Harry's 17th Blu & DVD Picks And Peeks Column of 2013: Groucho, Dinosaurs, John Wayne, Gangsters, THE IMPOSSIBLE
Hey folks, Harry here with the latest Picks & Peeks Column covering the day’s releases! It’s a really strong week in my opinion. Lots of great titles! They join over 5,500 + write ups of titles that you can easily search and browse via the App that is linked above! Check it out! As usual, the images and pictures below link to Amazon where you can learn more about a given title – or if so motivated you can pick a copy up for yourself, which helps keep this column going! So thanks. If you get the app, you’ll also be able to interact with Netflix & iTunes – as well as being able to create watch lists, favorites – and even more. Enough of that, let’s get on with the column!!!
Tuesday April 23rd, 2013
COPACABANA Blu Ray
Pure Absolute Bliss! Seriously. Just pure happiness. People wonder how I feel so good about life, it’s because I’ve seen something like COPACABANA and I let it affect me. This came out after we’d dropped Atomic Bombs and before the Korean War. America was celebrating. Some brilliant bastard thought… let’s team up Groucho Marx with Carmen Miranda… and let’s basically have it be the silliest good time people have ever had! Will throw in amazingly designed musical numbers in a very trippy setting. Groucho defies the laws of reality – and Carmen Miranda books herself as two different singers… one a smoking hot blonde without the Latin voice. It’s kind of AMAZING! Just like when you see Groucho as a blonde! BLISS! Let’s face it, the world sucked massive ass this past week. COPACABANA was created as a pick me up, the sort of dazzlingly uncynical celebration of goofiness and damn fine music! The magic between these two must be witnessed. Your soul will be better for it. Don’t believe you have one? Watch this, that feeling you have after… if it is a sense of wonder for the vast realms of cinema and everything they have to offer – then you have a soul. If you are angry at me, then you just may be soulless.
JURASSIC PARK 3D Blu Ray
When I screened JURASSIC PARK 3D Blu Ray last Sunday, I realized… this is 4th time I’d seen the movie in a very short period of time. I got to introduce the film to a young dino obsessed boy on Blu Ray with his family – and saw the film could still blow folks away. I saw it theatrically with Phil Tippett in attendence. I saw it theatrically in FauxMax 3D and wrote up that review – and then on Movie Night, I suggested we screen this Blu Ray and every single time, I just marvel at just how perfect a piece of entertainment Spielberg created with this thing. Sure, I still bellyache about wanting the aggressively badass version of Michael Crichton’s novel that James Cameron would’ve have made, but at the same time, I appreciate precisely the awesome balance that Spielberg brought to it. His Mr. DNA bit, while borrowed a tad from George Pal’s DESTINATION MOON… I love it. It feels THEME PARKy and who would know better than the Beard! How’s the at home 3D on this? It is PERFECT! But you have to realize, it isn’t the same movie – Spielberg personally supervised this JURASSIC PARK 3D – and Steven had them add additional layers to the rain, thus adding to the depth. The 3D only extra shows you how they did this – and like the technical wonder that made this film so amazing in its original 2D state, I find watching JURASSIC PARK 3D the size of the wall in front of me to be… GOOD IN LIFE! Ladies… Jeff Goldblum may be too much for you in 3D. My friend was audibly affected by his massive presence in 3D. Just a warning.
GANGSTER SQUAD Blu Ray
I really dig the hell out of GANGSTER SQUAD. In fact, I liked it so much, I invited Dad over to watch it with me again. Dad gave me a love of good guys and bad guys – and he gave this to me through film, comic books and history. As a result, I love me some Gangsters and G-MEN… and folks… Josh Brolin is doing his best Lee Marvin in this film. He’s a bit like Marv! He’s a WWII vet who certainly didn’t defeat Hitler to come back to wannabe’s taking his Los Angeles paradise away. I love him. Ryan Gosling is effortlessly cool and smooth in the film. Giovanni Ribisi though, he steals my heart in the film. He’s a geek, a wonder with technology and a good father. But then there’s Robert Patrick playing a Cowboy Crime Fighting Legend – and he’s too fucking cool for words. Then there’s Sean Penn’s Mickey Cohen – and he’s a Mickey Cohen in a bit of a Cagney screen chewing good time kinda vibe. He’s an awesome bastard in this! Emma Stone is there to be incredibly hot – and in an incredibly complicated situation. Ruben Fleischer is two for two for me. And the Movie Theater scene, that was cut due to the terrible tragedy in Colorado. It isn’t on here, but there’s plenty of extras and deleted scenes. Just not that one.
