Hey folks, Harry here… Here ya go with today’s releases of interest in the domain of home video. There’s some truly great stuff this week. As usual the images and links take you to Amazon where if you like the item in question and want it, you can get it – and a small portion of your purchase price goes to support the best efforts of this column. So thanks again, and I hope you enjoy several of these great titles this week!
Tuesday, August 16th, 2011
Here’s a piece of bliss to kick the list off with. We got some important and truly brilliant films later on this list, but say you want a movie that is guaranteed to pick up your spirits, tickle you through and through. A film that will enthuse you and remember just exactly how remarkably awesome that John Candy was. One of my all time favorite fat guy performers in film history. He’s a bit like a fat Errol Flynn, with mad splashes of Gleason here and there. He has a soul of a child – and longs to be remembered. John is a force of nature in ARMED AND DANGEROUS. One of my very favorite performances of his. He’s surrounded by great and funny talent in this film and because he’s gone – the whole thing is bittersweet… which gives it such a wonderful full bodied laugh. You find yourself so endeared to Candy’s every action. Once he dons that outfit on the cover of the Blu, it’s just pure happy. The lovable rascal. Candy was the man!
Ok – I’m now absolutely convinced that the Joker’s clown mask from the Heist at the opening of THE DARK KNIGHT, could only have looked the way it did, if Christopher Nolan said to somebody, “Let’s make his mask evoke Sterling Hayden’s mask from Kubrick’s THE KILLING!” – because folks… it totally does. What you have here is a perfect crime film. Laid out, precisely. Executed pretty damn well, but the nature of greed can be such a fuck in the ass. I love watching this flick. The photography alone is just something that I can’t rip my eyeballs from. But after the film, I went to the extras – and lo and behold there was an HD printof THE KILLER’S KISS… so here you have a Criterion presented double feature of Kubrick Classics. Here in Kubrick’s earliest work you’ll see everything that he was to become. He has an uncompromising and powerful eye at all times. Watching this pair of films you can find yourself wishing that Kubrick never left the genre. I sometimes fantasize about Kubrick and Jim Thompson teaming up for about 7 adaptations of Jim’s work. His dialogue in THE KILLING is just incendiary. Such a treat, thanks Criterion!
New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
New video interview with producer James B. Harris
Excerpts of interviews with actor Sterling Hayden from the French television series Cinéma cinémas
New video interview with film scholar Robert Polito about writer Jim Thompson and his work on The Killing
Restored transfer of Stanley Kubrick’s 1955 noir feature Killer’s Kiss
New video appreciation of Killer’s Kiss with film critic Geoffrey O’Brien
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film historian Haden Guest and a reprinted interview with Marie Windsor on The Killing
This is a pretty damn good return from John Carpenter. Here you have a “something wrong in the girl’s looney bin” story. For those of you that got introduced to the genre with SUCKERPUNCH… prepare for an entirely more sedate take. Carpenter makes the most of his cast, budget and script – delivering a solid scary tale that make me wish for more… and often. Once the film begins echoing a bit of the GRUDGE, I really began to like it. The “problem” is so damn creepy looking. Especially the creepy skin. The first few of ya that email me something cool and Carpenter-y will score an autographed by John Carpenter poster for THE WARD. Be sure to include your home address so we can ship them to ya!
The biggest problem with CUL-DE-SAC is that it is not KNIFE IN THE WATER or REPULSION. To me, that’s its strength. Reminds me in a way of JUNIOR BONNER, in that most of the criticism that is leveled at it – comes from it defying the expectations of the first two films. I like it. It’s a more subtle mind fuck, than the first two, but you can’t deny there’s something just wrong about the situation these characters are in. There’s something insidious beneath the scenes and I love it. Mad love for Donald Pleasance in this, but you’ll love Lionel Stander. Not a ton of extras but I do like the short documentary. Here ya go:
New digital restoration, approved by director Roman Polanski, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
Two Gangsters and an Island, a 2003 short documentary about the making of Cul-de-sac, featuring interviews with Polanski, producer Gene Gutowski, and cinematographer Gil Taylor
Interview with Polanski from 1967
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Thompson
I fucking love COBRA. Always have. Always will. Imagine the most ridiculously intense Harry Callahan style lone-wolf cop ever. That’s COBRA. His car is my all time favorite bulge-mobile. Those sunglasses and the dour look of Stallone’s… it’s just awesome. The film is still just too goddamn short. There’s nothing to it, the film is obviously missing an entire act where something happened, but I’m not sure what or where it goes. Directed by George Cosmatos (R.I.P.) – whose RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II and TOMBSTONE just make me so very happy as I watch. Stallone’s laser mounted submachine gun just rules. As do the crazy axe wielding psychos of this flick. And Brigitte Nielsen… 1080p for a reason buddies. Disc has Cosmatos commentary, a making of and the trailer. Not bare bones… this is the the film I want a modern sequel of. I want a retired Marion Cobretti targeted by the axe gang’s grown chidren… and I want it to be an ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 style affair. I really do. Because there must be a poster for a movie named MARION COBRETTI. Right?
Love this. This is one of those films about a parent that is brilliant, so when his son dies, he presevers the brain and builds with the younger so a big robot to put the brain into – because this is always a very good idea – and bam, you have THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK – a sci fi classic from 1958. Released for the first time on DVD! About friggin time! Oh – and Otto Kruger plays the father that we wish would put our brains into giant robot bodies! I really would love a giant robot body.
