Hey folks, Harry here… still in Rehab for my Spine Surgery. Looks like I’m on my final two weeks. Made some major forward steps in my recovery – but one of the coolest things was dropping over 50 lbs in the last month – and doing it healthily. Strange to be doing that and still watching so many movies, in-between all the exercises. Which is cool. This week there’s some tremendous titles – both foreign and domestic! As usual, the images and links take you to Amazon, where you can learn more upon the items in question, along with being able to pick the item up. If you do, know that you’re helping to keep this column around and it is especially appreciated. Now – check this stuff out! Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (Blu Ray)
#6 on my person top ten films of all time list. ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN is electrifying cinema. The sort of film that just makes me giddy – prying into secrets, finding out what we’re not supposed to know… but doing it the right way. Digging, persistence and dogged determination. The film is funny, paranoid and riveting throughout. One of the greatest moments of real journalism ever – captured wonderfully by Alan Pakula with Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman at their absolute best. Why did I give folks like Moriarty names in the beginning? Because of DEEP THROAT. There’s a romance this movie has over me. When you get a lead and you start to pursue it, and you realize you’re ahead of the pack – it is genuinely as exciting as Hoffman makes it feel in this movie. That urgency to strike. At the same time, Jason Robards gives his very best performance, though I really do love him to death in SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES… but his Ben Bradlee scored him Oscar gold. There are many great films about reporting, journalism and the excitement of the scoop – but there’s no doubt as to the best film regarding the subject – and that is ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN I love this release. I watched it on my tiny portable BLU RAY player I have here – but frankly – I just can’t wait to put this on the screen I have back home and just fall in love with this disc. Here’s the extras you get:
• Commentary by Robert Redford
• Telling the Truth About Lies: The Making of All the President's Men
• Woodward and Bernstein: Lighting the Fire
• Out of the Shadows: The Man Who Was Deep Throat
• Vintage Featurette Pressure and the Press: The Making of All the President's Men
• Vintage Jason Robards Interview Excerpt from Dinah!, Hosted by Dinah Shore
• Alan J. Pakula Thrillers Trailer Gallery
THE STRANGER (Blu Ray)
Being a film geek means sometimes when watching classic cinema – you know things. Like watching CASABLANCA and imagining Ronald Reagan as Rick. It kinda fucks with your head. Knowing that Orson Welles wanted his longtime player, Agnes Moorehead to play the Edward G Robinson character in this film. I seriously can not manage, even for a second, to imagine anyone but Edward G Robinson as the Nazi Hunter that is trailing and hunting for Orson Welles, who is a seriously evil Nazi war criminal. The jewel of the film is not just Orson Welles – and the brilliant clockwork sequence that once you can see, you can have a great conversation about how this film oddly influenced CRONOS with Guillermo Del Toro. But as much as I love the style and look of the film, as much as I love Welles… it’s Loretta Young that sells the film. She is – amazing. She’s just one of those actresses that is perfect in the innocent role she has. Watching her work through this story is fantastic. I’ve always watched this as a double feature with Alfred Hitchcock’s SHADOW OF A DOUBT, which is the superior film – but they are kissing cousins. Watch THE STRANGER first. Then Hitch’s… which awesomely enough has Joseph Cotton as the man in hiding. And I love it, it’s my favorite Hitch. Not really much in terms of extras – but it is a nice crisp and lovely transfer.
WAITING FOR “SUPERMAN”
Right now in Austin – due to a really terrible series of decisions made by our state government, they’re in the process of firing teachers by the bushel. Raping the libraries, killing whole sections of the school curriculum and it really makes me wonder about the priorities of this country. The local school board is having to do their best – but with the massive shortfalls – they’re taking a school system that was basically working better than most – and stripping it to something that will lose a lot of minds. Help drive crime up, thus causing more problems in regards to prison space – and basically fucking us all in the long run. Watch WAITING FOR “SUPERMAN” – Davis Guggenheim highlights the problems with the current education system and it is truly frightening. Realizing that those of us that are hitting 40, were sort of the last group to get schooling in a system that worked… that has continually been raped by Republicans and Democrats alike… and then watching a system that works… and seeing that it isn’t implemented, that the solutions don’t work because… well, there’s a heap of obstructions that have to be tore down and changed. This is the most important documentary of 2010. It is not politically aligned – it’s more about a system that is broken. You’ll see things that you know are just not right. One of the things that we as citizens of a great society must do… is protect OUR future, by guaranteeing the youth a real chance of a future. If not – then our country is bullshit. Our leaders failures and each of us… we can’t really look in a mirror without having a cloud of shame. But this isn’t a doom and gloom sort of doc. It’s one that shows us a lot of people that have the right ideas, the right vision – and we would be fools not to give our kids the chance that they deserve. It’s the surest way to make this country great. Seriously. Every educator, teacher, parent and future parent in this country need to watch this movie and learn.
