Hey folks, Harry here with another DVD Picks & Peeks. Some damn fine titles this week. Really tremendous stuff. My favorite is impossible this month. I just love some of these titles in that – I’ve known and loved these movies my entire life kind of way. I mean, just wait till you see THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES if you never have before. It’s just fantastic. Same with something like THE LONG RIDERS or SUPERMAN or THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING… these are just great titles! As usual the pictures and titles link to AMAZON where you can learn more or purchase the title in question, which has a small portion of its price kick back to support this column. Now – let’s get into it…
Tuesday, June 7th, 2011
Hands down, my favorite mythical western ever made. I love THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES like you would not believe. My parents had all the tv spots, for weeks prior to the movie coming out. They loved Clint. So we saw this at the VILLAGE theater in Austin, back when it was a 2 screener. It’s one my most vivid memories as a kid going with my parents and their friends and watching THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES for the very first time ever. We went to a Steak house after the screening and talked about everything that made THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES the best Clint Eastwood western ever. From the character’s epic arc, to his design, to just those beautiful fucking guns. That he spits on the fucking dog. Plays assassination games with a tired old awesome Indian. His scene with the Commanche Chief. The music, the atmosphere, it’s just a fucking brilliant movie. I’ve always imagined that underneath Boba Fett’s mask, he was either Snake Plissken or Josey Wales. It’d be more badass if he was Josey.
Anyway – not only is the film gorgeous on Blu-Ray. But it has the old Josey Wales documentary called HELL HATH NO FURY: THE MAKING OF THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES narrated by John Milius – and that shit is EPIC! There’s vintage stuff, an introduction by Clint, a Richard Schickel commentary and a couple of docs. Plus a 32 page Blu-Ray Book. I seriously love this movie. There’s a magnitude to the film that all at once feels real & unbelievably epic. I love all the characters. I fucking hate the characters I’m supposed to hate and I love all the others. It also has some of the best Poster art in the history of Clint’s work. Everything about this movie rules. If you don’t know that, accept my word as gospel and watch the outlaw josey wales as soon as humanly possible.
Now – as much as I love THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, I did quantify it’s status as my favorite mythic western. THE LONG RIDERS is flat out my personal favorite Western ever made. Directed by Walter Hill, cast with a set of brothers and relatives that kind of blows the mind and makes everything feel absolutely real. This is my pick for the best Western ever. This is an epic tale of the James & Younger Gang. The film will blow you away the first time you see it. Ry Cooder’s score and Ric Waite’s cinematography are both unlike any other Western I’ve ever seen. Yet wholly perfect. It is one of the most unique films made and my personal favorite David Carradine character performance ever. Pamela Reed’s Belle Starr is something beyond amazing. Seriously – she’s just wow! If you’ve never seen this Walter Hill masterpiece – do so. Such a great version of the James-Younger Gang story – the best it has ever been handled. I care about this story, because its about my distant relatives (according to Father Geek’s research).
One of the great remakes. Great because it doesn’t attempt to directly emulate the classic John Wayne Western, instead it is simply a new adaptation of the rather awesome Charles Portis novel – and the Coens bring us something new to their history of incredible personal film creation. Our first Coen traditional Western. Many count NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN as a Western – and yeah – it is, but in a thoroughly modern setting. So for me, that makes it not a Western. But a modern crime thriller set in the modern West. TRUE GRIT is most deliberately a Western. But a Western with more in keeping with films like THE LONG RIDERS and LITTLE BIG MAN and THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES… in the sense that it feels like a believable western, but it is bigger than life. Mainly because the film is from the point of view of the fantastic Hailee Steinfeld’s MATTIE ROSS. I would love to see more from Hailee – and I’m sure her performance in TRUE GRIT will guarantee her participation in many a film. At least I hope so. Here’s the extras:
Mattie's True Grit HD
From Bustles to Buckskin - Dressing for the 1880s HD
Colts, Winchesters & Remingtons: The Guns of a Post-Civil War Western HD
Re-Creating Fort Smith HD
The Cast HD
Charles Portis - The Greatest Writer You've Never Heard Of... HD
The Cinematography of True Grit HD
True Grit Theatrical Trailer HD
This is a Green Lantern Corps story about 4 very different Green Lanterns. Each story is uniquely told and adapted directly from tales buried in the rich history of Green Lantern. The first story isn’t about the first Green Lantern chosen, but the first Green Lantern to create a “construct” with their will – and it is the very best of the anthology stories – but they’re all pretty damn great. Hal Jordan is voiced by Nathan Fillion, whom as geeks we must pledge our eternal allegiance to. It is required. This is just exactly the kind of film that I love DC for putting out. The preview of what they’re doing with FRANK MILLER’S BATMAN: YEAR ONE also looks fantastic… though they go out of their way not to show us any animated scenes, but I can’t wait from what they say they’re doing. The extras will go a long way toward educating your little ones into the ways of the GL Corps and the wonderful possibilities that they’ll demand you to show them in the Live Action film this summer. Great warm up – and most likely the best GL this summer. Unless we get very very lucky!
