Hey folks, Harry here with a really cool group of flicks. Between writing about TREE OF LIFE, getting enough rest for Rehab and then getting back to the house, the better part of the last 24 hours has been working on this column. I know it doesn’t show, that’s because I’ve just finished it and well… I’ll proof it online. Sorry for crazy asides of mine, I’m just a very introspective writer. Hope you enjoy this week’s conversation about the DVDs and Blu Rays coming out this week. As usual, the images and titles are linked to Amazon, where if you feel the urge to support the column or just pick up the title in question, well, a great deal of thanks! It surely does help. Here’s this week’s releases!
Tuesday, May 17th, 2011
Ok, so I just received this Title release for the week. This is a bit cute, but very much a welcome piece of entertainment - especially for the younger set. If you're kids are freaking out with THOR in theaters and hungry for more... I suggest going down to your local comic shop and picking up the old Jack Kirby comics in reprint form, but other than that... this is a viable alternative, especially for those kids that can't read yet. In many ways I would love for the THOR live action films to head more in this direction. Right?
There are films that we say are badass and there’s THE FIVE DEADLY VENOMS. The film doesn’t have the greatest kung fu action ever. The fights are… great enough. But THE FIVE DEADLY VENOMS – shit. It’s just about the coolest most badass plotted fucking martial arts film that I’ve ever seen. Right there with the best ever. That it is all about a POISON CLAN, which means you’ll get to see Centipede, Snake, Scorpion, Lizard and Toad style… It is also structured like a puzzle, not necessarily a mystery exactly, but it has elements of that. Chang Cheh kicked so much ass with this film. Now somebody put out CRIPPLED AVENGERS on Blu!
One of my favorite made for television movies ever made. First off… that creature you see… that’s Stan Winston’s first work!!! Not just that, but this is a scary damn film! I know it may seem like a silly flick, but it really isn’t. It’s actually kind of fucking terrifying. I also love that it was shot in and around Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. Which is an awesome place to set a movie! Try to stay spoiler free and just enjoy Cornel Wilde, Bernie Casey and a crazy young Scott Glenn. So great.
My personal favorite Dario Argento film. I absolutely love DEEP RED. My initial experience with SUSPIRIA made me think for a few naïve years of mine that Argento was over-rated. Then I discovered DEEP RED, a towering Giallo – a word I didn’t know when I first saw this movie. But watching DEEP RED, for me, was a transformative film that began a serious and extensive exploration of the Italian film world. The film looks stunning. Absolutely beautiful transfer. Here’s the extras:
Interviews with Co-Writer/Director Dario Argento, Co-Writer Bernardino Zapponi and Goblin (Claudio Simonetti, Massimo Morante, Fabio Pignatelli & Agostino Marangolo)
Goblin Music Video - "Profondo Rosso"(2010)
Daemonia Music Video - "Profondo Rosso" (Directed by Sergio Stivaletti)
Clouzot’s masterpiece of suspense is DIABOLIQUE… and WAGES OF FEAR, heh. DIABOLIQUE is a film that pre-dates PSYCHO and points in the direction of the future of the genre. Meanwhile, it’s just a great film. If you’re picking up Argento’s DEEP RED, if you don’t mind me recommending a great night. I recommend watching this first, then DEEP RED. They play fantastically that way. I’ve heard this was a film that Hitchcock loved. And it is easy to see why. Criterion has a stunning print of this for us. Here’s the supplemental material for the release:
New digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Selected-scene commentary by French-film scholar Kelley Conway
New video interview with Serge Bromberg, codirector of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s, Inferno
New video interview with horror film expert Kim Newman
New and improved English subtitle translation
PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film critic Terrence Rafferty
When I was in High School, Scorsese made THE COLOR OF MONEY, the “sequel” to this film, but at the time TBS & Cinemax began playing THE HUSTLER – and I recorded it off the tv and watched it countlessly. I had a pool table at my house, 22 miles from town. If you know anything about an isolated youth, that saw Tom Cruise become a pool shark, and that worshipped Paul Newman, and loved Jackie Gleason from those SMOKEY & THE BANDIT movies… well, I played a lot of pool. I watched this movie to learn shots, to try to get ideas for shots. And man, this Blu Ray would have been my wet dream back then. My Step-Father actually took me to bars to be a part of his betting game. He’d get drunk and say his idiot step son, I’d be reading a comic book in the bar, any way, This is the royal treatment on this film. Anyway, I’d fleece the guy and usually win some spending money. So yeah… I love me this film. One of the great films. Here’s the extras:
Audio Commentary with Paul Newman, Jeff Young, Richard Schickel and others.
