Hey folks, Harry here… I had no intention of being late with this week’s column. I really didn’t. But this week has had a tsunami of behind the scenes activity here at AICN. I’m working on a show, that is coming soon to AICN. We’re working on some technological advances – concerning this very column that I’m beyond thrilled about. Then there’s a film project in the earliest of stages that got real exciting this week. BUT – 2 of the 3 distracting things are directly intended for you good folks – and the 3rd. If it comes about, you’ll probably dig the hell out of that too. Well enough of that – there’s some wonderful stuff on this list – and a weird mutant Man/Giant Catfish movie on Blu! Wonders never cease to abound. The pics and links once again lead you to AMAZON – where a small percentage of your purchase price goes to support the efforts of this column – and for that you have my profound thanks. Enjoy…
Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
The beginning of the great Cavalry trilogy by John Ford, very nearly the greatest director that ever lived. Watching Ford taught Kurosawa, taught Spielberg, taught every director that has ever given us the HERO SHOT, that understood the right angle to create and capture POWER on screen. John Ford fine tuned the cinematic language for cinema. The Trilogy begins with FORT APACHE, then we see SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON and then RIO GRANDE. One a year from 1948 to 1950. The films are absolutely brilliant filmmaking. Warner didn’t really give this the highest grade treatment that they should have. This is off a film print and not particularly cleaned up. It is better than any other print on the market – but a film like this, it should be given extraordinary treatment. Anything less is a bit of an embarrassment frankly. The commentary isn’t anything special – and the MONUMENT VALLEY special feature is not going to set your mind a-reeling. NOW – while this is a barely adequate release – I will recommend picking it up. With Warner destroying prints and refusing to rent 35mm any more, it’s unlikely you’ll get to see the film better. Unless this sells. It would have to defy their expectations to get their attention and do something remarkable. AS THEY SHOULD HAVE! Ultimately though it is the best release of a seminal title that just rules. As great as Henry Fonda and John Wayne are… as cute as growing up Shirley Temple is… For me, Ford’s films were rich for the depth of the supporting casts and his ability to capture the majesty of this planet. Specifically the Monument Valley area of the United States. But you’ll find yourself laughing and discussing folks like Ward Bond, Guy Kibbee, Victor McLaglen, George O’Brien, Pedro Armendariz. B-Movie lovers will spot John Agar and cheer too. Also you’ll see folks like Richard Farnsworth and Ben Johnson doing stunts in the film – but good luck spying them. It’s just cool to know they’re there too. Folks like to point at this next film as being the best western ever… but I really can’t respect the opinion of any critic that would say that. There are 100s of wonderful westerns. Just about every genre has been folded into Westerns. If you love film and you’re trying to really get a grasp of the breadth of it. Get your hands on as many westerns as possible. It is so rich.
Essentially – this is the exact same release as we’ve already had access too, only in the BLU-BOOK form. Same extras, the same movie. Now the prior Blu-Ray releases people complained about the film being a bit muddy in places, in regards to the transfer. I watched this last night – and had a friend over that described the image quality as being, “Like looking through a window” – and he meant really crystal clear glass that had been freshly cleaned. Cuz it looked beautiful, but I did put on my previous Blu-Ray copy and that looked just as beautiful albeit, I did not watch the whole thing again. I find that my favorite characters in this film are not Eastwood and Morgan Freeman, but rather – I really do love Gene Hackman and Richard Harris’ performances. Most of all, I love the cinematography and the music. That said – anytime I watch this film – I find myself wishing I was watching one of the Leone films or OUTLAW JOSEY WALES – which are my preferred Eastwood Westerns. Still great to have the Blu-Book, there’s just something aesthetically classy that I like about the Blu-Books.
