Hey folks, Harry here... the sheer HAVE TO OWNS in this column are pretty staggering. This is the first really great week of the New Year's releases! Then if you even have the slightest affinity for EuroSleaze and Lesbian Vampires of the 70s... my god, you'll be broke, but ecstatic! I had a lot of fun writing this week's column. In fact, I was feeling pretty bad and the column is how I wrote my way out of it. It is true, even I can have a funky off day. But with film to write about and watch... moods can be changed. Thanks for giving me an excuse to chat film with you for a bit. As usual, the links and pictures take you to Amazon, where you can purchase the item in question, which gives a small percentage of the purchase price back to the best efforts of the column. AND if you don't wish to purchase, you'll at least find out some more information through the links. Enough chatter, let's hop into a great week of cinema!
Tuesday, January 24TH, 2012
My favorite Woody Allen movie. His choice of lovers in this film. Diane Keaton and Mariel Hemingway. They’re just awesome romantic choices. I love how Mariel has a bit of an old soul in her young body – and I totally get the connection he has with Diane Keaton – but even moreso – watch what happens to Woody as a person when he’s with each. He transforms. His patter changes. Watching MANHATTAN beginning at an early age helped show me the importance of finding the right person to spend eternity with, because it isn’t just who they are, but what they do to you. Who they make you feel like. MANHATTAN is also my second favorite New York movie… after KING KONG (1933) of course. And just as romantic! For those of you that pause on B&W movies on Blu – feeling that the resolution difference won’t be a big deal… if you’re watching these films on anything of significant size – you will see a marked difference. There’s no extras… but that’s pretty much the way it has always been with Woody Allen films. He wants the movies to speak for themselves – and this is a film that has volumes to say. Whether you’re in love or pitifully single and lost feeling… MANHATTAN shows you how its done.
Did you know that Salvador Dali designed the nightmarish dream sequences in this beautiful nightmare of a Hitchcock film? I love that this film looks like a horror film of the era. For me… insane asylum mysteries & suspense’s always play like horror to me, because if you’re losing your mind, if you’re even questioning your mind, if you don’t know if you’re innocent or guilty of something terrible… that’s horror. When one of the doctors is played by Leo G. Carroll… who I grew up watching not only in this film, but so many of Hitchcock’s other films… but for me, I first NOTICED this actor in the 50’s B Horror film, TARANTULA – and his face gets all fucked up in that and it gave me nightmares… so somewhere in me is a traumatized youth that was scared of Leo G Carroll… Even when he’s the good guy in NORTH BY NORTHWEST or STRANGERS ON A TRAIN… I just can’t let go of the notion that he has a scary fucking face and eyes that paralyze. But then… Gregory Peck does have Ingrid Bergman as his other Doctor – and that’s the realm of FANTASY. This is just a terrific page turner of a film. I love it. Local Austin UT Film Professor, Charles Ramirez Berg teams up with Thomas Schatz for the commentary. There’s a 21 minute plus doc about Hitch and Dali… on here – Dali’s storyboards are actually at the Harry Ransom Center on the UT campus and I’ve been privileged enough to look through them. Just amazing. My fave extra is the Peter Bogdanovich interview with Hitch. But I can’t wait to have the luxury of an uninterrupted hour where I can listen to the 1948 hour long Radio Play of SPELLBOUND with Joseph Cotton and Valli in place of Peck and Bergman. Then I can shut my eyes and imagine Carol Reed’s version!
How much do I love this movie? I have the original one-sheet for NOTORIOUS hanging on my living room wall. When Cary Grant recruits the hot & wild child daughter of an infamous and dead Nazi… and gets her embedded with a group of South American Nazis headed by Claude Rains… whom she is to romance, while finding out about the hidden Nazi conspiracy… but as she does her job, she can’t help falling in love with Cary Grant… I mean, he is Cary Grant… but she wants to do the best job for Grant, so of course she cavorts with Claude Rains. Again, it is what he asked her to do, but he never expected her to turn into a Nazi Fucker… So he treats her like crap… and… well… I love the film. It is a very complex emotional performance for nearly every character involved. You kinda love Claude Rains – he is of course head over heels in love with Ingrid Bergman… she is INGRID BERGMAN… but as this Spy tale continues it just… it’s magic. I love it more with every viewing. Here you get two different Film Professor Commentaries, there’s an isolated Roy Webb soundtrack and sound effects track. 30 minute making of, a 13 minute feature on how Hitch influenced the Spy genre forever, The AFI tribute is awesome. Then there’s the Radio Play with Joseph Cotton and Ingrid Bergman… Audio interviews with Hitch and Bogdanovich and also Francois Truffaut. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Great film.
