Hey folks, Harry here with the past 2 weeks DVD & Blu columns… Got a little underwater – mainly due to so many titles coming late and not giving me time to screen them. I really do try to watch as many of the titles as humanly possible before I come out with the column, but more and more often I get releases the day before – which just doesn’t give me time to watch them all. But add dealing with BNAT and it just gets me behind. So sorry about that. I’ve managed to get through a crazy amount of releases since Yoko took of for London, so I’m poised to be in great shape for this coming week’s column and the one after that. As usual all the links and pics will take you to Amazon, where you can purchase the item in question. So I hope you enjoy! If you purchase anything through the links, thank you – it helps keep the column going and things easier at home! So thanks. Here ya go…
Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
Watching this a few nights before Halloween, I was enchanted all over again. Turn your computer screens and tablets and cel phones dark. Sit and imagine a time when films flickered as music played. Simple, powerful, iconic framing. Masterful make-up, humbling craftsmanship. The interior of the Opera is my favorite set I’ve ever visited. Seeing it on the Universal Backlot was the sheerest magic I’ve ever felt. To stand (I was walking back then) where Lon Chaney created this… presence … Mary Philbin’s beauty, those eyes… the theatrical manner in her body… less like the world we live in, more like a nightmare. The stunning 1929 edition’s tinted scenes are just stunning on Blu. They did a fairly great job here. I personally would have loved getting like Savini, Nicotero, Rick Baker and Bob Burns talking about PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and Lon Chaney. I feel that each print needs to be mastered in perfect 1080p – and the 480p version of the original 1925 in the wrong aspect ratio. Well. I just want the attention they gave the 1929 version. That said – what is perfect is worth the price of the disk. Given the slim silent pickings on Blu-Ray – I applaud the release. But KINO and CRITERION would’ve done a more exacting job of the release I feel.
This was the first Pixar release that I didn’t see theatrically. That press screening was held when I had to be at Rehab, was the excuse I used to just not go. I appreciated CARS, but there was always something about the film that left me flat. The trailers for this just didn’t make me feel like I needed to see it. That said, when I put the Blu Ray in and I sat back, turned everything off and watched CARS 2… I enjoyed it. I loved it. I might loathe about 99% of what Larry The Cable Guy’s schtick is… but I can not deny that PIXAR does know how to take that personality and make it comment upon itself and become something unexpected. Pixar has a magic about them, that even when the film feels like a cash grab, at the end of the movie, I couldn’t help but smile like a kid that got candy. The film is just beautiful. The global expansion of the CARS universe continues to just be scary and a little freaky. Something has gone terribly wrong on Earth. If I think of the CARS universe as being our own, it really disturbs me. So instead, I have to think of it as an Alternate Earth where this is simply the way it is. But as that universe expands – I wonder if we’ll ever see a time-traveling car that shows us a look at the history of this universe… pre-Stanley Steamer.
Yeah, Ryan Gosling teaching Steve Carrell how to be a smooth single man that can get a date is kinda fucking awesome. It’s funny. Kevin Bacon is awesome. Emma Stone continues to just be one of my favorite young actresses. But as I watched this film - it actually singlehandedly tore me away from writing this column and for two days made me an attentive husband towards YOKO who was leaving for a week's stay in London. I love this film. Intensely. Carell, Gosling, Moore, Stone, Tomei and Bacon are all great - as is the kid! Love this film. Fave Gosling performance of the year.
This is my favorite version of Dickens’ classic Christmas tale. That’s because I just love Alastair Sim. He is Scrooge in my mind. Perhaps because this was the first version of the tale I saw. My parents repeatedly showed this to me as a yearly affair throughout my known memory. It is a vicious cycle that I have not yet learned how to escape, for I haven’t the will to attempt it. Alastair just makes me smile. The idea of him, the voice, those big awesome eyes of his. He isn’t this impossibly twisted evil man, he’s human… relatable… cheap & grumpy, certainly – but delightfully self-absorbed. I believe in the existence… no, I invest a degree of cinematic soul to the existence of this man playing this character. It is simply meant to have happened.
