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Harry's DVD Picks & Peeks - The 6th of 2013 - Disney Animation, LAURA, Paul Williams, Zemeckis, Fosse & directed by Keanu Reeves!

Hey folks, Harry here with this weeks Picks And Peeks! Some out right classics being released this week – Nothing to really be unhappy with. It’s all good! Love it when the list is like that. I get a bit introspective on one title this week, so please forgive me. As usual the images and links will take you to the title’s respective page on AMAZON, where you can learn more about the title and possibly purchase the item, which would really help keep the best efforts of this column going. Also, if you haven’t picked up my Picks&Peeks App yet, it is now just a penny below a dollar!! Give it a try! Now, it’s off to Neverland!

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013


This is Father Geek’s favorite Disney animated film, he was 8 years old and redheaded when PETER PAN came out – and he saw it in 1953 and it stuck with him. So I’ve been raised since a wee one to love PETER PAN and it is an effortless joy. My favorite shots of London in film history come from PETER PAN. Those beautiful background paintings, the way Big Ben glows… and of course that dream of flying. Right there, that’s where it came from. PETER PAN. Pixie Dust and a happy thought. Really hate the scarcity of that Pixie Dust, I’m filled with happy thoughts. The print on the Blu ray is just stunning. BEAUTIFUL! Exactly as it should! The disc is filled with extras, as you’d imagine. Love the deleted scenes/songs and alternate opening and closing they have too. Really would’ve loved to see that voyage back to Reality that got cut fully realized. Looks like it would’ve been spectacular. But I wouldn’t change a thing about this PETER PAN. One of the great Disney Classics!


I didn’t get this disc in, in time for a review – but I am a long time lover of LAURA. I’ve seen it theatrically twice and on VHS a few times and on DVD about 3 times. Dana Andrews and the absolutely hauntingly gorgeous Gene Tierney make Otto Preminger’s classic Noir – well they make it perfect. If you love Noir and haven’t seen this classic, try to avoid finding anything out about it. Just get it and watch it and be very very happy. Wonder what happened to the portrait of LAURA in the movie. That’s a helluva prop! And VINCENT PRICE is OUTSTANDING IN THE FILM!!!! I’ve heard they’ve done a great job on the Blu Ray and that it does have a nice healthy dose of special features that a landmark film like this deserves! Must own for Noir lovers!


Denzel is one of the most charismatic actors in the world. I say that now, because his character in FLIGHT – just a nightmare of a pilot. A man whose substance abuse is wildly out of control, more than he is even aware of. He has this macho, I can handle it, invincibility… and I could never get bored watching this performance. AND DON CHEADLE! He isn’t given a particularly big part, he’s Denzel’s counsel – and Denzel is threatened by him – and Cheadle is visibly disgusted by Denzel. It’s great to watch the looks that Cheadle shoots Denzel in scenes – it’s like he can’t believe this person exists in the world he lives in. He is exasperated by this man. It’s pretty terrific. Is there emotional manipulation – sure… it is that kind of story – but the commercials and trailers in no way prepared me for the character work that Denzel does here. It will absolutely surprise you. He doesn’t do this work often… though if you remember his brilliant turn in DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS as “Easy” Rawlins – it gave us a taste of some of the darker areas that Denzel mines for this character. Love how it resolves. So great to see Zemeckis doing Live Action!!!


When this film came out critics pretty much universally railed against the film as being a vanity project for all involved. I’d seen the film, but not really as an adult. It was a film that if you lived with my Mother, it came on when she’d get blind drunk, so I don’t necessarily have the best memories of this film. So when the Blu Ray came, I turned everything off and decided to see what I could learn about my mom by rewatching STAR IS BORN. The Claudette Colbert and the Judy Garland versions are probably better movies in a classical manner. I love the original and I can’t really watch the Judy Garland version much cuz it makes me sad about Judy’s spiral. But revisiting this version? She loved Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand. In fact her hair was done like Streisand’s for this period of my life… 76-78. The story is less of a manager and a discovery, so much as another great talent finding and cultivating a talent – and they fall madly in love. He can’t really handle it and Barbra must continue on. At the ranch, when the tragedy strikes, I think she saw an early death for herself. She associated strongly with this film. So what do I think of the film now? For me, it is a window into a parent – and a particularly difficult part of her life that all at once reminded her of doing big festivals with my Dad when they were doing the light shows – and those memories hurt, but she was compelled to revisit this film as though it was her personal Portrait of Dorian Gray. Outside of personal understanding, the film focuses on the self-destructive streaks of Pop-Stardom. I actually would love to see this ina double feature with the ALMOST FAMOUS Bootleg Edition, as after STAR IS BORN you need a pick me up. It is a sobering film, but what a capturing of a period and time. I think Frank Pierson did a pretty great job on this actually.


Are you a grown up with an absolute fetish for all strange and unusual works of animation? Do you bring up your kids with complex and more textured stories that the typical works of feature length animated entertainment tend to offer? Well this is a quirky stop motion animated story about some toys that come to life – and they’re complex characters. You know how TOY STORY at one point was going to be a very angry film? Well, this isn’t quite that – there’s a bit of THE NUTCRACKER SUITE to this. But I love the weird animation and toys that come to life in this. Voice talent like Cary Elwes and Forest Whitaker and Joan Cusack… but the real stars are the directing team of Jiri Barta and Vivian Schilling. This thing is something special! Really wish this was on Blu, the detail is there to enhance.


