Hey folks, Harry here… This is a fairly short week, so again I give you a preview of a single title from next week to make it up to you. But next week is another week that is filled with interesting weird titles that I love – so that’ll be a longer column. Not to say there isn’t great stuff here. Just check it out and see! As usual the pics and the titles will take you to AMAZON – where you can learn more on the title, or you can purchase it, which helps to support this column, which is absolutely appreciated. So take a look down the line, fun awaits you.
Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
Now this is a fan-fricken-tastic Blu Ray set from KINO. KINO traditionally does a great job. But to do that job by bringing us a great collection of Keaton’s early work in his shorts period… well, fantastic. Suddenly here is a pristine presentation of that which hardcore geeks crave… unseen Keaton work. I had some of Keaton’s work when he was with Fatty Arbuckle, but there was quite a bit that I hadn’t previously seen – never mind the fact that it’s 1080p and amazing. Plus I’ve had Keaton’s COPS on 16mm for about 20 years. But here’s what all is on the set. Don’t pass this up!
THE HIGH SIGN (1920/21 - B&W - 19 Min.)
ONE WEEK (1920 - B&W - 24 Min.)
CONVICT 13 (1920 - B&W - 19 Min.)
THE SCARECROW (1920 - B&W - 18 Min.)
NEIGHBORS (1921 - B&W - 19 Min.)
THE HAUNTED HOUSE (1921 - Color Tinted - 20 Min.)
HARD LUCK (1921 - B&W 21 Min.)
THE GOAT (1921 - B&W - 23 Min.)
THE PLAY HOUSE (1921 - B&W - 23 Min.)
THE BOAT (1921 - B&W - 23 Min.)
THE PALEFACE (1922 - B&W - 20 Min.)
COPS (1922 - B&W - 18 Min.)
MY WIFE'S RELATIONS (1922 - B&W - 17 Min.)
THE BLACKSMITH (1922 - B&W - 21 Min.)
THE FROZEN NORTH (1922 - B&W - 17 Min.)
DAY DREAMS (1922 - B&W - 19 Min.)
THE ELECTRIC HOUSE (1922 - B&W - 23 Min.)
THE BALLOONATIC (1923 - B&W - 22 Min.)
THE LOVE NEST (1923 - Color Tinted - 20 Min.)
Fifteen visual essays illustrated with clips and stills, written by various Keaton experts
Four visual essays on the film's locations by ''Silent Echoes'' author John Bengston
Eight page booklet with an essay by Jeffrey Vance, author of ''Buster Keaton Remembered''
''The Men Who Would Be Buster'' a collection of clips from slapstick films influenced by Keaton's work
''Character Studies'' (ca. 1925) a gag film starring Carter DeHaven, with cameos by Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Roscoe ''Fatty'' Arbuckle and others.
''Seeing Stars'' (excerpts) a 1922 promotional film featuring cameos by Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and others.
A series of brief, alternate / deleted shots from ''The Goat'', ''The Blacksmith'' and ''The Ballonatic''.
See – isn’t this a fantastic set?
This is one of the great films – I love it. But all you’re getting is the 132 minute version of the film. You’re not getting extras, no docs, nada. SO weigh it. You know we’re going to get, at some point, a big deluxe set. Obviously we want a Criterion set that is at least as full as that 3-Disc boxed set they put out. But… Let’s face it, you that 3-disc set is out of print, so if you don’t have it… you’re not likely to, without paying a pretty penny, and this is only $19. If you’re pinching pennies, hold off. But if you just can’t wait to check this out on High Def, that’s what you’ll get. But nothing else.
A magical film. If you’re a young cynical film snob that turns their noses up at cel animated laser blasts, that any amount of cheese puts you into a lactose intolerance-fueled rage, if you demand CG in your movies and think models are nerds… and if you hate magnificent epic cleavage… so much so that perhaps there’s even a heroic titted spaceship with a sassy voice that could fuel your pitiful black heart and make point and rage yet again with your pathetic existence. BUT THE REST OF US! Yes, the rest of us will continue to just fucking love with the very marrow of our bones, BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS. It’s a film that at many levels had everything stacked against it.
