Hey folks, Harry here with this week’s picks & peeks! Some seriously great flicks this week, including the one that we’ve really been agonizing for since the format existed. And that JAWS BluRay does not disappoint! As usual the images and links take you to AMAZON where if you chose to learn more about the title in question or if so motivated you wish to purchase the title… well, part of that purchase price goes to support the best efforts of this column. Injuries and all. You’ll see! Now here’s the column…
Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
For $18 on Amazon you get one of the singularly most out-standing transfers of a beloved film I’ve ever seen. Quint & I are both so over the moon for this release, that this week’s AICwHK is just a 100% JAWS Love Fest! How could we not. For those that are on the fence, be a naysayer… get the Blu through Netflix… and behold one of the greatest transfers you’ve seen. You’ll see instantly the difference. This is a film we know. We know inside and out. Going back to the original negative, doing the work they did to repair and restore… It’s just, the result doesn’t look like the 35mm that I saw back when this film unleashed a fear of deep water. No, this looks better than the 35mm, because this is going back a couple of generations to a far sharper and detailed cinematic canvas than I’ve ever seen JAWS on before. The colors and precise wow of this print is something that I just wasn’t expecting. If you have a chance to see the 4k print of this in Theaters… RUN! However, for the great deal of you – you’ll never get that chance. This Blu-Ray is the next best thing. It’s just stunning. The extras are amazing. The MAKING OF JAWS doc on here is just fantastic. In particular, listening to Steven talk about his association with the Orca… or the Quint scenes that he had written and decided to never shoot… or… the doc THE SHARK IS STILL WORKING – finally. Finally I get to see this JAWS love fest and it’s great. It just puts such a loving geeky smile on my face. This is the must purchase of the week. JAWS up geeks. You’re gonna need a bigger screen!
Had to start the list this week with two Oscar winners. JAWS and the great SHAFT! No matter how many shitty songs get nominated by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences… it doesn’t matter… because SHAFT by Isaac Hayes won BEST SONG. That’s kind of it. Nothing better will ever win. That’s just as fucking cool as it gets, and that song is the living beat of SHAFT. Richard Roundtree is just a badass. So great. Gordon Parks did a great job with SHAFT. Written by the man responsible for THE FRENCH CONNECTION’s script, SHAFT isn’t some half-ass piece of exploitation, it’s a wonderful film. This disc is on order, but if when it shows up tomorrow it sucks, I’ll let you folks know, they weren’t previewing this wonderful film. Argh. Sound better be awesome!
This just isn’t another Zombie movie. It isn’t just a Zombie movie either. This film is the first independent Cuban genre film made and shot in CUBA – and it has a flavor and a sense of the world, that is uniquely Cuban. The zombies are dissidents and well, it is best to discover the film as it hits you. Juan is played by an ex-Cuban military operative who lives the life of a hustler and a bit of a gigolo in the laid back life he’s become accustomed to in Havana. The film is gorgeous, but more so, as directed by Alejandro Brugues – this is someone to watch. This isn’t a film by someone that is never heard from again. This is a film by a filmmaker desperately in love with filmmaking. The film is energized with that sense of manifest destiny. The film feels WILLED INTO EXISTENCE. In many ways… this is the largest scale Zombie film to date. The scale is pretty huge – and when you think about the shots you’re seeing… it is just an utter delight. I’ve seen the film about 7 times now. Yes, I love Zombie films. Yes, I am a film geek, but that’s exactly the audience that this film was made for. It is made for those of us that watch Romero’s films, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, WALKING DEAD, THE DEAD and more. I love seeing how Cuba would handle the Zombie Apocalypse. I’m waiting for the great Russian ZOMBIE film. If you love ZOMBIES – this is a no-brainer, but if you only love great zombie films… this is definitely for you too.
