Hey folks, Harry here… Here’s a treat. I caught up and even have one more week of releases. That’s right, this is the rest of the year column. Since I’m going to be at DisneyWorld on a Holiday vacation with my fam, I figured I’d just do it up early for ya. It’s been a tough year and next year will be another fight. But I’ll do my best to keep these columns coming and even more regular, I hope. As usual, the images and links take you over to Amazon where you can learn more on a given title or purchase the item, which gives a bit back to help keep the column going. Something that is highly appreciated. Now – here’s the releases through to the end of the year…
Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
This is the great film that I feel is still my favorite Peter Jackson film. I love it because it dares to get inside the confused, manic imaginations of a pair of girls that committed a horrible, terrible murder. The film is a tragedy told as a romance, with beautiful doses of fantasy, youth and blood. But most of all… it has MARIO!!! More on that with the next film. But HEAVENLY CREATURES really made the entire world pay attention to what Peter Jackson was up to in New Zealand. The plugged in here were already in love with BAD TASTE and BRAIN DEAD (DEAD ALIVE) – but this film stood out not only due to the amazing screenplay, not just the beautiful cinematography or the pure energy that Jackson infused in this film… But due to the discovery of not just Kate Winslet, but Melanie Lynskey – if you don’t fall in love with them, there’s something horribly ajar with your compassion lobe in your brain. But if you get this… I highly recommend getting the following film as well!
Part of the magic of HEAVENLY CREATURES is the giddy schoolgirl mad love that Winslet and Lynskey espouse for “the world’s greatest tenor,” MARIO LANZA! There’s even a poster for THE GREAT CARUSO featured in the film. The key to loving this film, beyond the fact that it’s just fucking a great movie about the life of Enrique Caruso – is frankly the ludicrous joy that screaming out MARIO!!!! Everytime he appears on screen to sing … it is just, a blessed feeling. And allowing yourself to be taken over by mania, it’s so silly and awesome. That said, it really is a great film all on its own. I just love the tie to one of my favorite films.
Disney can create a far far better release for THE ROCKETEER… but will they? I would love it if they had a Rocketeer versus Commie spies movie and bring the cast back. But it’ll never ever happen. But I’d settle for a deluxe Blu-Ray that would have Joe Johnston talking about the missing action scenes… show us the storyboards. Celebrate the life of Dave Stevens. Do a special feature with Rick Baker talking about Rondo Hatton and why he is beloved and what Rick had to go through to bring him back to life. I’d love a piece on the history of the locations brought to life in the film. A piece on the music. A piece on Art Deco. A piece on B-Movie Serials, from which the spirit of the character leaps from. That said, the Blu Ray transfer on the film is outstanding. Outstanding. Perhaps if this disc sells well enough, Disney will see the light. SO gift it to everyone you know! That’s a geek mission of the highest order!
Those that have been following the DVD column for over a decade will remember my write ups on this title and the next from when Criterion first released them on DVD. Seijun Suzuki’s films played in Japanese Grindhouses… the theaters off the beaten tracks… in the neighborhoods tourists fear to tread. This wasn’t the image of Japan that the government wanted seen. In the United States – it reminds me of pre-code Gangster flicks, before the morality of the nation shifted the stories to G-MEN. The difference is… this film was made in 1967 and has one of the most amazing stylistic pulses that I’ve felt come off of just about any film. You’ll love this film, but when you put in the next one. Holy shit. Watch this first though! It warms you up for the Technicolor awesome of TOKYO DRIFTER!
New high-definition digital restoration with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
Video interviews with director Seijun Suzuki and Masami Kuzuu
Interview with Suzuki from 1997
New interview with actor Joe Shishido
Original theatrical trailer
New and improved English subtitle translation
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic and historian Tony Rayns
Buy this… fix some cocktails, have everyone dress up in retro suits and dresses and heaven my friends. Think about 1960’s James Bond films… but imagine if instead of Sean Connery, you had a Japanese cool version of Chow Yun Fat, working in a pop-art universe of hot powerful colors – all while telling a Yakuza story that was sexy and fucking awesome. That’s TOKYO DRIFTER! On Blu – it is just stunning to watch. Stunning. I squealed with glee when I received my copy!