Otto Preminger’s ANATOMY OF A MURDER is just a fantastic film showing a variety of great actors with great and different approaches to acting. Jimmy Stewart plays a brilliant lawyer that’s taken to drinking a fishing with his brilliant fellow lover of the law played by the immensely satisfying Arthur O’Connell, who talks him into defending Ben Gazzara, who killed the local Bar owner, who allegedly raped his wife, Lee Remick, who is a sexpot that wantonly flaunts her sexuality throughout the film. This causes some deliciously uncomfortable moments for Jimmy Stewart. Now Gazzara and Remick are so alive within their method work – that Jimmy & Arthur seem to come from another world. Then there’s the Judge, who is a very real real life judge – and he’s exceptionally brilliant. OH – and then there the State Assistant District Attorney played by George C Scott. I’ve seen the film several times, it’s one of those films that made me want to be a lawyer for a period of time when I was younger. Stewart is pulling what we would now call “a Matlock” – you know when a Lawyer doesn’t have anything other than his down-homesy charm and throws two hands of subterfuge to exasperated the D.A. and make the Jury smile? He’s mounting that kind of defense. Now – see if you can take your eyes off of Jimmy Stewart – and watch George C Scott, who is absolutely dazzled and amused by Stewart’s performance. You can see it breaking his character. You’ll never catch Gazzara losing his character, but George, you can tell he loved Jimmy. Duke Ellington’s score keeps everything moving – and he even appears as a piano player named Pie-Eye in the film. Criterion has done a great job on this disc – here’s the extras:
New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
New alternate 5.1 soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio
New interview with Otto Preminger biographer Foster Hirsch Critic Gary Giddins explores Duke Ellington's score in a new interview
A look at the relationship between graphic designer Saul Bass and Preminger
Newsreel footage from the set
Excerpts from a 1967 episode of Firing Line
Excerpts from the work in progress Anatomy of "Anatomy": The Making of a Movie
Behind-the-scenes photographs by Life magazine's Gjon Mili
Trailer, featuring on-set footage
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Nick Pinkerton and more
I really do like PUSS IN BOOTS quite a bit, but I can’t agree with the quote, “BEST ANIMATED FILM OF THE YEAR” – that should go to either RANGO or CAT IN PARIS, but this is a welcome surprise from the world of SHREK, mainly because it has almost nothing to do with SHREK – other than the notion that the Fairy Tale mishmash world that it all takes place in. Dreamworks Animation has really loaded up the Blu-Ray with extras:
- Purr-fect Pairings: The Voices Behind The Legends
- Deleted Scenes
- Kitten to Cat
- Glitter Box Dance Off!
- Klepto Kitty
- Kitty Keyboard
- Fairytale Pop-Up Book
- Kitty Strikes Again HD
- CATivites (DVD-ROM)
- World Of DreamWorks Animation
- A DreamWorks Fairytale
- Puss' Paw Pouncing Challenge
- The Animator's Corner
- Trivia Track Special Features
By the way, feeding your dog a Tab of LSD does not turn your dog into UNDERDOG… At least I really don’t think it would. But that’s what happens when Shoeshine Boy takes his tab of LSD out of his ring and then he’s flying and fighting crime. Usually trying to rescue his Sweet Polly Purebred. SHOUT! Has loaded this 9 Disc set with every episode of UNDERDOG ever. There’s bonus toons, commentaries, featurettes and tons more. When I first went to college, I had a crazy friend that loved to talk for hours about how UNDERDOG was the first and only LSD powered superhero. I think all kids going to college meet this person. And we’re all the better for it. It does make watching UNDERDOG even better than normal.
I knew this would be a good flick. The Eddie Murphy that is in this film – is the Eddie Murphy I want to see on film. Brett Ratner absolutely gets that. The film is quite great, but that’s because this is a PG 13 film – and the folks involved would be better served if they could LET GO. We need to see this kind of Comedy EXPENDABLES – but where the old gods unleash. But at least Eddie is acting like he could be a badass – and it has been far too long since I’ve felt that from him. Alan Alda is really quite a bit of fun as the wealthy penthouse living 1%er that has essentially robbed the 99%. The majority is seeking revenge. Not a great film, but a perfectly satisfying watching experience for what it is.
Based upon the science fiction novel SIMULACRON-3, Fassbinder crafted an amazing 3 & a half hour 70’s science fiction flick that evokes the great serious minds of the genre. Vonnegut can be felt. Kubrick’s influences can be seen – and yes, there’s dashes of the great Dick himself. This deals with virtual reality – long before THE MATRIX made it incredibly cool… then cliché as hell. Here, you get a stylistic world that is just very cool looking. If you like Truffaut’s FAHRENHEIT 451, and there are many that don’t, then you may be perfect for this Criterion jewel. Be forewarned, if you have distractions, then save this for when you can be absolutely absorbed by it. Tis the only way to enjoy.
New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
Fassbinder's "World on a Wire": Looking Ahead to Today, a 50-min documentary
New interview with German-film scholar Gerd Gemunden
New English subtitles
Trailer for the 2010 theatrical release
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Ed Halter
This film has terrible make-up. There’s just work done here that looks BAD. I’ve always been fascinated with J. Edgar Hoover. His story created modern paranoia with our government’s ability to track us, be aware of us and allegedly protect us. As bad as Leo’s old age make-up looks – Armie Hammer’s make-up is snicker-worthy. I like the script and the story – but for me personally, I can’t get past the bad stage make-up. At best this is something to catch on cable, don’t spend money on this unless you really are a freak for J.Edgar Hoover stories.
I watched this just a couple days ago. It’s outstanding. Perhaps one of the best Archery combat films yet captured. I loved the tactics that get used in the film. This tells the tale of the 2nd Manchu invasion of Korea – I’m not used to this sort of South Korean film, since most of what I see are films set in their modern day. As a result, I was delighted by the change of pace – delivering a film that takes us to this era – which is just amazing. Warning though, apparently there’s a lot of gross simplification in the subtitles – according to Yoko – my resident Korean. But it did not bother me in the least. This is really cool shit.
