Hey folks, Harry here… had a crazy week last one, decided to double up the column from last week with this one – and release it today. Some great stuff on here! Essentials. As usual the pics and links take you to Amazon, where if you feel inclined to pick up the item on the other end of the link, a small portion of that purchase price helps keep the best efforts of this column going! So thanks a ton. Here ya go…
The Final Two Weeks of July 2011…
When you’re watching THE BLUES BROTHERS – there is no film better. It’s simply joy. Pure unadulterated joy. It is the slyest musicals, one of the happiest Action films, a captivating comedy – and there’s no other film made prior or after that is anything like it. The car stunts alone are amazing. The musical numbers sublime. This is a miracle film. A movie on a mission from God. My father collected old Black Blues 78s, so the Blues & Jazz were very well represented in my home… but I worshipped Cab Calloway as a kid, mainly due to all the 16mm BETTY BOOP cartoons that my Mom had collected. Minnie The Moocher, Old Man Of The Mountain, Betty’s SNOW WHITE… Calloway is astonishingly powerful in those old cartoons – and the live action openings that featured Cab and his band… they MADE me identify with Cab. So when I was 7 and saw BLUES BROTHERS with my parents – when I realized Cab Calloway taught the Blues Brothers… It had instant gravitas with my monkey brain. From that moment on – I had the BLUES BROTHERS in my arsenal of movies to show friends, to make the kind of friends that thought the cool shit I loved was indeed cool shit. BLUES BROTHERS is amongst the coolest films ever made. Sunglasses at night, the Black Suit armor, a magical police car, Illinois Nazis, Floating Supernatural Nun, Ray Charles with a gun, the best Diner order ever and the MUSIC MAN! THE MUSIC! This film singlehandedly woke up modern culture to the unbelievable awesome that is the Blues and Soul. Aykroyd and Belushi… they’re Gods. This movie is just pure magic. The BluRay is about as nice as you could ever hope for. Watch it and just bask in the pure awesome of perfection. The music is amazing… and while this isn’t lossless audio, it fucking rocked the cobwebs from the corners of my house. I’ve never heard it sound better.
Insanely fun. Everybody is great. Donald Sutherland’s professor. The adorable sweetness of Karen Allen, Tom Hulce’s wide-mouthed Joe-E-Brown-esque smile with those wistful eyes, every word that comes from John Vernon’s mouth. But the film belongs heart & soul to the most amazing creation… John Belushi’s Bluto is the spirit of excess, of manic Looney Tunism, he’s a horny cuddly disgusting cinema God. I remember thinking that this is what College was. This is a film like BLUES BROTHERS – directed by a particularly brilliant and inspired John Landis. As I was growing up – John Landis just knocked everything out of the park. Watching ANIMAL HOUSE – watching BLUES BROTHERS… Thinking about AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON… My wife asked me earlier tonight, what director, that is alive, who I miss. I miss John Landis. I know that folks tend to focus on the tragedy of John’s career, me, I prefer to focus upon the greatness. When Landis was on, I’ve still never seen a comedic director working today that could touch him when he made those awesome films of his. I keep hoping we’ll see movies that evoke this same feeling… but I think they were captured magic. Today we get raunchier, more outrageous, more more. But ANIMAL HOUSE isn’t the randiest gross out. There’s an irrepressible spirit at work here. Something that seems to live and delight in the chemicals of this flick. The alchemy that created these first two films… the ingredients no longer exist. These are magic films that never ever fail to delight. We drink to these films, we party to these films, we get in togas and don sunglasses at night with them. How does one not own them?
This brilliant documentary has been out of print for a while, but they’ve gone and created a 10th Anniversary edition. This is a movie where the director shot and lived with the people – the society that lives in the tunnels beneath Penn Station in New York. Shot in stunningly atmospheric black and white, this is a true documentary about the people that live beneath the streets of New York… CHUD style. Well, they’re not cannibalistic… but they’re definitely Humanoid Underground Dwellers. And their story will absolutely fascinate you. It is a world with very little light, but filled with Human and touching stories. If this sounds fascinating to you – I promise that it is.
