Hey folks, Harry here – still doing rehab, getting stronger, still shedding weight and still tending to this column for you folks, even if it keeps me up past my bed time. Lots of good stuff this week. As usual the pics and links will take you to Amazon, where you can learn more on the various titles – and if you like, you can purchase them, which gives a portion of the price to help keep this column ticking away. Now – let’s get to it… Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
I love 48 HRS – this and TRADING PLACES are my two favorite Eddie Murphy movie, but the real star of 48 HRS is Walter Hill. The director. He perfectly balances Eddie’s penchant for buffoonery with Nick Nolte’s gruff take no shit persona… all while giving them soul and a sense of reality. The Blu Ray just doesn’t pop though. It is an improvement on what we’ve had before – but it just isn’t nearly as awesome a transfer as I was hoping for. Also – there’s only a theatrical trailer – that’s it. Paramount should really do better on a catalogue title like this. 48 HRS is one of their 80’s jewels. It deserves far better than this. That said, the film itself still kicks ass – and this is as good as you can see it for now.
Produced and presented by Timur Bekmambetov – the man behind NIGHTWATCH & DAYWATCH & WANTED brings us this rather awesome film about a young man and the superpowered beat up car his father left him. This is sort of like the most badass version of HERBIE ever made. Instead of played for laughs, it’s played for awesome. The story of a boy and his flying car can not possibly be told better. This is a film that I actually feel a bit bitter about not getting to see on the big screen with a properly thrilled audience because it would’ve played like gangbusters. There’s a Region 2 Blu-Ray available – and shame on Universal for not putting out a domestic Blu Ray. Because as gorgeous as this film is, it has that exact visual oomph that we love Blu Ray to deliver on high concept visual effects fun flicks. Excellent movie!
A great film about a pair of bastards played by Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster – as manipulative Gossip mongers that use their ‘buzz’ to ruin lives and play out vendettas. Tony is young and hungry, trying to play into Burt’s world. This film is a large reason why PR folks have a bad name. These characters are loathsome. Genuine turds of human beings. The way that Lancaster’s character of Hunsecker controls his sister’s life is just disturbing. The only decent human in the film is a Jazz Musician who tries to stand up to them. This is a great classic – one that must be seen by any serious movie fan. Criterion did a wonderful job on the disc. The transfer makes James Wong Howe’s amazing cinematography pop and feel like the highest quality black & white still I’ve seen… but moving. Gorgeous. Here’s the extras:
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
New, restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
New audio commentary by film scholar James Naremore
Mackendrick: The Man Who Walked Away, a 1986 documentary featuring interviews with director Alexander Mackendrick, actor Burt Lancaster, producer James Hill, and more
James Wong Howe: Cinematographer, a 1973 documentary about the Oscar-winning director of photography, featuring lighting tutorials with Howe
New video interview with film critic and historian Neil Gabler (Winchell: Gossip, Power and the Culture of Celebrity) about legendary columnist Walter Winchell, inspiration for the character J. J. Hunsecker
New video interview with filmmaker James Mangold about Mackendrick, his instructor and mentor
Original theatrical trailer
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Gary Giddins, two short stories by Ernest Lehman featuring the characters from the film, notes about the film by Lehman, and an excerpt from Mackendrick’s book On Film-making
An absolute love. THE LAST UNICORN is one of those films that I saw endlessly on Cable through the 80s. It’s so damn great. The Blu Ray is loaded to the gills with extras, but like the Best Buy Exclusive of HEAVY METAL – if you hate grain – which has always been an issue with the 80’s animated films. The stock made for a lot of noise – and then when you digitally sharpen – to get those crisp lines – you also get a bit of noise. On my portable Blu Ray player that I have here in Rehab, it looked fine, but I’m not sure how it would hold up on the screen back at the house. I’ve seen others really praising it, so I’m anxious to see the Red Bull when I get home, whenever that will be. The Blu Ray is a must for fans of the film. There’s a Peter Beagle commentary, a featurette on the significance of the various characters, art from an Art Contest that Beagle held for THE LAST UNICORN last year. And much more. Plus you get a version on DVD so your kids can watch it anywhere. By your kids, I mean the one living inside of us all. This is bliss. If you have a child that loves Harry Potter, LORD OF THE RINGS, the NARNIA series, by all means – introduce them to this and watch them adore you for it.