Vilified by geeks as being the film that stole STAR WARS’ OSCAR… I’m here to say… I totally understand how it did it, because ANNIE HALL is fucking awesome. I prefer MANHATTAN, but this is the best pairing of Woody Allen and Diane Keaton ever. If you’ve never been in an adult relationship, you can learn a lot from ANNIE HALL. The film is funny, but oh my god does it pack emotional punches. I’ve been lucky enough to see this and MANHATTAN double billed at Austin’s classic PARAMOUNT THEATRE ever since I was a kid. Just about every year it plays – and just about every year I’ve gone. If you love cinema, it is pretty much required that you find a level of appreciation with ANNIE HALL. For me – I hated this film on principle – due to it beating STAR WARS, but as I’ve matured (ok, let’s not get crazy, I’m well aware I’m immature, but trust me… I can get as Adult as Klaus Kinski on my better days) But as I’ve matured, the 70’s films of Woody Allen have just continually become favorite viewing experiences. This is one of the greatest American comedies of all time – and required owning for all hardcore film geeks.
The previous edition of GODZILLA on Blu… the GOJIRA version was in 1080i, not 1080p. Here, you get a beautiful new transfer on the original Japanese genre masterpiece… but also a 1080p print of GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS with Raymond Burr. You have a film historian commentary. Never before seen interviews with cast and crew, including the late great Akira Ifukube. A featurette on the still perfectly fine by me visual effects work. There’s just so much on this disc. But Monty Cristo filled y’all in real well on this one, so I’ll let his evaluation of the disc stand… But I do want to talk about my favorite aspect of this particular GODZILLA movie. This is a horror film. Great tragedy is put upon the Japanese in this film. GODZILLA isn’t fighting some monster to save Japan. There’s no goofy baby Godzilla blowing smoke rings that choke monsters that should obviously be able to kill that little fart. No, this Godzilla as a force of nature and it is something that is lost. As they continued the franchise, they softened the design… here, the Big G is a whole bunch of nasty. I have an original release Italian 3-sheet on this title that is amongst my favorite posters I own… I write most nights these days in GODZILLA feet slippers – and yes, there’s a strong likelihood that I’ll be penning a Godzilla limited series for IDW after I get past the first quarter of this year. SO yeah… I love GODZILLA. It probably has to do with me going to strip clubs with my parents on Halloween with my “Uncle BOB” in a full-bodied GODZILLA costume for the Costume contest and seeing the Big G dance with naked girls at the Yellow Rose. SO… yeah, GODZILLA rocks everything. If you’re only ever going to buy this film on Blu-ray once… this is exactly the edition you would want to have… there’s even a pop up image of GODZILLA when you open it… I just wish there was a sound effect of his roar and fire blast when you opened it. That is necessary! Otherwise, Criterion kicked untold ass with GODZILLA’s mighty foot!
Before you enter the Army, I highly recommend watching STRIPES. Then never ever ever do anything that you see Bill Murray do. This should be your reverse barometer on how to make it. But carrying the memory of this film… it’s good to have in the noggin, no matter what you’re doing with your life. STRIPES is Ivan Reitman and Bill Murray at that funny superpower height. Not saying this is their best film – but this shit will make you laugh, for a very long and consistent time. There seem to be people that don’t really like this film… There’s obviously something broken in them. I’m sorry. I am just there for this flick. It has been too long since I’ve seen this one theatrically. Alamo should play this on the 4th of July with a STRIPES BOOT CAMP day planned around it and a special Mondo poster. This must happen. Some day.
