Harry's Picks & Peeks 11th Edition 2013: WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT Blu, Ang Lee, Animation, WILLOW, HITCHCOCK & THE BLOB!!!
Hey folks, Harry here… SXSW is going on and decided to stay home to finish the column tonight. It is so nice to have such a great ground team here covering the fest, so I don’t get phobic about missing things, ultimately I’ll catch pretty much everything just doing this column. But I really do wish I could clone myself for my duties so I could just disappear into the fest watching as much as humanly possible. Back to Rehab. Heh. As always the images and links take you to Amazon where you can learn more on the titles and possibly purchase a title or two. A small portion of the price will help keep this column coming. Now – let’s get to this fantastic week…
Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT Blu
In addition to the movie in pristing eye-popping jaw-dropping gorgeous condition, you also get “Tummy Trouble,” “Rollercoaster Rabbit,” “Trail Mix-Up” all with the same treatment. And that’s just the beginning. There’s a commentary with Zemeckis, Frank Marshall and a whole lot of the folks that made this film. Basically, it’s a big wet sloppy wabbit kiss. If you happen to have been deprived the sheer brilliant joy of this film, it is probably why you have a bad attitude about life and shit. This is the pure happy. This is a tonic for what ails ya. The seltzer for your water and the pie in your face. Roger Rabbit is one of the purely p-p-p-p-p-p-perfect things upon the screen. This is the film that you show your children and you send them on a world of discovery. These days – you can find most of the cartoons that these characters are pulled from online. Watching this movie and seeking out those cartoons only deepens your passionate love for this film. Betty Boop’s line kills me. If you love animation, this will absolutely keep you warm for all your days. Bob Hoskins gives arguably the greatest physical performance in the history of cinema. Up there with the greatest comedian performances ever. Just amazing. This is a fully stocked Blu Ray gleaming with goodness.
LIFE OF PI 3D Blu
Simply a stunning and beautiful experience. If you’ve made the mind-blowing home decision to have a very large 3D home experience… this is your new show-off disc. In addition to the film’s 3D looking better to my eyes at home than it already looked in the theater. You get the Deleted Scenes in 3D, the boat sinking sequence in 3D through the entire effects process. You get to see the wave tank work in 3D too. Very few 3D movies have extras in 3D, so this is an extra jewel on top of being a stunningly beautiful image and story that we get with the film. It is a shame that not a penny we spend on this goes to help the VFX geniuses that helped bring this to life. But the fix involves a whole lot of negotiations – that I’m exceedingly pessimistic about. In addition to the 3D extras, on the regular BluRay there’s a whole lot more. But you’ll mostly want this just for the stunning way this feature plays out. Very happy about Ang Lee’s win on this one.
RISE OF THE GUARDIANS 3D Blu
I was not overly fond of this film upon first viewing – and did not see the Blu Ray in time for this column, but I gave the film another shot when I got my Critic Awards screener – and I’ll just come out and say it. Jack Frost’s design bugs the hell out of me, I’ve never been a huge fan of the European traditional Santa Claus image, I’m a huge fan of the Norman Rockwell Santa. For me, the only design that I absolutely loved was the Sandman and his powers, but then he goes away for a hunk of the flick. I think the Easter Bunny’s world was fantastic, but ultimately this Holiday AVENGERS story just didn’t capture me. The character work didn’t suck me in and visually – it just wasn’t consistently wowing me. The 3D was pretty spectacular in sequences. Now having said all that, all my problems with the film might be completely lost on you. Most people I know seem to have a high degree of affinity for the film, I just don’t share that opinion.
God I had expectations for this as a boy. I knew that with Lucasfilm and Ron Howard taking the magic of ILM and applying it to fantasy would unleash an amazing film that would blow away all fantasy filmmaking up until that point. I was a Junior in High School… In the end, WILLOW couldn’t quite exceed even SINBAD & THE EYE OF THE TIGER, which for me is the least of the Sinbads, but is still far better than WILLOW. Now here’s the thing that Nostalgia will do for ya. You begin to remember reading every issue of Starlog and Cinefantastique… You remember conversations with my Best Friend that died that Fall. We dreamt about this fantasy as only best friend film geeks could. I remember my sister falling madly crazy silly in love with it – and I never picked on her for it. Then I put the Blu Ray in and age has been far kinder to this film than I expected. I love this Val Kilmer, Billy Barty is just a joy to watch and who doesn’t love Warwick Davis. The experience of watching the film for me, is more than the film itself, it’s a point in time in history where I didn’t know a soul in Hollywood and while in North Texas, just the knowledge that the film was coming that summer filled me with anticipation and dreams. Can’t wait to show this to Yoko. You get Deleted scenes with Ron Howard commentary, a making of with Ron introducing. Dennis Muren doing a Morf to Morphing feature. This was the huge leap in tech that began to advance digital effects, they just weren’t entirely convincing at the time, but didn’t look like anything we’d seen before. My fave feature is Warwick Davis’ personal Video Diary on the making of the film – oh and the Matte Painting gallery is so cool.