THE TWILIGHT ZONE: Season 3 (Blu Ray)
Twilight Zone is geek crack. When I first got to this Rehab over 3 weeks ago, I got this set – that first day. When you’re doing time in a facility like this – something like this show can be you’re absolute best friend. From watching TWO – and seeing Charles Bronson and that BEWITCHED lady as the last two survivors of a nuclear holocaust – which just ruled by the way… To THE GRAVE with a crazy creepy – utterly chilly Old Western tale told in the best E.C. manner with Lee Van Cleef & Lee Marvin – and a fucking Strother Martin to sweeten the deal. Shit man. That’s great. But then there’s ONCE UPON A TIME, where a Janitor… played by BUSTER FUCKING KEATON puts on a helmet that takes him 72 years into the future – where… well, hell. The thing about Twilight Zones is… you can not, under any circumstances ruin them for anyone. If you do, you deserve to be in hell. Watch the original version of KICK THE CAN – and see if Spielberg did improve upon it. But then you watch THE DUMMY and you won’t sleep for hours – unless you can get dosed with something to put the nightmares to bed. Now why watch THE TWILIGHT ZONE on Blu Ray? I’ll tell ya. For most of our lives, this show has looked – blurry – or dupey. Watching these episodes remastered from the original negatives and given that 1080p wow. The episodes cease to look TELEVISION – but theatrical. Beautiful. The details are crazy. But then… take a look at these extras you get… it’s truly the best vintage treatment we have on a classic series on Blu Ray. It is the high water mark in my opinion. Oh – and here’s those extras:
19 New Audio Commentaries, featuring The Twilight Zone Companion author Marc Scott Zicree, author/film historian Gary Gerani (Fantastic Television), authors/historians Scott Skelton and Jim Benson (Rod Serling's Night Gallery: An After Hours Tour), Twilight Zone writers Earl Hamner, George Clayton Johnson and John Tomerlin, writer William F. Nolan (Logan's Run), author/historian Martin Grams, Jr. (The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic), writer Marv Wolfman (creator of Blade and New Teen Titans), writer Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Coraline), writer/producer Jeff Vlaming (NCIS, Fringe, Battlestar Galactica), writer Mark Fergus (Children of Men, Iron Man) and writer Len Wein (creator of Swamp Thing, Wolverine, New X-Men)
Interview with actor Edson Stroll
Original Laugh Track for Cavender Is Coming
Vintage Audio Interview with director of photography George T. Clemens
19 Radio Dramas featuring Don Johnson, Blair Underwood, Ernie Hudson, Morgan Brittany, Adam West, Ed Begley, Jr., Jason Alexander, Shelley Berman, Michael York, Bruno Kirby and more
Isolated Scores for all 37 episodes featuring the legendary Bernard Herrmann, Van Cleave, Fred Steiner and others
Audio Commentaries by actors Bill Mumy, Lois Nettleton, William Windom, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Cornthwaite and Cliff Robertson Audio Commentary by Jonathan Winters for A Game of Pool, plus Winters reads the Alternate Ending from the original script
Clip from the 1989 remake of A Game of Pool, featuring George Clayton Johnson’s original ending
Clip from the 1985 remake of Dead Man’s Shoes, featuring Helen Mirren in Dead Woman’s Shoes
Vintage Audio Recollections with Buzz Kulik, Buck Houghton, Richard L. Bare, Lamont Johnson and Earl Hamner
Rare Rod Serling appearances as a guest on The Garry Moore Show and Tell It to Groucho and as host of the popular game show Liar’s Club
And much more!