Alright, raise your hand if you’re buying this as another example of why films based upon Richard Matheson’s work just work. This film felt like an American Live-Action Miyazaki film to me. The story of Hugh, his kid and that rather expressive, unexpressive punching bag of a Rock’em’Sock’em Robot – well, it’ll get to ya. I love how this is a film set in a future that has Big Fighting Robot Live Events… and yet, it still absolutely seems connected to the world and vision of Earth as we know it. Shawn Levy really did nail this film. I do, absolutely do hate the box art though. It makes me not want to watch the movie, because that is so not the movie. I know ya gotta put Hugh on the cover, because… yeah… you just do. But to me this film is that Robot and the kid. I haven’t been a fan of this director on anything he’s done before. Just shows that with the right material, he had something impressive to say. Now this Blu-ray is fully loaded, but it does have a pet peeve that gets me. The DVD has a commentary that plays with the film. But, if you want to experience the director with the BLU RAY – you have to have an iPad for the SECOND SCREEN “Ringside with Director Shawn Levy” – and that’s spectacular. I love SECOND SCREEN, but it is something that takes you away from the screen. I prefer checking out SECOND SCREEN while I’m at the gym on the stairclimber or bike though. Also – would have preferred about 45 minutes with Sugar Ray Leonard instead of the 6:19 we get. Picture and sound on this disc are pretty damn perfect.
This film didn’t make a lot of money this year. Comedies about Cancer rarely do. But I’m here to tell you folks. There’s probably not a film that got released in 2011 that you should see more, than this one. I know we don’t want to think about devastating medical fucking trauma visiting our lives… I know I certainly didn’t give it much thought – but if there’s anything that the last year of living within the medical community for 3 months… then a likely 2 years of Rehab to follow… You have to have friends. You have to have strong people around you, but mostly… you have to be able to laugh about everything. While I did not have Cancer – the surgery that Joseph Gordon Levitt has in this film is right in the neighborhood of mine. They skip the rehab part of the process, but much of what he experiences in this film – I have. I’ve had a lot of chemicals in me, and I’m someone that didn’t take anything for headaches. Thankfully, I’m clean off of pain killers and muscle relaxants. Those things just suck. Except they do make everything tolerable, except shitting. Remember your bananas. If this doesn’t get a nomination for Original Screenplay – I’ll be pissed. It’s wonderfully written, very emotional and pretty damn hilarious. Seth Rogen was actually the screenwriter’s buddy – when he was going through everything that JGL goes through in this film. And man, that’s exactly the sort of friend to have. Everyone of us will go through some tragedy before we die, that’s just a reality. I feel this past year has been the hardest and most rewarding of my life. This year will not be any easier. We’re getting closer to the goals, just not as fast as I would like. This is a great great great film.
I like the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise. I’m glad that it is what it is – and that it prays on those of us that are haplessly addicted to the ridiculous adventures of Zack on GHOST ADVENTURES on Travel Channel, because shit actually does happen on the videos these films purport to be “Real”. If you come at these movies wanting solid stories or great character work… that’s not really ever going to be the case. This is about looking into footage waiting for something to yell BOO… and if your wife is as susceptible to BOO as Yoko is… You have to love this. She allows herself to get all kinds of fucking frightened and as a former Monster Mask wearing, jump out of bushes at Trick or Treaters, kid… I love “The Scare”. I like how for two nights after watching these films, Yoko will say, “What the fuck” at every unexplained sound in the house. Now all of that said – this film is one not to over-examine for the consistency of the overall saga. I just don’t see how it makes sense with those first two. BUT – I don’t care – cuz some really freaky shit goes on in this and yeah. It is FUN to watch with silly folks that take it seriously. Pick the right person to watch this with and you’ll have a real good time!
Hitchcock’s first American film is one of his lushest. I like watching this film with JANE EYRE with Welles and the titular REBECCA, Joan Fontaine. I’ve just always seen those films as being of a type. Fontaine being the obvious connection, but they’re films about the hold of ex-wives, shy women in gigantic scary looking mansions with the most talented actor/directors of all time to play off of. And if put to the blade, I’d have to say I prefer Hitchcock’s REBECCA… though it’s a photo finish. The main reason is that I actually love Laurence Olivier in this film – and Larry rarely does it for me beyond his amazing voice. Here though… he’s magnificent. Actually, he’s magnificent in most things… other than CLASH OF THE TITANS, where he never fails to annoy me. Like the other Hitchcock’s on the Blu today – this is filled with extras. A radio play version of the story with… ORSON WELLES in lieu of Olivier. See, I’m not crazy. And another radio play directed by DeMille with Ronald Colman, Ida Lupino and then still a 3rd version of Rebecca done in 1950 with Olivier and his wife, Vivien Leigh!!! Hitch chats with Bogdanovich and Truffaut some more – and you’ll also get a look at screen tests including Vivien Leigh and Margaret Sullivan. So much greatness this week!
