Hey folks, Harry here… Life has been fairly hectic, what with the opening of the COMIC CON EPISODE IV: A FAN’S HOPE and the creation of this YouTube show… but the real problem was finding time to see all the films from the last week of March. There was just a ton of material and I wanted to do it justice, which I hope I have. As usual, the images and pictures link over to Amazon where you can learn more on the respective title and if so motivated, you can acquire it. So here ya go.
Tuesday March 27th, 2012
Yes, we all bought the previous version of this on Blu Ray. Unless you were one of those wise folks that thought… in just 2 years Warners will probably put out a 70th Anniversary Edition… and sure, in 5 years, they’re going to do a Diamond Jubilee version… especially if this sells well. AND to me – I’ll probably upgrade to that version if they continue to add amazing features like they did on this version. Kicking everything off is an immaculate new 4K transfer – which basically means… it looks very close to 35mm. Just beautiful. But for most home theater set ups, you won’t likely notice a difference on your HD TV. HD Projection though – you’ll see the increased sharpness and loving grain. Just beautiful. I said that already, but it does warrant repeating. There’s 2 new documentaries on here… CASABLANCA: AN UNLIKELY CLASSIC which goes into just how unpredictable film as a medium is. Nobody at the Studio thought they were making one of the greatest movies of all time. You’ll get that impression and a lot more from this new doc. Then my favorite doc, but the one I hate’s title, is MICHAEL CURTIZ: THE GREATEST DIRECTOR YOU NEVER HEARD OF. Ok – so if you don’t know who Michael Curtiz is – and if you don’t agree with me that he is easily one of the greatest directors in the history of film itself… Then I just want to sit you down and just show you perfect film after perfect film directed by Michael Curtiz, my favorite film director ever. Seriously – go look him up. From Errol Flynn to Bogart to Cagney to Elvis… he just consistently directed the best movies of their careers. In addition to those two new documentaries we have Blu Ray versions of YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS: THE WARNER BROS. STORY, THE BROTHERS WARNER and JACK L WARNER: THE LAST MOGUL. Then there’s like 20 other special features that were available on the previous Blu Ray. You get Coasters for your Casablanca Cocktails from Rick’s, The Blue Parrot and more. You get a reproduction of the French 1-sheet, a really awesome book that has a ton of photos that I hadn’t seen before… but really, I love stuff like this. The silly things they include in the box – sure it appeals to me, but I’m just happy to have an even better transfer than we had before. To me, that’s what we’re really buying and all the rest of this stuff – It’s just the fun of loving CASABLANCA and big sets like this.
The perfect film to follow up from CASABLANCA is not STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER. STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER is exactly the kind of film that separates the hardcore film geeks from the more passive classic lovers. I love the Giallo genre of Italian suspense mystery slasher flicks – and Edwige Fenech… well, if you’re casting for STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER, she’s high on one’s list for hopeful nudity – and she delivers. The film is nowhere near as exploitive as the title would suggest. If you know Giallo, it’s an entertaining one, but isn’t great. The film has a high nudity and body count. Trying to guess who the killer is becomes increasingly difficult as just about everyone in this thing seems to be a corpse by the end. I found myself guessing wrong continually – and that’s kind of the fun of a flick like this. So grab some drinks and friends and have a classy evening of CASABLANCA and STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER!!!
A NIGHT TO REMEMBER is a tremendous TITANIC film with Pussy Galore in it! Well, Honor Blackman, I mean. This film was created to answer the fictional overly romantic 20th Century Fox film TITANIC back in the early 50s. A NIGHT TO REMEMBER is arguably the best TITANIC film made. Arguable mainly due to James Cameron’s towering epic – which straddled both of the 50’s TITANICS – blending truth & fiction in a very beautiful way. But the hard facts of A NIGHT TO REMEMBER are harrowing. I would have loved to have heard a James Cameron commentary on this film – because I know he has to appreciate the hell out of it. Criterion has done a fantastic job of bringing this to BluRay. Here’s what they’ve put together for us:
New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Audio commentary by Don Lynch and Ken Marschall, author and illustrator of “Titanic:” An Illustrated History
The Making of “A Night to Remember” (1993), a sixty-minute documentary featuring William MacQuitty’s rare behind-the-scenes footage
Archival interview with Titanic survivor Eva Hart
En natt att minas, a forty-five-minute Swedish documentary from 1962 featuring interviews with Titanic survivors
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Michael Sragow
OH – and this is a far better double feature with CASABLANCA, btw.
