Hey folks, Harry here with the first two weeks of August. Today’s column was just so few that I decided when last week’s was so long, to take my time on them, because there’s so many great titles – and just to a jam up for y’all. As usual the images and links take you to Amazon where you can learn a bit more and possibly purchase an item or two, which always helps keep this column ticking. SO again, profound thanks. You’ve waited long enough – here ya go…
Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011
Little over a year ago, they released a fantastic BluRay set called THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN COLLECTION on Blu Ray and it really was fantastic, but if you’re picky with your purchases… a $40 price tag, when the only film in the set you HAVE to have is THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN… because… ya must! Well, here you can have it for $12.99. It looks fantastic. Now let’s say you’re a young un, what has never heard of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Here’s why to give a shit and get!
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN is one of the greatest remakes of all time. Action master, John Sturges brought to life this brilliantly badass Western version of Akira Kurosawa’s SEVEN SAMURAI. The result is a film that while essentially the same… it is wholly different. With stars like Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Eli Wallach, Brad Dexter, ROBERT VAUGHN, Horst Buchholz and Yul Brynner… you rarely get a finer example of awesome non-steroidal manliness in the history of cinema. Then you have Elmer Bernstein’s score which is the shit of legend man. You have to see it so you can quote it, because if you can… while affecting the original film context… You’ll cause people to back the fuck up. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN is one of those films that everybody’s grandfather, father, older brother, Uncles… We love it. We love it, not because we’re told it is a great movie, but this movie – it puts hair on your chest. Makes you eat steak. Basically, it is a key film for becoming a thoroughly awesome Male. And gals. This is a movie that is likely to cause you a life time of misery. You’ll try to find a guy like one of these guys. But 99 times out of a 100, he’s a really pale pansy ass imitation. I mean, I try. But man. These are MEN! It’s required watching at least once in any one that professes to love film’s lives! If you want to see it again, that means you’re cool.
C’mon. You don’t need me to do this on this do ya? Because I will. I’ll go full geek hump on this one. Arguably the best scored film ever. Basil Poledouris made this film not need CG. Your money is probably better served upon purchasing this Blu Ray than seeing an inevitably mere shadow later this month. John Milius fashioned this film to be a thing of LEGEND! Now this film is R-rated. And the other day on Twitter, a young boy asked his father to watch CONAN THE BARBARIAN with his Dad said, “Fuck No.” For the young boy, I offer this impassioned defense of the film as being awesomely suitable for any future awesome guy. This is a movie about a little boy that grows up to kill the bastard what killed mom and dad! He dedicates his body to being the instrument of revenge. Kinda like BATMAN. He hits a fucking camel and it goes down. That shit must be seen by a child. OK… the nudity & sex… well, except that’s the reward you get for growing up strong and on a path to avenge mommy & daddy’s lost lives. There are rewards. Indeed there are. This is modern mythology. It’s hard for me to imagine being a kid without CONAN THE BARBARIAN. But the main thing I learned from this film… the thing all should learn… Which is the answer to that question that haunts all existence. WHAT IS GOOD IN LIFE? Yes, this movie will teach you the answer to that question. And it is so. This is easily one of the most watched movies in my life. I’ve seen it countless times. I could damn near quote the movie as it plays, but I’m way busier worshipping it. ALSO – this does include the greatest audio commentary of all time. JOHN MILIUS & ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER. This is my favorite commentary ever. Especially when Arnold realizes how fucking great this move was… because he evidently didn’t know that till he was watching it with Milius to record this fucking commentary. And that moment is just pure rock hard bliss. Really is. It has accompanying hysterical laughing – at least if you’re me. I love that Arnold really did bite and rip out the flesh of a dead vulture whilst crucified on a tree of fucking woe! I love that when my father and I were driving in Spain, we found the rock formation that Conan climbed up to escape the wolves, where he found the Atlantean sword… Where his real story began… And we climbed that rock – and we were real damn pleased with ourselves, cuz we weren’t looking for it. And it was there. So yeah. It’s an essential in this household.