Certainly better than his TAKING OF PELHAM 123 remake, but definitely nowhere near as awesome as a hunk of inspiration they took from the brilliant RUNAWAY TRAIN – but I did enjoy UNSTOPPABLE, not in a shrugging kind of manner, but in a – this is fun. Not holy shit fun, but watching Kirk and Denzel working on this film… purportedly based on some true story that – I don’t really acknowledge, because this feels a bit silly to be real. But that doesn’t bother me. Personally I feel this is a rental. Though if you dig it, it could be a repeater. Disc has a few extras – but I’m not so in love with this flick that I even watched a single one. Here’s those extras:
Audio Commentary with Director Tony Scott
The Fastest Track: Unleashing Unstoppable
Derailed: Anatomy of a Scene
Hanging Off the Train: Stunt Work
On the Rails with the Director and Cast
Tracking the Story: Unstoppable Script Development
LAST TANGO IN PARIS (Blu Ray)
Bernardo Bertolucci is a director made for Blu Ray… be it the stunningly well shot erotica of something like this or THE DREAMERS (please release soon on Blu) or a film like THE LAST EMPEROR… Bertolucci’s eye for details is something that BluRay captures and translates in the best ways. I got this here, but I’m seriously not watching LAST TANGO IN PARIS when I can’t grab butter and a woman. I mean, it’s just a cruel thing to watch when you’re stuck in a curtained room without the ability to sate the urges that this incredibly beautiful, ugly, passionate film gives you. Perhaps the strangest most awesome thing Brando ever did. Shame it didn’t street in time for VALENTINE’S DAY… but then, I’m not entirely sure it’s a film that works for that. But then, it has for me, not with Yoko – but with a couple of past girl friends. I really should introduce Yoko to butter. Everyone should have that experience, right? Now – this just has a trailer, so it’s a bit too bare bones to give a stunning holy shit recommendation… that said, it is LAST TANGO on Blu Ray – that’s kind of essential.
RAIN MAN (Blu Ray)
Barry Levinson gave us, “HOT WATER BURN BABY!!!” and I’ll love him forever for it. Hell, the good will this film gave me – allowed me to walk into SPHERE with enough of a rooting for Barry that I actually really seem to like that film. But of all the characters that Tom Cruise has played… and I love most of them… Charlie Babbitt is one of my favorites. I’ll go to my grave a Maverick man, but I love Charlie Babbitt – I love the idea of training your older brother that’s an autistic savant to break the bank in Vegas. It’s just… well… the sort of evil I applaud. And personally I think with the amount of profit that Vegas makes, that should be totally legal. I mean, just because one man’s gifts give him a great edge, well… why should the Casino be the only one with the edge. Right? This is one of those BEST PICTURES that I love. I’ll watch it any time it comes on and I notice. And I was all too happy to give this a watch when it arrived. Now – for a film with 3 audio commentaries – the one I really wanted is Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. I’d kill to hear that commentary… instead here’s the extras you will enjoy:
• Audio Commentaries Director Barry Levinson Writer Barry Morrow Writer Ronald Bass
• The Journey of Rain Man" – A Retrospective Documentary
• Lifting the Fog: A Look at the Mysteries of Autism
• Deleted scenes
• Original theatrical trailer
NETWORK (Blu Ray)
Better than ever. Seriously. Just fucking great. William Holden? Jesus. Peter Finch? Wow. This is a film lover’s film. One of those that you quote, reference and geek out about. Or… at least if you’re my particular brand of film geek. One that loves exploitation, pulpy stuff and just plain brilliant films – well this is a film that plays just as angry, just as furious, just as amazing as you’ve ever seen. It’s a movie with a pulse that beats over 140 beats a minute. It races and thrills. This is a great film, one to get your pulse racing. It is, the good stuff.
MOONSTRUCK (Blu Ray)
I’ve never really been a fan of this one. It just never did anything for me. It never swooned me. But it does for many. I put it here, so those of you that do love it, know that it is here for you to love all over again.