One of the most beautiful films ever shot. AMELIE is a jewel of the screen. Audrey Tautou plays one of the most magical female wonders yet captured upon the screen. I find it impossible not to just love her. Her whimsy. The magic she plays upon people. Her world can be yours if you choose to find magic in your life. This movie is happy times. I still love DELICATESSON & CITY OF LOST CHILDREN as my two favorite films of Jeunet, of course the darkness of those films which is what so endears me to those early efforts, could’ve been Caro’s influence. Since that point, Jeunet has been more whimsy than shadow. AMELIE brings sunshine and smiles to the dark. It inspires us to be magic for our friends and family. If you allow it to. The Blu Ray comes with these extras: • ”The Look of Amelie” Featurette • Fantasies of Audrey Tatou • Q&A with Director and Cast • Auditions • Storyboard to Screen Comparisons • “An Intimate Chat with Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet” • “Home Movies” – Inside the Making of Amelie
One of the films that I most hated seeing go leave theaters during my recovery was Duncan Jones’ SOURCE CODE. I loved MOON. Smart fun science fiction. Then along comes SOURCE CODE, I wasn’t worried in the slightest about the film. When I didn’t receive a screener, I took the opportunity to watch it on Pay Per View – and I watched it twice tonight. I love what this film is. I love how it is a tightly wound series of mysteries, but it also reminds me of a science fiction action version of GROUNDHOG’S DAY. And I mean that in the most sincerely praise-worthy ways. I love that film deeply, and I’m only just now beginning to fall for SOURCE CODE. Stories such as these always bring to mind, CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER. Wonderful cast – wonderful twists and turns. Beautifully put together. Now… will the third time be…. What I wonder. Duncan Jones is here to stay. Picking this up tomorrow.
Neil Burger made a charming druggie film about enhanced human potential. The ability to have the complete total access to everything you’ve ever seen, to understand the worth of it all, the meaning of it all and to know how to use it all. Bradley Cooper is damn good here. In particular though, I loved DeNiro. It’s been a while since I’ve genuinely loved him in a flick. I’ve been a fan of Neil Burger and this is really fine work. The infinity zooms are kind of amazing – this really does have some amazing flair going. I found it to be a very strong film. Watched this on Pay Per View too. Looking forward to picking the title up tomorrow to see the Unrated cut.
Most that I’ve heard from have loved this film, in fact that was my reaction as well. The main criticism I hear leveled upon the wet tale is redundant in the last half… but for me, that’s the beauty of the film. I mean. If you and a pack of friends were swimming in the open water being hunted by a hungry crazed shark… It would probably feel very unrealistic as you each got eaten – and you would probably get fed up with it too. Just like poor Quint did as he floated with his mates all those years ago. I’ve always wanted to see the INDIANAPOLIS story. Still hope it gets made proper some day. Till then, this is the little film in the shadow of that greater tale. Just a terrible terrible situation. I don’t think I’ve yelled at my screen giving instructions to the characters at home in quite some time. So messed up.
Most of these combat video game adaptations are just fucking rotten. I’d heard rumors that this was fun, and when I saw Alan McElroy’s name as the screenwriter – and he’s actually someone that I’ve been fond of. He wrote Brandon Lee’s RAPID FIRE. He wrote a fine script that got a bit mangled in the making for SPAWN. What I like about Tekken is the world that it is set in. It’s all kinds of goofy in places, but I bought the world, their particular post-apocalypse. This falls short of being amazing, and is rather just quite good. Surprisingly so.
This is a fun minor film that I wish had had about 3-4 times the budget it had, so that DYLAN DOG could have had a big splash over here in the U.S. I enjoyed the film, but it was with acknowledging the limits that it had. I like Brandon Routh’s Dylan quite a bit. The look of the film was very fun and I enjoyed much of the film. I just know that we’re probably likely to never see another… better produced chapter of this fantastic Comic. To give Brandon and team another better shot at it.