I know people that love this movie – and I know people that couldn’t make their way through it. This is horror that pushes buttons on people – but I still haven’t seen it. Lucky McKee is one of my favorite working Horror directors. He’s pretty much working completely outside the confines of studio horror… and that is their loss. If you wanted to make a horror film on par with someone like Polanski… McKee might have it in him. Actually, I think Lucky could work miracles with a budget and top actors. But why? He’s making fine films on the down low. I’m dying to get this. TOMORROW. The film is about a Feral woman that a family captures and keeps. Shit happens that family newspapers would burn if the print fell upon the pages. There’s a lot of female brutality in this – and brutality in general. This could cause a reaction – in fact when it premiered at Sundance last year – there was one guy that literally went insane after the film. Find the Youtube… it is kind of classic – and any movie that can break a brain is one worth checking out for me.
For me… The best film geeks have a great appreciation of the SILENT film world. I’ll never forget the time Moriarty, The Martini Brothers and I spent two hours chatting in a tight Film Geek Circle talking about silent films – as the naked writhing talent of Olympic Gardens dazzled about us. Us? We were talking Edison, Lumiere, Valentino, Clara Bow, Fairbanks’ exhilaration, the perfection of Keaton and the soul of Chaplin. Most of us Film Geeks know that WINGS was the first film to win a Best Picture oscar… so why not have this film premiere along with the OSCAR NOMINATIONS!!! Oh those wily Home Video professional opportunists! I know this film because my Dad has never let me not know that a huge chunk of WINGS was shot in San Antonio at their Airbase there… in 1927. Wow. So when he showed this film to me, handed me comics and the Snoopy Sopwith Camel strips… I was hooked. Bnatters will recognize a JUST IMAGINE luminary and it’ll seem “Just like the good ol days!” again! Alright, you made it through my required BS babble. So how’s the disc? First off the score recorded for this is exquisite. SO MUCH BETTER than the organ music. The film print is truly extraordinary. The clarity of the image is just kind of magic. I’ve only ever seen this looking several generations removed for an original print. So this print is just beautiful. WINGS is a stunning achievement for it’s time… particularly in terms of the Action scenes – which they really shot, with real biplanes in TEXAS!!! And that’s just too cool. Thems flying planes fighting above my state 85 years ago! I love just knowing that the Texas film industry was kicking ass with a great filmmaker like William Wellman… and he took BEST PICTURE. Though personally… I would’ve given the Oscar to 7TH HEAVEN that year. Janet Gaynor was great in that. But if you tell me that WINGS or 7TH HEAVEN were the best films of 1927… You are fucking insane! That was the year of METROPOLIS, Browning’s THE UNKNOWN and Abel Gance’s Widescreen epic NAPOLEON!!! But the Academy had its head up its ass even then. None of those films were even nominated for BEST PICTURE. Of course, at the first Academy Awards there were actually two different BEST PICTURES given out. The one that WINGS won was for BEST PICTURE (Production) and then F.W. Murnau’s SUNRISE won Best Picture (Unique & Artistic Production) – so it could be argued that the Academy got it right to begin with. WINGS is a huge film. And it is one of those titles that Film Collectors have got to have. A note – if you watch any Gary Cooper film before this – you can imagine his voice saying his lines. I love doing that.
One of the great treats of the past week and a half has been enjoying the erotic horror of Jean Rollin on Blu Ray. Can’t wait for GRAPES OF DEATH! But we do have 5 of Rollin’s best. This is an awesome sleazy Lesbian Vampire film. Erotic and sensual. If you like the Warhol horrors – you’ll love this. In fact I prefer this. Mainly because I’ve really gotten a taste for Rollin off this set. In addition to the sexy Eurosleaze feature, Kino gives us 2 deleted sex scenes, a 24 minute look at Rollin through the EUROTIKA tv series. I want all of those. Tim Lucas has a 20 page book in here, and then there’s the trailers. Great set.
This was Rollin’s second Vampire sleaze… His other films here are better, but there’s a charm to this one. It might just be that I found Naked Vampire Chicks from this period to always hold the utmost of my attention. These vampires don’t tease, they show everything. And as shot, they kinda glow on screen, love that photography. Here you have the original French with English subtitles or the original English dub… giggle. I like the interview with Rollin on this one. Again great work from Keno’s REDEMPTION line.