Bad acting really sinks a film that you can imagine being a really outstanding James Cameron film. If you pay attention to the story, the characters and the way tension could have been handled – you can see exactly what attracted Cameron to the material. The problem though is a lack of any characters or performances that would involve you into the rather dire series of circumstances that befalls those in this film. As a film, it is actually a couple grades below THE DESCENT 2 – and way way way below the original DESCENT in terms of cave horror & suspense. This is a straight situational film, nothing supernatural… There’s a great Father / Son story at play, but due to really hammy acting and bad casting of the son… well, it just falls flat… even if it was shot in 3D.
The dates on this set are actually incredibly wrong when you consider that the set also has SUPERMAN VERSUS THE MOLE MEN and all the Fleischer SUPERMAN cartoons – along with other vintage awesomery – but the real jewel are the films themselves – for just under $90 – you get 8 filled to the brim Blu-Rays – 2 different versions of SUPERMAN & SUPERMAN 2… I’ll list everything you get below, but I have to say – I love every deleted scene on the Bryan Singer film… The Glenn Ford cameo is awesome, but visiting the remnants of Krypton is just freakin gorgeous – though I admit I’ve no concept of exactly where it fits in the film. In particular – the amazing ship that Superman pilots is just awesome. It had to be a heartbreaking decision to cut from the film. I like the director’s cut of the original SUPERMAN, but I’m completely not a fan of the Donner cut of SUPERMAN 2. I still prefer the theatrical version. That said – watching that alternative cut – well it just offers so much fun. Like how Clark reveals himself to Lois at the Honeymoon being TOTALLY DIFFERENT – and the end of Donner’s cut of SUPERMAN 2 will probably have you screaming BULLSHIT – even more than the Magic Kiss did. Anyway – be prepared for a very long list of extras & features:
DELUXE 8-DISC SET WITH OVER 20 HOURS OF BONUS FEATURES!
Disc #1 · Superman: The Movie, Original Theatrical
· Commentary by Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler (Original Theatrical Version)
· The Making of Superman: The Movie [1978 TV special]
· Superman and the Mole-Men [1951 feature]
· Warner Bros. Cartoons Super-Rabbit [1943 WB cartoon] Snafuperman [1944 WB cartoon] Stupor Duck [1956 WB cartoon]
Disc #2 · Superman: The Movie, Expanded Edition
· Commentary by Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz (Extended Version)
· Taking Flight: The Development of Superman
· Making Superman: Filming the Legend
· The Magic Behind the Cape
· Screen Tests Superman Lois Lane with Optional Commentary Ursa
· A Selection of Restored Scenes
· Additional Music Cues Main Titles Alternate Main Titles The Council’s Decision The Krypton Quake More Mugger/Introducing Otis Air Force One Can You Read My Mind (Pop Version)
· Music Only Track (Donner Cut)
Disc #3 · Superman II, Original Theatrical
· Commentary by Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler (Original Theatrical Version)
· The Making of Superman II [1980 TV special]
· Deleted Scene
· First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series · Fleischer Studios’ Superman Superman The Mechanical Monsters Billion Dollar Limited The Arctic Giant The Bulleteers The Magnetic Telescope Electric Earthquake Volcano Terror on the Midway
· Theatrical Trailer
Disc #4 · Superman II - The Richard Donner Cut
· Commentary by Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz (Donner Cut)
· Introduction by Richard Donner
· Superman II: Restoring the Vision
· Deleted Scenes
· Famous Studios’ Superman Japoteurs Showdown Eleventh Hour Destruction, Inc The Mummy Strikes Jungle Drums The Underground World Secret Agent
Disc #5 · Superman III Theatrical Version
· Commentary by Iilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler
· The Making of Superman III (1983 TV Special)
· Deleted Scenes
· Theatrical Trailer
Disc #6 · Superman IV The Quest For Peace Theatrical Version
· Commentary by Mark Rosenthal
· Superman 50th Anniversary Special (1988 TV Special)
· Deleted Scenes
· Theatrical Trailer
Disc #7 · Superman Returns
· Requiem for Krypton: Making Superman Returns
Pt. 1 Secret Origins and First Issues: Crystallizing Superman
Pt. 2 The Crystal Method: Designing Superman
Pt. 3 An Affinity for Beachfront Property: Shooting Superman- Superman on the Farm
Pt. 4 An Affinity for Beachfront Property: Shooting Superman- Superman in the City
Pt. 5 An Affinity for Beachfront Property: Shooting Superman- Superman in Peril