I liked HUNGER GAMES, but didn’t love it. LOVE the book. LOVE IT. Gary Ross made a very different film from the book in many ways. It was done with the author’s blessing – and he wasn’t making an easy adaptation of it. The decisions he made were oddly non-commercial. The hand held photography, the strange rhythm to the editing that made everything deeply personal to Katniss… well it works. When I rewatched this on Blu Ray last week, I was really taken by the work, but it still wasn’t the treatment that I felt the book deserved. Honestly, I wanted THE HUNGER GAMES to be adapted in to a full fledged epic. I wanted a 3+ hour film that completely took you into this world. Lionsgate doesn’t make those movies, not yet. This is about as close as they get, and when you look at the box office, it is nearly impossible to argue that they did a damn thing wrong. They made the best small version of this story that I feel they could. My reaction to this film is pretty much why I tend to stay away from popular novels being turned into films, in advance of the film. I want all those missing scenes. That said, this is a great Blu Ray. The big making of doc that is on the second Blu-Ray is a fantastic look at how they made this film. Gary Ross does an excellent job of explaining his reasoning behind the different choices he made – and he’s absolutely right about those choices and on the budget he had, those were 100% correct. The story is Katniss’ story and he never ever loses sight of that. This is the Blu Ray that fans of this world will love.
I’m so angry I haven’t seen this yet. When it has played here in town, be it at fests, or the secret screening at a friend’s house by one the film’s producers… or when it just fucking played. I still haven’t seen it. And I haven’t gotten the Blu Ray yet. That changes tomorrow. When I get back from shooting in the basement, I’m coming home and watching the hell out of this. From what I’ve heard, I’m most likely going to watch it multiple times, then call friends and say, let’s watch this again. This is the kind of film that just screams WATCH ME. Nordling lost his fool mind for the film. Quint can go on quite a geek tear, with that geek zealot fire in his eyes. So, to say I’m sold on this. I’ve seen every clip that is online… but I still haven’t seen this. I’m dying. Gareth Evans’ MERANTAU, when it played at Fantastic Fest – it blew me away, not just the action, but the emotion that was layered in and the character work. MERANTAU is a fantastic action film and from everything I’ve heard, THE RAID is even better. Can’t wait to finish shooting tomorrow!
I love Wes Anderson films. And yeah, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS is just one of those flicks that makes you wish you’d grown up in just such an eclectic family and I’m somebody genuinely happy with my eclectic upbringing, but this film allows you to dream of a different family. The biggest problem with THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS is that it ends. This is a film that I kinda wish was a never-ending story. I could listen to these characters just continuing to live. In fact, I know that every second that I’m alive, I’m missing more of their stories. The characters live on screen, they don’t just occupy it. You can imagine the characters off camera still having scenes that we just are not watching because the director chose this scene for us. I know that sounds insane, but this film is one of those films that I love Yoko extra because of her love for it. She’s silly drunk in love with the film and I wholeheartedly concur. Criterion has done a great job and these are the extras you get on the Blu:
Restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by director Wes Anderson
Audio commentary by Anderson
With the Filmmaker: Portraits by Albert Maysles, featuring Anderson
Interviews with and behind-the-scenes footage of the actors
The Peter Bradley Show, featuring interviews with additional cast members
Scrapbook featuring young Richie’s murals and paintings and more
Studio 360 radio segment on painter Miguel Calderon
Insert with Eric Anderson's drawings of the Tenenbaum house
PLUS: An essay by film critic Kent Jones
I saw this film multiple times in theaters in the seventies. I even remember the newspaper stock GODZILLA VS MEGALON giveaway comic that they had in the theaters… but most of all, I remember that this was that film that convinced me that GODZILLA was not a monster, but a superhero – and when Big G teams up with Jet Jaguar to lay down the smack down upon Megalon & Gigan. Pure love. My love of GODZILLA is directly tied most of all to this and DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. I have come to appreciate most every incarnation of Big G, hell, my love even blinded me upon first showing of the Emmerich & Devlin version. Once I watched it 24 hours after that review, I realized just how insane I was. And wrote a review warning fans that the review of the World Premiere would most certainly not be their experience with the fairly lifeless shit ball that was that film. I have also never found a really good Jet Jaguar to call my own. This title has never gotten nearly the level of love I wish it would get. For example, where’s the BLU RAY? Wanton destruction on this level deserves the beauty of 1080p. Le sigh.
