Harry's Picks & Peeks 9th Edition of 2013: Scientologists, Commies, Sparkly Vampires, Surfers, Evil Stuff, O ya know for kids... and more!!!
Hey folks, Harry here with the latest releases hitting today! Some great films and some not so great films make this list. As usual the images and links take you to Amazon where you can learn more on the title in question – and possibly if you like what you see, pick it up through the link and a small percentage of the purchase price goes to help keep this column coming. Also be sure to check out Picks And Peeks App, which just keeps getting better! Thanks and let’s get into it…
Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
THE MASTER Blu Ray
Shot on 70mm, this Blu Ray is stunning. Paul Thomas Anderson has made another stunning literate and powerful work of cinema. That it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture or Best Director… or that Hoffman, Adams or Phoenix didn’t win their Oscar categories… do not allow that to validate any reason that is standing between you and watching this movie. For me, Daniel Day Lewis’ LINCOLN performance was astonishing, but it only added a dimension and insight to a man whom we are all familiar with. Phoenix created a character, a vision of a man that I’ve never known or heard of. The character is one of the most riveting unpredictable screen personas that I’ve ever seen completely born. There wasn’t a character in THE MASTER that wasn’t brilliantly brought to life. That the cinematography wasn’t nominated is an out and out fucking farce. This is a film to watch and marvel at the pure cinema on display. Brilliant character work, scene construction, pacing… just top to bottom, it is a film that fills you with the story it takes you on. We get too few films of this quality, when we do get one, it is meant to be understood over multiple viewings. So rewarding. Can’t recommend highly enough.
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN – PART 1 Expanded Edition Blu Ray
Alright, watched this tonight. I think the scene where one of the uppity vampire people feed Jacob a chili dog in a doggy dish was new. And the scene where the fortune teller chick is flirting with doggy baby lover lad and it seems like she’s dumping the awkwardly uncomfortable vampire. None of those minutes are dedicated to the hardcore Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart sex scene that would make this a have to buy. Of course, if you love this series, you’re going to pick this up most likely. There’s nothing mind blowing added in and it all seemed to flow with the film that was so subversively served up in theaters. It does feature an audio commentary with Bill Condon, which you might find fascinating.
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN – PART 2 Blu Ray
So much fucking ridiculous fun. Worst movie of the year would never give me this many “WHAT THE FUCK” moments. When Jacob asks Edward if it is time to call him Dad, I almost lost a lung laughing. This is high comedy folks. There’s a level of absurd hilarity that I just can’t not adore. Or the conversation between Edward and Bella where they’re trying to figure out why they should ever stop fucking. I mean, if you’ve ever been in love, you know this dialogue well. Usually practical reality interrupts. But they’re undying immortal glitter fucks that can frolic at impossible velocities. The baby is the creepiest fucking thing I’ve ever seen and it freaks me the hell out. But that’s ok, cuz JACOB has a hardon for the baby throughout and everytime he looks like he wants to doggy out and eat a vampire for touching his IMPRINTED BABY!!! Really, I want the fandom for these movies to create Rocky Horror style screenings. This stuff is so hilariously participatory. Bella develops INVISIBLE GIRL’s force field power. The result is…. Kinda hilarious. Seriously, everything is funny. At least as I look at it. And I swear the cast is laughing with me. I mean… Jacob stripping down for Bella’s Dad?!?!? How can that be a serious scene? It’s awesomely hilarious. I love the juvenile fantasy of this, even if it makes very little sense to me. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t amuse the hell out of me. Now how long till they convert all the films to 3D?
CHASING MAVERICKS Blu Ray
Based on a True Story, CHASING MAVERICKS has avoided me thus far, but I will check it out. Surfing movies greatly appeal to me visually and I love to vicariously live through those insane people that have the balance and skill to surf, especially giant enormous waves. The word on this one has been quite strong. I’ll find out soon enough. Should be beautiful. I’ve like Gerard Butler in most of his work thus far, so I’m not expecting that to change here.
SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D Blu Ray
If you’re going to get this film, get it in 3D, because at least that way it works as a novelty. We don’t have a lot of horror in 3D currently available in the format – and this is quite atmospheric. I don’t think it quite matches the original film for the quality of atmosphere, but then this didn’t have quite that budget either. What is here, is at times very effective in 3D, like when the world goes all ash-y. Really cool looking, and Pyramid Head in 3D is all kinds of creepy. But the story and character work should be better. That said, Bassett did a far better job on SOLOMON KANE than this assignment.
THE HUDSUCKER PROXY Blu Ray
”You know, for kids!” I’ve come to find a simple truth of life. There are people that love THE HUDSUCKER PROXY and those that will never ever appreciate it as being the amazing work that it is. For one, there’s that model of New York City that they built, reused in film after film. But it was never more beautifully shot than by Roger Deakins. And Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Dorothy Parker-esque Amy Archer is one of those characters that you’ve got to meet. The cast in this is just insanely great. Paul Newman, Tim Robbins, Charles Durning, John Mahoney and BRUCE CAMPBELL. But if you pay attention you’ll also find Steve Buscemi, Anna Nicole Smith, Sam Raimi and John Goodman. But through it all just trust in the awesome cinematic tricks of the Coen Brothers. This disc is one I can’t wait to pick up today.
HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE
One of the nominated Documentaries for the Academy’s Best Feature Length Documentary. The Plague in question is HIV, which was killing at a crazy rate right from the beginning. This documentary traces the battle and fight that the Gay Community and especially those with HIV made to get the disease taken seriously – and to get the money to actually fund the research needed. And it was within the realm of science as was eventually proven during the Clinton years. Powerful and affecting work. I lost two Maternal Uncles to HIV. Charlie lived with my Mom, Sis & I after the divorce and ultimately he left to pursue rumored magic drugs. He didn’t quite make it to the right drugs. This is an angry and sad film that is ultimately triumphant. The story of how America handled or mishandled the AIDS crisis – and continues to not quite stomp it out. Even if you’re intolerant about this subject – especially – you should watch this. The bravery and the determination to survive and to fight is admirable. This is a human story that should be taught to all.
HOLY MOTORS Blu Ray
Wanna see the Best Actor not nominated for an Academy Award in 2012? Denis Lavant – and man… this is an amazing multi-genre experimental explosion of talent. If you love challenging cinema. Science fiction that is about amazing ideas that you slowly discover over the course of the film. This film plays like a crazed miracle. Reading a plot synopsis on this film would really do nothing for ya. This is something to be experienced. This is a film geek’s chew toy. You’ll play with the notions, images and ideas of this film and there will be sequences that you’ll have to show friends to convince them to watch the whole thing with ya, but this is the exact sort of joy that you can discover at a great film festival and a great movie theater. But no matter how you can see it, see it. It requires a focused non-distracted showing though. So take that into account. You can not lightly watch the film. You and the film deserve a more engaged experience.
JOSHUA TREE Blu Ray
Early 90s Dolph Lundgren action flick that’s pretty darn fun. Directed by legendary stuntman, Vic Armstrong – the action in this thing just works. And you’ll be glad to hear that finally someone got it right and have released the film in Widescreen which is so very nice. Also Vic Armstrong and Dolph have interviews on here – and well… SHOUT! Did it up right! This is one of the better Lundgren starring features. Armstrong’s knowledge of stunt work really elevates this from what it could have otherwise been.