This was a Roger Corman produced Sci-Fi film that not only wanted to rip-off STAR WARS… but was even going to be a Sci-fi trippy as all hell send-up of SEVEN SAMURAI… which basically has you trying to rip-off two of the greatest films ever… and we all know that STAR WARS was just a rip off of THE HIDDEN FORTRESS by Kurosawa and fueled by Lucas’ frustrations at losing out on the rights to JOHN CARTER OF MARS to John Boorman. Yes. This film came from a strange fucking awesome era with that shit going on. But ya know… It just works. How can I tell?
My nephew gets to spend an occasional weekend over here at my wife and mine’s Geek Shack… and whilst here – he treats me like a film request DJ. He'll say… “Uncle Harry, I want to see… “ insert a film genre here… everything from Sci-Fi, Something Scary, Funny, Cool, Badass, with Horses, black&white, something with Stop motion, something funny with monsters… all with the caveat, “That I haven’t seen!”
Well, I’m the exact right Uncle for this kid, because I always come through. This particular night he asked for a “Science-fiction Fantasy!” Well, this was literally in my stacks to watch so I put it in. It was 2am when he asked, he fell asleep at 3am. But the next day, when we were alone and he began his DJ requests, he said, “UNCLE HARRY, can I watch that movie from last night? I really want to see the rest of it!”
I put it in, and I went to scenes and said, “do you remember the last thing you saw?” and Gio said, “Yeah, but can I watch it from the beginning? I really like it!” When we finished he was just really excited. “Did they do anymore of these?” I love when one of these films just flares my nephew’s imagination. I, of course, put on GALAXY OF TERROR & FORBIDDEN WORLD – and he liked those, but not like BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS. He wanted to take that home with him to show his Mom. I gave him the BluRay and ordered a replacement for me. Coming today. So yeah, that’s just how great this one is. He wants to try and make lego versions of the ships – and he really means all the ships. He keeps noticing Robert Vaughn in other movies and calling him, “That guy from BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS” – I can’t wait to show him THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN! But I bet anything he’ll think it ripped off this. Same with SEVEN SAMURAI. I’m saving that film for when he’s 16. He’s freaking love it.
RANGO is a tremendous animated film from Gore Verbinski and INDUSTRIAL LIGHTS & MAGIC. In fact it is the first fully animated film from ILM, contrary to what many think about the Prequels. I think Ewan was real. Anyway – you’ve all seen some of the behind the scenes of how Verbinski recorded the sound – and unfortunately they don’t have a feature where you can just watch the movie with a PIP of the real life version that the actors all did. I’d love that personally. They do have great extras… I just would have loved to have all the cast stuff on there too. But that’d be a great selling point for a 15th Anniversary edition. Don’t Lose it! Heh. Depp’s title character is just downright one of the most fascinatingly animated, performed and designed animated characters that I’ve ever seen. I love it. Truly trippy and constantly cool. OH… and it is gorgeous on my screen. There’s stuff that you’ll see that just gives ya a “gawsh gee whiz” kinda smile – and that’s a great smile to have on your face. Here’s the extras:
Experience the Never-Before-Seen Ending
Uncover 10 Deleted Scenes
Meet the Real Creatures of Dirt (HD)
Filmmakers’ Commentary Watch with Storyboard Reel Picture-in-Picture
Go Behind the Scenes with Cast and Crew (HD)
Take an Interactive Trip to Dirt
Someday I’ll introduce my nephew to the term POST-APOCALYPTIC… This will probably be soon, especially due to a recent writing gig that I’ve landed. But next time he asks to watch something SCI FI, I’ll say, “Remember that Rolling Roadshow trip you took with Grandpa and me? This is a Post-Apocalyptic version of that!” He’ll love that. But I have to define POST APOCALYPTIC for him first with A BOY AND HIS DOG. I actually can’t believe I haven’t shown him that yet. Sorry, the boy is on the brain. Booked a Christmas-New Years trip for the family – and the whole time I just can’t get him out of my head. It’ll blow his brain. BUT let’s get back to DAMNATION ALLEY. I wrote at length about it last week. However, I just feel the need to make sure you folks see that I really do care about this film. That vehicle you see on the cover is just my pick for POST-APOCALYPTIC VEHICLE of choice! What’s yours? Oh – and if you haven’t seen this film – your opinion is tainted by not knowing the awesome of this vehicle. LEARN! And Survive! Some lucky bastard around San Francisco has this parked in his garage just waiting for the apocalypse. And who will dare laugh at him then? I mean the film has Jan-Michael Vincent doing all kinds of motorcycle cross-country stunts, George Peppard rocking at Burt Reynolds – and yeah, it is all kinds of weird. OH! And it has little Jackie Earle Haley – and he’s a badass in this too! Even as a little kid! All the extras are basically propaganda by the producer of the film to make a remake. And I’d love to see the director of RUBBER do it.
