Harry's DVD Picks & Peeks - The 2nd of 2013 - CAPE FEAR to WHORE'S GLORY, JAZZ SINGER to STALINGRAD & GRAND HOTEL, to DREDD 3D & FRANKENWEENIE!
Hey folks, Harry here – 2 weeks into the New year and I have the second column ready to go for ya! If you haven’t picked up Picks&Peeks App - you’re really missing out on a great way to experience the entire history of this column. And the new shake randomizer is a lot of fun, expecially if you turn on the special movie scream! I had it toggled silent to start with cuz I hate it when something makes an inadvertent sound. That update has been submitted and will most likely become live sometime this week!!! ANYWAY – as usual the images and titles are linked to AMAZON where you can learn more on any title and if so happy you could even purchase it through the link which helps to keep the best efforts of this column going. So thank you. Now here we go…
Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
I’ve recently acquired a 3D HD projector setup so I have a wall size dimensional portal that I can sometimes watch films in. Bradbury didn’t prepare me for this. OK – so first off… I’m a huge fucking Judge Dredd fan. I was reading throughout the 80s & 90s & 00s – and I’ve always hated Stallone’s JUDGE DREDD. Sly has quite a sense of humor about it. This isn’t the exact Judge Dredd movie I’ve always wanted… Dredd exists on an epic scale and this film… this is a trial run. It’s Judge Dredd doing a Training Day with provisional Judge Anderson on her first trial run as a Judge with crazy awesome Psychic powers. Girl Geeks – You’re gonna fucking love her! She’s sexy, tough and telepathically wicked fun! I currently have 44 Blu 3D titles and of all of them… the most optically amazing 3D that I have is DREDD 3D. Think about the DP of this movie. It is Anthony Dod Mantle – that crazy made camera genius that Danny Boyle and Von Triers use. He built special cameras to do some AMAZING optical tricks and when the image is flat… it looks flat… But Anthony Mantle wasn’t shooting a 2D movie. He meant this to be 3D and folks – I’m so happy that I never have to watch DREDD in 2D. The film is a wonder to behold in my system. It isn’t purely the super slo mo sequences either… It’s that the film grain is sometimes dimensionalized giving it a weirdly John Woo feel that just really makes me happy. I love THE RAID. Fucking Love it. But it isn’t a Judge Dredd movie done some justice. This DREDD feels like the beginning of something much better. But what is here? I love it. Dredd takes Anderson to a Mega-Block that’s controlled by a mega-dealer of a new Drug sweeping MEGA CITY. The Drug Lord locks down this 2 mile high superstructure that becomes a brutal R-rated fascist satire of the action film just as the book was a satire of the DIRTY HARRY kinds of entertainment before it. Everyone I’ve shown the film to seems to go gaga, if you’re thinking of going 3D – put this in. It will blow you away. WOW!
FRANKENWEENIE in 3D
I loved having this World Premiere at FANTASTIC FEST last year and man, this is a beautiful 3D transfer. You’ll have to excuse me, I’m a bit drunk on the format. One of the things that seems to happen is that the texture of the screen seems to truly disappear when watching 3D. It isn’t something that bothers me with 2D films, but if I focus deliberately, I can see the screen. Gone. It feels like the “Window” that people have been talking about. Now, not absolutely real… but watching FRANKENWEENIE wiggle his tail at me… Seeing all the carving marks on their faces. Watching them exist in 3D – well, I’m definitely in the smitten stage. As for the film itself, this is the Tim Burton that I absolutely love. When all the pet experiments start going radically different, I just get a cinematic case of the snickers. It’s just so damn fun. I like the kids – I could imagine the children that inspired them – but the real jewel of the film is Martin Landau’s science teacher Mr. Rzykurski! His speech to the PTA/ Town Meeting… stuff of legend. Amongst my very favorite scenes in Tim Burton’s entire career. It makes me want to erupt into applause each and every single time I see it – and how many films do that? Hmmm? How many? That’s why this one is a keeper!
You seen BARAKA? If not – I am not entirely sure how to prepare you for the experience of SAMSARA other than to say… if you’ve ever seen a sweepingly beautiful documentary set to music reflecting different contrasting cinematic world imagery crossing socio-political and religious and cultural levels. SAMSARA is a stunningly hypnotic experience – mainly because of the stunning 8K HD. The sharpness and beauty of the image is just breathtaking. If you’re in to breathtaking beauty captured by mankind. If not, move along you sad critter you.
Ok – you kinda need to see this just to see Josh Lucas out crazy-Caging Nicolas Cage. First off – Lucas just has a CRAZY look in this thing. He plays Cage’s former partner in crime, who believes that Cage hid a $10 million dollar score and he kidnaps Cage’s daughter and all sorts of intense shit follows – and I have to say I can watch any and all Nicolas Cage movies. He’s one of those actors for me. And if Josh Lucas keeps pulling this level of crazy – I’ll become a big fan of his too! Besides – this film reunites Cage with SIMON WEST – who directed him in the cheesy awesome that was CON AIR!
HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET
A lot of your enjoyment of this flick will be based upon your feelings about Jennifer Lawrence. Now – I tend to avoid celebrity gossip and memes like the dreaded woofus, so all I really have to judge her upon are her terrific turns in WINTER’S BONE and THE HUNGER GAMES. This is her horror flick and I kinda like it. Also – any movie with Elisabeth Shue is an automatic with me because… um ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING, duh!
So first, Chow Yun Fat is the shit in this! He’s so great! I just hope that Chow Yun Fat ends up in the Star Wars universe. I really truly do. I kinda always have. OK – ASSASSINS, right, I’m talking about ASSASSINS. This flick is an enormous looking movie, but inside is a pulsing heart. There’s stakes to this tale and that’s just spectacular. We know these films can do scale like nobodies business. But it’s the ones that make you give a shit like the IP MAN movies and HERO and CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON. Now, dial it back a bit. ASSASSINS isn’t quite there, but it’s really really good. If you don’t enjoy the period drama aspects that this kind of film can get into, it can weigh ya down a bit, but I eat that stuff up. Hell, I love DOWNTON ABBEY for that alone.
FRENCH KISS Blu
I love watching good romantic comedies that are about men seducing and wearing down Meg Ryan. Thus, I’m a sucker for FRENCH KISS. I also feel it is one of the most purely charismatic roles of Kevin Kline’s career. He’s great in this. I mean, can you imagine Lawrence Kasdan writing a Chow Yun Fat character into the STAR WARS series. I mean – it’d just be too cool!
DRIVING MISS DAISY Blu
You know how watching DUMB & DUMBER can lower your IQ approximately 50 points for around 5 hours after you see it? I believe that watching DRIVING MISS DAISY can age you 6 years. It dulls the sharp edge of life. Don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely terrific work by all involved. But I remember that from that time I saw the film back in 1989… the year I graduated. I was a teenager, I saw this movie and now I’m 41. See, proof. I’m at least 6 years younger than this. But then I’ve seen an awful lot of Italian NeoRealism and that can take the years off too. All kidding aside, you should watch this at least once so you know how to avoid ever becoming either character. Which are wonderfully witty funny old folks. I prefer to watch COCOON or GOING IN STYLE for my geriatric fantasies.
TWO-LANE BLACKTOP Criterion Blu
Did you love DRIVE? Like the FAST & THE FURIOUS movies? Well, strap in and watch TWO-LANE BLACKTOP, like VANISHING POINT and DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY – it takes the car movie to a wonderful cinematic place. Monte Hellman directed the hell out of this one. I mean, you do know that you’re meant to worship Warren Oates… male or female it makes no difference. You’re supposed to drink beer and fall in love with Warren Oates – it’s a right of passage as a film geek. It’s like drinking THUNDERBIRD to THUNDER ROAD. It’s just the right thing to do. If you love this – then also check out ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE and of course EASY RIDER and RACE WITH THE DEVIL for good measure. The films I’ve mentioned here – they’re just fucking terrific car culture films. In a different way from FRENCH CONNECTION and BULLITT – those films had outstanding moments of car-sploitation – but TWO-LANE BLACKTOP, it… it seeks the soul of the road. It dares to capture the drive for the drive. So happy Oates’ car is in my Drive-in on Aint It Cool with Harry Knowles. Love this film and Criterion does it right:
Restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by director Monte Hellman, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, supervised by Hellman and presented in DTS-HD Master Audio
Two audio commentaries: one by Hellman and filmmaker Allison Anders and one by screenwriter Rudolph Wurlitzer and author David N. Meyer
Interviews with Hellman, actor James Taylor, musician Kris Kristofferson, producer Michael Laughlin, and production manager Walter Coblenz
Screen test outtakes
Performance and Image, a look at the restoration of a ’55 Chevy used in the movie and the film’s locations today
Color Me Gone, photos and publicity from Two-Lane Blacktop
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Kent Jones; appreciations by director Richard Linklater and musician Tom Waits; and a reprint of the 1970 Rolling Stone article “On Route 66, Filming Two-Lane Blacktop,” by Michael Goodwin
CAPE FEAR original Blu
As much as I love Scorsese’s remake, I greatly prefer the original J. Lee Thompson directed CAPE FEAR. I mean, here we have Atticus Finch versus Max Cady as played by the scary scary scary Robert Mitchum. I mean, Mitchum is just more sexually threatening and real to me. He’s a sneaky rat of a man with a magnificent Monte Cristo like vision of revenge. And yeah, I loved Joe Don Baker as the Detective – but man… TELLY SAVALAS!!! Now I haven’t seen this Blu Ray yet – but the only way you could get a High Def copy of this before this disc was the British Import, but that was pricey and this is reasonable. CAPE FEAR is a required title for my collection, so consider it ordered. But there’s no word if it has a single extra yet. Shame, this is a title that would support a deluxe version!
