Hey folks, Harry here… Reading my talkbacks recently I saw a good idea, let’s stay current – and I’ll work on the catch-up columns in the meanwhile. Sounds good to me, so that’s the policy from here on out. Don’t worry – all Catchup columns will be done before the release of the upcoming DVD/Blu App we have coming up shortly. We hope. Some paperwork to get done, that’ll be for iPhones & iPad devices, but work is already underway on the Android app as well. We’ve been Beta testing it for a couple months now and people seem to really love it. It really is great to have every title searchable and instantly accessible that feels oddly magic given how long I’ve been doing this column. Anyway – as usual the images and links take you to AMAZON where if you purchase the title through the link, a small portion of the price goes to support our continued best efforts on this column. I’ve seen folks bring up why, if the site is having financial problems, the DVD column hasn’t been up to date. Well the truth is, wow the income from the column isn’t small, it has never been in nearly the league of what we needed to fix some serious issues. I love writing this thing. I want that clear. You don’t write something voluntarily for 7 or 8 years of your life if you don’t. AICN is still in a shaky space, but much better than we were just a few short weeks ago. I’ve had to place the business of AICN, the ability to pay server fees and the wages of the contributors of the site ahead of what I would love to be doing, which would be watching these DVDs and getting write ups out to you. I had to keep the lights on. As a result, I won’t be building Yoko & mine’s house next year as my savings have been depleted just to keep the lights on for AICN. I gave that up so y’all could have a place to talk about film. That’s the truth. And yes, it’s been immensely stressful. And a leap of faith that I personally have that AICN after this particularly miserable behind the scenes section will not only be in a better place, but highly energized. Particularly with me. Tomorrow I shoot the last episode of the first & possibly only season of AIN’T IT COOL with Harry Knowles. It’s been a blast and I hope to continue it next year, if not before. Now – here’s tomorrow’s DVD Column… gosh that’s neat to say again…
Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
I have loved this film for decades now. It isn’t loved on nearly as much as I would like. Frank Sinatra plays a hired assassin whose target is the President of the United States, who is scheduled to make a campaign stop in a small little town… and Sinatra is a thug that’s getting off on the idea of killing the president. Co-starring Sterling Hayden (Think DR. STRANGELOVE – Precious Bodily Fluids) as the Sheriff and father to the family in the home that Sinatra has chosen to take his shot from. The film is taut and well played. It was yanked from Distribution and went unseen for a very long time after JFK’s assassination. Now this is the cheap Blu Ray without a lot of extras. Coming later in December is a release of this that’s been restored from the negative and is going to have some commentaries. That version will just be $5 more than this one, but will totally be worth it!
Somewhere Quint just jizzed, cuz he’s got a humungous love for PETE’S DRAGON. So do I. I loved Mickey Rooney in it – and there was something about Elliot, that I could never resist. He’s just so damn lovable. Also, I’ve had a life long love of Live-Action Animated mixture flicks – which sort of blew everyone away with WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, but PETE’S DRAGON is just a sweet tale that I’ve always considered more closely related to films like HOT LEAD & COLD FEET and THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG, than I did with films like MARY POPPINS or BEDKNOBS & BROOMSTICKS. It just seemed more a part of those worlds. The 35th Anniversary recycles the DVD extras, puts a couple of deleted storyboard sequences including an excised song. Personally I wanted more out of this Blu Ray, but hey… it looks gorgeous!
Got the big Home 3D set up? I’m one more projection bulb from upgrading my projector to 3D – and then I’ll be able to appreciate all these 3D Blu Rays I’ve gotten. My friends with the set up swear it’s far superior to the theatrical 3D, personally I still can’t imagine that. But if it is true, then this title is a must. Second only to HUGO for 3D wow. Amazon has it for just $25.
If you have a huge skull like me, then Marty’s Rainbow Wig won’t fit you. Truth be told… I think the wig is meant for little children skulls. I was quite frustrated by this, because once I saw the Rainbow Wig, I got this goofy look on my face, ripped into it then spent a good 3-4 minutes trying to squeeze it onto my head. No luck. I know, severe bummer. As for the film, if you’ve been a fan of the MADAGASCAR series, this is essentially more of the same, just more so. Of all the films, this is the heaviest upon action, favorite bits take place in the Circus sequence. The BluRay is filled with stuff. Deleted Scenes, Circus Acts, a Get Them To the Train game, Commentary and a look at how they’ve made the HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON live stadium & arena shows – which I find very cool and hope it comes to Austin.