I love Attenborough’s GANDHI… But CHAPLIN it’s a pure fetish film for me. I love it. LOVE IT! Watching Robert Downey Jr as CHAPLIN is bliss. I’m a CHAPLIN geek. I adore Buster Keaton, but for me, Charles Chaplin was my fetish. I love the pathos in his films, that they’re so much more than funny pictures. Not that Keaton didn’t pepper his films with sub-text, but I loved Chaplin. This isn’t Attenborough’s most serious or best work, but it is my most dear. Though – I freaking adore his contribution to JURASSIC PARK. This disc does have some pretty sweet extras that you’ve got to check out:
Includes 3 featurettes plus a rare home movie of Charlie Chaplin:
• “All at Sea” home movie of Charlie Chaplin vacationing in Catalina, CA
• “Strolling into the Sunset” featurette with Director Richard Attenborough
• “Chaplin the Hero” featurette on Chaplin’s contributions to film
• “The Most Famous Man in the World” featurette on Chaplin’s status as a pop icon
• Theatrical trailer
If you search YouTube for the trailer – you’ll get a good idea of the movie. It’s silly. It isn’t great, but you know what it is? Fun. If you saw and enjoyed FANBOYS – something that several critics were all a bit too mock offended to enjoy… but that found a very loyal audience. From the opening scenes on a boat – with some folks drinking Shiner Boch… I was amused. This is the story about how Cthulhu is on the verge of being released upon Earth… This cult that has been awaiting and fearing his return seeks out the last living descendant of H.P. – to put into his hands the one piece of the “key” that can release the awesome one upon the Earth. This guy knows nothing of Lovecraft, but his best friend is a geek – and they seek out a bigger geek – and they do battle against the forces that would raise a new age upon the Earth… an ancient, horrible one… Now this was made on a shoestring, and the acting is goofy and not at all realistic… like a lot of Lovecraft adaptations – but it is FUN. If you have a plush Cthulhu – you can’t not have this. You’ll get a kick out of it. It’s FANBOYS for Lovecraft – and that’s a sub-genre I couldn’t predict coming.
KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL (Blu Ray)
Oh my god, I love the lurid cover art on this Blu-Ray! How amazing! Contained within is a badass fucking Film Noir with Lee Marvin. That’s all you need to know. It is tough, gritty, Noir. Like the box says, “The picture that hits with Bullet Force and Blackjack Fury!” Amen, time to break out the popcorn!
GAME OF DEATH (Blu Ray)
The first part of this movie that takes place in a Hospital – pretty much kicked untold ass. Mainly because Wesley’s action was exceptionally well done. Now – lest you think my condition overly influenced it… no. This is a film that has a very long gun battle between Wesley Snipes and Zoe Bell that kicks a lot of ass. There’s a martial arts battle that is brutal that takes place in a room of autistic and mentally handicapped patients. When the film changes location though – it loses some of the killer cool vibe that just exploiting the layers of a hospital give you. Now – none of this approaches the awesome lunacy of John Woo and Chow Yun Fat in a hospital… but it was very cool to see Wesley kicking the living shit out of people. This is not, in any way, a remake of Bruce Lee’s film. But the movie when it changes location, it doesn’t so much – lose steam, as much as it just becomes a tad more… ordinary. I love Robert Davi and Ernie Hudson in this. But Zoe Bell does some pretty damn good work, and plays a nice hard core bitch. Wesley is his typical ice cold cool. Probably one of my favorite character traits that I’ve seen him do in a film came at the hospital, but you’ll just have to check it out to see that for yourself.
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS 2-Movie Collection (Blu Ray)
Do you have Epic Bad Movie Nights with friends? Well shit doesn’t get much more ridiculous than this. I mean, you get intoxicated, clouded, whatever your poison or choice of viewing may be… and try not to howl laughing like a banshee when the guy with black lipstick demands “THROW ME THE ROD!” - Jeremy Irons and Marlon Wayans are both utterly fucking insane in the first film. The second isn’t nearly as enjoyably traumatic – but it sucks the mung from a dead donkey too. It is a shame that nobody brilliant ever got a hold of this property and just adapted a module, and played it for real. It really shouldn’t be fucking rocket science, but looking at these two… you’d think it impossible.