OK – this is just a very sweet Blu Ray. Sweet because this is just one of the movies that could very well hold the meaning of life. Somewhere in this magical send up of Chandler, is something entirely new and its own. One day – Coens willing – we’ll get Lil Lebowski – which will be like BABY’S DAY OUT but way duder. I want Holly and Nick to take the Dude and Julianne’s lil Dude and The Dude and Walter go after the doomed culprits. I can’t help but dream of this flick. And I would be totally happy to just dream of it – because THE BIG LEBOWSKI is specific perfection. The Blu Ray is pretty damn sweet, lots of extras and I love the Book Blus when they’re done right like this. This and ARMED & DANGEROUS are my recommends based upon anticipated rewatchability.
The reason to get this is Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska. They’re superb. Fassbender’s Rochester won’t make you forget the towering performance by Orson Welles, but it’s damn fine work – and I love watching Mia and Michael play these characters. I also love the new way that Fukunaga took in telling the story. It was bold and ultimately very satisfying. I’m also quite fond of Jamie Bell’s character. Such a great adaptation. I’ll revisit this a few times.
Pure ridiculous fun. The product placement soured me a bit on the film upon initial viewing in 1993, but repeat viewings over the years have just made me so accustomed to more flagrant examples – that I’ve chilled out on this flick and learned to just enjoy the hell out of it. This is essentially CONNETICUTT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT, but if it starred Stallone and Snipes… and was just fucking genius. Everything about this film is just cheesy fucking fun. The film has grown in entertainment value over the years. I swear it wasn’t this much fun in 1993. But now that we live in the future, this shit is hilarious. It all works. You get a Brambilla and Joel Silver commentary. Think about the possibilities.
Robert Redford directs a very handsomely produced courtroom case involving the court cases following the Lincoln assassination. James McAvoy is assigned the case of defending the mother of one of the accused. The Mother is Robin Wright. They are fantastic. I feel Danny Huston is a bit too Snidely Whiplash. But McAvoy continues to impress. This is awfully dry material though. Nothing particularly pulpy about any of it. There’s a tad of DocuDrama going on here, but I like that kind of thing, especially in a court room setting. If you love a good historical work though, you’ll dig on this. Redford did solid work.
Ya know – after hearing how awful this film was from friends online… after hearing that it was a total bullshit adaptation of the really superior source material. I went into this expecting to just hate viciously upon the film. BUT… giggle… I didn’t realize that this was a post-apocalyptic monster vampires vs Jedi Catholics with futuristic crazy fast motorcycles in an unofficial remake of THE SEARCHERS with Paul Bettany as John Wayne… well, once I made that connection – as the story moved forward, I just giggled at it. Had fun with it. Looked at it as pure B-Horror-Scifi that wanted to be epic as hell, but just wasn’t written or performed with near enough of the nuance and emotion that would’ve made for a brilliant PRIEST film… but ya know… I had a helluva fun time with a lot of this. Looks goofy as hell sometimes, but some of the shots are damn effective. It is better than PWSA’s crap.
If you still have not discovered the metaphysical joy that comes from BATMAN: BRAVE & THE BOLD – I don’t know what to say. Other than… You Need To Change That. This is pure happy mainlined. This feels like classic silver age BATMAN and DC universe. Before things became so direly serious. When superheroing was fun. There’s some real crazy nerd genius at play on this series – and I take it not everyone has been supporting it, as after this next set – we won’t be getting any more. The Aquaman episode is some of the funniest shit I’ve seen in a long time. Pure fun.
This and the next film are a pair of the shameful flicks that I just can not sit through. I fucking hate THE SPECIALIST. I just can not watch it. Everything doesn’t work. I just. I really dislike this movie.
The acting is so bad. The film is so flatly uninteresting that I just don’t care about anything that’s happening, no matter how much energy is given to it. The characters don’t work, the actors don’t spark and it just lies there dead for me. I absolutely do not recommend.
Ok. Not my favorite two, but we’re getting a pair of Muppet Blu-Rays! This was the third Muppet flick – and I had a blast with this film. Frank Oz helmed it and there’s several classic moments and a whole lotta laughs.
Definitely fun, but not really magic for me. It just doesn’t have the energy of those old PIGS IN SPACE skits… at least not for me. The edge seems slightly dulled here. But it is still a whole bunch of fun. Hoping we get all the Muppets on Blu this year – but haven’t heard for sure. MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL and THE MUPPET MOVIE are the ones I must have.
I’m not familiar with CUT-THROATS NINE, but Fred Williamson’s JOSHUA is a mid-seventies blaxploitation revenge classic which has Fred playing a former Union Soldier that discovers his mother had been killed badly. He becomes a bountyhunter and seeks revenge too. GOOD STUFF! Plus you get whatever CUT THROATS NINE is. Cool title at least!
Dirk Bogarde plays BRUCE CAMPBELL!!! Frankly, that’s all I needed to know. Then I found out that this wasn’t THE BRUCE CAMPBELL, but a character named Bruce Campbell – long before the one true Bruce had ever come into existence. Alright – so Dirk’s Bruce is dying, but ain’t got time to die cuz he’s inherited his father’s valley which his old man was convinced had oil on it. But then there’s a shoddily made Dam and a corporate concern – and the great Stanley Baker is in this! So yeah, for a movie that I never heard of from 1957, this movie – once it gets going, really gets exciting. Very nicely done!
Next week we’ll be looking at TROLL HUNTER, ROUNDERS, BLITZ, WIN WIN, THE BEAVER, SWINGERS, 4 Roger Corman Fantasy flicks, BAMBI 2, HOSTAGE, SECRET SUNSHINE Criterion Blu, THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD, ERNEST SCARED STUPID Blu, LITTLE BIG SOLDIER Blu, BABY: SECRET OF THE LOST LEGEND, Corman WOMEN IN CAGES triple bill on Blu, SCENES FROM A MALL Blu, ERNEST GOES TO JAIL Blu, ERNEST GOES TO CAMP Blu, ONE MINUTE TO ZERO and more! See ya then!