Roger Corman changed Hollywood forever from the outside in. Corman understood a very simple principle. People want to be entertained. Throughout history this has been true – and what entertains the masses is not always the classiest sort of fare. Now, Roger set out to make movies that people would enjoy watching. He told tales of pirates, gladiators, death racers, Poe characters, space horror, space adventure, killer cucumbers, beatnik sculptors, man eating plants – then he sought out foreign film treasures by the likes of Fellini and gave them U.S. Distribution. Exploitation and Fine Art. He gave young directors and actors a chance to discover their craft and all those folks and more have come together to craft a loving tribute to the man that just doesn’t know when to stop kicking ass… ROGER CORMAN! If you think of yourself as a film geek, buy this film – then track down every film it references and watch them. It is a voyage of discovery that all good film geeks must complete.
I can’t really say anything good about this work of Traumaploitation. In many ways this is a Shirley Temple movie. You have a cute kid, get to know the kid, discover the horrifying trauma that the kid has suffered, but just imagine that once you have that gut punch, the punches keep coming – no real respite in sight. It’s like if you made a Shirley Temple movie where by the time you got to the end of the story, she was stuck in a cycle of just reliving the horror that gave her tragedy and could never be awoken from it. Essentially – that’s kind of what they did here, but instead of it being the astonishingly chipper Shirley Temple… we have a kid that just doesn’t grab the screen the way she did. This is essentially Grief Porn served with Ham & a hefty helping of cheese. So much cheese & Miracle Whip. I really can’t believe this was ever nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. The worst film to ever receive that honor? Let’s hear some other suggestions.
How bad is EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE? So bad, that I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND watching HOP at least 15 times before watching it. HOP – the film where the Easter Bunny shits out Jelly Beans of multiple flavors… But you know what? It is adorably irrepressibly cute. Then you have James Marsden, who I love in these comedic performances. Showing how he has chops for this genre that Dwayne Johnson just can’t touch, no matter how many tutus he puts on. Marsden has fantastic comedic timing. Once you discover that magical peeps pull the Easter Bunny’s sleigh. Yes, EB has a sleigh. NOW – when will we get a HOP BUNNY Toe that ejects a Jellybean out its ass every time you pet it?
If you just want the movie – go ahead and buy this. But if you think this is the only version of THE BODYGUARD we’re going to get, you might be delusional. I’d bet that there is a really deluxe version that will place Whitney in the beloved framing that her death has given her. There’s a Making of Doc, Memories of THE BODYGUARD and Whitney’s I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU music video. That can and will do better. But if you love the movie and demand a good copy, this is it.
I love A DANGEROUS METHOD, it isn’t the typical Cronenberg styled film, but at the same time it absolutely is. Cronenberg has always dealt with the darker sides of the human psyche – and his tale of Jung and Freud and the amazingly brilliant and disturbed lady played by Keira Knightley… well I was fascinated. Fascinated in the same kind of way that I was with Scorsese’s LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST. Giving a human layer to the grandfathers of modern Psychology. That we have Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud and the wonderful Michael Fassbender as Carl Jung… I could have watched this film for an additional 3 hours. I was held in rapt attention – and it wasn’t just the incredibly kinky sex with Fassbender and Knightley that held my attention, though that SECRETARY-esque relationship did add to the fascination. It is Cronenberg, which means it is a must purchase for me.