Wes Anderson’s story of young rebellious love set on a strange island, filled with Boy Scout-like activities, but of all of Wes Anderson’s films – this one felt oddly, the closest to something from my childhood, when Boy Scouts were huge – and secret pre-Junior High rendezvous with a secret girlfriend, but then I had a friend that came along – and there was his girl at the other end too. Anderson’s worlds are so tightly created that I find myself wanting to leap into the screen and be a part of that world. I love Ed Norton’s scout leader and Bruce Willis’ local sheriff, but Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as the young lovers… and the scouts… they’re the gold of the film. In particular I love that Redford looking kid!
If you love classic theatrical cartoons from Warner Brothers and MGM – then this second set will just blow your skirt every which way. Continuing where the last set left off we’ve got some real great cartoons – and as an exclusive to the Blu Ray set, the third disc features 11 classic MGM Tex Avery cartoons, which is just a sublime happy pleasure. The extras are legion and if you welcome madness in your life as wantonly as I do, you can not do better than this. Hell, we even have a beautiful restoration of PORKY IN WACKYLAND… amongst my favorite things ever. I’m also ecstatic about getting YOU OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES – a classic B&W toon that has live action / animation hijinks that I just adore. Jump in animation lovers! It’s great!
A WILD HARE (1940) - Bugs Bunny & Elmer Fudd (the first cartoon to have Bugs' personality associated with the rabbit).
BUCKAROO BUGS (1944) - Bugs Bunny
LONG-HAIRED HARE (1949) - Bugs Bunny
ALI BABA BUNNY (1957) - Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck
SHOW BIZ BUGS (1957) - Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck
THE WISE QUACKING DUCK (1943) - Daffy Duck
WHAT MAKES DAFFY DUCK? (1948) - Daffy Duck
BOOK REVUE (1946) - Daffy Duck
DEDUCE, YOU SAY (1956) - Daffy Duck as Dorlock Homes & Porky Pig as Watkins
PORKY IN WACKYLAND (1938) (B&W) - Porky Pig
YOU OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES (1940) (B&W) - Daffy Duck & Porky Pig
PORKY IN EGYPT (1938) (B&W) - Porky Pig
BACK ALLEY OPROAR (1948) - Sylvester
LITTLE RED RODENT HOOD (1952) - Sylvester
CANNED FEUD (1951) - Sylvester
GIFT WRAPPED (1952) - Tweety & Sylvester
BIRDY AND THE BEAST (1944) - Tweety & Sylvester
HOME, TWEET HOME (1950) - Tweety & Sylvester
GOING! GOING! GOSH! (1952) - Roadrunner & Coyote
ZIPPING ALONG (1953) - Roadrunner & Coyote
SCENT-IMENTAL ROMEO (1951) - Pepe Le Pew
THE FOGHORN LEGHORN (1948) - Foghorn Leghorn
THE HIGH AND THE FLIGHTY (1956) - Foghorn Leghorn & Daffy Duck
TABASCO ROAD (1957) - Speedy Gonzalas
MEXICALI SHMOES (1959) - Speedy Gonzalas
The Blu-ray disc #1 has bonus featurettes, commentaries by animation experts and alternative audio tracks.
DISC 2 (This disc presents collections of 'mini-series' as well as a special favorite selected by cartoon fans in an online poll)
WABBIT TWOUBLE (1941) - Bugs Bunny & Elmer Fudd (voted on-line as a fan favorite)
RABBIT FIRE (1951) - Bugs & Daffy in the first of the "pronoun trouble" trilogy.
RABBIT SEASONING (1952) - Bugs & Daffy in the second of the "pronoun trouble" trilogy.
DUCK! RABBIT, DUCK! (1953) Bugs & Daffy in the third of the "pronoun trouble" trilogy.
DRIP-ALONG DAFFY (1951) - Daffy Duck & Porky Pig western parody.
MY LITTLE DUCKAROO (1954) - Daffy Duck & Porky Pig western parody.
BARBARY-COAST BUNNY (1956) - Bugs Bunny & Nasty Canasta
TORTOISE BEATS HARE (1941) - Bugs Bunny & Cecil Turtle, first in hare & turtle trilogy
TORTOISE WINS BY A HARE (1943) - Bugs Bunny & Cecil Turtle, second in hare & turtle trilogy
RABBIT TRANSIT (1947) - Bugs Bunny & Cecil Turtle, third in hare & turtle trilogy
PORKY'S HARE HUNT (1938) (B&W) - Porky Pig and a white rabbit (forerunner to Bugs Bunny).