Handsomely produced and acted. But none of it really mattered. I like everyone in the film, it was absolutely watchable, but nothing really made a dent. This is a courtroom thriller type of flick, I love that genre, but this just isn’t that gripping. The threat never really carries any weight in my head. There’s something about the film that just left me not caring about the characters – and I think it’s because McConaughey’s character – as written – isn’t really someone I cared about. He’s a bit of a douche, and that’s the character he’s playing and my empathy for his character left me kind of hoping he’d get killed. Except that the psycho – is even douchier. And I like that actor too, but not this character. You see that’s the problem with the film – I had noone to care about and that makes a thriller unengaging.
First note: MR. SKIN PRESENTS… That means something to people of caliber like you. I’m not going to pretend to know what you think, but to a lowbrow Neanderthal like me – it makes me suspect that there could be some degree of nudity in the films presented therein.
A survey of the titles instantly tells me – OH YEAH! These are primo-skin flicks. I just wish that MR SKIN was presenting said awesomery in the crystal clarity of Blu. I have had a long scintillating cine-skin affair with CHAINED HEAT. And that Sybil Danning obsession of the 90’s assured me of being a fan of JUNGLE WARRIORS. But this was my first time with RED HEAT. It was quite satisfying. You see, I’d always heard it was a ripoff of CHAINED HEAT… but it is also some awesome Commisploitation, which there’s not nearly enough committed films to. It isn’t legendary like RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II, but it has way more tits!
I’ve watched it twice. It is most certainly not “the most terrifying film since THE EXORCIST” and if you think about that too much, it’ll rightly piss you off royally, but realize some guy named Steve O’Brien of WCBS RADIO said that. And why the hell would you believe that? I would genuinely love to hear Steve sell me that quote and defend it. BUT… don’t let that insane statement keep you from enjoying what is otherwise a really kinda wacky remake of POLTERGEIST 2, but what I didn’t count on was that the big sequence at the end… well it’s better done here. There’s some genuine scary scenes and situations here. It could also fall apart on the rather odd performance from Patrick Wilson who seems constantly annoyed. But I’ve begun to read that look of annoyance as a “sneaking suspicion that I’ve experienced this before” – which is probably what he was going for. But he might be annoyed. If he’s annoyed, it shouldn’t be by the film, it’s pretty darn fun. Watch with friends, it’s got some jumps that’ll get ya laughing if you like that kind of horror.
Ya know. This movie was a pretty terribly sold movie. I hated the trailers. Hated them. Hated them so much that it was a point of pride to avoid and deride the film as often as I could. But tonight, I put it on. You see, I’ll give everything a chance at least once. I’m genuine glad I watched ARTHUR. Russell Brand is a parody of a celebrity, incredibly self-aware – so much so, that if you were to talk to him for a brief period of time, he’d absolutely charm you. He’s got crazy fun charisma and you can see that on display in ARTHUR. What makes the film work is that Brand’s take on ARTHUR is genuine and oddly whimsical. I like that. I also really like Helen Mirren. And, as Yoko said, “I actually like Jennifer Garner in this because I am supposed to hate her, it works!” Which again is brilliantly put by this awesome lady. But I really love Greta Gerwig. She’s in the Liza role. She’s a different kind of gal, but one I can absolutely fall for in the same way I did for Liza. All that said, there are some bullshit moments that feel absolutely false – and that pissed me off for a bit here and there. But ya know… I still came away liking it better than I expected. It just kinda falls dead flat in spots – but overall… it ain’t the worst remake, but it isn’t effortless like the original. The original ARTHUR was this brilliant spontaneously sweet and awesome film. This is a pale imitation. It tries, works in places splendidly, but that original was just so original and this… well it’s just the remake that reminds you how perfect it was the first time.