Just about one of the oddest awesome films you’re likely to see. AICN used to have a great contributor named Lane Myer and he always made me smile with that. Lane Myer is, of course, the main character being crushed by just about everything in life in BETTER OFF DEAD. He’s also played by an amazing John Cusack in this film. The Japanese guys that speak like Howard Cosell… I mean it should absolutely not work, but it kills me… every time I watch this. The Paperboy ever insistent upon his $2. Lane’s mother’s cooking. Lane’s little brother’s amazing Self-Help book results. The Van Halen Burger – which was the inspiration for that Harry Head animation earlier this year. Which threw a lot of folks. But come on! Watch this. Learn it. And enjoy.
This is a completely weird and awesome film. Jean-Jacques Annaud’s THE NAME OF THE ROSE, is kind of just one of those films that marked in my mind, the moment when Sean Connery was just absolutely fascinating. The other film he made this year was fucking HIGHLANDER… and the next film he made was THE UNTOUCHABLES. All actors should hope for a trio this incredibly different, iconic and the quality he has in each that makes you love him. It’s completely different in each. Connery was just starting to get a second wind. And thinking of those films just makes me hungry to watch THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER and INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE. I really miss Sean Connery on film. I wonder what badass will coax him to do something epic… perhaps a tiny brilliant, perfect note kind of role. I just hope it happens. Then you have a really fucking weird performance from Christian Slater. But for me, what I most love about THE NAME OF THE ROSE is the really weird Salvatore as played by Ron Perlman. Ron was having a hard time as an actor before this. I loved him in QUEST FOR FIRE and ICE PIRATES, but he did this, then landed the role of Vincent in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST opposite John Connor’s mommy – and he was firmly established in geek corners. But his Salvatore is part of a foreign director trilogy that I’ve always considered the Ron Perlman Trilogy, which is this, Guillermo Del Toro’s CRONOS and Jeunet & Caro’s masterful CITY OF LOST CHILDREN. They also happen to be my favorite Ron Perlman performances. I love them so much because I found them before this site. If you love Ron, you’ll love him in this utterly bizarre Medieval Mystery – and while critics were all over the place on this film. Austin’s critical voice at the time loathed it. I read that review, then saw the movie knowing that that idiot bastard was wrong – and he was. When you’re growing up to eventually write and argue film, it’s important to hate an established film voice. It gives you a reason to be passionate about cinema. But I used to scream at Patrick Taggart reviews in the Austin American Statesman. Then Dad and I would argue the movie against his review. Pre-talkback. It was the best. These first four films are ones that I’m just real happy to getting in Blu. They’re films I really do dearly love.
If you love JANE EYRE – the story – and you must have a film version, the very best is Orson Welles’ JANE EYRE. A film of such perfection and Bronte gothic melancholy that it earns its status as the best telling of the tale… BUT – I really do love this version. I’m new to it… only seen it twice, whereas I’ve seen Welles’ version about 12 times. I don’t believe upon repeat viewings that it’ll change in the least. But when I watch this film, it will be to watch Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska together. They’re outstanding. And I do really love the dramatic narrative change the film made in what it chose to not deliver to us. That felt ballsy and it moved the story along in a fashion that made me feel like I was rediscovering the story, as opposed to just being told it, again.
Here’s a film that I checked out at FANTASTIC FEST – and it’s a really cool Post-Apocalypse (Vampire cause) little flick. Now, it isn’t taking the trophy from LAST MAN ON EARTH or OMEGA MAN, but if you’ve been missing Kelly McGillis on film, she’s really awesome here. This really does play like a tough gritty – practical vampire apocalypse. Because it doesn’t get ridiculous. It stays grounded. Oh – and it never ever looks like a video game. Imagine that.
Ok BNAT-folks… Remember SAHARA? This is like that… but instead of Nazis – the danger are baboons. Don’t laugh. Baboons are scary fucking dangerous wild animals that will attack in packs. I love “totally fucked situation movies.” This is a pretty bad situation. The survival story is amazing. Now wait till you see the bit with the ‘eggs’. Or the… no, I save that. What you have here is a tough movie. If you loved Stanley Baker from Caine’s ZULU or with Peck in THE GUNS OF NAVARONE – you know him and he’s great in everything I’ve ever seen him in. He produced this movie, and then plays a fantastic character in it. The type of character that an actor puts it on the line to play and I totally get that here. If you love DARK OF THE SUN… this film belongs in that kind of universe. The stuff shot in Namibia is just kind of amazing, same with the work shot in the Andalucian area of Spain. Just gorgeous print and a nice film to discover on Blu!