New high-definition digital restoration
Video interviews with director Seijun Suzuki and Masami Kuzuu
Interview with Suzuki from 1997
Original theatrical trailer
New and improved English subtitle translation
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Howard Hampton
In an odd way, I’ve always considered this as Buster Keaton’s TOUCH OF EVIL… a brilliant wonderful film, even if it was forced upon him. A failing business man gets an inheritance that forces him to be married by 7pm that day. This is a film, that I almost didn’t put on the list for fear of some executive seeing this very topical comedic potential that SEVEN CHANCES has. And then the horror as Charlie Sheen gets cast… and then I’m crying. However, if you put Buster Keaton on and you watch SEVEN CHANCES you’ll see the master at work – and he just didn’t have suck in him. Not at all. Kino also gives us Keaton’s shorts… NEIGHBORS and THE BALLOONATIC… you’ll love both. Great job from KINO!
I love Tsui Hark films. That’s just true, even in his glorious failures… they are glorious failures. Big, visionary. This is not a glorious failure. It is a Sherlockian mystery adventure – not unlike Guy Ritchie’s take on that character… and yeah, there’s some magic and weird Chinese hocus pocus – and as someone that loves BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA…. This is more like DETECTIVE DEE’S BIG TROUBLE IN CHINA…. Because the action is crazy, the scope is enormous, the mystery is a tight puzzle box that continues to transform over the course of the film. This is one to appreciate on Blu, the visuals are totally worth it all on their own!
One of the best films of the new millennium, just period. It is also a film that could profoundly affect your desire to go to Rio De Janeiro. At the very least it will make you steer clear of areas of Rio. This film is one for Blu. One of the greatest crime films ever made. Must be seen. This film has the power to shake you. Fantastic filmmaking unleashed. There’s one doc on the disc, the excellent “NEWS FROM A PERSONAL WAR” – definitely worth checking out!
The great thing about international cinema is the capacity to peek through the cinematic window and discover an impression of what it would be like to be a pair of lovely teenage girls living in Tehran, Iran… There’s secret dance clubs, drug use, sexual intimidation, the brother that was so smart – now a crackhead. I mean, really, it is a universal tale. Soderbergh told his version here in the U.S. This is also a great film for those that love HEAVENLY CREATURES. It stays more grounded than Peter’s film, but despite the cultural gulf, kids still can get in any kind of trouble anywhere. Beautiful film. Really was surprised by this one.
This is a spectacular old flick from fellow Texan, King Vidor, and starring the great Spencer Tracy, but more importantly… Walter Brennan is in NORTHWEST PASSAGE – and Walter Brennan is one of the great character actors of all time. He makes every film he’s ever been in an absolute sit still and watch affair for me. Also this is stunning old school Technicolor. It is a shame that we’re not getting a Blu Ray on this one. It is one worth the format, so worth it.
You know the friends you watch EVIL DEAD with? The folks you watch BASKETCASE with? The folks that just delight in MOTEL HELL with? Well, you just call em all up right now and put INTRUDER in. This is a film that not only features Ted Raimi, but Sam Raimi in a significant and awesomely goofy part! Directed by Scott “Madman” Spiegel – this is fun, low-budget, goofy horror that makes being a horror geek fun. Oh – did I mention it has the awesome of Bruce Campbell in it? Circa 1989? That’s right ladies… come give INTRUDER some sugar baby! Excellent film to watch with Frank Darabont’s THE MIST!
I really like this movie a lot. I’m just not a fan of the “Contagion” aspect of the film. Anything that took me away from Caesar and his story just kind of annoyed me. I love Lithgow. But that other story just left me rolling my eyes. The rest of the film is too good for that. Will Andy Serkis get nominated at last? I’m really not expecting miracles. Most of all, I just love Weta’s work. It is flat out the visual fx film of the year. Caesar reigns! That said, I don’t quite feel this is the premium Blu-Ray that we’ll eventually see on this title.
