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The incredible Harry Dean Stanton is shown here in Repo Man, but don't miss his cheesy performance in Rebel Rousers, either.


Repo Man

D: Alex Cox (1984)

Emilio Estevez, Olivia Barash, Harry Dean Stanton, Vonetta McGee

Of all the low-budget films to come out of the Eighties, Repo Man, Alex Cox's dark cult comedy about Eighties urban sprawl and alien paranoia, is one of the better ones. Emilio Estevez stars in one of his earliest roles as Otto Parts, your modern apocalyptic teen up to his armpits in drugs, sex, and parental neglect. He soon finds a way out through Bud (Stanton), an ace repo man, who gives him a job and teaches him the ways of the car repossessing trade. The two wander through the guts of L.A. in search of a '64 Chevy Malibu, priced at 50 thousand dollars, and run into a cast of bizarre street characters: feds, girls in distress, a lobotomized nuclear physicist, and really, really dumb criminals. Even though Repo Man has the look of a Hill Street Blues episode, it is clever enough to keep you watching, throwing in a laugh every so often. Estevez gives one of the best performances of his career, honing his acting skills as a punk white boy just in time for his role in Coppola's The Outsiders, released later that year. Cox, who wrote and directed the film, creates a strange but hilarious view of our culture, a brilliant satire on modern society. He went on to direct three films after Repo Man, including his acclaimed second film Sid and Nancy, the brutal, true tale of Sex Pistol Sid Vicious and his love affair with Nancy Spungen. Cox then followed with two inept and sub-par films, Walker and Straight to Hell, the direction his career went shortly after. But Repo Man will -- and should -- always be remembered as his masterpiece, of sorts, and deserves the same respect and attention given to The Rocky Horror Picture Show and This Is Spinal Tap, two films that define the cult category.-- Eli Kooris


JFK

D: Oliver Stone (1991)

w/ Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Laurie Metcalf, Gary Oldman, Michael Rooker, Sissy Spacek, Kevin Bacon, John Candy, Joe Pesci

DVD/Special Edition Director's Cut

November 22, 1998 marked the 35th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and there's no better way to look back than with a screening of JFK, Oliver Stone's study of Jim Garrison's (Costner) investigation into the president's assassination. Stone's masterpiece is now available on DVD, with 17 minutes of restored footage that Camelot enthusiasts should find rewarding. Included among the restored scenes is a long passage about George DeMohrenschildt, a Nazi sympathizer who befriended Lee Harvey Oswald (Oldman) and later betrayed him to the Warren Commission. There's more about Bill Broussard's (Rooker) defection, and a scene of Garrison later being accosted in an airport. Extra witnesses are paraded through the final courtroom scene, and, most peculiarly, there's a restored sequence of Garrison's appearance on the gaudy The Jerry Johnson Show, with John Larroquette as the smarmy host. The chapter index is helpful in pointing out which scenes have added footage (unfortunately, the numbering is off on side two of the "flipper" disk, so be warned). Presented in 2.35:1 widescreen and with full Dolby Digital sound, the DVD edition of JFK holds dozens of new secrets waiting to be discovered. The Zapruder film is much more vivid than on videotape, and when those shots ring out, they echo through the room, a haunting memory of what's gone before. At a running time of 206 minutes, this special edition of JFK may not be for everyone. But at least you don't have to rewind.

-- Christopher Null


Rebel Rousers

D. Martin Cohen (1970)

w/ Jack Nicholson, Harry Dean Stanton, Cameron Mitchell, Bruce Dern, Diane Ladd

The Rebel Rousers ride into town on their Harleys and do a Wild Ones scene in the local bar, in a miserably poor town in the desert; eventually the sheriff comes and runs 'em all off. Cameron Mitchell chose that precise time to come into town to try to patch things up with his estranged wife Diane Ladd, before going off to star in innumerable Italian features. Ladd is pregnant with their child (actually, she was probably pregnant with Laura Dern at the time), and that fact leads to much overwrought dialogue and hand-wringing. Mitchell, as it turns out, is an old high school buddy with Bruce Dern from the scoot gang, but they've long since gone their separate ways. Though the town seems to be in the middle of the Mojave Desert, the beach is only a few miles away, so when John Law breaks up their fun, the boys buy a few cases of Pabst and head for the beach for some more hijinks. Mitchell and Dern go to the beach to talk things out, but unfortunately their timing is off, since the scoot boys staked out that piece of property earlier. They force the couple to party with them, but when Mitchell wants to leave, they use him for a punching bag. Dern is the leader of the gang and the only one with a conscience, but unfortunately he has a rubber spine to go along with it; he declares a series of drag races will be held, with the winner getting Diane Ladd for the night. Meanwhile, Mitchell drags himself back to the car, makes it back to town, and rounds up some help in the form of a Mexican family to go look for his wife. There's a fight between Dern and rival Nicholson, and a non-fight between the posse and the bikers, and everyone goes home happy except Nicholson. It's a big goddamn anticlimax, in other words. The most notable thing about this biker soap opera is the fact that it sounds like at least half of the dialogue was ad-libbed on the spot. Nicholson and Dern are as good as always (though Diane Ladd looks better than Laura Dern ever has) and Harry Dean Stanton plays a sort of comic relief biker who wears a suit all the time. You could easily live without seeing Rebel Rousers but hey, can you live without seeing those striped pants on Jack Nicholson? -- Jerry Renshaw

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