The only thing wrong with this movie in Mike Leigh’s career is that it was surrounded by films I preferred, but I really really do have a huge affection for his NAKED. And HARRY POTTER fans – if you’ve always wanted to see Professor Remus Lupin au natural, well this is most definitely your chance. Be forewarned though, this film isn’t for the youngsters – it is thoroughly adult in nature, in case the title hadn’t clued you in. It took me years to come around to this film. There was a point in time when I didn’t care for Thewlis that much, but now – I watch this film – and I really do kinda wish it had Gary Oldman in it – and that they tumbled about naked Oliver Reed fashion. It’d just give those fanfic-ers something to reference. Not that I know a damn thing about that.
Seriously though, this is a dark, sometimes hysterically smart film. It’s just fun to remember that all those professors in HARRY POTTER – they’re brilliant actors that have done some of the most serious and brilliant films and roles. You should look at and appreciate those movies. In fact, that’d be a wonderful project for somebody’s film blog – to just track the actors of HARRY POTTER – go through each professor and Death-Eaters’ filmographies and writing about each. Then gain a full impression of what I feel is the real lessons these professors taught these young inexperienced actors. Who grew up learning from some of the most avant garde and talented performers we’ve seen in recent cinematic history. Personally, I’d start with Richard Harris… But David Thewlis would give you all manners of fun things to write about and talk about.
Criterion has done a superb job on this disc – here’s the extras you’ll receive:
Restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director
Audio commentary by Leigh and actors David Thewlis and Katrin Cartlidge
Exclusive video interview with director Neil LaBute
An episode of the BBC program The Art Zone where Will Self interviews Leigh
“The Short and Curlies,” a short comedy from 1982 directed by Leigh
Original theatrical trailer
PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by film critics Derek Malcolm and Amy Taubin
I know nothing about this film. I haven’t seen it. But look at that box art. It’s all kinds of frightening. One just the look of the image, it seems really and truly messed up. Obviously it looks evil. It came out in 1989, I was just a senior in High School – and I never heard of this flick. It did star Amber Lynn, who I was… familiar with through a left behind porn collection that one of my mother’s boyfriends left behind. But this is not a porn. I don’t think it is anything playful or fun. It looks like something that would make you carve your eyes out and plug your ears. I’m afraid of this film. So why put it here? Because some day I’ll click this link and order it. I will. And I’ll watch it. And I know I’ll be the worse for it. I just know. This film looks evil. Absolute evil. Right?
If you’re like me. You’ll never be able to get enough Robot Chicken Star Wars parodies… especially when engineering toys to play the stories out. It’s hypnotic. Hilarious. But really, the reason you must own this… Wait till you see the extra that has Seth Green and the guys behind Robot Chicken having a boardroom meeting with George Lucas – that they video’d – and you’ll see George answer questions about the Gungan Language. It was sublime. Kinda amazing to behold. And I absolutely would love to just sit down for a few hours and pick George’s brain because he’s kind of hilarious.