Flat out a great film. Love the performances throughout. Singleton’s best film is still this one. Looks pretty great on Blu. Crazy how young everyone is in this. Doesn’t seem that long ago, but really is the 20th anniversary of BOYZ N THE HOOD and they didn’t even note it on the box. Well… we remember.
This is an excellent Valentine’s Day film. Or any other ‘romantic chocolate’ occasion. Even if you do not have the titular treat on hand, this film will stimulate your senses. You’ll swear you’ll begin to taste this film, smell this film – and my friends – if you have a special someone… a box of fine chocolates… this film upon the screen… you’re going to have a very good night. No matter who you are. Depp isn’t at all Wonka in this.
For me, this is the release of the year. Cocteau’s master fantasy. A film that bewilders the senses. My personal favorite fantasy film ever. There’s more pure magic in this film than in anything else I’ve seen. The film is like a misty dream. Nothing is ever merely ordinary. The makeup upon the Beast is amongst the best that has ever been created. The art direction is simply breathtaking. If you loved PAN’S LABYRINTH – give your full attention to this film. This is one of the springs that fueled it. Can not recommend highly enough! I was shown this film as a child, my parents would read the subtitles outloud to me, when I could still not read. It is the very best version of this tale. And it will amaze all.
One of Satyajit Ray’s best works – wonderfully brought to Blu Ray by Criterion. The movie is a true masterpiece of Ray’s career – Being able to see this film at this quality is one of those things that just really makes being a film lover such a delight. This is such a tender and wonderful film. The musical numbers… wow. So good, I envy those of you that will be discovering this film for the first time. Here’s the extras Criterion has for ya: In Bengali with English subtitles New digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack Satyajit Ray (1984), a documentary by Shyam Benegal that chronicles Ray's career New interview with filmmaker Mira Nair New interview in which Ray biographer Andrew Robinson on the 'Making of' A 1981 French roundtable discussion with Ray, Michel Ciment & Claude Sautet New and improved English subtitle translation
Enough of the awesome and brilliant great cinema, let’s kick some blood out of someone’s mouth. We need Van Damme’s NOWHERE TO RUN. It’s honestly Van Damme’s best film prior to JCVD, and one of the high water marks for one of his flicks. Wished he’d made more at this level.
I love this film because it pairs Orson Welles as a Ferry Captain who is ferrying Curt Jurgens, who has been kicked out of Hong Kong as an undesirable – on way to Macao – but Macao doesn’t want Jurgens either. You wouldn’t either – he’s fantastic in the film. He and Welles hate each other – and I could watch that act all day long. Great Exotic film – done as Hollywood could.
This movie just absolutely didn’t quite do it for me. I like all the siege and battle work in the film. The hacking gore stuff is quite powerful, though nowhere near the level of SPARTACUS: BLOOD & SAND… albeit more realistic and less stylized… But those scenes alone might make the film play for some of ya. The cast is interesting, but just not given characters that I really cared anything about. I like the siege… but not why the siege is going on in the first place. And I don’t really care who wins, lives or dies. So as a result it becomes a movie that just has stuff happening that will occasionally make you say, “cool” – not often, but at moments. I’d wait for Netflix on this one.
Fucking ridiculous movie. The second year that I was doing AICN, we had the dueling volcano flicks. VOLCANO and DANTE’S PEAK. Right now, I can’t recall what I thought of that Tommy Lee Jones movie, but I remember thinking they were all pretty ridiculous. In particular – the CG just doesn’t cut it today. But it is a fun diverting thing. I’d prefer a POMPEII movie if I was ever getting a Volcano flick again. I could get behind any historical Volcano flick, it’s just seeing a bunch of scientist running around measuring gas emissions… It just doesn’t nail the drama side of the story for me. Not a big draw for me.