HARE-UM SCARE-UM (1939) - A hunter & rabbit, forerunners to Elmer Fudd & Bugs Bunny.
PREST-O CHANGE-O (1939) - two dogs are heckled by a magic white rabbit (forerunner to Bugs Bunny).
ELMER'S CANDID CAMERA (1940) - Elmer Fudd hunts a gray rabbit that is not quite yet Bugs Bunny.
BUGS BUNNY GETS THE BOID (1942) - Bugs Bunny & Beaky Buzzard
THE BASHFUL BUZZARD (1945) - Beaky Buzzard
THE LION'S BUSY (1950) - Beaky Buzzard
STRIFE WITH FATHER (1950) - Beaky Buzzard
AN ITCH IN TIME (1943) - Elmer Fudd
A HORSEFLY FLEAS (1948) - the flea from An Itch In Time
HOLLYWOOD STEPS OUT (1941) - Hollywood characters
PAGE MISS GLORY (1936) - an art deco one-shot cartoon.
ROCKET-BYE BABY (1956) - a sci-fi one-shot.
RUSSIAN RHAPSODY (1944) - wartime themed musical.
DOUGH RAY ME-OW (1948) - Louie the Parrot & Heathcliff the housecat
The Blu-ray disc #2 has bonus featurettes, commentaries by animation experts and alternative audio tracks.
DISC 3 (Included in Blu-ray Only)
King-Size Comedy: Tex Avery and the Looney Tunes Revolution
Tex Avery, the King of Cartoons
Friz on Film
ToonHeads: The Lost Cartoons
Real American Zero: The Adventures of Private Snafu
The World of Leon Schlesinger
Friz at MGM
The Best of the Rest of Tex (MGM Tex Avery Cartoons!)
1) Blitz Wolf (1942)
2) Red Hot Riding Hood (1943)
3) Screwball Squirrel (1944)
4) Swing Shift Cinderella (1945)
5) King-Size Canary (1947)
6) Bad Luck Blackie (1949)
7) Señor Droopy (1949)
8) Wags to Riches (1949)
9) Symphony in Slang (1951)
10) Magical Maestro (1952)
11) Rock-a-Bye Bear (1952)
People seem not to like this, but for me… Well… I love movies about stupid fuckers that do everything that I would absolutely would never do. I mean, raise your hand if you’d like to take a guided tour from an “Extreme Vacation” ex-Soviet Military guide that’s taking you to Pripyat, the little town outside of the Chernobyl Nuclear facility that of course went all China Syndromey on the Ruskies? Ok – ME EITHER! No fucking way I want to get within 300 miles of that place. I haven’t read much about this film – but just knowing the basic premise I predicted MUTANT PEOPLE, MUTANT ANIMALS and yeah… you get both in spades. Really, the joy to be found in movies like this is… ONCE the characters make the decision to go here instead of Moscow. If you can just give them that. If you get in the van. If you go. And then the shit hits the fan, how would you have reacted differently if you had gotten yourself into this situation. You’ll scream at characters. But really, it’s a completely fucked situation. I mean, pretty much one of the worst vacations you could ever take. If you like movies like OPEN WATER – then you might find some fun, WHAT THE FUCK out of this movie. Me, CHERNOBYL is one of those places like 3 MILE ISLAND that I never ever want to see. When I was in Romania and drove by rows of cooling towers for their Nuclear plants, the hairs on my neck stood up and I know that means I’m irradiated. I do not like radiation horrors – because they’re just horrible. Seriously, worst vacation ever.
Roger Spottiswoode directed this way back, with a young and very hotly in demand after HALLOWEEN, Jamie Lee Curtis – and she’s great in TERROR TRAIN – a film that is much better than it feels like it really needed to be. And as a slasher flick – it is absolutely elevated by the inclusion of Jamie Lee Curtis, who just makes me want to protect her as a viewer. Plus Ben Johnson is having fun in this. Then there’s just the absolutely bizarre performance from David Copperfield as KEN THE MAGICIAN. Once I’m out of this chair, I’m all about hosting a Terror Train train escapade. The Blu Ray is pretty solid. And yeah, I totally recommend the film. Fun stuff.