Elizabeth Olsen is hypnotic in this film. One of the things I love about this film is the notion of choosing another way to live life. Alternative living in America is a great subject. I mean, so many of us complete High School, go to College and/or get a job/start a career. Move out on our own and settle down into a life. Here, Olsen’s character is a bit of a mystery to her Sister and Husband. They can’t quite figure her out. She’s got completely different priorities. She seems traumatized. But she had been living in a cult existence. A communal lifestyle. An abusive one. She willingly became incredibly subservient in that world – and she’s left it. She’s got adjustment issues with her more traditional sister. But life offers us many paths. Olsen’s performance is one of the best of last year. There is a depressed funk that lingers around the edges of this film, so it might not quite warrant multiple viewings – but I think a lot of you are going to really and truly dig the hell out of this thing. Wonderful film.
This is laughably bad. You ever watch films cuz the people are pretty, they dance real crazy, and you can discuss with a friend, significant other – about how actively brain damaged the film you’re watching is? That’s why to watch HONEY 2. Because it ate all the lead paint chips. It is just dumb. Dumb as a stump. Where do these DANCE GANGS exist? Do people laugh at them openly? Are they all this hilariously dense? I kinda hope so.
This is one of those wonderful Bogart Film Noirs that is all wrapped around pulling off a perfect murder. I love those subjects. I also love Bogie’s motivation. You see, he married his wife and lived with her for 5 long years. She was a bit of a cunt you see – and over that time, Bogart discovers that he married the wrong sister, that he’s actually in love with his wife’s sister. NOW – See – it’s sort of a Porn plot – but it is incredibly classy. I mean… in addition to Bogart you have one of my favorite fat character actors of all time. SYDNEY GREENSTREET – the fat man with the fez from CASABLANCA and the fat man from MALTESE FALCON that covets the curious black bird. I can watch a film like this at the drop of a hat. Watching a Bogart film – it makes the world right. It centers me and makes me dream of suits & dames & things that go bump in the night. This is a great Warner title. Check it out!
I’d never seen Humphrey Bogart as a test pilot, specifically testing the Ejection Cockpit. If you’ve always suspected that Bogie had, “THE RIGHT STUFF,” this is the movie where he shows it off. In addition – there’s romance with Eleanor Powell – who is one of the most attractive ladies in film history. She’s just a vision. This isn’t one of Bogart’s top titles – but I believe that it is a film geek’s duty to see as many Bogart films as humanly possible. But then my parents drove that home into my mind. I’m the same way with most of the leads from the 30’s-50’s. Bogart did so many different types of roles on screen – and discovering all the facets of this fascinating man… it prepares you to become the coolest old man ever. Learn from the master.
THE POST and the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER are fucking insane. This is by no means the greatest monster movie since KING KONG. Nor is this the most realistic horrifying film ever… even if we’re talking about it being 1970. However, this is a film about a Bigfoot that captures some women – and a group of Bikers set out to hunt down Big Foot and get their women back – and it stars the seed of Robert Mitchum. And JOHN CARRADINE. The film is pretty terrible – but fun. Cheesy as a grilled cheese sandwich. If you want a much better scary BIG FOOT/YETI story to watch, check out ABOMINABLE by Ryan Schifrin – it’s still my fave of the genre.
My Father-In-Law is a Trucker. So when I see a collection like this of films that I know nothing about – but that has the tagline, “DON’T MUCK AROUND WITH THESE TWO-FISTED MOTHER TRUCKERS!” Well, I purchase the under $10 triple feature of THE TRUCKER’S WOMEN , MOON FIRE TRUCKER and THE CONCRETE COWBOY and then I wait to see just how awful it all is. IMDB doesn’t have a listing for the 3 films. Very curious!
I’ve never heard of ZAAT – but apparently this is a film made the year I was born, 1971, and concerns a mutant human/giant catfish hybrid – that does what any natural mutant human/giant catfish hybrid would do. Having seen OKIE NOODLING – I wonder if they eventually catch ZAAT by dangling their arms into a murky lake? Somehow – the film has a Blu-Ray. That Blu-Ray must be mine. ZAAT sounds amazing. Right?
Next week I’ll be looking at HUGO, JUSTICE LEAGUE: DOOM, THE BUCCANEER on Blu, SCARLET STREET Blu, VANYA ON 42ND STREET Criterion Blu, TODD & THE BOOK OF PURE EVIL – First Season, Fritz Lang’s THE SPIDERS, NIJINSKY Blu, BABA YAGA Blu, RABIES, WHERE LOVE HAS GONE Blu, THE MOUNTAIN Blu, MANDRILL Blu, L’AUTOMOBILE, MISS BALA, PAC-MAN: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON, THE YELLOW SEA, VOICE OF THE CITY, MAN TO MAN, THE IDLE RICH and that’s about it.