just watched too many fucking movies, but rarely am I surprised by the mystery movies that roll out at the New Beverly all-nighter every October. I’ve usually seen them all. This year was a nice surprise, as I hadn’t seen 2 of the 6 that screened. My favorite of the 2 was the third movie that night. Even more surprising? It was a Universal monster/sci-fi flick I'd never seen previously. There are very few left. It's not perfect, and does get a bit draggy, but it's got a mood and some performances that I really dig. Plus, it’s pretty sleazy and some of it is just nice and icky, for then and not.
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Edge of the Axe (1988)
This was the other new watch for me, and it was the first movie that night at the New Beverly all-nighter. Look, I try not to be that guy, but I love MST3K as much as I love movies. Almost everything about this movie is laughable and I had to work so hard not to MST3K this shit, as that is super verboten at the New Bev. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, especially with a crowd. The axe murders themselves are truly ferocious and shocking, and the body count is pretty high considering the final villain’s reveal and motive.
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