Castor’s Underrated Gems – Spookies (1986)

An ark of the covenant from the 80’s that bypassed a DVD release and was mostly an object of misbegotten legend, Spookies has been varnished with immaculate care by Vinegar Syndrome. Firstly, the 4k print is monumental achievement for the company. The werecat in the trees isn’t bleached of moonglow. Most of what transpires on screen is obfuscating from a storytelling point-of-view. The production was mongrelized when the producers mandated new footage after the Twisted Souls cut was too bereft of gelatinous crawlers.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – The Cotton Club (1984)

Cotton Club (1984) Original One-Sheet Movie Poster - Original Film ...

Disclaimer – Review based on the Encore Edition.

When it comes to period recreation, Francis Ford Coppola had the clout to be retroactive back to 1930’s Harlem with painstaking authenticity. The Bamville Club and the flappers aren’t just tinseled scenery; they’re components to Coppola’s Dionysiac, swooning tribute to the buzz of jazz music.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – The Hidden Fortress (1958)

The Hidden Fortress (1958) — True Myth Media

While it might not be latent among Kurosawa acolytes, The Hidden Fortress wasn’t a crossover export when it was released in the U.S. Despite its acclaim, it isn’t exulted alongside Seven Samurai, Yojimbo and Rashomon as one of his masterworks. Which is a pity because it heralded two innovations for Kurosawa- Tohoscope widescreen photography and Perspecta directional sound.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – The Hit (1984)

Eric Clapton and Roger Waters’ title track is no more than moody guitar thrumming but it is a perfectly minimalist accompaniment to Stephen Frears’ picaresque, introspective British road movie. The film is quite cavalier about Willie Parker’s (Terrence Stamp) embroilment in London gangster activities and to that extent, it is refreshingly tongue-in-cheek. The “We’ll Meet Again” crane shot in the courtroom is a signpost to Frears’ baroque naughtiness.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – The Swimmer (1968)

The Marvin Hamlisch score is pitched like a requiem mass before the camera trails behind Burt Lancaster’s initial dive into a pool. Ned Merrill (Lancaster) is a social butterfly and Lancaster magnetizes every plutocrat within his orbit except for a select few to whom he is a persona non grata. The gimmick is Ned cogitates a quest from his neighbors’ recreation areas to “swim home”. Based on a short story by John Cheevers, Ned’s river expedition is soulfully existential as he often gazes skyward to pontificate in pregnant pauses.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – The Super Cops (1974)

Prefaced with candid interviews from the real-life subjects, Greenberg and Hantz, the busts and cumulative crime-fighting of the duo is genuflected with a flamboyantly cyclonic, pungently funny, rollicking stranger-than-fiction saga. When the instructor heeds “don’t look for trouble”, the next scene is filigreed with irony when a pedestrian tries to peddle a suitcase of pilfered merchandise to Greenberg (Ron Leibman) before he nearly stabbing him.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – The Delicate Delinquent (1957)

Image result for the delicate delinquent 1957

In his first loopy, albeit winsome solo outing, Jerry Lewis fraternizes with his co-stars with a constraint on his mugging abandon. He might be a porcine screen hog but he milks every ounce of chortles from his potent chemistry with a solidly stalwart Darren McGavin. In fact, McGavin is a superlative anchor next to Lewis than Dino; more comfortable with the madcap tone. Dean was a matinee crooner, not a seasoned thespian. When officer Damon (McGavin) asserts that Sidney isn’t a “specimen” to him, he is convincingly not duplicitous.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Deal of the Century (1983)

The commercial parody for the Peacemaker military jet (with “Someone to Watch Over Me” in the background) is intelligently acrid view of the American desire for orbiting safeguards against their enemies. Maybe I’m predisposed to unsung satires from SNL alumni but Deal of the Century is stratified alongside 1981’s Neighbors and The Distinguished Gentleman as an olive-black send-up of the swap meet for WMD’s.

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Runstedler’s DVD Pick of the Month: Skin (2019)

Israeli-born filmmaker Guy Nattiv’s 2019 film Skin is based on the true story of Bryon Widner, a white supremacist and neo-Nazi whose journey to renounce his racist past and remove the hate tattoos all over his body was the subject of the 2011 TV documentary Erasing Hate. This is a fierce, relentless watch that feels increasingly relevant, especially with the disturbing rise in nationalism and white supremacy in the U.S. under the Trump presidency. It’s more than just a look into a racist, ignorant, and bigoted culture and way of thinking, however; it also looks into the abuse and instillation of fear and hatred at its very core (the members form a twisted family, where they are constantly berated and emotionally and physically abused for showing weakness or emotionality – yet this abusive relationship also makes them feel valued and part of a community) that fuels these people. And it is this sense of “family” that causes Widner (played by Jamie Bell, the star of Billy Elliot and The Adventures of Tintin, in a career highlight) confusion and an identity crisis, especially when he falls in love with a single mother of three children, and realizes that the violence and insecurities of his previous lifestyle are incompatible with his new lifestyle, and he cannot have both.

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The Reviewinator: Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

42 years is an outstanding run for any franchise. While there have been many ups and downs along the way, the story of Skywalker that began in 1977 has been an epic one to say the least. And even though this story seemingly ended twice before (once in 1983 and again in 2005), it has never been done with such unambiguous finality until now.

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