If you know this movie, it is already purchased. Bill Murray’s SCROOGED is one of those Bill performances, for which we bow at the base of the Shrine of Murray and pray to worship. Now we have a sharp and killer BluRay to enjoy Bill’s particularly awesome brand of scrooging. He may not be my primary Scrooge – but I do have a particularly warm spot in my heart for this lump of coal.
Probably the worst Spielberg film, that I can’t help but love while I’m bitching incessantly about things that just bug the living shit out of me. I loathe Julia Roberts’ Tinkerbell. I hate about 75% of Robin Williams’ performance… I hate Peter’s son passionately. I loathe Refugio. That said… so long as John Williams’ amazing score is belting out the soul the film is otherwise missing, I can veg with a wistful smile upon my face and forget that I really do have massive problems with this… Spielberg’s most disappointing miss. This was the film he was born to do – and it is ALMOST there. Missed by a couple miles, but the elements of Spielberg that do work, work wonderfully. Smee and Hook? Wonderful. The younger Lost Boys. I love them. Old lady Wendy still being in love with Peter though he is now an adopted son-in-law. I love it. I probably would love a commentary by Spielberg on this film, more than any other film Steven did, simply because I know he feels conflicted upon the film as well, and it’d be fascinating for him to discover and reflect upon this film and the experience of making it. The BLU-Ray is pretty bare, but the transfer looks quite popping.
I love this film. Mainly because I worship Gregory Peck. He’s my cinematic Dad. Ever since watching GUNS OF NAVARONE and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD as a very young boy, I think of Peck as my fantasy father in cinema. He has a way of doing things that just makes him THE MAN! In THE BIG COUNTRY – he plays this shipping magnate/Captain – that fell in love with this lady who is entirely too hung up on loving her Daddy. So he heads out to her Ranch in the middle of Big Country – with tons of arrogant ignorant Cowpokes played by the likes of Charlton Heston and Chuck Connors… You’ll discover one of the great Burl Ives performances in this. But for those of us that love Jean Simmons… her School Marm is just awesome. BUT what is most awesome about THE BIG COUNTRY? Gregory Peck. He’s just the very model of what it should be to be a man. A man needs to prove things to himself, not to others. It is a mantra that Peck lives by in this film, and he’s the fucking man for it. The throwdown between Peck and Heston is just the shit of legend. It is up there with Wayne and MacLagen throwing down through the streets of that Irish town in THE QUIET MAN or the back alleys of a Fascist Alien run world in THEY LIVE. THE BIG COUNTRY fight is epic in its intimate no-holds barred exhaustion. William Wyler is one of the great directors – check out this Blu and discover why!
I’m not sure if I quite feel like declaring COP LAND as a great film, but it certainly has great performances in it. I love Stallone, Keitel, Liotta and De Niro in the film – though I did prefer De Niro in BACKDRAFT for this type of character. But it’s a good character. So I’m ok with it. I had my PT in REHAB reference this film in relation to what has gone down at PENN STATE with the sex scandal that has brought down Joe Paterno – and I see that. The problem with covering for your buddies, especially if they're fucking 10 year olds, is it drags you and everything you stand for down into a deserved pit of hell. COP LAND is a great “Good Ol Boy” flick – those films where seemingly good guys… Cops… they get together and realize that they pretty much rule – and that power destroys them. Ah hell, it’s a great film. I love COP LAND. Great to have it on Blu!
Alright – so watching Errol Morris’ TABLOID makes me seriously fascinated by the story of Joyce McKinney and this crazy fucking Mormon fucking & kidnapping story. I love every step of this doc, and Joyce is just a fascinating woman on camera. This is a story that just doesn’t seem at all possible, but it happened – and it’s the crazy batnuts shit that worms its way into a Tabloid paper, but those stories are never as captivating as a great filmmaker can make them, and Errol Morris does an amazing job at getting to the heart of the matter. Do not miss this film.