SANSHO THE BAILIFF Criterion Blu Ray
Just imagine the worst nightmare for your family and then watch SANSHO THE BAILIFF – the mother is sold into prostitution, the kids made slaves. This film follows their story through the magic of absolutely exquisite cinema. Set in medieval Japan, a place they can’t make enough movies about in my mind, the film reveals beauty and story telling that you’ll likely never forget. Criterion did a great transfer and as typical for them, they’ve done a great job providing history and context for not just the film, but the great Mizoguchi. Here ya go:
• Restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
• Audio commentary by Japanese-literature professor Jeffrey Angles
• Video interviews with critic Tadao Sato, assistant director Tokuzo Tanaka, and legendary actress Kyoko Kagawa, on the making of the film and its lasting importance
• PLUS: A book featuring an essay by film writer Mark Le Fanu and two versions of the story on which the film was based: Ogai Mori’s 1915 “Sansho Dayu” and a written form of an earlier oral variation
GIRLS AGAINST BOYS Blu Ray
This film is watchable, but ultimately quite a bit disappointing. Danielle Panabaker plays a bartending gal that’s been dumped by an older married man that ends it with her, to keep his family together. Another bartender, this one played by the looney toon Nicole LaLiberte. – this gal gets her kicks toying and killing men – and she develops a fixation on our star, Panabaker. They’re easy on the eyes, but then the movie turns real real ugly in a way I just didn’t really enjoy. I think a lot of folks might dig it though. It just headed in a direction that was the least interesting direction that I thought the film could head in. Such a shame.
DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID Blu Ray
If like me, you discovered Paulette Goddard through Chaplin’s MODERN TIMES and THE GREAT DICTATOR, along with Eddie Cantor’s WHOOPEE! And THE KID FROM SPAIN and ROMAN SCANDALS… Or Cukor’s THE WOMEN then you owe it to yourself to discover THE DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID by the brilliant Jean Renoir, one of the finest directors and artists of all time. Like DOWNTON ABBEY, this is a film about a servant that decides to use her looks to land a man that could afford to appreciate her. This isn’t one of Renoir’s finest, but I love getting to see Goddard working with Burgess Meredith in this era on a film written by Burgess. They were totally married at this time. However, don’t expect this to necessarily be the happiest of tales. But I found it quite enjoyable.
SHE-DEVIL Blu Ray
When a miracle cure-all is tested on a lady that’s got TB, well – she becomes a indestructible man-eater. I tell ya, them there scientist will destroy us all. This came out in the 1950’s when film constantly had scientist really fucking up and making like giant grasshoppers or shrinking men or all manners of bad guys… and GALS. I’ve had the INSERT movie poster for this, for about 20 years having never had a chance to see this film. But it actually kicks ass. If you love 1950’s science gone wrong flicks, you’ll enjoy this one. And Mari Blanchard is easy on the eyes. Real easy on the eyes, just don’t let her touch ya!
LADY FOR A NIGHT Blu Ray
Sometimes John Wayne made movies like RHINESTONE, and they turned out like this – which is pretty entertaining. Joan Blondell runs a Riverboat Casino that Wayne is a partner in. They’re in love, until she decides she’s gonna move up in the world – and hilarity ensues. By hilarity I mean of the chuckle variety, not the guffaw. SO get your expectations tuned and enjoy. There’s a lot of cheese in this.
THE RED MENACE Blu Ray
Good ol Anti-Commie / Pro-America propaganda, made in 1949 to warn us of THE RED MENACE. This is good stuff. Not great, but a great example of early Cold War paranoia and the way we were meant to understand the dirty commies amongst us. I like to think we’ve come a long ways. But I can’t quite convince myself. I mean, we have a whole network dedicated to these kinds of things.
Well that wraps up February, kicking off March, we’ll be looking at: SCHINDLER’S LIST on Blu, WRECK IT RALPH 3D Blu, the dreadful RED DAWN remake, THE INTOUCHABLES, WESTWORLD Blu, KAMASUTRA: SEXUAL POSITIONS FOR LOVERS 3D BLU, TOUCH OF LOVE 3D Blu, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET Collection Blu, ULTRAMARINES: WARHAMMER, THE BAY, INTERVIEW WITH A HITMAN, COLLEGE Blu Ray, MUAY THAI WARRIOR and that’s about it. See you next Tuesday!
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