I like MULAN, and in particular I’ll never ever forget the period of nephew’s oh so cute 5-year old self when he kept calling my wife Mulan. It was very cute. I just don’t feel the film is a great one. I saw MULAN II once and that was enough. Disney did a great job on the Blu Ray and for us Disney Completists, it is one that I just wanted a more interesting animation style than this one was in. For covering this story, I prefer HUA MULAN from 2009. But then I love me my Chinese Period Epics. As with pretty much every Disney animated film on Blu Ray – it is loaded.
HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME Blu
Now I absolutely fucking loathe this film. I put this on the other day thinking that I remembered liking it more than hating it. I got about halfway in when total recall flashed the rest of this unmitigated disaster of Disney animation. There is no reason in the world that Disney couldn’t have done this adaptation adhering tonally and making one of the greatest animated films in their history. Instead we have anthropormorphic Gargoyles that are real wise crackers and a movie so happy that they even made a GODDAMN SEQUEL called HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME 2…. For real. The film features some amazing animation, especially upon Esmerelda. They completely destroyed the soul of the story, turning it into shit. Now, I know some of you were brought up on this and love it. I just can’t see it. The film fries my nerves about 35 minutes in. The transfer is beautiful, but it just more clearly reveals that all the talent and artistry was wasted upon a wrongheaded adaptation of one of the great novels in history. There’s no way I can recommend this. But if ya have ta – go ahead, you’re a braver person than me.
I don’t see this film as a Biopic, but a movie based loosely upon the making of PSYCHO, one of the great Hitchcock films. Now – the makeup isn’t there to completely transform him into Hitchcock – and I am wondering at what point someone will past a whole ton of dots to an actor’s face to digitally transfer their every movement into a photorealistic human reproduction. Not that I crave it – but I’m just morbidly curious when that particular Hollywood magic is gonna be unleashed. Mainly because I want scary creepy Bruce Lee as Kato wondering the Earth getting in adventures and shit. But as I was saying, it was never to be exact – and there are angles that are really quite eerie. But what I saw this film as being was a movie where Anthony Hopkins was going to do his Hitchcock character and that Helen Mirren would play Alma. Then Scarlett Johansson in Janet Leigh’s hair styles and clothes… again, just sort of loved it. I’m actually thinking of messing with my projector’s settings to try and get it in a Black&White look more suited for PSYCHO. This is a Hitchcock Melodrama – and while I know the Michael Wincott Ed Gein fantasies of Hitch were way off base… I enjoyed them. To try and create the imagination of Hitchcock having read Bloch’s book and being inspired by the descriptions of the real life events behind that classic material. One, because I genuinely enjoy Wincott and thought if you were casting Gein, Wincott is a helluva choice. There’s a ton of special features, from the director’s smartphone footage, to the make up and performance transformation process that Hopkins went through. It reminds me of the NIXON work on Hopkins. It was enough to evoke the general Hitchcock aesthetic while also letting you see Hopkins delight and relish the role in there. This is a very strong release for this title!
THE BLOB Criterion Blu
You know when a shark bites down and his eyes roll back revealing nothing but white – that’s what watching this is like for me. THE BLOB was a favorite film of my parents and my Mom loved Steve McQueen in a very major way – and the Blob eats that classic old movie theater and there are few things as perfect as that. That said as a Horror film, I vastly prefer the Chuck Russell directed Frank Darabont scripted THE BLOB with Kevin Dillon. That sink scene just owns. That needs a Blu Ray something fierce and it’d be so cool if Criterion did it up right. Never seen the original? Think of it as a Saturday afternoon that’s 3 beers in… you want to watch a film that makes you smile – THE BLOB does that well. It’s just an iconic portrait of another place and time. THE BLOB will always be a classic!