Pt. 6 The Joy of Lex: Menacing Superman
Pt. 7 He’s Always Around: Wrapping Superman
· Resurrecting Jor-El
· Deleted Scenes including the never-before-seen original opening to Superman Returns
· Bryan Singer’s Journals – Video production journals
Disc #8 Additional Bonus Material
· Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman [Hi-Def]
· You Will Believe: The Cinematic Saga of Superman Pt. 1- Origin Pt. 2- Vision Pt. 3- Ascent Pt. 4- Crisis Pt. 5- Redemption
· The Science of Superman [Hi-Def]
· The Mythology of Superman
· The Heart of a Hero: A Tribute to Christopher Reeve
· The Adventures of Superpup [1958 TV pilot]
One of John Huston’s many masterpieces – and one of my all time favorite films of Platonic Friendship. I quote this film often. The characters of Danny and Peachy Carnehan – well… they’re the very model manliness. Their self-assigned mission is insanity at a level I can’t imagine anyone undertaking. Christopher Plummer’s Kipling believes them mad. But once you witness their story, like Kipling, you’ll want to pass it on. This is a brilliant epic. One of the great adventure films ever – with both Connery and Caine in top form. There’s a vintage featurette on her, but that’s about it. I honestly feel this is a film that all men should watch and own. You need to know how to answer, “We’re meeting on the level” – it is important.
This is a single Blu Ray – so you’ll have both films sharing the same BluRay’s space – so don’t expect miracles. I didn’t get an advance copy – so I can’t say one way or the other what I think of the physical quality of the image yet, but I’m expecting it to be ok. There is a stand alone Blu of HEARTBREAK RIDGE that came out last year around this time… But for me… I can’t turn down FIREFOX. I love FIREFOX. I remember thinking as a kid watching it that Clint Eastwood is the coolest badass ever. I mean, watching him steal and fly this epic plane is just one of those awesome bits of Commie baiting rah rah. Just watching it today takes me back to the rather sweet time period where I was terrified of the Soviet Union – which would join the U.S. in their mutually assured destruction – and I smile – because when we faced real global nuclear holocaust… we all oddly felt safer. FIREFOX was our way of saying, we’re better because we have CLINT EASTWOOD and awesome special effects. HEARTBREAK RIDGE is another wonderful film from Eastwood – but I can’t give it the love I have for FIREFOX. Mario Van Peebles just kind of ruins it for me.
Directed by Richard Rush – this is a legendary film. If you want the most gratuitously excessive REAL STUNTS movie – that involves a ton of real STUNT MAN IN PERIL STUNTS – this is the film for you. Peter O’Toole plays the director that’s trying to put a little something real in-between the plummeting bodies and explosions. You’ll see Steven Railsback dancing the Charleston on the wing of a biplane in flight – and it’s awesome. This is one of those great films about filmmaking – and specifically in the time of real hardcore stunting. The film captures the spirit of the making of a film not unlike my experiences on the set of KILL BILL. There was such an air of let’s be safely nuts on every take. Just crazy awesome stuntfolks and the real actors – and watching both doing it. It was amazing – and this film captures that kind of energy. You may not know it, but the film was recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences with nominations for Best Actor for Peter O’Toole’s amazing performance as the frustrated director going for it on every take. Tricking and manipulating his crew and performers to get what he needs. Then Richard Rush picked up a Best Director nom and Best Screenplay alongside the co-writer Lawrence Marcus. If you love film and the behind the scenes side of things, they really don’t get better than THE STUNT MAN! Definitely check this out. The blu ray is gorgeous!
From the director of THE DIRTY DOZEN and BNAT12 qualifier KISS ME DEADLY – come the fantastic Richard Aldrich Western, VERA CRUZ starring the likes of Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, a crazy young Charles Bronson, Serial Ming The Merciless Henry Brandon, wild-eyed Jack Elam, the great Ernest Borgnine and more. This is a gorgeous western – has it’s 2.00:1 aspect ratio – but the disc is missing the frills. But it is so rare that we get titles like this on Blu Ray that I have to recommend it, especially because Robert Aldrich is one of those directors that you have track down all his films. He just made great films pretty consistently. You’ll love Burt Lancaster in this. Great villainous role.
