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)

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

Netflix’s The King (dir. David Michôd, 2019) is an adaptation several plays in William Shakespeare’s “Henriad” (Henry IV, Parts 1, 2, and Henry V). I haven’t read these plays yet myself, and some of my colleagues felt that the Henry IV story arc is a bit abbreviated and short, although I was glad to see Henry IV go – he’s intentionally meant to be standoffish and unpleasant. It’s a visually stunning film, with a very Game of Thrones aesthetic – the brutal, stark, unromantic battle scenes, such as the one between Henry V and Henry Hotspur, where you can hear the brutality of steel against flesh, and the crushing of bodies and grunting of two men fighting to the death. Timothée Chalamet stars as Henry V, and his transformation through the film (which I think is a very enjoyable 140 minutes – I was engaged and enthralled the whole time) is remarkable. He begins as a bored, lazy prince who has no desire to ascend to the throne, but by the film’s end, he is a competent, capable, and cunning strategist, war leader, and king who has vanquished most of his enemies, if not all. And there are enemies abound, even in his own home. Dean Charles-Chapman, who plays his sniveling brother Thomas, is also recognizable from his role as Tommen Baratheon in Game of Thrones, and he is almost as useless in this movie!

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The Mandalorian Season 1, Episode 1 Review

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Incumbent upon the success of The Rise of Skywalker, the Star Wars universe is staring at a dormancy period after Disney has fatigued the fanbase with market oversaturation. A spin-off of Bobba Fett was bandied about with James Mangold at the helm but the non-sleeper box office detritus of Solo put that project into limbo. Now, Disney+ has premiered and along with the back catalog (a.k.a. the much fortified “vault” from whence films like Song of the South have gone to wither away in solitary confinement) of Walt’s scions are a few originals. One of which must’ve been begot from that apostatized conceit.

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The Reviewinator: Terminator – Dark Fate (2019)

Linda Hamilton. James Cameron. With special appearance by Arnold Scwharzenegger. I hadn’t been this excited for a Terminator 3 since Terminator 3. T2: Judgment Day remains my favorite movie of all-time, so of course I’m all for going back in time to kill 16 years’ worth of mediocre sequels. And bringing back James Cameron AND Linda Hamilton? That is proof enough that Terminator: Dark Fate is the most serious and dedicated Terminator sequel in decades, and the best continuation of T1 & 2 that we’re likely ever going to get.

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