Most Americans are not aware that in countries around the world, their beloved television shows are often times adapted from our successful television shows. Here, Philip Rosenthal wound up shooting a fairly great documentary showing the process – and you just have to see this. I found the doc to be hysterical, while also having a lot to say about the translation process. Which is just amazing. I find myself wanting subtitled versions of the Russian version of this show. And I couldn’t stand EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND. Check it out and see.
I like the SPY KIDS trilogy. It is absolutely insane playful imaginative posturing, but it is relentlessly fun. Thumb Thumbs are just some of the best evil henchmen ever. I also love the cave of sleeping sharks, the jet packs and how silly and fun the whole affair is. That said, I really love the next one!
This is my favorite of the SPY KIDS trilogy. Why? Well this is the one where Rodriguez was most influenced by Ray Harryhausen. But – the best is that you have the introduction of Ricardo Montalban as the kids’ Grandfather – and Ricardo is awesome in both this and the next one. This is the one with the kid sized skeleton army. Love those guys. Also – Steve Buscemi is a whole lot of fun as the crazy mad scientist. If you have little kids – this really is gold.
This is the film where I got to meet Sylvester Stallone and where we became friends. Of all the films, this is the most trippy. To me. Stallone plays 4 different characters – all in radically different make-up – and you can tell, he’s having a blast. He really was. Also, in this episode – you get to see Grandpa Montalban have his head placed on a superhero videogame body and do some really crazy shit! Of the 3, the visual effects really began to show their limitations here – but damn if the fun imaginative qualities and the child-logic of the series more than made up for it.
This is a film where Melissa Leo (crazy young here) plays a teenage prostitute – in what is obviously a whorsploitation flick – but really, Leo’s work elevates the film from being just pure exploitation. Also – any movies with Antonio Fargas and Julie Newmar has just the right amount of kitsch to make me happy. SHOUT! Does another great job of finding excellent material from the vaults of Corman! This has a commentary with the writer/director & producer. Good flick.
Ok – I’m sucker for flicks like this. First off, it is directed by William Dear, who did the ok, but very popular ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD. But this is a far superior film and story. Based on the true story about the 1957 Little League World Series. If you don’t know the story, don’t read about it, but by all means – if your kid is doing Little League – or you want your kid to be into Little League Baseball – this is the film to show. Then the original BAD NEWS BEARS. After that, they’ll be good to go. This is one of those films that you’ll really get caught up in. The sad part is – this is one of those films like WONDERFUL ICE CREAM SUIT – where an inherent racism that exists in the studios keeps a movie of such high quality like this from getting distributed. A film like this can change a little kid’s life. Show it to some!
This is one of those films that made me spitting angry when I saw it – and now I look at it and it just makes CONAN THE BARBARIAN look like the fucking miracle that it is. There are some that claim Basil Poledouris’ score for this is superior to the original. I think those people are the crazy… but it is true that this score is great… because I do like it, though it is tied to excrement upon the screen. But there is a CONAN movie that exists with Wilt Chamberlain and Grace Jones – and the ugliest lamest monster at the end. I watch this as cheese… to my wine. I will argue with the movie as I watch it. Picking fights. Fucking their sister and punching its children. This movie is not a worthy sequel. It’s only purpose is as a lesson in how sometimes 1 film is best left alone. Though that’s a defeatist. The fact is – when you make a film as awesomely badass as CONAN THE BARBARIAN – you don’t make a silly, goofily cast and – oh yeah. DO NOT MAKE IT PG!
This isn’t a barebones 2 pack, but the full releases – 2 discs each – for a price of $18.99 – which if you haven’t taken the dip yet, is a damn fine price for a pair of great flicks. Great value.