Paul Newman at Fox
Jackie Gleason: The Big Man
The Real Hustler: Walter Tevis
LIFE IN THE FAST LANE: Fast Eddie Felson and the Search For Greatness
Milestones in Cinema History: The Hustler
Swimming With Sharks: The Art of the Hustle
THE HUSTLER: THE INSIDE STORY
Paul Newman: Hollywood’s Cool Hand (Biography TV Special)
TRICK SHOT ANALYSIS By Mike Massey
HOW TO MAKE THE SHOT featuring 5 Scenes from the film.
Theatrical Trailer and a 24 page Book Packaging.
Directed by Michael Curtiz, my personal favorite director throughout film history… John Wayne made this fantastic western! I like this because this is the rare case of Wayne getting in over his head, but having the vision to wait out the situation. When Wayne explodes, he’s fantastic. One of my all time favorite Lee Marvin characters. He’s partially scalped, utterly charismatically despicable! He’s a cocky Snidely Whiplash and I love him. Brilliant little character. Watching him drinking, gambling and fighting with Wayne is a small portion of the reality of the film, but for that space of the film… you’re pretty much watching the best thing ever. This is their best interaction of film. I love THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, but Wayne and Lee didn’t have scenes like this. The print is amazingly gorgeous on Blu Ray in Cinemascope. Just wow. My old 16mm print of this was a black & white TV print – watching it this beautifully is just great. There’s a whole lot of extras and like the HUSTLER is just a great release of a vintage title. I haven’t dove into the extras as of yet though.
These TWILIGHT ZONE seasons on Blu Ray are just incredible to have. From time to time I make my way through the seasons. When I first get these, I check out my fave episodes from a season, then the others as I have time casually from time to time. But then there’s the extras – which are extensive. Here’s the list:
13 New Audio Commentaries, featuring The Twilight Zone Companion author, Marc Scott Zicree, author/film historian Gary Gerani (Fantastic Television), Twilight Zone writer Earl Hamner, writer William F. Nolan (Logan’s Run), author Bill Warren (Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties), writer/producer Jeff Vlaming (NCIS, Fringe, Battlestar Galactica), writer/producer Joseph Dougherty (thirtysomething, Judging Amy, Saving Grace), authors/historians Scott Skelton and Jim Benson (Night Gallery: An After Hours Tour), and writer/producer Jaime Paglia (Eureka).
Vintage Audio Interview with director of photography George T. Clemens
Audio Commentaries by Marc Scott Zicree for Death Ship and William Windom for Miniature
Vintage Audio Recollections with Herbert Hirschman, Ross Martin, Burgess Meredith, Pat Hingle, Earl Hamner, Buzz Kulik and Anne Francis
Video Interviews with Morgan Brittany, Anne Francis, Paul Comi and John Furia, Jr.
7 Radio Dramas featuring Blair Underwood, Jason Alexander, Lou Diamond Phillips, H. M. Wynant, Mike Starr, Barry Bostwick and John Ratzenberger
Isolated Scores for all 18 episodes featuring Fred Steiner, Van Cleave, Rene Garriguenc and others
Rod Serling Promos for “Next Week’s” Show
Rod Serling Blooper from He’s Alive
Saturday Night Live Clip
The Famous Writers School Promo with Rod Serling Genesee Beer Spot Twilight Zone Season 4 Billboards
I’m still a Bronson man, but damn I like Jason Statham a lot. And Ben Foster is a vast improvement on Jan Michael Vincent in my opinion. Now lets get Ben Foster flying Airwolf. Right? Seriously though, this is a very satisfying flick. Not Jason’s best by far, but a really good film that doesn’t suck by comparison to the original. Definitely worth checking out.
Think of the laziest version of Anthony Hopkins as Exorcist that becomes possessed and his understudy has to deal with him… well The film would be THE RITE. Anthony is working so hard to not be Hannibal Lecter, but the fact is… Hannibal Lecter is way scarier than demon possessed character, who you know, deep inside of that soul is a man that hates and has dedicated his life to exorcising demons… and is fighting on the inside (though that is never explored in the film) This isn’t Sir Anthony’s fault, but rather a bad script and direction. A flaccid horror film that was kind of interesting to watch and be uninspired.