BEN-HUR/10 COMMANDMENTS Blu
Ok – for $15 you get beautiful 1080p versions of two of the greatest and most iconic roles in Charlton Heston’s history. I watch both of these movies at least once a year, every year, though Ben-Hur gets watched by me usually around Easter and Christmas for me. They don’t make movies like this anymore… well, until now again, the religious epics will return, there’s a lot of stuff in the pipeline and I’m kind of giddy about it. Like, whatever Aronofsky has for us with the story of Noah. Now these are not even plain Blu Rays. On Ben Hur you get commentary and a music only track – and if you love Rozsa’s amazing score – you’ll chill with this version some time. And there’s a all sorts of extras on that too. For 15 bucks it don’t get much better.
BROTHER BEAR Blu
Before BRAVE, this was Disney’s attempt at telling a bear-transformation story. BRAVE is soooooo much better. This isn’t dreadful, but it isn’t all that great either. And I only got about 15 minutes into BROTHER BEAR 2 before I stared at the screen with a feeling of just not caring. At least it isn’t HOME ON THE RANGE or HUNCHBACK.
MINISTRY OF FEAR Criterion Blu
As you get older and you digest more and more and more of Fritz Lang’s films, you’ll marvel at this man’s work. Sure, everybody and their brother talks about METROPOLIS and M… but man – watch WOMAN IN THE MOON then watch BLADE RUNNER, you’ll be shocked how much Ridley Scott borrowed from Lang for that movie. He fled Nazi Germany and set up shop in Hollywood and man he made some amazing Noirs. MINISTRY OF FEAR is a great one, based on one of Graham Greene’s novels – starring one of my fave classic actors, Ray Milland in a story about a man that is released from an asylum into the midst of World War 2 and his world is completely flipped once he wins a cake that folks try to kill him for. Nazis, Spies and intrigue permeate this classic. The 2 K digital restoration is just stunning. It is light on extras, but getting a pristine print of this Lang classic is just something that you have to thank Criterion for. This movie is great!
CASABLANCA / AFRICAN QUEEN Blu
Here you get CASABLANCA and THE AFRICAN QUEEN for $15 – with the CASABLANCA disc being really intensely loaded with special features – and THE AFRICAN QUEEN has the Embracing The Chaos – making of – which I love. If you’ve been holding off acquiring these classics, no more excuses. CASABLANCA is the kind of movie that teaches you about the soul of a World War II American that sticks his neck out for nobody, or at least wants everyone to believe that. Rick
ZULU DAWN Blu
I love the original ZULU – and I love ZULU DAWN as its sequel. Starring Burt Lancaster, Peter O’Toole, Denholm Elliott and about 13,000 actual Zulu warriors participated in the making of this film, which tells the true story of the Battle of Isandhlwana. IF you don’t know your history – just buy ZULU and ZULU DAWN and watch them back to back. This is as close as we get to 300 and it’s historically based sequel. Bob Hoskins is amazing in the film. Beautiful print – Severin did a great job on this Blu Ray. Wonderful film and great history.
FAIRY IN A CAGE Blu
Think of this as a really brutal and demeaning WWII Japanese version of kinky torture softcore PINK flicks. Getting a title like this on Blu Ray is exceedingly rare, but they did a new transfer from original 35mm negative – and for what it is – it looks amazing. NOT FOR ALL TASTES. Essentially a corrupt judge loves to perversely torture and beat innocent people for his own jollies. But be prepared – this film can kind of fuck with you.
GRAVE ENCOUNTERS 2 Blu
I had a lot more fun with this than I probably should have. The reason, well… here’s the thing, I put this in – and I watched it, accepting all the weird shit. I mean, this is the sort of supernatural shit that if what you’re seeing in the “found footage” was actually going on… which is some Silent Hill like shit…. Well, kiss your ass goodbye. Once the guy from the first film shows up, it sort of jumps the shark a bit has a beer & cheets on his wife all while nuking the fridge.
When a penis enlarging formula happens into the city water supply, all men that drink become women-killing rat bastards. So yeah, outrageous goofy fucking fun. If you like culty weird, this is severely culty weird and funny. ENJOY IT!
That’s it for this week, next we’ll be looking at THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY in Blu 3D, LES MISERABLES Blu, ZERO DARK THIRTY Blu, THIS IS 40 Blu, BADLANDS Criterion Blu, TIMERIDER Blu, GORGO Blu, THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP Criterion Blu, a really fun 4 pack, PORKY’S Blu, ON APPROVAL Blu Ray, THE GIRL, ZETA ONE Blu, SCHOOLGIRL HITCHHIKERS Blu, GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE, THE GREAT MAGICIAN and that’s about it! See ya then!
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