Personally – I recommend the larger more expensive version – with all the awesome bells and whistles. Sure you’re paying more and you don’t really like GODFATHER part III nearly as much as these two. Sure, you can pay $18.99 for the two truly perfect films. No way of cutting it, that’s a deal. But if you’re a serious film geek – you have to have the frills on an epic like the GODFATHER trilogy.
I devoured this trilogy of feature length episodes of ZEN. That’s the swinging Italian Dick that’s onto the high profile headline grabbing conspiracies and criminal awesome. Every girl wants him, yet he’s particularly fond of this one gal. It really is just the most fun. The three episodes begin with the excellent VENDETTA – then CABAL and finishes up with RATKING. I just wish I could see more of these things. I really did dig Rufus Sewell in this. Love the vibe of a pulpy Italian Detective. And Sewell just nails it. You really should take a look at it!
Tuesday, August 9th, 2011
I really do feel that PAUL is a really great geek comedy. I know that’s a specified genre, but it is an incredibly meta-genre. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have managed by their very base awesome nature – they’ve grown past their Edgar Wright roots – into hands of filmmakers like JJ Abrams, Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and Greg Mottola. These two actors are the patron saints of modern geek culture. The Laurel & Hardy. A modern Cheech & Chong – and they do it with an emotional honesty, geeky enthusiasm and fantastic talent. Here, they constructed a comedy about Nick and Simon coming to the United States for the first time as a writing and artist team – for their first Comic Con… and whilst here, they’ve decided to get together and do a UFO tour of the United States in an RV… and they run into PAUL – played by Seth Rogen – and for me it worked perfectly. My only disappointment was that the end visual effects weren’t quite as amazing as I would’ve hoped. From the spaceship design…. But that’s nitpicking. Overall – I just found it to be fantastic. Also – Kristen Wiig is just amazing in this. My favorite turn of hers.
Not quite the Taxi Driver of garage superhero flicks, but one is most likely coming. And it could resemble this, but less funny and bleak. SUPER is a mean fucking little flick. It’s hilarious. Really great. But it is mean. Once the Anarchist’s Handbook comes out – you’ll just have to hold on till the end. I don’t know if I particularly like Rainn Wilson’s character. He’s awfully… dense. But Ellen Page – holy shit that’s hot. She’s hilarious, sexy and absolutely fucking insane in the film. Good stuff. Kevin Bacon rules this film though. James Gunn has delivered yet another cool as hell genre flick. Be interesting to see him with a bigger budget, but honestly – why? I would love films like this from him on a regular basis. This is pretty damn high quality – because the story and characters work. Doesn’t matter that it’s a small story – because it is so well told. By all means check this out!
You get the straight to video sequel as a bonus… but the original FOX AND THE HOUND has a level of magic that just isn’t replicated. Plus damn, that Bear fight is astonishing. One of the finest tense sequences in the history of Disney animation. Also, the whole relationship between the Fox and the Hound is just so tough. I mean, it isn’t an easy relationship to maintain – and where it goes is pretty rough. It can be very scary, but at the same time, it is a lesson in tolerance and friendship – valuable lessons for any kids. But you really want to just study the bear sequence over and over again. It is so good. Tim Burton had a hand in that – and tonally it is completely its own thing. Amazing.
I didn’t entirely love the film upon first viewing. I think I wanted a different movie than what it was when I first saw it. Re-evaluating it on Blu-Ray moved me from having had an amusing experience… to believing absolutely – that if you have a couple friends over for a movie night… Start with STARDUST – have your drinks or whatever, then follow up with YOUR HIGHNESS. More than anything, this is the raunchy funny as hell version of that kind of fantasy universe. On this planet though… it is all quite a bit sillier. But with the eye candy, just jaw-dropping wierdness and the sense of fun… well, it works! Really glad I gave the film a second watch, it’ll be quite a bit of fun with the right friends.