To be honest, I’m not real sure what to make of Chow Yun-Fat’s CONFUCIUS. Going into it, I kinda thought… Ok – it’ll be Chow Yun-Fat giving us nuggets of Confucius’ brilliant life outlook and philosophy… Then I got the BluRay – saw the sword, saw the sunset lit army in the background and wondered what Confucius would say about this. The film doesn’t feel like a film on Confucius should – it feels as though you’d take a well known historical character… like say Edgar Allan Poe or Abraham Lincoln – and then you thrust them into a pseudo-Action formula – and yeah – I’ll watch that, but is that exactly what I’m hankering for from the folks that are making tales of the brilliant minds of history? Not exactly. This is a curiosity at best. Tons of extras though!
This is one of the great disappointments from the year in which AINT IT COOL was born. I’d read Patrick Read Johnson’s script – and was really and truly excited for the film. That ILM was bringing the Dragon to life – and the notion of Sean Connery providing the voice – I was just excited. WOW – the execution on the design of the Dragon was ultimately disappointing – and the voice work… just didn’t seem to ever look right. It is a fun film for kids – but most of my grown up fantasy friends and I… we just wanted this to be so much more. Rob Cohen just didn’t quite nail it. At least that’s how I felt. I’m sure a lot of you grew up with this film and have a completely different take upon it – and that’s cool too. Amongst the best parts of the film, I feel they belong to Pete Postlethwaite… but then that’s usually the case with any film he’s in. The heart of the story is solid, the film just doesn’t quite live up to it for me.
One of the great screenwriters of Film’s past is the great playwright Noel Coward and his work with David Lean is just spectacular. One of those great partnerships that serious movie lovers, well we hug these films. In particular – we can sing the praises of BLITHE SPIRIT and the amazing BRIEF ENCOUNTER. But for me, the real gold is getting to see David Lean’s first attempt at directing, IN WHICH WE SERVE, where he went from the obscurity of being a Film Editor, to Directing his first film in a career that well… 70 years later, we’re still marveling at. Oh – and IN WHICH WE SERVE was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar!!! Not bad for their first time out of the gate. It’s about British Royal Navy fighting the Nazis in the Mediterranean – and it’s fantastic. Then THE HAPPY BREED, which I just love. Why? I’m a huge fan of character actor Robert Newton, who played definitively Long John Silver in Disney’s TREASURE ISLAND and then again in LONG JOHN SILVER. There was just something amazing about his ability to chew on dialogue and roll as eye that defined how Pirates are portrayed. If you ever celebrate “INTERNATIONAL TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY” – in some way you owe some thanks to Robert Newton. But my obsession with David Lean brought me to a finer appreciation of Newton’s work. Check out Lean’s OLIVER TWIST for a brilliant Newton turn as Bill Sykes. Before that he starred for Lean in THE HAPPY BREED, which had Newton as the father of a working class British family from the end of World War I all the way up until the beginning of the second World War. The film perfectly captures the spirit of wonderful hardworking folks of England. I also love Stanley Holloway in that flick. BLITHE SPIRIT is something for all of us that love the supernatural, where Rex Harrison invites one of them mystic types to his house to perform a séance, something he wants to do so he can write about the experience, thinking it would be a bunch of hokum. When it brings him in constant contact with his departed first wife, well, his current wife doesn’t dig it – and things go in a particularly great direction. It is a comedy – and a brilliant one at that. As for BRIEF ENCOUNTER… go into it cold if you can – just enjoy the great Trevor Howard and the music of Rachmaninoff. It is the way to go. CRITERION rules for this Blu Ray set – and here’s what they have for ya:
New high-definition digital transfers of the BFI National Archive’s 2008 restorations, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray editions
Audio commentary on Brief Encounter by film historian Bruce Eder
New interviews with Noel Coward scholar Barry Day on all of the films
Interview with cinematographer-screenwriter-producer Ronald Neame from 2010
Short documentaries from 2000 on the making of In Which We Serve and Brief Encounter
David Lean: A Self Portrait, a 1971 television documentary on Lean’s career
Episode of the British television series The Southbank Show from 1992 on the life and career of Coward
Audio recording of a 1969 conversation between Richard Attenborough and Coward at London’s National Film Theatre
PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by Ian Christie, Terrence Rafferty, Farran Nehne, Geoffrey O’Brien, and Kevin Brownlow
Here’s another teaming up of Frank Tashlin and Jerry Lewis – where we get to see his hijinks with the amazingly luscious Jill St. John, the hilarious Ray Walston and the great Mercury Theater actress Agnes Moorehead. Jerry Lewis is a ne’er-do-well who’s job is simply to walk dogs. His girlfriend’s mom decides to give him a job at her Department store. Now the girlfriend is the lovely Jill St John, the mom is Agnes Moorehead – and his boss at the Department Store is the genius Ray Walston. So you combine that with Tashlin’s particularly cinematic craziness and we have something quite special. Love that these films are hitting Blu Ray! Great job!