This was the weaker of the weak MARS movies that came out about a decade ago. I find the film watchable, because I’m usually highly lenient in the Sci Fi realm because I’m a geek that loves Space shots – and all space exploration really gets my geek going. But man, with this cast – it should’ve been so much better. I prefer MISSION TO MARS… but thus far we haven’t had a great MARS movie. Now, if the martians invade earth, that’s a different matter. At that point – we’ve got 3 great films. Actually – I take that back, ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS is the great Mars movie, with TOTAL RECALL pulling second and then I have a real soft spot for THE ANGRY RED PLANET, but that Spider-Monkey-Bat monster just rules!
Here Akira Kurosawa did a loosely based film upon the great Ed McBain novel KING’S RANSOM – and made a fantastic Crime Mystery Thriller. I love HIGH AND LOW. Of course my true Kurosawa loyalties lie with the Samurai classics – but this is just proof that Kurosawa did it all wonderfully. The transfer is as usual, extraordinary – and Criterion has these extras for us: High-definition digital restoration, with original four-track surround sound Audio commentary by Akira Kurosawa scholar Stephen Prince Documentary on the making of "High and Low" Rare video interview with actor Toshiro Mifune Video interview with actor Tsutomu Yamazaki, who plays the kidnapper Theatrical trailers from Japan and the U.S. PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien and more!
YES! I’ve been wondering when we’d finally get this out on Blu. I had the first season on Blu, but the second season came out only on DVD… until now. What made that sting is that while I liked SEASON 1 – it was SEASON 2 where this show just got unbelievably awesome. I mean, right from the start with Darkseid (Ron Perlman!) This season is the one where SUPERMAN apparently dies (more to it than that!) and where we have a full fledged Alien Invasion. This just makes me pure happy. Great series!
Tinto Brass loves fleshy curvy lovely woman – and don’t we all? Getting a Tinto Brass fetish flick on Blu Ray is sort of a rite of passage. Proof that the world is headed in the right direction. If our imported smut gets the 1080p treatment – maybe the world ain’t so bad. This isn’t classic old school Tinto though, this is from 2005. As a result it’s a little more brazen. It comes with his short KICK THE COCK on a separate disc. That’s just weird.
I find these documentaries awesome teaching tools for novice film geeks wanting to get a quick and lazy education to a subject like the American Grindhouse movement. This doc is a lot of fun, but right now – use it to whet your appetite. To get ya started – or to see if you’ve missed anything overtly obvious in the realm of Grindhouse cinema. I can’t watch something like this without spending a week watching fave flicks.
Sadly it just isn’t quite up to Robot Chicken standards of humor for me. I should be all about this film, and yet I’m not. I love stop motion animation, but this stuff is just not at the level that is aesthetically pleasing to me. I kind of giggle throughout – but it just didn’t rule my world like I was hoping.
Several years back on the column I discovered a seventies porn that got sent to me called TEENAGE TWINS, I watched it and – yeah, it was all kinds of crazy. Yes it features real identical twins doing things they shouldn’t… but the real reason that the film blew me away – it had nothing to do with the twins – or the sex, which really isn’t hot. It’s that this is a fucking HP Lovecraft / Necronomicon porn from the seventies! It’s trashy as all hell, but it is kind of amazing to have this kind of geek themed stuff in those days. We had the musical ALICE IN WONDERLAND porn, the best was FLESH GORDON. But this dirty, no budget underground thing… it doesn’t sell itself that way, but the element is there. The other two movies… PUNK ROCK and ROLLERBABIES… I mean. They’re called PUNK ROCK and ROLLERBABIES. It’ll be absurd stuff from the period of origin. Crazy.
First week of August will kick off with RIO, CONAN THE BARBARIAN Blu, CONAN THE DESTROYER Blu, Braveheart/Gladiator Blu two pack, THE NAME OF THE ROSE Blu, STAKE LAND, BETTER OFF DEAD Blu, MAGNIFICENT SEVEN Blu, COPYCAT Blu, SANDS OF THE KALAHARI Blu, EXPORTING RAYMOND, SPY KIDS trilogy blu, STREETWALKIN’ and more. Till then enjoy!