Penny Marshall’s A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN. The giveaway for tickets was at Half Price Books on Guadalupe here in Austin. That location closed years ago. It was in that time period when Geena Davis as a huge film draw. Tom Hanks was stomping about making hits repeatedly. Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna were very on in the film. Hell, I just kinda love this flick. One I love those vintage uniforms. And who could ever forget that beautiful whine of Tom Hanks as he milks the line, “There’s no crying in baseballlllll!” – Love it. You get a cast & director commentary, then a lot of standard def DVD content stuffed on the Blu. Fun to revisit!
THE FUNHOUSE is a film that I love for all sorts of moments, the set design, the concept… but I don’t quite love the movie. The production design is killer. Love all the rides, the look of the film is beautiful on Blu, but once the film goes into the deliberate Horror aspects, it loses a bit of ground for me. That said, the makeup, lighting, sets and the look of the film makes it a great one to watch as you ready up for Halloween. And if you don’t watch it, it can get you caught up in some of the scares. Commentary with Tobe Hooper hosted by Tim Sullivan. And a pair of interviews. Overall, really great job on the Blu Ray!
Quint fell for this film at Sundance, but when I picked up the Blu Ray for Movie Night last Sunday with Diana & Yoko… I totally spaced that out. Instead I got caught up in the cover art, read the quotes like all of you would… and thought, “looks interesting.” We put it in, and it kicked our asses. Do you like the following horror films: MAY, MARTYRS & IN MY SKIN? If so, then you may flip for this. Another film in the genre of… “I really don’t want children” horror. Ya know, like WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN. Here you have a young girl lost. She reaches out for help, but the people around her just don’t have the faculties to deal with the issues she’s going through. Parents ill prepared to deal with a young girl that seems to be going through some rather macabre obsessions. Her gore fantasies and obsession with surgery – well… the parents don’t see her fantasies like we do, but if they did… yeah, she would have received the help she was crying out for. This film takes you to the horrific ends that very few horror films dare go. Absolutely beautiful gore, shot hypnotically. Love Traci Lords’ turn as the “at wit’s ends” mother. If you’re a gore loving chick, you’re gonna lap this up! So good!
This is the original 1974 movie that absolutely did not star Nick Cage. But it did have a 40 minute chase sequence that is pure seventies car chase smiles and knee slaps. There’s just something about watching this film that as you see the movie continuing you just know that everyone nearly died constantly. There was no CG, this is real metal on metal, no fiberglass cars, gearhead happy times. I miss this. Less so now that I have the Blu! The movie absolutely looks nothing like the cover. Check out the trailer on YouTube and if you dig that… the movie delivers.
Want to see a brilliant film? A movie that profoundly gets in your head? We’re talking full on masterpiece level filmmaking by Max Ophuls, the man that influenced directors like Stanley Kubrick & Paul Thomas Anderson. Ophuls was one of the brilliant German directors that fled Nazi Germany all the way back in 1933. This was his second American film, and his most perfect American film. It’s great. If you love this, by all means seek out THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE – it will just stun you. Staggeringly brilliant. But we’re talking about LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN. This is one of the greatest purely romantic films ever made. Both Louis Jourdan and Joan Fontaine have never been better. OLIVE FILMS, I heart you so much for this release! It will prove you have a heart.
Alan J Pakula is a badass. Watch this blu of STERILE CUCKOO and see just how great he was! This is Pakula out of the gates and knocking the ball out of the park. Liza Minnelli is such a wonderful quirky & beautiful coed. The sort of girl that if you ever knew back in college, this film suddenly becomes overwhelming for ya. This is a brutal open wound of a love story. Realistic and unblinking. If you love this – also seek out DAVID & LISA. Liza was nominated for Best Actress for her work here and you can easily see why. I miss this Liza, love being able to visit her on Blu!
The opening credits feature busty Lina Romay in a black cape, naked, in a very moody woods – and yes, any doubt you had about whether or not this was a Jess Franco film – cascade to the side. Franco shoots Romay beautifully as this erotic undead succubus… well, this is how Romay debuted. It’s glorious. There’s a simple beauty and fetishry at play in these films that show how impatient we’ve become as an audience. The simple beauty of Lina Romay in the various atmospheric and erotic situations… I’m convinced modern audiences would have no clue how to react if a film like this were unleashed upon them. This is the domain of film lovers. Folks like you and me that love seeing film when it wasn’t so damn anxious and desperate to capture your attention with convoluted subplots and a zillion things going on in the screen. I love modern films, but it would be so nice to just slow shit down a bit and allow the audience to react honestly. Beautiful Blu Ray, and it counts on a movie like this.