Wow. What a fucking movie. Gerard Depardieu plays an ALEX like bastard of a Boy gone Wild type. BTW that’s Alex as in Malcolm McDowell in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. This was Gerard Depardieu’s first film. 1974, French. In France the title if translated, meant TESTACLES… and that’s appropriate. Gerard and his best friend are a pair of ne’er do wells that go through life stealing what they want, fucking whom they want… intimidating, raping, brutally beating… I mean, they’re like the worst things ever. EXCEPT, this is a comedy and while what these characters do is repulsive, they’re shown in such an incredibly charismatic light that you laugh at their antics – which are repugnant. Jeanne Moreau is unforgettable as a woman recently released from prison that Gerard and his friend meet up with. Just outstanding!
Just… watch it. If you love wild crazy nonsensical visual splendor and wowitude, then BUNRAKU is for you. Lacking in almost all other categories – does mean it is lacking in the whole experience, but the Visual fun of this film very nearly makes you completely not give a shit about that. You deserve to check it out.
I really love Clooney’s directorial debut with CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND. I also love pretending, as I watch it, that it is all – absolutely true. I’m pretty sure this shit didn’t go down like this, but the world would be better if it went down like this. On that, I’m sure we can all agree. Right? Nice to have this on Blu! Clooney is the most interesting Actor/Director working right now, for my money.
The story of PT-109 is one of those awesome tales about John F Kennedy, that just makes JFK all the cooler. Cliff Robertson is playing the young PT boat skipper who, along with a coconut – managed to triumphantly save his men and more. This true story is one for all ages to watch. The ingenuity and thought that went into this true life tale is awesome. Personally, I can see this being excellent material for a remake, mainly to get a better JFK performance. I love Cliff Robertson in the film, but he really doesn’t resemble or act much like JFK. That said – the movie is fantastic. Check it out!
That little silver bell doesn’t ring worth a shit. It is the Holiday season again – so that means that we’re gonna be treated to reissues to clutter columns – and if you love IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and somehow don’t own the film on Blu yet, here’s as fine a chance as any. The Blu is essentially the same that has already come out. Filled with extras and giving you about anything you’d want on this film. BUT – I really do hate the little bell. It should have a beautiful tone when it rings. Not a clank. No angel earns wings at a clank. I will not be moved on this issue. As for the film. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE is one of my desert island picks. A film to make you reflect on the good of your own life. What have you done that has counted. How have you helped others in your life? The story of George Bailey is a story to hold on to forever. In some ways the weirdest film of Capra’s career – and it is just perfection.
Discover the crazy awesome of the Filipino genre films as this documentary highlights them. I love docs like this. They’re like buying crazy cult movie books at the local library – and then the joy of tracking down the films – until you’ve seen them all. This is pretty much what every hardcore movie lover that I’ve known in my life has done. I love funky monsters and nudity – but also the particular look of these films. There’s an energy and a vitality that doesn’t make them half-assed. Fun documentary. It is also on Netflix!
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.: 8 Movies Collection ( TO TRAP A SPY, THE SPY WITH MY FACE, ONE SPY TOO MANY, THE SPY IN THE GREEN HAT, ONE OF OUR SPIES IS MISSING, THE KARATE KILLERS, THE HELICOPTER SPIES and HOW TO STEAL THE WORLD )
We all know that the world is moving to relaunch this franchise, but for me – there will always be one Napoleon Solo and one Illya Kuryakin – and yes, even just one Mr Waverly! Like the GREEN HORNET movie that came out in the Seventies, the MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. movies were hobbled together from existing materials. But released theatrically. TO TRAP A SPY was essentially an expanded version of the pilot. THE SPY WITH MY FACE came from expanding upon THE DOUBLE AFFAIR. They’re all expanded pre-existing television episodes. You’ll have Rip Torn, Yvonne Craig, Jack Palance, James Doohan, Vera Miles, Telly Savalas, Herbert Lom, Joan Crawford, Jill Ireland, Kim Darby, Leslie Nielsen and Carol Lynley to add awesome to the already awesome world of U.N.C.L.E. Hope they keep this period!