Now if you want to see a film with General Zod, Elrond and Edmund J Exley in drag performing awesome musical numbers and creating amazing grand diva surrealistic imagery against the backdrop of the great Aussie Outback… well… there’s nothing wrong with you. This film is just an incredibly fun, emotional and amazing tale of 3 Queens on a performing DriveAbout Australia. I just introduced Yoko to this. She’s now obsessed with finding 3 amazing Cross-Dressers and touring Australia in a bus with them. I worry about her some times, this isn’t one of them. It would be a story of a lifetime. The Blu-ray is equal to the task of showing off the colors of both the outfits and the amazing landscape – and some of the outfits that are the landscape. Wonderful film!
To better enjoy SHAUN OF THE DEAD, it is required to watch EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE and ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN – so that you can fully appreciate the full genius of Nick Frost. I’m 100% serious. When I saw SHAUN OF THE DEAD, for the very first time in my life, I fully appreciated, with vigor, the brilliant subtlety of Frost’s work. As for the Eastwood films… ya know, I just never had the mania love for these that I did for the Burt Reynolds redneck fun flicks. They’re good – but the whole time I’m watching this… I’m thinking about Josey Wales or The Man With No Name trilogy or Dirty Harry – and I just wish he hadn’t wasted time doing this… but then came SHAUN OF THE DEAD and I realized… it was worth it. It was worth Clint not being an utter badass – to have Nick Frost be a God. Obviously, these films are not being treated with the respect they deserve. I propose that they do a big deluxe version of this release – but one where Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright just do a running commentary on the two films. They could then raise the BluRay price to… oh… $50 and I’d buy it and buy copies to gift to friends. Because that’s the extra feature I want on this set. But for $14, what do ya want…
So, as y’all know – I was raised by Hippies, well actually they were very capitalistic new age economics alternative lifestylers that dressed more normal, but loved the lifestyle, music and trappings of the culture. So HAIR was a big deal in my home as a kid. My Grandfather threw my Dad & Mom out of his house when they commented they were going to see HAIR… It was a big deal – my Grandfather just could not work his head around fucking on a the American flag. Decades later my Grandfather apologized to my Dad and told him he was way was a great way. I was there for both of those moments – and through it all – I’ve loved Milos Foreman’s HAIR. I mean, Treat Williams and John Savage are both just jaw-droppingly amazing. The energy and vitality of this musical is amazing. Don’t let parodies of HAIR throw you off of checking this out. The film is just great musical cinema. I kind of loathe the packaging and frill-less release though. I could imagine a Criterion style release of this – with a less SPENCER’S GIFTS style cover art. The “Groovier than ever on Blu” on the back really grates. This would be amazing to have a more cultural and serious release of.
There are people that hate this film. The same way there are people that dislike CASINO & CAPE FEAR & a few other Scorsese films. Every problem I’ve ever heard stated about NEW YORK NEW YORK, is exactly the reason it works for me. The Artificial and the Real. Never is it more underlined than in NEW YORK NEW YORK. When the music is happening, my god – how could anything be more great. Then when the edifice is taken away, the lights are no longer shining and the raw emotional reality that clashes and breaks the illusion of the stage. I love it. It is also unlike any other Musical. I still prefer Liza in CABARET and ARTHUR, but this is my 3rd favorite performance of hers. Love DeNiro in this. Looks great on Blu – but again feels like a dump release. The image is great, but that is all there is.
As an Austinite – I don’t really know how to express the importance of Bill Hicks. Bill Hicks is kind of the creator of the Austin Sense of Humor in my mind. We like our comedy weird – about subjects that don’t usually inspire laughter when discussed. But it’ll bring a real old school Austinite to their knees laughing. On the otherhand, there’s a weird sense of inappropriate ownership – like I don’t really like the idea of Bill Hicks being exposed all over because he’s a big deal here in Austin and goddammit can’t anything be sacredly ours any more? I love the subject matter, but the doc, for me, wasn’t a revelation. I saw Bill Hicks perform throughout my life and it’s pretty much the reason why I fucking hate Denis Leary at a deep core level for – well, for what he did. If you want in on the worst kept secret from Austin, discover Bill Hicks with this documentary, but by all means check out his own work. It’s what you really should discover. Bill was brilliant.