Hoblit got beaten up pretty hard by a good many critics on FALLEN, but I feel time has been exceedingly kind to FALLEN. It is that serial killer as supernatural nightmare concept that I loved a lot in Lou Diamond Phillips’ THE FIRST POWER. That film and FALLEN are a fun supernatural serial killer double feature. FALLEN is just the A version of what is essentially a B-movie conceit that works wonderfully in that smaller budget arena. In a way, this all is very similar to the notion in the CHILD’S PLAY Chucky flicks. Serial Killer that puts his soul into another body, there were fleshier hosts more easily usable in FALLEN and FIRST POWER. Denzel is solid here, he’s almost always good. I also love John Goodman as his partner and Embeth Davidtz is great. The cast in FALLEN is also the best version of this story thus far… I also love those films where evil murder body parts get put into needy people who then become psychotic murderers. Aren’t movies fun?
NEW JACK CITY is a great fucking movie directed by Mario Van Peebles. I remember when I was reading about this movie in Movieline and Entertainment Weekly… I thought it was hilarious that ICE T was going to “act” in a movie. There were a whole lot of doubting Thomases, but when NEW JACK CITY was released – it was seen as kind of amazing. ICE T’s performance in NEW JACK CITY is one of my fave cop performances. He’s great in the film. As are Wesley Snipes and Judd Nelson and Mario himself. The film just has a great pulse and look. The film is far and away the best thing Mario Van Peebles has directed. It isn’t even close. On Blu Ray the film just looks great and Chris Rock’s Pookie is just something you’ll never quite forget. So good!
The PARADISE LOST trilogy of documentaries has been one of the real examples that the power of cinema to right a wrong… well, it’s easy to point at Berlinger & Sinofsky’s films and say that the various celebrities and folks around the country – that saw these films and got involved in trying to right the rather obvious insanity that these 3 human beings were losing decades of their lives to something they very obviously did not do. Sitting on Death Row. Peter Jackson’s own WEST OF MEMPHIS is coming out this year and along with Berlinger’s films really complete the story of this particular crime. Quint has a lot more on that front! If you’ve been fascinated by this case, definitely pick this up, it’s more great work!
I have watched the first 3 ½ hours of this 7 hour French serial from 1915. Let that sink in. Nearly 100 years ago, Louis Feuillade, a man who directed over 630 silent films, when death cut his amazing career short. 97 years ago, he shot this amazing silent serial. Or Chapter Play, as some call them. It’s sexy, surreal and an epic crime tale. Veering with reckless abandon from realism to surrealism, this potent ancient film work is something to just watch with a smile. The sense of style in this series is amazing. I look forward to finding the right person to watch the whole epic with. Kino has done an amazing job with this Blu Ray. In partnership with the Cinematheque Francaise, and the Mont Alton Motion Picture Orchestra – they’ve not only restored this lengthy ancient work, but provided it with a new score that is quite fitting and exciting when it needs to be. Silent fans, this is pure awesome. Irma Vep and her gang are not to be taken lightly!
IRON SKY - the Nazi Threat from the Moon movie that we've been awaiting our entire lives. We know there is absolutely a swastika shaped moon base on the dark side of the moon and this is the threat we must prepare for. This import Blu Ray will play and is rather wonderful. If you know, you like Space Nazi threat films. And really... what's not to like. I love hating these guys!
I recently wrote a full on review of HICK, but let me warn you very upfront. This isn’t an easy film. Under no circumstances is this a PRETTY BABY situation, nothing graphic ever occurs. HICK is a film about what is under scenes, behind the looks and in the very air about Chloe Moretz. She is amazing, not because Martini sexualizes her, but because Chloe projects an air of vulnerability that just makes you want to step into the screen. This is a cautionary tale about the road and young girls. Runaways happen. And this is very definitely a runaway story. Chloe plays a girl on her way down a very lonely road with very bad intents and things go very wrong in a very short time. The performances by everyone in this are emotional and real. Chloe very definitely gives her best acting performance to date here. The same can also be said of Blake Lively and Eddie Redmayne. If you love very emotionally real and disturbing stories, but stories that have hope and redemption possible… then know, that’s what this film is. It’s also just great filmmaking.