This is absolue crack. At the same point in my life that I was being properly indoctrinated to love the classic Universal Monsters, which somehow felt absolutely natural – this was on TV. I loved ARCHIE comics, still do. Introducing my nephew to Jughead – which was technically Yoko’s brilliant idea – well these were the Universal Monsters as interpretated by an Archie universe – and there’s something so excruciatingly correct about that… You see, growing up – it all made so much sense. The monsters were applicable to any and all universes. I recognized this from UNIVERSAL – which eventually put all their monsters together – thus guaranteeing that we’d see it that way. Then Archie puts them all together in their universe. Then there was the Rankin Bass Stop Motion animated MAD MONSTER PARTY movie – which brought the monsters into the Rankin Bass universe. HAMMER FILMS had their take. I thought when UNIVERSAL got THE MUMMY series together, that they were going to spin the Rick O’Connell character off to have fun PG & PG13 adventures with each of the Universal monsters, but they missed that boat. Sadly. It would’ve been fun. I’d kinda kill to see Quentin Tarantino create his unified monsterverse… because he should. He created the notion in his script for FROM DUSK TIL DAWN, but has never followed through. I kind of wish he would. Actually I really do. BUT till then, I just have all the other films that feature these beloved monsters. Watching the GROOVIE GOOLIES is just pure unwashed nostalgic glee. I don’t know how it makes any of you feel, but for me… I can remember playing on a plum purple deep shag carpet with my MEGO MONSTER DOLLS and watching GROOVIE GOOLIES the first time around. It doesn’t make me feel old, but young. I can’t imagine not having this. AND – it comes with extras:
16 episodes on three discs
Sing-along: "Goolie Get Together"
Candid story from producer Lou Scheimer about The Creation of Filmation
Liner notes by TV writer/producer Shawn Sheridan
DVD-ROM extras: Scripts and the original series bible for The Kookie Spookies
A brand-new 45-minute "docu-comedy" featuring interviews with Alice Cooper, Forrest J. Ackerman, Ron Chaney, and more
Music video with the punk band Groovie Ghoulies
This was another short week, I guess they figure after hitting us with that SUPERMAN and LORD OF THE RINGS sets – we’re broke for a bit, but I for one wish the releases would speed up with quality – let’s see what we have next week: LIMITLESS, AMELIE on Blu, TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT, YOUNG JUSTICE, the surprisingly awesome THE REEF, the release of the year – Criterion’s Blu Ray of Cocteau’s BELLE ET LA BETE, TEKKEN on Blu, BOYZ ‘N THE HOOD Blu, HEY BOO: HARPER LEE AND TO KILL A MOCKINBIRD, CHOCOLAT Blu, POTICHE, THE MUSIC ROOM Criterion Blu, DARK OF THE SUN, SMURFS: A MAGICAL SMURF ADVENTURE, BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY Blu, THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS Blu, NOWHERE TO RUN on Blu, Dangerous Babes Collection, HEARTS OF THE WEST, AVALANCE EXPRESS, THE DOUBLE MAN, ONCE BEFORE I DIE, FERRY TO HONG KONG, ASSIGNMENT TO KILL, DARK DAYS 10th Anniversary and 24 HOURS TO KILL. Wow, that’s a lot to write about – and thankfully I’ve seen most of it already. I’ll give you a preview of my favorite of the releases…
This is my personal pick for the best release of 2011. Cocteau’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is the greatest monster fantasy of all time. And that’s coming from a guy that’s seen them all. This is one of those films that Guillermo Del Toro would kill to walk the sets of and to speak to Cocteau about this, and so much more. This film is simply breathtaking. Exquisite and brilliant. The makeup on Jean Marais is simply my favorite monster make up of all time. It’s elegant, fascinating and will constantly surprise you. The costumery, the setting, the magic of it…. Breathtaking. Josette Day is my Belle. I’ve known this film my entire life. This was how I learned of the story. My parents showed it to me around the time I was 4 and read the movie to me. They did this till I could read fast enough that I could do it. When you see this movie, watch it first as it was originally… but then… watch it as Phillip Glass intended. You see, Phillip Glass turned this film into an Opera. One that is mostly lip synced. It’s astonishing to watch. It is as though it is an entirely new and magical and wondrous thing. It is something that I work to, that I’m learning to sing along with, poorly, but its neat to sing in French… which I don’t understand. But if I leave the subtitles up, I absolutely do. It reminds me of how I used to watch A CHINESE GHOST STORY – before I had a copy that had subtitles. I watched it and worked watching it on repeat. It’s simply one of the greatest works of cinema ever created. Something to inspire you, that exceeds all expectations and simply is a thing of pure wonder. I don’t know if fantasy can ever exactly be the dream that this is. Nor should it. This is Cocteau’s BELLE ET LA BETE and there will never be another of its like. I’ll love on this more next week, but it’s a release to leave you with my friends.