I go back and forth in my head between this film and the one where Van Damme is dealing with exploding pants for THE WORST VAN DAMME FILM of all time – but the slow motion fat belly hitting in this… I just howl in laughter at it. And Roger Moore is so funny in this. I don’t know why. But this is the type of trash cinema that I can enjoy hating as I watch. Does that make sense? Do you ever do that? This film cries for derision. Which you can do with the beautiful image of Blu Ray of some incredibly silly shit. You have been warned.
If you started off a night with this – and then watched THE DEEP afterwards – you’d have a really good night of nautical adventure and criminal activity. I sort of hate that box art – and the title, because if you’re watching the film without any knowledge of the cover of this film. You see, the movie begins as a search for sunken treasure, then they find something and the whole story begins turning till we eventually end up with the cover art… which honestly plays like a spoiler. ODD. The way they sold the film is actually counterproductive to the story as it was told. That said – just check this out. Sinatra and Tony Franciosa are great in it – and Virna Lisi is just wow. Very cool release.
If you love Giallo flicks, do not even attempt to miss checking this out! A girl fresh from the cold cells of prison moves into a boarding house which is owned and operated by… A SATANIC CULT! Just see it. Don’t dig up info, just know that it kicks a lot of ass. I love Satanic Cult films, not because worshipping Satan is a good thing, according to Heavy Metal… but because for some reason Satanic Cults legitimately scare the shit out of me. The notion of being taken captive by one – YIKES! For me, this was the discovery of the week.
Another Tashlin/Lewis team up – and when you see these comedies, you really will get why the French love Jerry Lewis. These are cinematic comedies where the sight gags are literally the kinds of things that can only happen with the magic of the silver screen. These are very kid accessible, if you want to raise your kids with a healthy sense of film history, instead just the things of their time. Now, if you’re a fan of HBO’s BORED TO DEATH, this is the Jerry Lewis comedy for you. Lewis plays a goofy TV repairman with a passionate penchant for the pulp Detective fiction of the era. My favorite casting in the film is that the voice of Betty Boop, Mae Questel. Hell, she’s more than that, she was also the pitch perfect voice of Olive Oyl and CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST and lots more. Even more, I just love her Jazz singing. But she’s great in the film. Again, I seriously heart these Tashlin Blu Rays – I just wish they put them all in a Box Set and heralded the genius of Frank Tashlin. Maybe I’ll do that on the show.
Ever wanted a lesson on Swinging from Frank Sinatra? I mean we’ve all heard the legendary status of this great cocksman. Now, let’s see what he can teach us, when the combined talents of Neil Simon’s Play and Norman Lear’s adaptation give Sinatra the words and situations to teach us to swing. The cast in this is just killer. Sinatra’s Dad is the brilliant Lee J Cobb, remember his amazing turn in 12 ANGRY MEN, I just love him in everything. The gals? The aforementioned Jill St. John is joined by Barbara Rush as the scintillating eye-candy… Tony Bill is great as the cocky younger brother of Sinatra – who causes so much trouble for poor Frank. Also keep your eyes out for a Rat Pack member playing a BUM in the film. It’s kinda perfect. Love getting these titles on Blu!