Remember back in 1976 when Kurt Russell and Tim Matheson were cast in a pilot called THE QUEST – which was essentially going to be a television adaptation of John Ford’s THE SEARCHERS – Now it isn’t a direct adaptation – Kurt and Tim play brothers searching for their Indian kidnapped sister who is now living with an Indian Tribe. Me either. But with Brian Keith and John Cameron Mitchell – I’m there. This just sounds too cool!
Want to see why Tim Burton fell in love with Michael Gough? This isn’t the only reason, but for those of us that have tracked Gough for most of our lives – BLACK ZOO is the film we slip in to show people what Gough could really do. I first saw this on 16mm on a print that my “Uncle Bob” had – and BLACK ZOO is just awesome fun. I love this director’s STUDY IN TERROR which is a criminally underrated Sherlock Holmes film, but this movie has all the elements firing full blast. The animals rule, the score rules, the performances are awesome – and any movie with Elisha Cook Jr is worth checking out. That’s a hard and fast rule btw.
From the director of ENTER THE DRAGON, Robert Clouse and starring WALKING TALL’s Joe Don Baker – we have a horror film about a resort of people upon SEAL ISLAND that are being terrorized by a feral pack of bugnuts doggies left by tourists over the years that hunger for human flesh… AWESOME! This came out during the height of Animal Terror in Hollywood – and thank god!
This Hammer production of a Hitchcockian Directorial Debut of cinematographer Freddie Francis is fascinating. You have a man waking with no memory from a car crash, he begins investigating the only leads he has and discovers he may be a crazy killer on the loose… or being framed by a murderous plot against him. Either way – tis fun, lurid and just what I wanted.
Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Terry Gilliam’s THE FISHER KING deserves a real blowout via Criterion – I want hours of extras, commentary, etc with this title. THE FISHER KING is just a film that has the ability to devastate you. To make you love film aggressively. The performances are uniformly amongst everyone’s best work. Same can be said of all other creative partners in the making of this film. It looks beautiful on Blu. Not an idle watch, this is a film that will absorb your complete consciousness until you are overwhelmed with love for the film. If not. You might be broken. Lay under a tree until the day turns into late night. Ponder existence. FISHER KING is one of the greatest Gilliam works. LOVE IT!
Another great William Wyler flick. About as far as you could possibly get from THE BIG COUNTRY btw. If you’ve never seen THE COLLECTOR – you’ve never seen anything quite like it. It stars Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar. Terence Stamp is a nobody that won the lottery. The kind of man that lives on the fringe of awareness by his co-workers and associates. If someone told you he had been fired, you’d have a Dickens of the time trying to place them. Samantha Eggar is a beautiful lady that never knew that Terence Stamp really existed until he abducted her, put her in the stone wine cellar of his isolated British estate… until she loves him. The film is not TORTURE PORN. It handles the subject brilliantly. Stamp’s performance is amazing. Eggar’s is as well, but the physicality of Stamp… the way he moves and reflects his spirit within his movement is amazing to watch. I’d love to see a modern day sequel to this directed by Mark Romanek and again starring Terence Stamp. Could be the scariest movie ever.
We all know that eventually, Warners will complete their big Book sized Blu-Ray releases for Potter, but if you want the film for the here and now – this is your option. The Maximum Movie Mode they have for the film is a great extra – but really – this is about having a great version to watch at home until the really tricked out deluxe Blu hits – later next year I’d wager. Absolutely love the film. And this Ultraviolet shit has got to stop. Just give us our digital copy already!
You obviously know why you must own the unrated GIA on Blu-Ray. It’s so self-explantory – that we have all already bought it. Cuz we must have it unrated, right. Because it is amazing. Important. Right?
Yeah. Lynch’s BLUE VELVET is a fever bomb of cinema. The sort of film that makes you sweat, because that is how the human body reacts to this badassness. This is truly a kind of film we just never see anymore. So quotable. Such a great score by Angelo Badalamenti! Looks great on Blu. Fire it up!
