Hey folks, Harry here with a Picks & Peeks that has some major coolness in it. Now you may not know a ton of the titles, but you definitely should. Lots of very fun releases! As usual the images and links take you to Amazon, where you can learn more on the title or if you feel like picking some titles up, a bit of your purchase price goes to help keep this column cranking away. Now, let’s start with some Cronenberg, shall we…
Tuesday, April 9th, 2013
NAKED LUNCH Criterion Blu
I don’t know about you, but when I hit college I was fascinated by a whole bunch of writers that my small town High School education hadn’t really prepared me for. In particular I loved folks like Kerouac, Ferlinghetti and of course William S. Burroughs. When Cronenberg announced he was making NAKED LUNCH, I ran out, bought the book and sat down and couldn’t for the life of me figure out how he was going to turn that amazing book into a movie. As trippy as the book was though… nothing could prepare me for Cronenberg’s adaptation. The result is something unlike anything ever put to film before or since. The film features an amazing Peter Weller and Judy Davis. Two actors that can do weird in such a casual and stylistic manner that it makes me itch for at least some bug powder. Criterion does a great job on this film. Everything that Cronenberg shot looks more amazing than ever. He has such a great sense of texture with this film in particular and it all looks beautiful! This is the ultimate film about addiction. Making a film that relishes in in a surreal metaphorical whimsical and nightmarish world. See this one straight, you need all your wits about you for it. Tis spectacular cinema. Also, Criterion gives us some great special features, check em out:
• High-definition digital transfer, approved by director David Cronenberg
• Audio commentary featuring Cronenberg and actor Peter Weller
• Naked Making Lunch, a 1992 television documentary by Chris Rodley
• Special effects gallery, featuring artwork and photos alongside an essay
• Collection of original marketing materials
• Audio recording of William S. Burroughs reading from his novel Naked Lunch
• Gallery of photos taken by poet Allen Ginsberg of Burroughs
• PLUS: A booklet featuring reprinted pieces by film critic Janet Maslin and more
GATE OF HELL Criterion Blu
Do you love films that embrace a great story of obsession leading to destruction. I love it as a theme. GATE OF HELL by Teinosuke Kinugasa is a magnificent one! That it is a story of obsession set in 12th Century Feudal Japan… well, that’s one helluva bonus. It picked up the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of 1955 – and the Palm D’or of 1954 and even the New York Film Critics agreed. That’s a hell of a trio of award love – and the film is spectacular. If you love stunning and beautifully shot films of intelligence and emotional depth – this film is for you. I discovered the film on VHS back in the day, loved the story – but could not fully appreciate the beauty of this film. Watching it here… well it was truly an eye-opener! Here – Criterion is reintroducing GATE OF HELL to a lot of you – and you will LOVE them for it. Let them sear this great Samurai film into your mind. You’ll definitely thank me!
HYDE PARK ON HUDSON Blu
I find your enjoyment of this film primarily aligned with your delight at watching Bill Murray do his FDR. It is, in and of itself, the primary delight of the film. However, I found it worthy of just a couple of views max for me. Ultimately it was just a meringue of a film. Bit too airy. As I said though, your love of Murray could carry it higher than for me. I love him, but not this movie. The transfer was quite nice, but the extras are pretty mundane. If you can make it through that dry commentary, you’re a better man that I am Gunga Din.