Like non-traditional films? Movies shot with a sense of cinema vérité, where you watch to learn what is going on. Films that has you watching pieces, wondering what you’re seeing, until the pieces add up and you discover a deeper meaning from it all? Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne don’t have an interest in spoon-fed story telling. Film can be so much more mysterious and arresting and daring. This is a story of a young lady living a very hard life. Discovering her life is often heartbreaking and powerful. Emilie Dequenne is wonderful as the lead, this will not be for everyone.
The Brothers Dardenne released this film 3 years before ROSETTA – and it is a very different film. Here they’ve constructed a very documentary feeling tale that is all about characters that take advantage of newly arrived immigrants and the world that is around that. You won’t be able to tear yourself away from this incredibly arresting and powerful work. This is my favorite work of the Dardenne Brothers. And it was this that gave me the patience to watch ROSETTA, which is ultimately so rewarding as the credits roll. I’m very happy that Criterion is giving them the Blu treatment.
Six and a half years and we finally have a film that because I put this in the PS3, I earned a slap from Yoko. First off, no joke – this is a pretty fucking foul flick. It is quite graphic sexually, extreme hardcore… nothing is “pretty”. This is a Serbian film. I found it interesting in the culturally bizarre way I look at films from places. Right now, Serbia’s film industry is the most graphic and violent and perverse that I’ve seen. Yoko was fine with everything, until she looked up and saw a woman giving head to a horse. That gets Harry a slap. I DID NOT MAKE THIS FILM. I’m not even saying I like it. I haven’t been able to finish it – and I think before I revisit it… I’ll make sure Yoko isn’t able to even accidently walking in on it. But this film did have a sequence that had a man fucking a hole into a field that could be observed from outer space… he ejaculated into the earth, his seed took root – and a plant grew. A strange plant. Some druggie sees the plant and takes some of its buds and smokes them with friends. They all instantly start fucking. But when they go into withdrawals they become mutant cannibal monsters. So yeah, now you know two things that happen in this film. But realize… this film could get you slapped. Just for the record, it was a total wimpy slap and not a full on red cheek and stinging ouch. And yes, Yoko and I have been laughing about it since. She vastly preferred WILD IN THE STREETS which I put on Netflix Instant for her to enjoy as I worked. That’s a really great odd film! See what I go through to bring this column to ya. All because I put it in to see what was there.
That top quote on the box is from Steven Spielberg. I’d never seen this film. But reading that quote told me, this is going to be a very powerful film. Then I saw, Andrzej Wajda, I’ve seen his work on that Essential Art House: ASHES & DIAMONDS set that I reviewed years ago in this column. The film is about a man that ran an orphanage in the Warsaw Ghetto and protected a group of children from… well the worst of what that Ghetto was. The story of Henryk Goldzmit, who wrote under the name of Janusz Korczak, is a story that you will be amazed by. Such a great film.
There is a much stronger documentary waiting to be made upon this subject matter, but this is an ok start. This is a film about how Art can power change, protest and battle the injustices of any time. The best thing about the film is the art itself, of course. I’d love to have Ron Mann take a stab at this subject matter. He knows how to make this sort of thing come to life better. But still, worth a watch.
Next week kicks off with THE RESCUERS 35th Anniversary Blu, Linklater’s BERNIE, THE DICTATOR, POCAHONTAS Blu Ray, THE ARISTOCATS Blu Ray, WARGAMES Blu Ray, HALLOWEEN 4 & 5 on Blu, A SEPARATION Blu, GOOD WILL HUNTING 15th Anniversary Blu, WEEKEND Criterion Blu, BLACK MAGIC RITES Blu, VIRGINIA, PRIVATE HELL 36 Blu, THINNER Blu, SANTA FE TRAIL Blu, MALLRATS Blu, JOYSTICKS, CAPTAIN CAREY USA Blu, SPACE ADVENTURE COBRA: THE MOVIE, BARTON FINK Blu, MY SON JOHN Blu, ECSTASY OF ORDER: THE TETRIS MASTERS, KILL AND KILL AGAIN and that’s about it.