Feels over complicated to me. The search for Po’s true origin, then directly tying that to the Bad Guy in this film just seemed like a very tired and played out structure. It always seems to end with an explosive death. But my god there’s a lot of fun to be had in this film. The action is visually dynamic and inventive. Yeah. It’s a whole lot of fun, I just prefer the first.
My Fright Night is still better than this, but this is pretty damn fucking fun too. I can’t shrug the nostalgic perfection of the original… but I do love the actors in this version. They’re doing a very different, yet similar movie, with basically zero concern for the original – and that’s the right way to do adaptive material. Like SWAN says, “give it a pulse, make it your own!” Far Out Man, I really wasn’t expecting much on this one, but yeah… Anton Yelchin is just too good of an actor. He’s got mad charisma. But when you add David Tennant and Colin Farrell into the mix. It is just really entertaining. For me, Roddy McDowall puts the original film at a cool factor that a remake, by it’s nature, is going to fall short of. But there’s no denying, this is a really wonderful young horror film. Check it out if you haven’t!
Musicals are the soul of cinema soaring. Don’t ask me why I feel that way, but it is true, it is how I feel. The Technicolor serves this film beautifully. The dresses, the vibrancy of the sets. You can really appreciate the lush work. But the real jewel to this film are the songs. In the history of musicals there are few that have as many great numbers. THE TROLLEY SONG is my personal fave from the film. Really wonderful film. It is also filled with extras. So overall a great deal.
Yeah, I prefer the longer cut. It gives pretty much all the guys more room to breathe as characters. The opening sequence plays better longer. Feels like a battle of some scale now. This next film is looking like it is crazy awesome. At least I hope so. If you’re a fan, you won’t even question the double dip. We did mention there would be an extended cut, so we all kinda knew it was coming. More is better in this film’s case. The film has been completely put back together from scratch. The result is a far better film I feel. I liked the original, but it felt rough, this is a better cut. Sly did great work putting this together. I’ve decided that I’m going to hold on to both versions though.
Before he was Batman and before he was OB1 Kenobi… they were both bisexual glam-rock stars. That’s kind why they both rule so hard in everything else. If you grok Ziggy Stardust, VELVET GOLDMINE is a movie right up your alley. The transfer is quite nice and the film is as fun as the day it came out. Nice to have this out on Blu! More Todd Haynes please.
There’s a lot of folks that just discovered 99 and 44/100% DEAD & they’ve lost their minds for the film. Me, not so much. But THE NICKEL RIDE? That’s a fucking movie! Directed by TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD’s Robert Mulligan and starring Jason Miller as the man with the keys to all the warehouses with all the Mob’s stolen shit. He’s the keys to the underworld. And Jason Miller plays it so damn good. First saw THE NICKEL RIDE at one of Tarantino’s QT Fests. So if you’ve been paying attention to those titles over time… then get this, watch THE NICKEL RIDE and see if you lose your mind for Frankenheimer’s flick too. Moriarty did.
Because some nights require and demand this precise flavor of ass. If you don’t know – be curious. I won’t say another thing.
It’s a girl school story. I always expect these to end in rolls of razor wire, but they hardly ever do. But I always watch just in case. Rooney Mara is good here. The other girls are fine. It’s just one of those “growing up is hard to do” stories. The film is likable enough. It flirts with titillation, but never succumbs. Sex is in the air, but isn’t overt in the film. Ultimately it is a quiet tale, one that you either like following the characters on or not. Me, I liked it.
In the 60’s this was a major release from Warner Brothers and yeah it kind of rocks. If you ever rocked out to DAKTARI – then you may know this preceded that. People just loved this movie when it came out. Watching it today – to see a lion completely unaided with CG working like this in a movie is just rather whimsical and magical all on it’s own. Plus it has Judy the Chimp. Yeah. Chimpanzee. It rules!