WILLAM S BURROUGHS: A MAN WITHIN
This is a tremendous documentary about one of the most strangely brilliant and gifted writers of the Beat Generation. With interviews from such notables as David Cronenberg, Gus Van Sant, John Waters, Robocop and a ton of others. William Burroughs was an odd fellow to say the least, but this doc looks at him not as a freak or a circus attraction, but as a brilliant, strange and warm human being. For everyone that ever read NAKED LUNCH – this is a fantastic look at his world and life.
RICH LITTLE SHOW: Complete Series
There was a period of time in my kidhood, that I thought Rich Little was the most amazing human on the planet. His ability with mimicry was astonishing. Today – there’s all these folks that do that, but do it with make up and edits – Rich Little could go through a plethora of characters without edits – and you’d see his face morph into that of the person he was imitating. He was so great at this – and his appearances on Johnny Carson’s TONIGHT SHOW – a show my family never missed an episode of, it seemed… propelled him into his own show – and as you can see from the DVD cover and the list of “friends” – Rich Little had some awesome friends. The show is kind of a geek dream of fun 70s parodies – that are frankly kind of amazing. I highly suggest checking it out. Seriously.
THE LADY HERMIT
You know that poisonous evil shrew of a bad gal in CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON, this is her when she was a babe. And she was 5 times more vicious back then. This is a very bloody, gory Shaw Brothers flick – and a ton of fun. If that’s something you think could be cool – you’re not wrong. Old school kung fu fun from the Shaw Brothers!
OPPAI CHANBARA: STRIPTEASE SAMURAI SQUAD
I’ve ordered this based on the box art and title alone. I’ve no idea what it is… but I have dreams. I know I’ll probably be disappointed, but that’s alright. There’s probably a bit of titillation. It is unrated. But frankly, I’ve no idea what to expect for my pervy urges.
WEB OF DEATH (Blu Ray)
This is one of those crazy cult Kung fu weird shit Shaw Brothers flick – and it is on Blu Ray for under $15 too. The Centipede Sect is crazy. But the Five Poison Web, deserves to be seen in 1080p. This is weird Shaw Brothers – and that’s a good thing. At least for me.
PRISON ON FIRE (Blu Ray)
Notably less poetic than John Woo is the kickyou’re your teeth brutality of Ringo Lam. One of my favorite Eastern filmmakers. The man I’d hire to do a PUNISHER movie set in Vietnam. But I’m crazy that way. For those of us that lived through the emergence of Chow Yun Fat – this was one of those early “classics” that just sold us upon the man. All the great themes of the Woo stuff is there, without the doves and the ultra slo-mo. There’s a great brutal nature to the film – and being able to enjoy it on Blu Ray – well that’s a new delight for all of us that had to pick up shitty multi-generation dubs from those shady convention dealers we all worshipped in the early 90s.
If you’re buying PRISON ON FIRE, you should definitely pick up this. It’s the same creative team plus… frankly, this is an even better film. Ringo kind of unleashes in a way that makes the tough scenes in the first seem… almost incidental. Overall, this is just a really really great bit of Hong Kong awesome! Being able to see these on Blu Ray – are such a treat. I’ve never seen either of these theatrically – so this really and truly represents the best these films have ever looked to me.
Next week, I’ll be looking at MEGAMIND, DUE DATE, GET LOW, ALL-STAR SUPERMAN (which is fucking awesome), The Stieg Larsson Trilogy on Blu Ray, SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (Criterion Blu), MEMENTO (Blu), Visconti’s SENSO (Criterion Blu), THE LAST UNICORN (Blu), FISH TANK (Criterion Blu), 48 HRS (Blu), Bon Jovi Collector’s Box, GUILD Season 4, LAST TRAIN HOME, MESRINE Part 1 (Blu), KILLSHOT (Blu), BIRDEMIC: SHOCK & TERROR (Blu), TWO IN THE WAVE, BLACK LIGHTNING, COMIC BOOK INDEPENDENTS, LIVE A LITTLE STEAL A LOT, BLACK RODEO,