A really outstanding DC Presents animated title, ALL STAR SUPERMAN. Grant Morrison’s modern classic Superman tale is brought to life in an incredibly involving fashion. After watching this, I had my father pick the books up for me – and while there’s a lot left on the floor – this is a standard release running time after all, the story survives and kicks a lot of ass. If you’re not familiar with Grant’s Superman take – it is not traditional Canon, but its own complete story. One that I really do love. If you buy from this link, you’re getting the Amazon Exclusive which comes with a Litho Cel, that you can only get by buying at Amazon. My first viewing was one where it overwhelmed me a bit, I was watching it in the afternoon in which it arrived – and with the various nurses and tests that I have to do – I wasn’t enraptured, but that night, when it was late, when I’m left to my own devices, I put it on – and just let the story play. It was after that second viewing that I sent my father for the Morrison series – and I imagine hardcore fans of that will miss the same things I missed, but if you haven’t read ALL STAR SUPERMAN – this will play like JURASSIC PARK – its so good you’ll read the source material, and realize – as good as it was, it should have been so much better.
This was a really strong year from DREAMWORKS – I loved both HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON and MEGAMIND – though this one got less notice it seemed. I love the character twists throughout – and Jonah Hill’s character is thoroughly disturbing beyond words. Minion is genius. And even the “Lois Lane” is inventively handled. Guillermo Del Toro did some advising on this one – and you can sense his maniacal glee at work in it. I love the emotion that actually shows up, but most of all – I love that Jonah Hill’s character fucks with me. He’s so scary. Here’s the extras you get:
• Megamind: The Button of Doom: Megamind and Minion return to battle an even bigger foe in this all-new Mega comedy adventure!
• Enhance the Movie-Viewing Experience with the Animator’s Corner featuring Picture-in-Picture Storyboards, Behind the Scenes Footage and Interviews
• Uncover More Megamind Facts with the Trivia Track
• Put your own hilarious twist on scenes from the film with the Interactive Comic Creator
• Meet the All-Star Cast
• Discover the Lost Scene
• Visit Megamind’s Lair
• Experience AnimatorMan
• Learn to Draw Megamind
• Unleash The Reign of Megamind Video Comic Book
• Fun High-Flying Games and More!
Probably my least favorite of the Todd Phillips outrageous comedies. That said, I really did enjoy it. The problem I had was simply – after what occurred on the Airplane and at the airport – how could any sane man get into a car with Zach Galifianakis? Seriously? How could you possibly do that? It also doesn’t help that both of these guys are so far from anything approaching a normal human being – that I’m pretty sure I’d just be late to my kid’s birth because enduring either of these two is just too much. However, when the shit gets real – by that, I mean when the situations get horrifyingly f’d up… they are unbelievably funny. I do believe they should both have died in the film. I just don’t see how anyone survives this. Here’s the extras:
Too Many Questions Mashup
"Two and a Half Men" Sequence featuring Ethan Tremblay
A truly tremendous set. If you’ve been buying the Blu-Rays all along, as great as the 4th Blu Ray of extras is – I just don’t seeing it being so amazing as to justify re-purchasing the whole set. BUT – if you’ve been putting off buying these – this is the set to buy. The Two hours of extras on a fourth disc include:
Millennium: The Story: A 53 minute documentary detailing the phenomenon of the "Millennium" trilogy and the personal history of the author Stieg Larsson up until his tragic death before "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" was published
20-minute interview with Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander)
15-minute interview with Michael Nyqvist (Mikael Blomkvist)
9-minute making of fight scene between Niederman and Paulo Roberto in The Girl Who Played with Fire
15 minutes of interviews with the Cast and Crew of The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest
But the real reason to buy this set is to see the trilogy of tremendous films. I haven’t had the time here to watch all three films in a row, uninterrupted, so I just checked out that 4th disc. Right now, I just don’t see the need for American remakes of this series – it is perfect as is. That said, one must put their faith in David Fincher, he leads us to the promised cinematic land, time and time again.