BLUE PLANET: SEAS OF LIFE Blu-Ray
I love these BBC nature series… The photography is hypnotic. Especially on Blu Ray. It’s just stunning to watch. I find that watching these feel completely relaxing and make you real chill. The creatures and the other world they capture – well, they’re perfect. They’re also something great to put on in the background – as it often creates collective wows. Which are always great for conversing. Our world is simply fascinating, beautiful and endlessly entertaining. BBC Earth should be applauded. •
Eighty minutes of behind-the-scenes footage - one 10-minute featurette for each episode •
Interviews with producer Alastair Fothergill, cameraman Doug Allan and researcher Penny Allen •
Deep Trouble - A compelling exploration of the impact of civilization on the oceans •
Photo Galleries •
Fact Files •
All New Bonus 5th Disc: •
Amazon Abyss - Discover an amazing array of astonishing creatures living in the depths of the Amazon •
Dive to Shark Volcano - Venture to Cocos Island, an underwater volcano whose waters are a haven for sharks •
Between the Tides - Explore the distinctive sights and sounds of an estuary in winter, featuring many natural spectacles caused by the tide •
Antarctica - Survey the cold, desolate continent of Antartica
THE SORCERER AND THE WHITE SNAKE Blu
Would you be disappointed to learn that this is a beautiful martial arts-lite eastern fairy tale with romance that can produce tears? If that just caused you to arch your eyebrows followed by a smile… you’re my kinda person. While I certainly love and appreciate Jet Li kicking ass… I love seeing him do something that flexes his emotional performance and a taste of his badassery. Like Gene Kelly in XANADU. However, if you’re the type of person that can’t enjoy something with a ton of CG – if just the act of CG repels you, you could end up on a non-stop bitchstreak through out. However, this isn’t realism, this is a more painterly CG. Stylized. The Snakewomen are beautiful, if not entirely real. This has huge fantasy sequences – if you let yourself go with the story, you could find you really love this film. But it is mythical martial arts fantasy on a pretty big scale. I dug it.
MASSAGE PARLOR MURDERS Blu
If you’re a fan of the seventies extreme cinema that has been boxed into a Grindhouse label, you’ll dig the shit out of MASSAGE PARLOR MURDERS. This came out in 1972 and is a sleazy violent bit of seventies crime and sexploitation and seventies brand gore… well, this is right up your alley. Featuring actors from seriously all walks of life and performance, the film has a nice seedy vibe. The restoration of this film on Blu Ray is really quite fucking amazing. When a title like this looks this good – it makes any subpar big releases really stink. This film has been lovingly handled – and fans of 70s skinploitation will appreciate. But it will surprise you. I like the ambition of the film. The cop side of the movie is kinda fun.. and did I mention the car chase? Yeah! It’s all kinds of fun.
BAD KIDS GO TO HELL
If the title peaks your curiosity, then your expectations are kind of perfectly set up for this. This is a film adaptation of the comic book and it does a good job of translating that material to the screen. It’s funkiness is either attractive or maddening to you, but I do feel that it’s particular brand of funkiness is fun. It has entertaining value and well… It is my kinda thing. Do not expect to be absorbed and outwitted by BAD KIDS GO TO HELL, it isn’t that kind of film. It is silly, low-budget – but it has the attitude and tone right, so it works for me. It has its rules and quirks and it commits. And it is FUN!
THE FOUR Blu
Martial arts fantasy with spies and intrigue!!! This also has martial art zombies. Now they have completely different rules from Western Zombie films. And they’re controlled by an EVIL Badass. The plot is very definitely a tad overly convoluted, but this is a very martial arts X-MEN kind of story. Those kinds of powers. Even if this story technically was created in 1973. And there were about 400 issues – and this is a film that boils that wuxia badassery into a movie. It has a slight episodic feel to the film, like we should know more than what is going on in the movie, but for me, I simply delighted discovering this world and then see if I can absorb some of the Wuxia to see how deep this particular rabbit hole goes. This is pretty darn cool!
THE SUCKERS / THE LOVE GARDEN
THE SUCKERS is a classic Rougie from the The David Friedman variety of sleaze. However, of special interest to genre fans is that this is that world’s version of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME story. So if you love that particularly fun storyline, this is the sleaziest version of the tale. I’ve long wanted to see this one – and it definitely lived up to my expectations. Glad it was found and released. And THE LOVE GARDEN is a not quite hardcore, but it does feature a moment of penetration, but never relishes in it. So it won’t necessarily get ya where you’d probably want to be headed, but it is alright for what it is.