This has a rather wicked Rocky Horror plot. Young Honeymoon couple spend a night at a wicked castle, which turns out to house sexy vampires! What a perfect Honeymoon! Gothic sexy fun. Unapolegetic, this is exactly my kind of sleaze. You have got to watch taking your virginal bride to the Lesbian Vampire Castle on the Honeymoon. Seriously dude, what the fuck were you thinking? That KINO puts this and Buster Keaton out… It’s why they win my heart release after release. Titles. God you have the worst mind.
If you are only gonna buy one of these, get THE IRON ROSE. This isn’t a lesbian vampire film. I know. This one has a young couple trying to find some privacy for a “picnic”. They do have food, but they’re horny. So where to go in a city that gives you that? Well a cemetery of course! One with underground crypts that you could do the deed in. Alright – fucking in graveyards… it might be a kink. But man, I can’t even imagine the magical sparkle pussy that it would take to lure my lily white ass into a crypt to fuck, because that is NO NO NO NO NO! I have seen too many horror films to die in such a horribly ironic manner. Yeah, so this film is about a young horny couple without the proper respect for the genre the movie is in. They wander in and around this cemetery. It is beautiful, idyllic… there’s a few odd folks around… they go underground. NO. NOTHING WOULD GET ME TO DO THAT! NO! NO NO NO! Fucking Romero man, totally no. This movie got me. What does happen in the cemetery defied all of my genre notes for CEMETARY HORROR. A true horror masterpiece. I was stunned by this film. I still prefer GRAPES OF DEATH, but after I show THE IRON ROSE to a couple of friends that might change.
If you want the best tightly told Rollin movie, of these, LIPS OF BLOOD is probably the best film. Personally, I prefer the more poetic and arcane, so THE IRON ROSE has me locked in love. Easily the best of these Lesbian Vampire stories – and Paris at night is such a great place for them. This is beautiful on Blu Ray. Ya know, Valentine’s Day is coming up. If you have a special lady that really loves her sexy Vampire shows and movies – this set might just be the titillating evening you’d like to share. Good stuff!
I’ve attended a couple of Bullfights when I was a kid. I was at one in Mexico City when the matador died. It was just insane imagery for my boy brain to process… but that’s always the possibility in a Bull Fight. Yeah, more likely you’ll see an animal get slaughtered, but there is that Roman side of it. That side where it could be a human body broken and bleeding in the ring. THE MOMENT OF TRUTH is a film by Francesco Rosi, where he has the great Spanish bullfighter, Miguel Mate as his lead. And this film is amazing to watch. Brutal, bloody and absolutely art. If you don’t have the stomach for real bloodletting, I can’t recommend it to you. There’s a slitting of a bull’s throat that made me look away. Just, that fat pulling away. I can’t see that. Yuck! This also has an interview with Rosi from 2004. Criterion has a real jewel here.
I love Jackie Gleason. And… Richard Pryor? Yeah, he’s awesome. And I FEEL that Richard Donner nailed it with this one. There’s a lot more to THE TOY than that silly box art would give ya. Pryor in particular is fantastic in the movie. Well, nobody gets megalomanical as Jackie Gleason. Watching this reminded me of 80’s HBO. A lot.
This is a kick fucking ass Donnie Yen flick. By the same director, Wilson Yip, as the film SPL. SPL is the better film, but FLASHPOINT is still awesome. Put it on, relax… let the film play, but try, just try to stay perfectly still for the last 30 minutes without reacting. You can’t do it. It’s too badass. It’ll get you. You’ll see.
See you back her on the last day of the month where we’ll check out DRIVE, TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON 3 Disc set, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – Next Level Blus, THE THING prequel, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Blu, IN TIME, THE DOUBLE, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE Blu, ENGLISH PATIENT Blu, COLD MOUNTAIN Blu, DREAM HOUSE Blu, INTO THE UNIVERSE WITH STEPHEN HAWKING Blu, THE PIANO Blu, FRIDA Blu, Fernando Di Leo Crime Collection Blus, ADAPTATION Blu, MALCOLM X Blu Book, THE MILL & THE CROSS Blu, A SOLDIER’S STORY Blu, THUNDER SOUL, GRAND CANYON Blu, NOTHING IN COMMON Blu, OUTRAGE: WAY OF THE YAKUZA Blu, YOU & I, NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS Blu, DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK, DR. JEKYLL VS. THE WEREWOLF and last but not least, starring ME is Henry Selick’s MONKEYBONE Blu!