Ok – so you say you love Johnny Depp. Well, if you don’t love DEAD MAN – I don’t know what to say. This is exactly the sort of film that made me love Johnny Depp. Jarmusch’s DEAD MAN is truly one of the most unique and poetic westerns ever made. The cast alone is worth the visit – with dignitaries like Robert Mitchum, Alfred Molina, Iggy Pop – and damn Gabriel Byrne is great. Then you get a Neil Young soundtrack! And it is perfectly imperfect. If you love bizarre Depp – you’re in for a treat!
This film had terrible trailers – the marketing really made the film look like the worst possible version of the story. Those trailers were definitely cut from this film – but they did it in a way that made the film seem bland, ridiculous and worst of all lame. I always was interested because this was an adaptation of BLOOM COUNTY’s Berkeley Breathed’s children book – and I’m a devout follower of Breathed. Then upon seeing the film – the human characters kind of remind me of that Richard Corben HEAVY METAL look. The main character that turned me off in the trailers is Dan Fogler’s Gribble – but that’s cuz they highlighted the most annoying aspects of his character which are sparsely spread out throughout the actual film. Fogler’s Gribble has an amazing story in this film and easily comes out as my fave character. I also just kind of love Joan Cusack’s mom. She’s just perfect. The Martian design is ultra cute – but this is a thinly veiled juvenile riff on JOHN CARTER OF MARS – the jumping powers, the hatchery, the industrial issues. But this is a kids tale – a silly one, but Seth Green, Dan Fogler and a really cute Martian named Ki made the film a surprising delight. Not perfect, but a fun family flick.
I was 10 years old. My best friend and I snuck into a screening of FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH and – you have to understand, I was about to be in Junior High. It was coming up. It was the sort of thing that as an elementary kid, you get concerned about. You hear that things are different. And I saw this flick. Suddenly I realized that in High School there could be fucking, pregnancy, fights, threats of failing and repeating school, driving and dating. HOLY SHIT! That’s just 3 years away, my monkey brain thought. Phoebe Cates’ motivationally awesome scene aside, for me I love Jennifer Jason Leigh and her brother Judge Reinhold – and I wanted to be that kind of brother for my little sister. One that would be there for her. I found myself once I was at High School trying to identify those characters – and ya know? They were there for me. There’s a truth to FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH. It might seem stylized and crazy, but that’s High School in the 80s. The Vans with no socks, the big hair, the mall scene… the awkwardness, the wild emotional swings, the fucking drama, the class clowns… I love this movie. I love it, because while I was in High School – my friends and I were all watching this movie – countless times to try and figure out the mystery of our own existence. When I watch this film, it carries countless conversations with my best friends, the drama from my high school, the lessons I learned. This is where I first fell in love with Cameron Crowe, cuz you better believe I paid attention to the WRITING credit. This film didn’t sound like kids from American Graffiti or Happy Days or LEAVE IT TO BEAVER – I recognized instantly that this was my youth and we were about to live it. This film was my future – and it was pretty damn accurate. Love this film – love it on BLU – there’s reasons this film needs the highest resolutions!
There’s a part of me that waits every day to hear that Neil Moritz has picked up the option for this – and that Universal would suddenly have the FAST FIVE being recruited to be the M.A.S.K. guys… I was always more into M.A.S.K. than TRANSFORMERS – I loved this show. Having seen MAD MAX 1 & 2 around the same time, the idea of weapon modifying super cars – shit… I’d seen that car swim in a James Bond flick – and this was pushing the gadget car through the roof. So here you have the complete MASK collection – and damn that’s a whole lot of fun. 1500 minutes of amped upped animated car action.
If I were you – I’d hold off for the upcoming Criterion Blu of DAZED AND CONFUSED which comes out about a week before Halloween. This release just won’t be the print nor will it contain the extras and love that Criterion will put into it’s October release. But this copy is $16.49 at Amazon and the Criterion copy is $35.99 – but me… I always hold out for the Criterion if given a chance. It’s rare that the releases are right on top of each other like this – but felt you should know! However, if you can’t wait till October and are on a budget… how else will you sate your 1080p TOP NOTCH urges?