Shot in 1987, I missed this title – even if it did co-star the lead Nerd from REVENGE OF THE NERDS and Lando Calrissian as badass narcotics cops. I enjoyed this film, sure it is about as predictable as they come, but I love Robert Carradine and Billy Dee Williams… add to them Valerie Bertinelli, Peter Graves and Mykelti Williamson and you have an interesting cast that I enjoyed. It’s alright! First time on DVD.
This 1969 film from the director God known as John Huston came a curiosity called SINFUL DAVEY. It starred an impossibly young John Hurt, the wonderful Pamela Franklin long before her brilliant turn in THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, the great Nigel Davenport and one of my all time favorite fat actors in the history of cinema, the great Robert Morley! This is one of those weird eccentric John Huston films – where he attempts to blend a whole host of elements – and it never quite comes together as planned, but I find the film fascinating. There’s something awesome about young John Hurt wanting to follow his father’s mischievous steps. Give it a shot, first time on DVD!
What the hell is this 1984 film? FRANKENSTEIN’S GREAT AUNT TILLIE… starring Donald Pleasance & Zsa Zsa Gabor? So I watched it. All of it. And… wow. This film is bad. I’m not talking run of the mill bad, I’m talking about one of the all time worst films that I have ever been compelled to experience the whole of. There’s no aspect that is even close to being redeemable – and it’s a fascinatingly awful train wreck of cinema. I mean – how could I not be curious from that title? Then, once it began to play I just… time passed – and when it was over – there was just an absence of air in my lungs. It was debilitating. Only dive in if you think for even a second you have the cinematic integrity to witness any cinematic atrocity. This is a throw down. I double dog dare you to follow me on this one. It’s unbelievably amateur and awful.
Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
This is just one of the great films, period. Polanski’s CHINATOWN is one of the great Detective films ever made. Robert Towne’s script, flatly genius. The mystery is so wonderful that it leads you to the very foundation that Los Angeles was built upon. THE movers and shakers that pointed at a place on the map and said, “Civilization will form here!” And they did it. Not everyone was happy about that – and while many film geeks have taken to believing the legend of CHINATOWN, this Blu Ray rights that to a large degree with the fascinating TRUE STORY of WATER & POWER… where screenwriter Robert Towne explores the actual miraculous engineering feat that founded L.A. and the men who did it. Also – the commentary by Robert Towne and David Fincher is fascinating. This is one of those films that film geeks talk about excitedly. Last night on Twitter, Moriarty’s false identity and I were tweeting back and forth about the class of this brilliant movie. Richard Amsel’s poster art is and has always been one of the great movie posters and logos of the seventies. OH – and the transfer is stunning. Must buy for film geeks!
I am absolutely not ashamed to mention how much I love Madonna. Now she’s done a whole heaping helping of crazy over the decades I’ve followed her. At this point, I’m more morbidly curious about what she does. Loathed her Super Bowl Halftime Show. But that was more of being aggravated that she brought other acts with her, instead of just showboating the whole thing on her own. She seemed to get lost in the clutter. Anyway, MADONNA: TRUTH OR DARE is the sassy kinda bitchy Madonna that I love. She has no qualms about voicing what’s on her mind. And yeah, you could totally end up hating her for how she acts – but that’s Madonna. I grew up with her music and her antics, so TRUTH OR DARE is a must for me. She is who she is, and that’s captured here.