I really do have a large Sherlock Holmes collection. If put to a blade to name my favorite literary character, I’d most likely say Sherlock Holmes. I love reading about him. Love watching tons of different actors playing him. John Barrymore is a fascinating Holmes. Wish this had been a better Holmes story though. Really cool seeing William Powell in his first. Early Film Blogger Hedda Hopper also appears.
I have to see this. Buster Keaton and Jimmy Durante. I will see this soon. This was the last film on Keaton’s MGM contract. And what I’ve heard is that Buster and Jimmy decide to open up a beer selling business to start selling on the first day after the end of prohibition, figuring they’ll become millionaires. Of course shit goes down. And that’s what I can’t wait to see. I love Prohibition tales.
Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
If you’ve ever had the Time Travel fantasy conversation… the destinations in history explored in this film was sure to be amongst the most popular choices. With the exception of during the Nazi Occupation… it is almost always a nice place to be… Paris that is. Woody Allen is magical when he plays with fantasy. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS is one of his very best films. For much of the year, this was my pick for the Best film of the year. That has changed.
I love this film. Not real sure why the rest of the world didn’t jump all over this, but with Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte – this single film contained 3 of the best performances in film this year. The fights are simply brutal. The drama is superbly crafted. I love sports tales and while I know jack and shit about MMA, this is a story about brothers and a father and they’ve been fighting all their lives… not necessarily on each other’s sides. Nolte is superb in the film. He’s simply on a higher plane of great acting here. He should collect the Oscar, but probably won’t because the heat isn’t on this film. That’s a shame.
In the world of Screwball Comedies – Carole Lombard was the picture of perfection. Beautiful and dizzingly funny. She believes she has radium poisening. The brilliant Fredric March plays a Journalist wanting to turn her human interest story into a meal ticket. Written by the great Ben Hecht and James Street and directed by William Wellman (OX-BOW INCIDENT, PUBLIC ENEMY, THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY and many other great films). This early 3-strip Technicolor flick is beautiful. Kino struck the digital master off the original Nitrate master. It doesn’t get better. And the movie is funny as hell.
A real man cries for love, Hemingway will teach you that – and teach you that it is noble and right. Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes play an ambulance driver and a nurse that fall in love in the midst of WWI. The film is fantastic. Adophe Menjou… whew. This is a great film. Love Gary Cooper in it so much.
I am told this is my favorite film that I’ve yet to see. The movie is 4 hours long in Japanese. I have it sitting right here on my desk. Everybody I know that has seen this film is hopelessly in love with the film. I have zero doubt that it will play that way for me, although I know nothing about the film. I won’t read anything on it. Right now – this is a film that Yoko and I want to just sit down and digest. Without the possibility for interruption or disturbance.
Tuesday, December 27th, 2011
I hate this film. It isn’t quite worthy of hate. It’s just – a found footage film about evil moon rock monsters, the original APOLLO missions and a phantom Soviet Moon shot. Dammit, how do you fuck that up? This thing is just crazy boring. Nothing gripping. The dialogue feels too modern. I don’t believe the actors. It just doesn’t work on any level for me. Bad.
Watching this the other day at home, I just admired just how amazing the story of Gary Oldman the actor is. He’s best known for BIG performances, but in this year’s TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, he plays brilliant quiet every man so well that you have no idea there’s a volcano inside of him. Alex Cox’s SID & NANCY is a fantastic film. Great to have on Blu Ray!
The greatest film ever to espouse the true power of art. The film is on Netflix, but trust me, you’re gonna have to own this. It’s the kind of brilliance that we’ve come to expect from director Yoshihiro Nakamura. You may remember that Massawyrm was a raving lunatic about this film. He raves a lot, this is one time you might ought to listen to him.
Well that’s it for 2011 for Blu-rays and DVD. We’ll kick back up on January 3rd, 2012 as we talk about CONTAGION, THE GUARD, SERENDIPITY, MILDRED PIERCE, DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, THE LAST LIONS, SHARK NIGHT, SHE’S ALL THAT, UNLEASHED, PUNCTURE, SWASTIKA and well… that’s the first offering of the new year. Till then, be happy and safe with those you love, be they family or friend. I’m off to DisneyWorld!