Hey folks, I know... Harry here - and I've started to wade into the make-up columns with gusto. There's a lot to cover - and yes I do not relish work stacking up, but trust me when I say... things have been tough. Let's not get into that, let's check in on some lovely Blus & DVDs... As usual the images and links take you to AMAZON where you can pick up the items in question, which is awesome cuz it means we get a kick back to help support the struggling efforts of this column I so love. Now, here we go... Time travel back to...
Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
WARGAMES is one of those vital films for me. I saw it the year I got my first home computer. I actually got it the Christmas before, but it had been that gift that while it excited me, I didn’t understand really what a computer could really do. I’d seen TRON the year before, I wanted the computer to create my own LightCycles animation. Yeah, that computer could not do that. Then I saw WARGAMES. I wasn’t interested in Global Thermonuclear War. I understood there were penalties for hacking into the Federal Government’s Nuclear Program. No, it was all about the allure of hacking your school and changing your grades. Or dialing up game companies and playing their games… online. This fascinated me. John Badham had directed SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, DRACULA & BLUE THUNDER – so there was no way I was missing this flick. WARGAMES defined my thoughts of the Cold War. When it looked like the whole world was going past the brink and Ally Sheedy suggests that David and her should swim and he admits that he never learned to swim. He always thought there would be time. That scene stuck with me. I wanted to experience as much as I could because every night we all could die. In mushroom clouds. The flirty friendship between David and Jennifer – it felt honest to me. I thought Broderick’s David was the coolest character on film that I’d ever seen. Here was a kid that learned everything about computers, that made proper use of libraries and older friends. Who could kick ass on an Arcade machine! David was a proto-modern geek and I wanted to BE him. I also loved John Wood’s Professor Falken – and the scenes where Falken is trying to reason with JOSHUA… This was the root of War. Falken is trying to teach JOSHUA that War is Futile… and in doing that, he convinced me. I’m not anti-Military, there are unfortunately necessary wars. But we good folks, we should do everything we can not to play. I fell madly in love with Ally Sheedy in this. Barry Corbin’s General Beringer, he’s just a God. The BluRay has a commentary with Badham and Walter Parkes & Lawrence Lasker, the screenwriters. I didn’t get this disc, but I have already ordered it. I was once interviewed for the WARGAMES Blu-Ray and there are 4 Featurettes. So warning, my ugly mug may be on your screen.
A BUTT-NUMB-A-THON film. I have seriously known this film my entire life. One of the old 16mm prints I watched over and over again. Directed by my favorite director of all time, Michael Curtiz. He directed ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, CASABLANCA, SEA HAWK, YANKEE DOODLE DANDY and so many more. Curtiz made flat-out great films. SANTA FE TRAIL tells the story of John Brown, by way of Jeb Stuart, Kit Carson and George Armstrong Custer. The casting, which was always perfection in Curtiz’s movies had the 3 smiling faces of Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Ronald Reagan as a dorky loser Custer. The way Flynn treats Reagan like a flaky problem child has always been my first impression of Ronald Reagan. Dad would tell me that that guy was the Governor of California – and I’m sure it made as much sense as showing your kid TWINS and saying that was the California Governor. But the main reason to see this film. The key performance. The performance for the record books, it’s Raymond Massey’s JOHN BROWN. When you’re thinking about the history of INTENSELY SCARY MEN of FILM… You think about Anthony Hopkins’ Lecter. I’m sure some of us think about HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER. If you’re not familiar with John Brown, he was the demonized abolitionist that was fighting to free slaves years before Lincoln and the Civil War. What makes John Brown so fucking scary, beyond the gaze of Raymond Massey, it was the stark raving sanity of what he was spouting. Jeb Stuart, Kit Carson and Custer all know that an end of slavery is in the air, but they know terrorism is surely not the way to achieve it. And that killing innocents, no matter what the motivation is in fact evil. Another of my favorite characters in this is Van Heflin – who as a pro-abolitionist, joins West Point to create division and plant the seed of revolt. His Rader is a wonderfully complicated character. I even have a relative in this movie, Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams! Love this movie. Such a great film.
This is a very rare case within the realm of Disney’s 2D animated features. But I love both the original THE RESCUERS along with the years later sequel THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER, a film that kinda changed 2D animation forever, btw. I can clearly remember watching THE RESCUERS as little boy in the theater with my parents. Eva Gabor’s Miss Bianca is the cutest little mouse ever – she’s absolutely cute as hell… and Bob Newhart’s Bernard… everything that is Bernard and that Bianca brings out of Bernard… that’s why I love Miss Bianca so much. The original film is just perfect. The dragonfly transport? Bianca’s fashion? Awesome. Then in THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER – computers were employed in a really breathtaking fashion here. This was the first Disney Animated film to no longer employ a physical ink & paint department, instead the film was colored inside of a computer. It also used CG to create beautiful moments. The real treat is that you’re getting both films in this set. Both with special features. A 1952 Disney Nature documentary called WATER BIRDS – A TRUE LIFE ADVENTURE and that’s in HD. I do wish they’d shot a full on making of both of these films. Disney has a lot of animators that worked on this film, I’d love to have had their stories on this set. But really, I just love adding these to my collection!
Ok – POCAHONTAS, while absolutely beautiful… it isn’t my favorite. And POCAHONTAS II loses almost everything I liked about the first film. But really – I can’t believe Disney is still censoring “IF I NEVER KNEW YOU” out of the film. Which… well, kinda ruins that film. I get it to sate the completist in me. But it really is annoying. In many ways I find this sort of thing insulting as a Disney fan. How can it be a collector’s edition if it isn’t the whole movie?