WAR HORSE is a remarkable film. The composition, the cinematography, the music, even the sweep of the story. The filmmaking is impressive, but as of yet, I haven’t had an emotional connection with the film. I quite enjoy watching it, purely for the spectacle of what Spielberg put together here. It’s a helluva story. The film is just oddly distant for me. I’m usually a sucker for this sort of thing, but I was finding myself noticing how amazing everything was captured, framed and musically accompanied… but it just didn’t resonate with me. I really do enjoy it on a pure film geeking level. But I do wish it made me soar a bit more. This is an excellent Blu Ray though, filled with many wonderful extras:
Blu-ray(TM) Feature Film + Bonus
Through The Producer's Lens -- Producer Kathleen Kennedy Shares Photos She Took During Filming
Exclusive Bonus On 4-Disc Combo Pack
DVD Feature Film + Bonus
Digital Copy Of Feature Film
War Horse: The Journey Home -- Discover How This Extraordinary Film Came To The Screen With Steven Spielberg, The Production Team And Cast
An Extra's Point Of View -- Experience The Shoot From The Perspective Of A "Background Artist"
A Filmmaking Journey -- Join Director-Producer Steven Spielberg For An Unprecedented Look Into The Making Of War Horse, And Learn Why The Film Was Both A Filmmaking Journey...And A Journey Of The Heart
Editing & Scoring -- Steven Spielberg, Editor Michael Kahn And Composer John Williams Discuss The Film's Editing And Music, As Well As The Secret Of Their Forty-Year Collaboration
The Sounds Of War Horse -- Sound Designer Gary Rydstrom Explains The Movie's Sophisticated Sound Design
Cameron Crowe is one of the filmmakers out there that just has my number. While my wife assures me it would never happen in her lifetime, I’m pretty much the kind of person that would buy a zoo. Seriously, if you could afford to maintain a Zoo at the absolute best level of care for the animals… would you not love to have one. I mean, wake up in the morning, hear the world roar into being. Along with joining the circus, it’s just one of those truths. It’s a Hollywood tale for sure, even if it was plucked from life. Cameron Crowe makes life glow a bit more than it does, radiate more light. That’s something we don’t get enough of, stories that clutch to living. Crowe does them better than anyone.
I do love me some awesome Douglas Fairbanks Jr, he’s a helluva performer. After GUNGA DIN, THE PRISONER OF ZENDA and SINBAD THE SAILOR – my next favorite Doug Fairbanks Jr flick is THE CORSICAN BROTHERS. Of course we all know this classic tale, where Douglas Fairbanks Jr plays Siamese Twins that have been successfully separated, pure Hollywood magic. With the great Akim Tamiroff, J. Carrol Naish, LOST HORIZON’s H.B. Warner and of course DRACULA’S DAUGHTER – Gloria Holden. This is exactly the film you need to make you smile , it’s that kind of Hollywood – God bless it!
Jim Brown is a Black Southern Sheriff – when that wasn’t something that was at all common. George Kennedy is the ex Sheriff and together they have to diffuse a ticking situation in a very racially charged South. Not that it’s all hunky dory now. But man… Jim Brown and George Kennedy standing side by side. That’s the Presidential Ticket to get excited about. Watching TICK…TICK…TICK… you know there’s nothing those two couldn’t handle! First time on DVD.
Directed by a young Jonathan Kaplan is this PRISON-action adventure starring the always awesome Jim Brown. He’s a con that stole from the mob, got stuck in the Slam, but learns his stash is being torn down and so he has to escape. I kind of love it. It’s a great little film. I’ve always been a fan of the whole Prison genre, add Jim Brown and yeah… it’s good shit!
There’s something about Depression era Warner Brothers Comedies that just seem to be a perfect tonic for a down evening. Joan Blondell, whom – if you know the Busby Berkeley films like FOOTLIGHT PARADE or GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933… you know her. Or maybe from NIGHTMARE ALLEY with Tyrone Power… I know you all remember her waitress from GREASE… well she’s the star of TRAVELING SALESLADY, she has an idea for a toothpaste that tastes like a cocktail. And Hugh Herbert is the inventor. This is a very goofy and fun bubbly romantic comedy, very much worth checking out. She’s also in MISS PACIFIC FLEET – and again with the same partner in crime from TRAVELING SALESLADY – Glenda Farrell. Watching this film I was delighted to see my relative Guinn “Big Boy” Williams… who is always good for a laugh or two. Plus you get to see Hugh do his very best HOO HOOs! Of the time!
Jim Brown is Kenner, tracking down the smack smuggler that killed his partner to Bombay… while there he befriends a local boy and falls in love with his mother. A very different Jim Brown film – and one that further shows just how great he was on screen. Just a great flick.
I’m setting to work on today’s column, but wanted to get this up as soon as I could. Hopefully I’ll be back posting today!