Still Christopher Nolan’s best film, in my opinion. I love it. Absolutely love it. On this edition, you have Christopher Nolan’s Commentary. A remembering Memento look back, Anatomy of a scene, IFC interview with Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan’s Short Story – Memento Mori, Tattoo Sketches, Leonard’s Journal – and a gorgeous transfer, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. But rewatching this in here… I just realize here’s a movie without bells and whistles. No crazy visual effects – just brilliant story telling, an amazing device and great great filmmaking and acting. This BluRay is excellent.
This is beautiful and hot. Visconti is one of the great sensualist of film – and with Alida Valli and Farley Granger as his leads – with the 19th Century Austrian aristocracy as a backdrop… it’s cool. Incredibly romantic. This is one of those Blu Rays that makes people fall in love with vintage film. So beautiful, so romantic. But then, that’s what Visconti makes awesome. Criterion’s mastering on this is stunning. And here’s the extras:
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
New, restored high-definition digital transfer, created in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna and Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation, supervised by director of photography Giuseppe Rotunno, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
The Making of “Senso,” a new documentary featuring Rotunno, assistant director Francesco Rosi, costume designer Piero Tosi, and Caterina D’Amico, daughter of screenwriter Suso Cecchi D’Amico and author of Life and Work of Luchino Visconti Viva VERDI, a new documentary on Visconti, Senso, and opera featuring Italian film scholar Peter Brunette, Italian historian Stefano Albertini, and author Wayne Koestenbaum
The Wanton Countess, the rarely seen English-language version of the film
Visual essay by film scholar Peter Cowie
Man of Three Worlds: Luchino Visconti, a 1966 BBC special exploring Visconti’s parallel masteries of cinema, theater, and opera direction
New and improved English subtitle translation
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by filmmaker and author Mark Rappaport and an excerpt from actor Farley Granger’s autobiography, Include Me Out
An incredible film and a great Vincent Cassel performance. Based on the true life of one of the most infamous criminals in the history of France. Set in the 60’s and 70’s – Mesrine was an incredibly talented criminal – and this film is the first part of a great 2 part film. Hopefully sometime soon, we’ll be getting Part 2. Cassel must be seen in this film. Outstanding work.
If you love comics, be it the mainstream world of comics or the incredibly rich and vibrant world of Independent Comics… this documentary will give you a guide to discovering a host of the best Indie Comic makers out there. From Eric Powell to Wendy Pini to Robert Williams to Shannon Wheeler to Kevin Eastman… and tons more… they tell their stories and you learn of their work. This is also a doc to show your less adventurous friends to see if you can prime their pump to gassing up with some really cool material.
This is a documentary made in 1972 when a Black Cowboy show came to New York. Woody Strode provides the best meat of the piece, but you’ll also see Muhammad Ali clowning with the crowd – and learn about the not too often known history of Black Cowboys. This is an excellent and important documentary about a part of the world that not many are aware of. Really cool that this is finally out on DVD!
That’s it for February, next Tuesday we kick off March by looking at BAMBI on Blu, BURLESQUE, 127 HOURS, FASTER, REBOOT, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN Trilogy (7 Blus), THE CABLE GUY (Blu), DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (Blu), I CLOWNS, SWAT: FIREFIGHT, OUT OF SIGHT (Blu), Fernando Di Leo Crime Collection and DR BLACK MR. HYDE, till then – I’ll see round the site…