Probably the most applicable and telling documentary about why colonialism is a dying policy. Gives the basics of modern political and guerilla war tactics through the guise of terrorism. The film is stunning. Brilliantly shot – recreating THE big year in the Algerian war for independence from France. Criterion has already done so much for this title in the past, but now giving us a pristine Blu? Fantastic. It comes loaded with supplementals. Just check it all out:
High-definition digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Marcello Gatti, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
Gillo Pontecorvo: The Dictatorship of Truth, a documentary narrated by literary critic Edward Said
Marxist Poetry: The Making of “The Battle of Algiers,” a documentary featuring interviews with Pontecorvo, Gatti, composer Ennio Morricone, and others
Interviews with Spike Lee, Mira Nair, Julian Schnabel, Steven Soderbergh, and Oliver Stone on the film’s influence, style, and importance
Remembering History, a documentary reconstructing the Algerian experience of the battle for independence
“États d’armes,” a documentary excerpt featuring senior French military officers recalling the use of torture and execution to combat the Algerian rebellion
“The Battle of Algiers”: A Case Study, a video piece featuring U.S. counterterrorism experts
Gillo Pontecorvo’s Return to Algiers, a documentary in which the filmmaker revisits the country after three decades of independence
Theatrical and rerelease trailers
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Peter Matthews, excerpts from Algeria’s National Liberation Front leader Saadi Yacef’s original account of his arrest, excerpts from the film’s screenplay, a reprinted interview with cowriter Franco Solinas, and biographical sketches of key figures in the French-Algerian War
Jesse Eisenberg has a tiny, albeit key and gripping scene, in CAMP HELL… but if you’ve ever kind of wanted a CHRISTIAN CAMP horror film – where if what they preached was actually felt in the physical world instead of metaphysical world of faith. It has all kinds of creeps. It is also cryptically inspired by true events. I have to admit, Jesse Eisenberg’s involvement lured this into my machine, and while his part was small, the quality of the project when he left screen continued to hold up and surprise. Let this be the horror film to show that friend of yours that’s headed for their Christian Camp. It’ll be loads of fun.
I will watch any and all Christina Lindberg projects ever. I’ve seen a few – and I don’t mind saying this – she is a total turn on. She’s THE star of the great Swedish sexploitation and violence classics – and her performances, body and just exquisite face & poise – just holds my attention. I just want it all on Blu! This was very much worth it. This also has one helluva movie party. I’ve noted that they’re very different from my own. I have taken detailed notes though. Perhaps you could learn a thing or two. This is also Lindberg’s last film. Sadly.
You see that quote? “A MUST FOR FILM BUFFS” from New York Magazine? Take it to the bank. At the heart of film is the love of the photographic image. Few ever captured better images on film than Jack Cardiff. This film about his life is required film geek blu ray purchase material. For one, just getting to see Cardiff’s brilliance on display in 1080p – when so much of it is still not available in the format. Also – Cardiff’s own story is just fascinating. Pure film geek bliss!
Fucking piece of shit! Will somebody please make a great film with Keitel again?!?!?
I’m familiar with THE SAINT through Roger Moore’s TV Show and the Val Kilmer minor atrocity. That said – the notion of the man that once faced the children of the damned as The Saint, no matter how ironic that character title is for the man playing him here… I’m dying to check these out. Here for the first time on DVD are the 5 George Sanders SAINT films which began in 1939. I’ve always heard nothing but the best about this series – and hope mine arrive soon!
Next week I’ll be back with the latest JANE EYRE, SOMETHING BORROWED, PRIEST, THE CONSPIRATOR, THE BIG LEBOWSKI Blu, Criterion’s Blu of Kubrick THE KILLING, John Carpenter’s THE WARD, DEMOLITION MAN Blu, Part 1 of Season 2 of BRAVE & THE BOLD, Polanski’s CUL-DE-SAC – Criterion Blu, COBRA Blu, ASSASSINS Blu, THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK, MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN Blu, THE BANG BANG CLUB, ARMED AND DANGEROUS Blu, MUPPETS FROM SPACE Blu, AGENT 8 ¾, BREAKING GLASS Blu, CAN’T YOU HEAR THE WIND HOWL?, STONEY / KILLER LIKES CANDY and that’s about it! Till then hope you enjoy!