The most interesting actor in this, John Leguizamo is quite good as the projectionist… and the film’s introductory sequences of the characters becoming aware of the rules of their new found universe, allegedly coming true for the rest of us this Saturday!!! Woo-Hoo, Party on Friday till we’re ripped out of our clothes for the wild orgy afterparty! Right? That’s what the RAPTURE is, right. That’s why it’s a Rapturous experience, right? Sigh, making bad jokes is what I’m reduced to on this one. This is one of those bad Hayden Christensen performances… And it also has Thandie Newton being her uninspiring best. The ending just feels like somebody thought, “This shit will KILL THEM” and they were stoned or drunk when they thought that. Had I been invested in a single character, perhaps… but not with this group. First Brad Anderson film that really felt like it ran out of ideas.
Ok, confession. I adore Natalie Portman. She’s just one hell of a cool chick. I don’t know that, haven’t met her… but just watch her on screen. Think about her choices as an actress. She’s cool. Then she makes a film that I’m not really a fan of. Her romantic lead in this… I don’t like. His ex-wife is the black hole of yawn, Lisa Kudrow – and well… Natalie doesn’t really have anyone to really play with here. She’s great, but you just hate that she’s in the world around her. She shouldn’t be talking with these people, she shouldn’t have fucked that guy, and she should throw that kid out a highrise window. As I watched the film, as I admired everything that Natalie was doing as an actress and a performer, I just wished she was doing it with better co-talents – and a better situation. The notion of THE OTHER WOMAN as a story is a strong one. I just wish she were in a better film.
I admit it. I love THE BIONIC WOMAN. I loved watching Lindsay Wagner running in slow-motion. It totally worked for me. I also love chicks that kick ass and are kind of domestic too. BIONIC WOMAN was the shit! Plus this season she got to work with Vincent Price and John Saxon and… meow… Julie Newmar!!! It also has THE RETURN OF BIGFOOT Part 1 & 2 – which was a cross-over episode with The Six Million Dollar Man! And I had my Steve Austin & Jaime Sommers and BIGFOOT toys! And Oscar. Yes, this show rules!
Remember when Eddie Murphy just fucking ruled the world? I do, and I really really miss this Eddie Murphy. The effortlessly fun Axel Foley character used comedy to diffuse tense situations – and when nobody was looking, he’d be deadly real and concerned. There was a smarts with this character that Eddie was perfect for – and Martin Brest just nailed this. He also provides a commentary and there’s about 50 minutes of featuretts and looking back at types of features. Solid release.
I love the Yakuza genre – when the Japanese New Wave hit – there was a cooler than cool vibe that the genre got that just made these films race like a mind on coke. This isn’t badass non-stop violence, this is the more contemplative brand, that has a score that’s just, well sometimes scores make the films, this is one of those times where the score definitely elevates all that transpires. Really glad to see this! Here’s the goodies that Criterion has put together:
New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
New video interview with director Masahiro Shinoda
Selected-scene audio commentary by film scholar Peter Grilli, coproducer of Music for the Movies: Toru Takemitsu
Original theatrical trailer
New and improved English subtitle translation
PLUS: A new essay by film critic Chuck Stephens
I love this film, from the director of RETURN OF THE JEDI…. There are no Ewoks here. No – happy happy. This film captured Glenn Close at amongst her best – and Jeff Bridges… he’s just great. We all love Jeff, but throughout the 80’s – he just had a vibe that I instantly too a liking to. This was one of those courtroom films, like PRESUMED INNOCENT that made me want to be a lawyer. I know, hard to imagine, but that’s actually what I went to College to do, become a Lawyer. But once I learned I could get laid talking about films and get easy 4.0s… well, fuck the law. No extras really.
When I was in college, still very mind trippy since TREE OF LIFE… but back when I was in college, I started having movie watching orgies concerning certain directors. This was pre-Internet times, so going to real film geek places like Vulcan Video, I LUV VIDEO and THE MOVIE STORE – I would assemble whole runs of directors’ filmographies and hang out with friends devouring them. Otto Preminger was one of those. He’s a very strong director. Look at the cast listed above… this was 1967 – and this film is one of his lessor seen titles. I watched it on VHS full screen. Now I have it on widescreen DVD and yup, it makes a lot of difference. If you love VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, this is along that vein, with a very fun Hugo Montenegro score. As a general rule, this is a must see because George Kennedy is in the film – and that is one of the essential rules in life. Your eyes must pay homage to George Kennedy before flying. True story.