Ok – Look at that box art. Relish in the dream it gives you. Now… here’s the good thing! Yeah, this is porn. It starts off, kind of incredibly hot. That beautiful painted gorilla, in the movie is a guy in a very bad monkey suit, not really ape or even gorilla. There’s an erotic scene with him and a girl that gets… REAL FUCKING WEIRD. The genre trappings for the first 30 minutes or so really made me dream of a great SEXCULA porn, but sadly the repetition and lack of budget begins to strain the narrative strengths that the opening promised. I longed for a larger production, but when you think about the fact that this is a very very rare example of early Canadian Porn – and it was highly illegal there. But luckily a print survived in Canadian National Archives Basement – leave it to the history geeks to persevere Canada’s proud tradition of horror genre porn!!! Is it hot? Not consistently enough, though it does have some rather strong moments of fun eroticism.
Ok – Flat out – I love Eva Green in everything she does. I just need to get that out of the way. Here though is a story about a girl that was separated from a childhood best friend, then became Eva Green returning to rediscover and fall madly passionately in love with him. She is destroyed, but convinces his parents to give her the necessary DNA to clone him, which she grows in her own womb! And the film goes from there. This flick is so fucking awesomely twisted and bizarre and intelligent sci-fi updating of an ancient kind of complex psychosexual story telling. WOMB is just flat out great though. You kinda have to see this one! Trust me!
An absolutely insane Looney Tunes meets Tex Avery super-violent and cartoonishly gory baseball story! From the director of CHROMARTIE HIGH – The Movie and MEATBALL MACHINE and YAKUZA WEAPON, not to mention one of the crazed madmen behind THE ABCs OF DEATH! So this film is crazy over the top giggle inducing gorefest that just makes you say, “No, They Didn’t!” and a giggle. Yeah, it’s that kind of movie. While watching this movie, I wonder if I’m the only human being on the planet that wanted a film adaptation of the Wacky Packs’ BEASTBALL sticker. It’s its own thing and it is a ton of fun. Absolute insanity. It is like the cure for the mundane blahs of the world.
ANATOMY OF A PSYCHO / THE LONELY SEX
ANATOMY OF A PSYCHO was written by Dean Devlin’s Dad. It had no budget, it also didn’t have fantastic action, direction, acting, editing, music, sound effects or much to hold your attention, but despite all that, it kinda holds your interest. This psycho just isn’t extreme by movie standards. It is very tame, but a little fascinating as a result, it isn’t attempting much, nor is it doing much. And it is S-L-O-W! As for THE LONELY SEX, it’s late 50’s sexploitation – which is pretty terrible. If you skip this set, nobody will blame you. And once you’ve seen it, I can’t imagine that you’d sit down and watch it with anyone, but you may hand it to a friend that appreciates really trashy flicks. THE LONELY SEX is about a kidnapping a girl who is taken to a shack in the woods. And yeah, there’s nothing to see here. It’s as ugly as that plotline with no command of cinema or film’s possibilities. True bad film material.
WOOCHI: THE DEMON SLAYER Blu
This is a South Korean folktale that’s about a superhero demon slayer from ancient times, who gets cursed, then unleashed in modern times to continue a battle from long ago. FUCKING LOVE IT! Weird Animistic Spirits that get crazy in this film. SHOUT! Is doing you a favor bringing this over to our shores. There’s a lot of Fantasy Martial Arts flicks this week – and it’s a helluva night of film. In fact, it is an excellent FANTASTIC FEST of your very own. Highly recommended. The film is all at once whimsical, badass and funny. You’re supposed to laugh, so don’t be turned off to it. That said, the action is very fun. This film destroyed the box office in South Korea and I get it. This is a very fun flick!
Next week, the coolness pours in with DJANGO UNCHAINED, Criterion’s achingly cool release of REPO MAN on Blu, the great A MONSTER IN PARIS Blu, IRON MAN: RISE OF TECHNOVORE Blu, HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT 2, DRAGON Blu, POLICE STORY 1 & 2 on Blu, MESSAGE FROM SPACE, TRASHED, NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN, SUMMER WARS, H.P. LOVECRAFT’S THE DARK SLEEP, Girl$, EMPIRE OF SILVER, and a Thai telling of RASHOMON!! And that’s not all! See you next week!