I love seeing this tale told cinematically over history. The Laughton and Gable version is great. I also love Gibson’s BOUNTY. But there’s something about Marlon Brando’s Fletcher Christian that just feels right. Trevor Howard also feels right to me. The nudity of Tahiti is a part of that. It completes the paradise – makes one feel that perhaps their prudish upbringing was wrong. Also – Richard Harris is great here… as he always is. This is a beautiful film. Definitely give it a watch or two. The experience of shooting this film stayed with Brando for his entire life. It changed him, as Tahiti changed Fletcher. You can see it in his performance. Fantastic work! It also has great extras!
DO NOT BUY! TOTAL FUCKING RIPOFF! LOOKS LIKE SHIT! Great film that is given the travesty treatment. Looks crap!
This, THE GRADUATE, MARATHON MAN and ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN are my favorite Dustin Hoffman performances. With LITTLE BIG MAN actually being my favorite. I love the gargantuan jackass that Custer is in the film. I love Chief Dan George. I love “snake eyes” – and when Dustin learns to shoot… it is amazing. I love the real stunts and the absolute epicness of the film. It is such the better version of DANCES WITH WOLVES. As great a film as Hollywood knows how to make.
I actually mark this as one of the most important films in my life. Why? Because I use this film to mark the exact moment in my life that I became aware of Jackie Chan. His part was small – but eye-catching to my Kung Fu monkey brain at age 9. As a result, I began looking for Jackie Chan on movies – and it led me to the modern Hong Kong film movement. Opened me up for Jet Li, John Woo and a never-ending run of discovery. And I have CANNONBALL RUN to thank for that. I was already a Burt Reynolds geek, my mom used to talk openly about her lust for Burt. So happy to have this on Blu! It is a party film. They partied making it – and we party watching it!
This would be a great double feature for TABLOID from last Tuesday. I’d recommend watching this first though… cuz TABLOID is even more outrageous! Which is kind of crazy to think about. This is my favorite Nicole Kidman movie. She’s amazing in it. Gus Van Sant is in top form with the film. Love Illeanna Douglas in this! Plus the movie is just so lovely to watch. Beautifully shot. Definitely a must watch!
Amazon’s description of FANNY AND ALEXANDER as the more upbeat and accessible film of Ingmar Bergman’s career – kind of annoys the fuck out of me. I suppose that’s true. But it is just as brilliant as his least accessible work. Bergman’s movies are films to savor. To digest. To think about. They are not films that the second it is over you have 1 thing to say. Like, “It’s great!” – No – instead it makes you reflect upon the film itself, how scenes are open to interpretation and even inspiration. In that respect Bergman is one of the greatest filmmakers because his work is challenging, but incredibly rewarding to work your mind around. FANNY AND ALEXANDER won 4 Academy Awards including Best Foreign Language Film – though it was nominated for 6 Awards. Criterion has done a great job on this Autobiographical tale. Here’s what Criterion has put together for ya:
High-definition digital restorations of the television and theatrical versions of Fanny and Alexander
High-definition digital restoration of Ingmar Bergman’s feature-length documentary The Making of Fanny and Alexander
Ingmar Bergman Bids Farewell to Film, a sixty-minute conversation between Bergman and film critic Nils Petter Sundgren recorded for Swedish television in 1984
Audio commentary on the theatrical version by film scholar Peter Cowie
A Bergman Tapestry, a documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew
Costume sketches and footage of the models for the film’s sets
Optional English-dubbed soundtrack for the theatrical version
PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by documentarian and film historian Stig Björkman, novelist Rick Moody, and film scholar Paul Arthur
Fanny and Alexander—The Television Version 1982
In Swedish with English subtitles
1.66:1 aspect ratio
Fanny and Alexander—The Theatrical Version 1982
In Swedish with English subtitles
1.66:1 aspect ratio
The Making of Fanny and Alexander 1983
In Swedish with English subtitles
133:1 aspect ratio
I love ABSENCE OF MALICE – where one man is wrongfully labeled as being under-investigation by the government in relation to a newsworthy crime. Newman is presumed guilty until found innocent – and seeks to clear his name as best he can. Bob Balaban is such a fucking asshole in this movie. And Sally Field is so cute… on Blu, her hair just has the most amazing healthy look to it. Seriously! I love this film, it teaches you a lot about the ethics of reporting – just because a fact is true, doesn’t mean it should be reported. Another great Sydney Pollack movie!