GRAND HOTEL Blu
My favorite kinds of movie geeks are the ones that can lap up AVENGERS, DJANGO UNCHAINED and a film like GRAND HOTEL! It won BEST PICTURE way back in the early 30s. It ushered in the star studded affairs that we’re so used to today, but my god… the stars. We’re talking about Greta Garbo as the amazingly depressed ballerina. There’s the magnificently obtuse WALLACE BEERY wandering all through this thing. A stunningly vampy Joan Crawford and the Barrymore brothers of Lionel and John – each playing completely different types of characters. And I always love to see THE LOST WORLD’s Lewis Stone in anything! What a character that man was! All we had for home video before this was a really half assed transfer on DVD. Now we have something significantly superior. A truly great film. They don’t make them quite like this anymore.
MRS MINIVER Blu
My obsession with Walter Pidgeon led me to MRS MINIVER quite some time ago. Morbius from FORBIDDEN PLANET was one of my favorite childhood characters (glad I’m still living it) – but I also loved him as Annette Kellerman’s dad in MILLION DOLLAR MERMAID. He’s in so many great films like THE BAD & THE BEAUTIFUL or FUNNY GIRL and I have a particular soft spot for that oddly awesome Jacques Tourneur directed NICK CARTER, MASTER DETECTIVE, but MRS MINIVER earned him his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Pidgeon plays Mr. Miniver – married to the absolutely stunningly brilliant Greer Garson, who won Best Actress for her titular role. This was the film where I discovered Teresa Wright, whom I later fell madly for in Hitchocock’s SHADOW OF A DOUBT. The film is all about a English family in the opening salvos of World War II in one of the great films made during World War 2. So great to finally have this on Blu!
Want to see a War is hell movie? A frozen sub-human hell? I mean… how do people survive this? STALINGRAD was the film that started me looking into the Russian side of World War II and it kind of profoundly changed my understanding of World War II when you get past all the exclusion from the basic curriculum one gets in Public School and even basic College classes. Shameful really. With the Cold War behind us, we really do need to start honoring the tremendous efforts and sacrifices and the hardest of fought battles. STALINGRAD can make you care to learn more and it is a rich experience. I highly highly recommend it! If you want to see the film that Spielberg definitely took a look at before going at SAVING PRIVATE RYAN – and bless him for it, because that film prepares you for what you’ll see here. GREAT FILM!
ONE FINE DAY Blu
I really loved the charisma between Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney – but how could you not. These are a pair of the most luminous beings we have on film in our lives. It plays like a light romance novel – but I could watch these two resisting the eventuality in a whole series of films – and still hope to.
JAZZ SINGER Blu Book
The film that changed film forever. Not the first sound film, but the first sound sensation. And when you give it a listen these days… You’ll be amazed that it blew the world away. It’s mainly a silent film with Jolson’s musical numbers and some dialogue, but still a very quiet sound film. This is history and yes Jolson sings in Black Face and that too is a part of Hollywood history. I love the story of the film. It’s a part of AMERICAN POP by Bakshi… only just the point where Jazz came in. I love the Blu Book releases, it feels like the right way to have this one.
JACK & DIANE Blu
I love girl horror. Horror films with female protagonists. Movies like MAY, JENNIFER’S BODY, CARRIE, GINGER SNAPS, DESCENT, CAT PEOPLE, HOSTEL 2, INNOCENT BLOOD… JACK & DIANE starts so sweetly – that when it starts to do what it does – it loses some, but wins me. I wouldn’t read up on it. If you’re already intrigued – give it a look. I’m not saying it is amazing, but it’s well worth the exploration, ya know!?!
You been checking out Michael Glawogger’s docs? His globalization stuff like MEGACITIES and WORKINGMAN’S DEATH. They’re absolutely terrific, but WHORE’S GLORY is just amazing! Here Glawogger focuses upon the sex industry of prostitution globally. Frankly and graphically taking you to places that exploit teenagers and all with out a breath of condescension. It’s open and truthful. It’s just amazing to see this kind of thing so thoroughly revealed. Great work!
Alrighty, that’s it for the week. Next Tuesday we’ll be looking at TAKEN 2, TO ROME WITH LOVE, THE BISHOP’S WIFE, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH Criterion Blu, THE POSSESSION, FAREWELL MY QUEEN, WILD RIVER Blu, HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY Blu, JACKSON FIVE: THE COMPLETED ANIMATED SERIES, THE TIN DRUM Blu, SLEEPER Blu, BRANDED Blu, GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT Blu, ABOUT CHERRY, I AM BRUCE LEE Blu, CRIME STORY/PROTECTOR Blu, Troubled Teens, LIGHTNING BUG, RULES FOR SCHOOL, ADMIRAL, WIMBLEDON, LOVE ME, COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES Blu, THE NIGHT OF THE DEVILS Blu and that’s about it.
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