This is such a Texas murder story. Jack Black, Shirley McLaine and Matthew McCounaughey step into True Story roles for Director Richard Linklater. Jack plays BERNIE, who is just about the most loved guy in town, who kills Shirley McLaine, whom just about everyone hates except Bernie… who kills her. McConaughey is the D.A. trying to get a jury to not let him go for admitted murder… just because they think he did the world a favor. Really great movie. Outstanding. Check it out!
An Eye-Rolling Smirky fun film that just doesn’t nail it. Aptly titled THE DICTATOR, as Chaplin owns THE GREAT DICTATOR and this is not that. I do love The Dictator’s monologue about America as it was the kind of biting work that had there been more of. Having a “Dictator” see the real tragic sides of our Democracy, the film could have meant something more, be more than a whole lot of gross out gags, which work, but cheapen the whole affair. But the throw-back to Doris Wishman? Priceless. Mostly though, I know this could have been smarter and funnier.
Brilliant filmmaking. The kind rarely seen. We listen to News broadcasts and Politicians throughout the world tell us about the Iranian people. We see those in control of the country – and we hate them for what they say, but personally… I tend to judge countries and societies by the Art they create. It’s what I tend to absorb into my consciousness and when you absorb A SEPARATION and you begin to understand the people that don’t necessarily take to the streets in protests. The people that don’t burn flags and cheer for the annihilation of anybody. This film is about the class barriers that exist in modern Iran. This film is so incredibly earnest and emotional. This is a story that reveals so much and frankly we’re blessed to be able to see and appreciate it.
Not one of the better Stephen King tales or film adaptations, but I certainly did have more fun revisiting it, than I did seeing it in theaters back in the day. The first year of AICN. Why is that? Well today, the adherence to practical make-up effects is just… admirable and nostalgic. I also love that it doesn’t involve slashers or teenagers. The performances are uniformly mediocre at best, but watching it – kinda felt like an ok, TALES FROM THE CRYPT episode that ran a little long. Ya know? Blu-ray has a nice transfer and I love this Criterion-esque cover.
Widescreen Edition! JOYSTICKS – if you know this film… you’re probably someone with fond memories of standup arcades, Atari, pinball and you probably also have a fine taste in bodacious tatas. As the Tatas in this… well, they’ll command some part of you to attention. Love Joe Don Baker in this. Now where’s that pinball flick that came out around this time?
I love Ida Lupino, not only was she easy on the eyes, not only was she a great actress, but one of the most awesome Lady Directors & Screenwriters in the history of Hollywood. Here, she didn’t helm, she left that Don Siegel (think DIRTY HARRY), but she did write one helluva page turning Film Noir! Ida plays a high mileage treads worn smooth Lounge singer that can belch out a helluva tune. The film is a gritty and honest tale with all the best twists and turns. Dean Jagger and Dorothy Malone also star. And brother/sister, this movie has some great lines. You’ll be quoting them for certain.
I love Seventies European Satan Cult movies. It’s kinda why I loved Ti West’s HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, as it spoke to that universe… only, when you get a chance to check out the real McCoy… you’ll see crazy fucking bizarre things that just nobody has the sack or lack of taste to nail as perfectly as it just was shot back then. This is full psychedelic sadomasochistic satan worshipping – and when you see the various torment and tortures… you might fall in love with the beautiful mass of nudity that populates these things – and that’s enough. This is a film you can watch with friends and scream in disbelief at the crazy shit it unloads into the magnificent evening – where you might think… HARRY IS HIGH or you might think… WHOA I’M HIGH & LOVE THIS. Or you may stare at the screen just wondering how one goes about making this movie, because you’ve been inspired. Inspired to make a film that looks as crazy awesome as this. Also, if you want Satanist children that’ll kill you in your sleep, raise them on this. I give it a 4% chance of success. I’d wait a few years. Weird kinky stuff goes on in this. Definitely Skinamax material… if they were cool enough to realize it. Great Blu Ray.
Great Anti-Communist Propaganda feature. Remember Hitchcock’s STRANGERS ON A TRAIN? Remember the fucking insane guy, Robert Walker? The guy that wants his mother dead? Well, now that fucker’s a Commie, a fucking Red! In fact, this is the movie that Robert Walker was making when he died at the age of 32 due to prescription meds reacting lethally to him. He hadn’t quite finished making this, though you won’t really notice, it feels like a complete performance to me. Robert Walker is one of those actors, like Heath Ledger, who played a few truly amazing performances that hinted at a legendary aging careers. Walker is so charismatically loathsome that you love watching him, be him. In addition to Walker, we have Van Heflin, another of my favorite character actors, as the FBI agent out to uncover this evil Commie rat bastard! Helen Hayes and Dean Jagger round out a great group. If you’ve ever seen the great AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER you’ll find that this piece of anti-commie propaganda… it’s directed by that guy. Leo McCarey was a great director and does not receive nearly enough attention. Check this great Blu out!
Alan Ladd basically plays like an ex-James Bond type, who immediately after he got off the government clock, decided to exact bloody revenge upon those that were responsible for men he knew in the service. It even has a stunning musical number and a song… you know. But you didn’t know was in a pre-Bond early Fifties Bond movie. Very cool flick.
Get drunk and watch this with your best mates. KILL AND KILL AGAIN is part of a great evening of testosterone fueled action drunk velveeta soup of a movie. This was on high rotation back in the 80’s on I think it was MOVIE CHANNEL and SHOWTIME. I’ve been lucky enough to see this projected as an adult, but having this in the library… it’s just one of those movies you whip out and have a great evening with friends with. Total party movie. Then watch like OCTAGON.