I’ve known the director of this, Stephen Kessler for awhile now, but had no idea when I went into this documentary at SXSW last year, that he would be the major character of this doc, when Paul Williams isn’t front and center. I have to admit, I got to meet Paul Williams at the screening of this – and I was so ecstatic. I mean, Paul Williams is SWAN from PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE – one of the key movies in my “never far from being put in” shelf of movies I habitually watch. Many come and go from that shelf, but PHANTOM is ALWAYS THERE! But then BUGSY MALONE and THE MUPPET MOVIE… Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas Special!!! all the music… Wow. That “Flying Dreams” number from SECRET OF NIMH… I saw him in tons of tv shows and always loved him, because he was Swan. When Kessler discovered that Paul Williams was very much alive and performing still, he decided to become a part of Paul’s life for a bit of time – as he tried to tell Paul’s story. The result is something that affected both men and you see it through the film. On another note, I know exactly how Kessler felt – I had an experience on the TCM Classic Movie Cruise when they announced that RICH LITTLE was going to be on the boat – and I couldn’t believe he was still alive. Throughout my childhood he, like Paul Williams were everywhere… CONSTANTLY ON CARSON! If you’re a child of the seventies – you’ll really dig this, the treasures uncovered for this are amazing!


A stunningly beautiful color Japanese film from 1958, that was shot using Kabuki theater stage tricks and – man, there’s this shot where the old lady is feeding the old man that is being abused by his children, and they’re surrounded by darkness, but they’re very well lit – as the old woman stands, suddenly the lights come on revealing the rest of the set, which is jaw droppingly beautiful and it was more dazzling than most any single shot I’ve seen in years. I watched it about 6 times because it was such a fun cinematic trick – very simple, but so elegant. Then how Keisuke Kinoshita moves the story from the exterior world to back in the home… just so elegant. The film is very painterly, very theatrical – but it has that elegant beauty you get from those classic Hollywood studio films, but totally Japanese! Narayama is a Mountain that the people of two villages carry and abandon their elderly to die, when they reach 70. Long before LOGAN’S RUN. I actually find myself wanting to plot a cannibalized senior citizens atop a Japanese Mountain movie. In the end, there can be only one! Heh. The print is STUNNING! 4k digital master – and it shows, the film is so pretty. Not a ton of extras, but what a movie!!!


Bob Fosse made one helluva film when he made CABARET. My favorite Liza Minnelli film, but to be honest, LOGAN’S RUN is my fave Michael York film. But this Academy Award rich flick (8 total) is a very complex musical drama – where the numbers are in the club, but the Kit Kat Klub is something you’ll never forget and at the end of the film you’ll want to personally present Joel Grey with his Oscar again. He’s fucking AMAZING in the film. Musicals never carry the weight of drama that a film like this did, that’s owed to Fosse and he does a great job of convincing the deviants of the world that the Kit Kat Klub in pre-WWII Berlin… well it was obviously the place to be. Man, the idea of seeing Dietrich sing live in pre-War Berlin… would’ve been something. But if your time traveling, you should be carrying out a few assassinations, but in-between… BE A TOURIST! See stuff like this!


This is an incredibly sexy, but serious Lesbian film. IE, it ain’t some cheap piece of exploitation. It’s a film that deals with the romance in a very real and adult manner. Barbara Niven and Jessica Clark are beautiful,but this is a film with Morgan Fairchild and John Heard. So it is a respectably sexy film that doesn’t insult anyone. How refreshing.


At this point, Philip Seymour Hoffman has earned my “I’ll see everything he’s in.” award and well, Christopher Walken earned that status long ago – and they’re both in A LATE QUARTET – so that means you’re probably watching it. Oh, did I mention that Catherine Keener is in it? Because she’s another awesome performer! And then there’s Marc Ivanir who impressively strides amongst these giants to even the Quartet out nicely. This film is about their relationships as musicians and what happens when Walken’s character develops Parkinson’s… and they start having to think about a replacement and how that change begins to open up the Philip Seymour Hoffman’s mouth to desire to share the 1st position with Ivan. With music by Angelo Badalamenti, well, if you don’t know, that’s a very good thing. Give this film a chance, you’ll dig it.


Want to hear some of the best filmmakers we have talk about film vs digital – and you get to hear both sides – a James Cameron and a Christopher Nolan. Both set on their sides – but also a filmmaker like Scorsese who wants to have a choice as a filmmaker to shoot on either. The film comes up a bit short on the future of the medium, but it really does a fantastic job taking you through the history of the medium and the state of things right now. If you talk film, breathe film, live film – this is one of those you should see.


I love Joan Blondell – be it in a Busby Berkeley movie or GREASE or anything in-between. She’s just a great dame! And I like Melvyn Douglas – and this is a very very enjoyable THIN MAN ripoff. Thoroughly entertaining, but it is one of those… if you love THE THIN MAN films, you’ll like this film, but you’ll come away saying that Melvyn Douglas ain’t William Powell… and as much as I love Joan Blondell… Myrna Loy? FORGETABOUTIT! And the writing in those films were just vastly superior. BUT – it is still a really good movie with humor and mystery and an absolutely delightful couple. And there really is no replacing of Asta! So they didn’t try.
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