Hey folks, Harry here with this week’s DVD PICKS & PEEKS… Fun stuff to be had, it’s a little late due to the work involved in getting that Andrew Stanton interview up, but I hope you appreciated it. As usual, the images and links take you to Amazon, where you can learn more on a given title, or purchase it, which does result in supporting the best efforts of this column, and for that I thank you greatly. Now – let’s get into it…
Tuesday, February 14th, 2012 “VALENTINE’S DAY!”
Johnny Depp returns to the Hunter S Thompson universe… THANK GOD! While the film doesn’t quite match the pure awesome of Gilliam’s FEAR & LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS… but I have to say – I am thinking of throwing a little Hunter party with a double bill of these two. For me, that means RUM DIARY first – and build to FEAR & LOATHING… There’s a 12+ minute piece where Depp talks about Hunter & his relationship with the man. Along with a bit of translating this book to film. Then there’s a 45 minute doc taking a look at Hunter and the history of trying to bring the book to screen. I actually liked this quite a bit. Now to plan the RUM / ACID party.
Without exception. Everyone I know has seemingly seen and loathed everything about this film. I have the Blu-Ray. I’ve held the box and thought, “Maybe I’ll put it on,” but when you know that at best folks will get a mouth of shit in the film… it is kinda hard to work up the motivation to sit back with your baby carrots and watch. I haven’t been at the right mental state for HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2. I need to choose a fellow victim to watch this with, but you know…. That’s genuinely hard when everyone I know has seen and hated it. I should just bite the bullet and watch it, but I just don’t know if I will. Does anyone like it? The FANTASTIC FEST audiences that saw this just really seemed to dislike the film, at least the ones that talked to me about it.
This is a horrifying zombie film that is stunningly shot on location in Africa, specifically Ghana. Being in Africa when the Zombie Apocalypse goes down. Being a relief worker, who crashes off the coast then swims to shore and instantly fight zombies. NIGHTMARES man. I saw this at the Drafthouse and Greg Nicotero was in the audience – and after the film – we both went over to the Ford Brothers, the directing team that made THE DEAD, and congratulated them on making a film that tonally belongs with DAWN OF THE DEAD, for the sheer visceral horror of zombies. There are some zombie moments in this that are just stunning. Beautifully shot… horrifically created… Slow moving zombies done right. Really fantastic!
The best male acting performance of 2011, for my money, belongs to Michael Shannon in TAKE SHELTER. He is a man that believes he might be going crazy, that he might have some form of tumor, but whatever is going on with him makes him compulsively build an underground shelter because he believe, Chicken Little-style, that the Sky is going to fall – and the pain and angst he goes through is just fantastic. Every actor in this film does exactly what they need to, but Michael Shannon, as he so often is in film, is an actor you can’t look away from. He’s so compelling to me. I find his situation truly horrific. To be aware that you may in fact be losing your mind, but not wanting to worry your family, you go to seek treatment, I love it. I love that at the same time he’s seeking treatment, he’s also taking the visions seriously and building his shelter. It is a bit of a Noah tale for the modern era and again. I love it. This is a great film. That said, it doesn’t work on EVERYONE. Devin Faraci absolutely loathed the film at the screening at FANTASTIC FEST. Try not to read much on the film before seeing it, there are surprises.
Ok – so we’ve all been bitching for years about the lack of EXTRAS on Woody Allen films released to Home Video, Laserdisc, DVD and Blu-Ray. Well, for $21 you can buy this PBS documentary that is absolutely fantastic, taking you through the entirety of Woody Allen’s life – from being a young boy, to his initial joke writing jobs – through every film, all the way through the success of MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. It’s over 3 hours long and is absolutely essential to all the WOODIES out there. OH – and there are extended interviews in the extras on this DVD. So – put this next to your WOODY ALLEN collection and access it whenever you want more on his life and work. I watched it and was riveted. Really great doc!
If you’re a film geek – you’re probably a Japanese Samurai film geek too. Because at some point somebody sat ya down and showed you some Akira Kurosawa flicks, maybe some ZATOICHI, perhaps HANZO, perhaps LONE WOLF & CUB. But for many of us, that just whetted our appetites. I will watch ANY Samurai movie ever made. It’s just one of those live lessons that I’ve had. I love samurais. THREE OUTLAW SAMURAI is by Hideo Gosha. Gosha is one of the directors that makes Samurai films that just kick unholy ass. Watch his GOYOKIN or SWORD OF THE BEAST or the great TENCHU! Or SAMURAI WOLF 1 & 2. And yes, the great THREE OUTLAW SAMURAI. If you love this film from Criterion, take it upon yourself to track down those other titles, and if you’re still in love with Gosha, check out THE GEISHA and ONIMASA for something different.
Anyway, these are cynical badass samurai having to deal with an oppressed peasant class that involve them in something bigger than themselves and that’s just fantastic. This was Gosha’s first directoral film and it is seriously one of his bests. Criterion has done a great job here, gorgeous 2.35:1 widescreen – the crispness of the image and the grain is just wonderful. You have an illustrated booklet and a trailer – I’m disappointed that Criterion didn’t dig up something with Gosha – as he really should be greatly celebrated more than he is. Great flick!