For $99.99 you get both series in this rather handsome box set of Spielberg/Hanks produced WWII mayhem in Europe and the Pacific! That’s a 50% savings btw – so if you got a friend that loves this stuff – or a parent or grandparent or greatgrandparent – this is a whole lot of entertainment done right! There is a Documentary exclusive to this set – that’s all about the postwar lives of the veterans of both series – which is outstanding!
I love FRANKENHOOKER – but as amazing as it is to see FRANKENHOOKER in 1080p… I’ve never seen the film projected. I first rented this from Blockbuster after I pressed her left boobie and the VHS box screamed, “WANNA DATE?” at me. So of course I took Frankenhooker home – and I’ve been happy ever since. I don’t know if it’s possible to do such product madness on BLU boxes – but until then, VHS owns this Blu! Giggle. Synapse did a great job on this release otherwise! A 2k hd print, 5.1 DTS HD surround, Commentary by Henenlotter and Makeup wizard Gabe Bartalos… plus all kinds of special features. If only the box screamed WANNA DATE!?!?!?
Great to have all televised Magoo… I just wish we had them all uncensored. I kept my copy I was sent to review, but I’m annoyed that I can’t hear the original tracks. Have they been lost? What’s the story?
YES! THANK YOU! MAY I HAVE ANOTHER! I love getting 6 hours of Dean Martin’s awesome Variety Show… But I would love a complete collection one day, all these sets do is leave me wanting more. I mean… you get such amazing rare performances with this show! Early Bill Cosby, Carroll O Connor, Mickey Rooney, Louis Armstong, Johnny Mathis, The Supremes and so many others. You kind of have to make room for the king of cool!
I prefer Woo and Chow Yun-Fat’s original – and my love of that film made watching this one difficult – especially as the film went along, although… the Korean version is absolutely riveting. I was just always distracted by the memory of the original. Which goes to the heart of remakes. The filmmaking by Hae-Sung Song is so handsome and so watchable – and yet I wished it was an original story. That said, if you love badass films – this one is badass enough to enjoy! Especially while the only way to get Woo’s original on Blu is to overpay for an Import disc, nearly 3 times the price of this one… which is about right in my mind.
So the PENN STATE news just boggles your mind right? Can’t imagine that kind of thing happening? Well, check out IN A GLASS CAGE, made 25 years ago it’s all about an ex-Nazi doctor who committed terribly appalling sex crimes on little boys during the war went unpunished. He went to Spain and yeah – it gets terrible. The movie is great, the situations are terrible. This film has been compared to SALO by others – consider that your warning. It is, I feel, a better more shocking film.
Alright that’s the first 2 weeks of November – I’ll be back with this Tuesday’s column tomorrow night, but we’ll be checking out the latest Pirates of the Caribbean, THE LION KING blu, WEST SIDE STORY Blu, MY FAIR LADY Blu, EVIL DEAD 2 Blu, LARRY CROWNE, THE ROLLING STONES: SOME GIRLS LIVE IN TEXAS ’78, FARSCAPE Blu, BEGINNERS, LOONEY TUNES Platinum Blu, Kieslowski’s Colors Trilogy from CRITERION, IT TAKES A THIEF series, Moroder’s METROPOLIS!!! CRIME STORY series, THE RULES OF THE GAME Criterion Blu, BELLFLOWER Blu, KOREA: THE FORGOTTEN WAR, INFERNAL AFFAIRS Blu, WWII IN HD, TREASURE HUNTER Blu, PROPHECY Blu, GRIFF THE INVISIBLE, NEVERWHERE, SUPERHEROES and more!