I like BLUE CRUSH – I’m not sure if I can actually recall the story, but there’s frames of this film that I think are pretty spectacular. That’s actually not true. BLUE CRUSH is far more than a masturbatory soft-core teasing, it has that going for it, but along with being a beautifully shot film, I like Kate Bosworth and Michelle Rodriguez immensely in the film. It obviously needs Swayze, but otherwise… I prefer any number of the big Surfing films, but the addition of the ladies they have in this – well it works for me. That said, BLUE CRUSH 2 is hitting Blu today too – and you won’t find a link to it here cuz I fucking think it is one of the worst pieces of shit that I’ve seen in a long time – don’t get curious. Seriously.
I really forgot how much I love this film. Now that Brad Renfro’s story is over – I find the film even more tragic & disturbing. This was Brad’s best work. When I first saw this – I was sent an early screener of the film on VHS (remember those days?) and I watched it at my house with Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnett and Laura Harris – and listened to Elijah and Josh both exude envy for not getting that part. They both wanted it, but both loved the film. Jealous but appreciative and it’s easy to see why. Brad was perfect for the film and character. Then there’s Ian McKellen – who is just tour de force in this. The way he toys with the boy later. Well, I don’t want to get spoilery – as I discovered in my own home, this is a film that a lot of people missed initially. But it was one of the films we crowed about quite a bit upon initial release. It looks gorgeous on Blu!
James Garner is cool as Philip Marlowe – but you’re buying this movie for the brief scenes where Bruce Lee is the most important thing in the world! Those moments are truly spectacular. I have wanted to see those scenes for a very long time. It was absolutely worth the wait. For me, seeing new Bruce Lee moments in context with the film… that’s a big deal. That’s wow! But Warner was right not to put him on the cover. It’ll cost them a massive amount of sales, because not everyone knows that Bruce Lee is in MARLOWE – but now that you know. What are your intentions? Because we all have man-crushes on the most badass physical specimen that humanity has produced ever.
Before you hire help for your home. If you’re so lucky as to be able to afford that luxury – you might want to watch THE HOUSEMAID with your spouse or significant other. It brings up possibilities that are just so incredibly fucked in the head that I can barely wrap my head around it. This is incredibly sexy and incredibly disturbing. There’s an image I saw in this film that shocked the left tit off my body. It was just, what the hell… What the hell is wrong with Koreans that they can even give me the image they gave me in this film. This is a remake of a Korean classic, which is actually as disturbing as this – in different ways. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you love challenging adult cinema with razor sharp teeth.
There’s a Blu Ray of LE NOTTI DEL TERRORE aka BURIAL GROUND? Holy shit. This is one of those legendary funky awesome bits of trash cinema that I love. It’s an unsightly funky film and I’ve only seen it on a worn video tape copy I bought from a Blockbuster in the late 80s or early 90s. The film just defines in my mind, funky Italian horror. And that’s kind of its own beautiful thing. I can’t wait for this Blu Ray to get here! Italian Zombies man! Love em, even when they’re bad.
Harry Crack! I love these half hour shows that gave me some time with a killer FRANKENSTEIN crime fighting and then THE IMPOSSIBLES which were just a great rocking super hero team – and man, I thought they rocked harder than any of my parents psychedelic sounds they were grooving to. THE IMPOSSIBLES rule. Long before THE INCREDIBLES – there were THE IMPOSSIBLES.
This is the first authorized release of THE PHANTOM EMPIRE by the Gene Autry Estate – and seriously folks – if you love Gene Autry, Hollow Earth fiction and Pot Boiler menacing Robots and crazy retro sci fi … oh yeah and just the whole Singing Cowboy thing… well this is it. I love THE PHANTOM EMPIRE – which I first discovered on MATINEE AT THE BIJOU on PBS as a kid. Required SciFi Geek material – you need to know about Murania!
That’s it. Next week I’ll be looking at BATTLE: LOS ANGELES, RED RIDING HOOD, HALL PASS, HAVEN, LEGEND OF THE FIST: THE RETURN OF CHEN ZHEN, Ultimate Edition of HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE Blu and THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX Blu too. Then there’s KILL THE IRISHMAN, Criterion’s THE MAKIOKA SISTERS, HEAVY METAL Blu Ray, THE CINCINNATI KID Blu, RUBBER, POINT BREAK Blu, KINGDOM OF WAR Part 1 & 2, INSIGNIFICANCE Criterion Blu, THE IMAGE Blu, JOHNNY MNEMONIC Blu, GORDON’S WAR, OFF LIMITS, 36th PRECINCT Blu, CRASH AND BURN / ROBOT WARS, CHARLES BRONSON: MAN WITH A CAMERA Collection, SWEET KARMA, SVEENER & THE SHMIEL and that’s it. See ya then!