One of the greatest anti-war films ever made, was done so by Universal in 1930 and went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Directed by Lewis Milestone and starring one of the most haunted faces of cinema history, Lew Ayres, who you may know as President Adar in the original Battlestar Galactica pilot in 1978. Although many of us remember his term of service as Dr. Kildare in that long running series through the 30s and 40s. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT is the harrowing tale of World War 1. I love Universal’s 100th Anniversary celebration, if for no other reason than it gives them an excuse to reach back into their amazing catalogue and come up with releases like this. On the Blu, you get not just the sound version but the SILENT version. You see in 1930 when this came out, there were still a lot of theaters that didn’t believe that SOUND was a big deal, so they didn’t have the capacity to show films that way. Universal was nice enough to create a SILENT version with title cards and different edits throughout the movie. This LIBRARY OF CONGRESS print is also on here, but sadly in Standard Def. Robert Osborne does a standard, great intro for the film. I would have loved a second Blu Ray with James Whale’s sequel to ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, called THE ROAD BACK, but alas – that was not to be.
What a ridiculously awesome time. I somehow missed ever seeing THE PERFECT WEAPON in 1991 when it was released. I don’t know how that is possible as I was a freak about seeing pretty much anything with martial arts – but THE PERFECT WEAPON looks like a parody on 1980s martial arts films. Mako is in this! James Hong is in this. But my fave is Professor Toru Tanaka, who plays TANAKA, in the film. Tanaka is essentially doing his best ODDJOB aka Harold Sakata – and like Sakata, Tanaka is a human bulldozer that nothing and nobody is going to stop. He is seriously a SUPER VILLAIN – and once you see how Jeff Speakman has to destroy him, you can’t beat him. You can only utterly destroy him. You’ll cheer. It’s just blissfully stupid fun. For extra fun you 1991 era Dante Basco in the film, that’s RUFIO from HOOK – and Yoko was so excited to see Rufio acting like Rufio in this film. In fact, I actually believe that you can watch PERFECT WEAPON as a prequel to HOOK. Right before that movie, Basco became a Lost Boy and went to Neverland and got an even more ridiculous hairstyle. Also – it is fun to see that this is an evil Korean neighborhood flick – although almost nobody is Korean. Great fun flick.
I can’t watch a lot of Jerry Lewis in a row. It can be damaging on your brain. As a rule, studios should only release Jerry Lewis Blu Rays once every other month, because then… it doesn’t feel like a frying pan to the noggin. ROCK-A-BYE BABY is directed by Frank Tashlin, the ol Termite Terrace genius – that went on to do great stuff like SON OF PALEFACE and WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER? And THE GIRL CAN’T HELP IT. Tashlin made a few flicks with Jerry, my fave being GEISHA BOY, this one… what with all the babies… it just, it makes me want to put on Peter Jackson’s DEAD ALIVE and imagine Jerry Lewis taking care of Baby Selwyn. I’m sorry. I’d love to see that. The gags and the insanity are typical to Tashlin’s genius. Very enjoyable. The transfer is beautiful, these are such colorful films.
Director Jose Padilha is helming the ROBOCOP remake. For that reason alone you should see this. BUT – this film is also an amazing tale of corruption within a police and governmental level that is terrifying. The screenplay is by Braulio Mantovani, the writer of CITY OF GOD and it shows. This film went on to become the highest grossing film ever in South America. This is a brilliant crime saga that draws you in and shows just how hard it is to be a hero in a world where… to make things right, ya gotta kill a lot of people, you have to expose even more. And everyone wants you dead. GREAT film, watching this will get you incredibly excited for Padilha’s ROBOCOP.
I couldn’t finish the film. It just didn’t hold my interest at any level. I’m sad to report. BUT I just admitted to watching Jerry Lewis movies with babies in it. So you might want to dismiss my opinion and get a second opinion. Here’s what MACHETE has to say about it:
I would love to see this theatrically double featured with A BOY AND HIS SAMURAI. Seriously. Jerry Lewis plays a magician with a magical rabbit named HARRY. As a result, you will hear my name screamed a million whiny ways from Jerry Lewis. The physical gags with the rabbit alone are worth the price of this Blu Ray. The little girls in their Geisha costumes? SO CUTE. That boy on the cover? SO CUTE! That boy’s aunt? SO CUTE! This film is just a blast. So funny, so manic and crazy that you know it could only have been directed by Frank Tashlin! Oh – and Suzanne Pleshette is a certified hottie in this thing!
Love this film, saw it at one of the early QT fests when they were still at the Dobie Theater. I remember Quentin going on about how he just believed that the only reason that Tony Curtis signed on for this was to have sex with every stewardess in the film – and when you see the movie – you’ll absolutely get that impression. This is a sexy, very funny comedy with Jerry Lewis and the always brilliant Thelma Ritter. This will get remade someday. It involves a playboy played by Tony who is juggling 3 affairs with 3 different Stewardesses, whom he’s using Airline schedules to stay out of the doghouse. Hilarity ensues
Having seen Ronald Garcia’s THE TOY BOX and THE PLEASURE MACHINES – and knowing this is a film about a couple that decides to enter the Swinging scene, and the husband goes a little wacky… Well, that sounds like seedy grindhouse fun. I haven’t seen this film yet, but it has been ordered.
Alright, that’s it for this week. Next we will be looking at PUSS IN BOOTS, TOWER HEIST, J EDGAR, MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, THE WAY, FORT APACHE Blu Ray, Criterion’s ANATOMY OF A MURDER Blu, WAR OF THE ARROWS Blu, LONDON BOULEVARD blu, WORLD ON A WIRE Criterion Blu, The Complete UNDERDOG Series, HONEY 2, UNFORGIVEN BluBook, ZAAT Blu, BIG FOOT, IN THE COOL OF THE DAY, KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL/THE STRANGER Blu, YOU CAN’T GET AWAY WITH MURDER, CHAIN LIGHTNING, THE CONFORMIST Blu and that’s about it. See ya then!