The people that try to label this film as a “JUNO meets DONNIE DARKO” I feel don’t have a clue about film… this is more along the lines of HEATHERS, but not quite that inky black or funny. For the pervs, it has an awesome Teacher / Student relationship with Kat Dennings & Josh Lucas… and Josh is a helluva brave loon for where he goes with this character. However, my favorite scene involves Andie MacDowell and Kat Dennings’ Dad. Awesome scene where Andie reaffirms why I had a thing for her all the way back around GREEN CARD times. This is a very fun film. Not necessarily JUNO and definitely not DONNIE DARKO… it is deeply cynical and self-aware of exactly what it is. I like that about the film, but it could be a source of annoyance for some. For me it steers clear of that and is quite enjoyable. Besides, I’m developing an addiction for Kat Dennings. She’s a cool chick.
Look closely at Woody Harrelson’s face. Judge that look. Evaluate it. Does it make you smile or flinch? If you smiled, and if you love jive ass Wesley Snipes, who still kicks ass… then you probably will love MONEY TRAIN. But then you see Jennifer Lopez. This is technically from the point in her career when she was just unbelievably hot, and most everyone I knew loved her. That time has past. But she’s all good here.
In its original 1.85:1 and with a beautiful print is Vitrorio De Sica… a man, whose Italian Neo-Realist classic, THE BICYCLE THIEF, nearly put me off Italian cinema while attending Film classes in college. I found it unbearably pretentious, later in life, I realized it was I that was prententious. And decided to revisit and discover more De Sica. So glad I did. My father directed me to checking out the De Sica / Sophia Loren trilogy of flicks you see here today. MARRIAGE ITALIAN STYLE was nominated for Best Foreign Language film, and Sophia picked up a nomination for Best Actress – and brother… it is all here. For those of you that love Penelope Cruz, Sophia is why I can’t quite. Sophia is woman personified in my monkey brain in this flick. I’ve always worshipped her, she wasn’t an anorexic stick of a lady, she had curves that never knew when to quit. Then there’s just the light in her that came out of her characer. The energy, the allure, the sex. I fell in love with Sophia Loren with EL CID, a friend had that on 16mm Scope back as a child. Charlton Heston was my cinematic definition of MAN for a long time. And God he wanted Sophia Loren. And he goes through hell to get Sophia. And when he has her, he becomes immortal, in a manner of speaking. So for me, Sophia was the ideal epic woman of legend. But in this… She is simply – my god. Seriously, there’s only a few flicks with Monica Bellucci where I get this kind of heat off the screen. Then there’s Marcello Mastroianni, who is all kinds of crazy charismatic. The spirit of the film itself is irrepressible. Great to see 1080p!
This one won Best Foreign Language film of 1964. It is essentially an anthology of dirty stories – and it stars Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni in different situations and characters – all absolutely awesome. There’s a second disc here with a feature length doc on Vittorio De Sica with all kinds chiming in to herald his genius like Woody Allen & Clint Eastwood. And they’re not being ironic. Erotic cinema could be amazing like this, but Hollywood is terrified of making anything like this today. Instead we usually have to watch a great Spanish film. Just an amazing film.
A film about a married couple, separated by war, and Sophia Loren seeking to find out what became of her husband. The film is a very different film from the two previous. It is a more melodramatic exercise and less natural. But it is still a really wonderful film. Seeing Sophia and Marcello in this more mature love affair – well it is awesome. Both actors being absolutely up for the task. Again, this really does seem like a lost kind of film. There’s not much like this that you ever see of this quality today. Just a great serious older relationship, not done for laughs, but for real. This isn’t DR. ZHIVAGO, it’s actually nearly the reverse. Love it.
Simon Rumley’s RED WHITE & BLUE is the film that all people thinking to move to Austin should watch… I’m not saying Austin is like this film, but Austin is a city that LIKES this film. It paints a bleak and ugly world here in Austin. You can’t imagine happy children or normal life being possible. It’s a film like TAXI DRIVER that simply shows the side of a cool town that nobody with good luck and a great upbringing necessarily is ever exposed to, but it could be there under the right corner of any city. It’s a lonely sad life of casual intimacies & life altering turns to the ugliest in society. Great flick, just not very warm fuzzy.
Are you raising your son to be a pussy or a man? Choose wisely.
Next week we’ll look at GNOMEO & JULIET, I AM NUMBER FOUR, PLATOON Blu Ray, GETTYSBURG Blu Ray, GODS AND GENERALS Blu Ray, THE GREAT DICTATOR Criterion Blu, SOLARIS Criterion Blu, LE MANS Blu, GRAND PRIX Blu, PAPILLON Blu, TRANSCENDENT MAN, FIGHTING MAD, MOVING VIOLATION, VITAPHONE VARIETIES, EAT MY DUST! / GRAND THEFT AUTO, TIGRELAND, BOY FRIEND, ANTON CHEKHOV’S THE DUEL, NENETTE, THE KILLER SHREWS and more.