Remember when Molly Ringwald was aching to get kissed, to go all the way, because she was going boy crazy? Remember when girls in movies wanted to get laid as badly as the guys did – they just had no idea how to communicate it to anyone? Paralyzed by inexperience. Well this Norwegian flick TURN ME ON, DAMMIT! Is a tonic for that sort of thing. Here’s a girl that because she is as sexually obsessed as most boys her age, she’s labeled and she suffers. This is a small town story in Norway, but it could be any small town girl really. The film is a very sweet and honest look at a teen girl’s life and not in an exploitive manner. This isn’t about putting Helene Bergsholm on display, she’s so great in this though. You’ll love her. Really great teen flick! That they can’t see cuz it’s Unrated. Bollocks.
Remember MARIA FULL OF GRACE from back in 2004? Well this is director Joshua Marston’s follow-up film THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD which came out last year. The film is set in Albania and is a fictional tale of the very real unfortunate reality of Albania, where families inherit the wrath of those, who were sinned by the Father’s actions. Blood feuds. The film is just amazing. Everyone is great in this. Let’s hope Marston continues making films as great as this and Maria. Criterion has done a great job getting this release out, and give us these special features:
New high-definition digital transfer, approved by producer Paul Mezey, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Audio commentary featuring director and cowriter Joshua Marston
Two new video programs: Acting Close to Home, a discussion between Marston and actors Refet Abazi, Tristan Halilaj, and Sindi Laçej, and Truth on the Ground, featuring new and on-set interviews with Mezey, Abazi, Halilaj, and Laçej
Audition and rehearsal footage
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film writer Oscar Moralde
We got Alan J Pakula’s debut film this week and now we have Sydney Pollack’s film debut! And yeah, it’s outstanding too. Starring Sidney Poitier, Telly Savalas, Anne Bancroft, Ed Asner and Dabney Coleman. Sidney Poitier plays a college kid working the Volunteer Suicide Line when Anne Bancroft calls having taken an overdose of meds. The film is Poitier trying to keep her on the line talking as they trace the call to get her the help she needs. The score by Quincy Jones is fucking on fire. So great. We see pieces of her life as she tells them to Poitier and this film is a masterful work of suspense. Will she live? GREAT FILM! Both Poitier and Bancroft are at peak powers. So great.
Haven’t seen this one yet, but I’m jazzed to. It’s a Robert Wise film I haven’t seen. You know, the editor of CITIZEN KANE… Director of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, THE HAUNTING, SOUND OF MUSIC, STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE, BORN TO KILL, RUN SILENT RUN DEEP, ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW… oh yeah, and WEST SIDE STORY. This is in Wise’s period when he was making Noir style flicks mainly. The year before DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. In fact, he has the brilliant Patricia Neal starring with Eleanor Parker and Ruth Roman. You remember her from Hitchcock’s STRANGERS ON A TRAIN or with Jimmy Stewart in THE FAR COUNTRY. Anyway, she’s great too. You see there’s a boy that’s 5 years old that is the sole survivor of a plane crash – and the story goes everywhere. It’s noted that the crash was upon the boy’s birthday and that he was adopted – and suddenly 3 women across the country that gave up a child for adoption begin to wonder if the baby is their baby. Wise was a helluva filmmaker. Can’t wait to see these three powerhouses doing their thing in this flick!
That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll be back with that Tuesday’s releases. I’m going to try and get the other missing weeks caught up, but I’ll keep it at least current while I attempt the catch up. SO – next week we’ll be looking at: MAGIC MIKE, SECRET OF THE WINGS, ABRAHAM LINCOLN VAMPIRE HUNTER, STAR WARS: CLONE WARS Season 4, BLADE RUNNER 30th Anniversary Blu, SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD, UNIVERSAL Monsters Coffin Box Blu, Kubrick’s FEAR AND DESIRE Blu, THE INVISIBLE WAR, BAT MASTERSON TV series, OCTAMAN!!!!, SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY Criterion Blu, 247°F, ATHENA GODDESS OF WAR, THE AMBASSADOR Blu, The Universal Monster Blu – separate Blus, THE FUGITIVE Complete series, WOMEN ORDERED TO LOVE, THE PENALTY Blu and more…