THE IMPOSSIBLE Blu Ray
I love Juan Antonio Bayona’s first film, THE ORPHANAGE and THE IMPOSSIBLE occurred with his latest. I loved it even more. I watched this as the first film on a double feature of Children In Peril Horrific Adventure stories. We followed with JURASSIC PARK 3D. Both films do have a life affirming release type of vibe to them, but Bayona tells the story of a family smited by that Tsunami in the Indian Ocean during 2004. They were hanging out at a beach front Resort pool. Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts play the loving couple with 3 children – and Bayona’s use of cinema is on full display here. He makes the flight terrifying. The landing will give you fits – and it’s a normal landing, he just knows how to shoot the images that nervous people would recognize. He knows you know that a big wave is coming, but the film creates a headspace for this family on vacation and you kind of love them. They’re great, their kids are great – and this story… it is epic! Realize though – this movie will tie you in knots, but it does show you how something terrible can be something amazing, if you fight and pull through. Family can be amazing.
A HAUNTED HOUSE Blu Ray
MARVEL KNIGHTS: INHUMANS
I think the reason I’m geeking out so much about GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is that if MARVEL is doing that, then anything is possible… and oh man, there’s just so much possible coolness that can be done. I love this comic from Paul Jenkins & Jae Lee. I loved how they came into the Marvel Universe – and I’ve got a long and deep love for Lockjaw. This is one of those “kinda animated” things – and this is actually a good story for this format. If you’ve never discovered them in comic form, this is a fun way to explore them. But personally, I’ll never forget reading through FANTASTIC FOUR as a kid – and being introduced to them in the glorious pages of FANTASTIC FOUR. That’s the true history for me.
GREAT GATSBY Blu Ray
Read the book in High School and fell in love with the world I found there, but there’s just something about this version of GREAT GATSBY that just left me flat. I’ve never really been able to quite put my finger on it, cuz everyone is fine in their roles, it’s just… it doesn’t feel right to me. Maybe it’s my love of 20’s Jazz and films about the Roaring Twenties – and this film just didn’t quite transport me the way I wanted it to. It felt composed. Now the Blu Ray is gorgeous and the print is well transferred. And I have disagreements with my wife on this film, as she loves it. SO obviously I’m wrong. I’m fine with that. I accept it.
RICHARD III Blu Ray
Olivier’s RICHARD III is stunning on Criterion’s latest Blu Ray release. The Technicolor is of a rare breed, like THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD – this movie glows, it looks stunning, the colors leap from the screen with their vibrancy. The blacks deep and black. This was the last of Olivier’s Shakespearean adaptations – and it is a marvel. However, my favorite theaterical adaptation of this particular work of the Bard, well… it is Ian McKellen’s RICHARD III, which is just cinema on fire. Love it. That said, what I love about Shakespeare is how much I love a variety of adaptations. Olivier’s is pretty straight forward and wonderfully so. The staging and the camera work are of its era – and he uses it powerfully. His own Richard III performance is a marvel, the make up renders Olivier nearly invisible. With Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud as the Duke of Buckingham and George, Duke of Clarence and the great Cedric Hardwicke as King Edward IV the supporting cast is spectacular. Claire Bloom’s Lady Anne is also absolutely excellent! Criterion did a great job with this release. Stunning transfer.
• New high-definition digital master of the Film Foundation's 2012 restoration
• Audio commentary by playwright and stage director Russell Lees and John Wilders
• Interview with actor Laurence Olivier from a 1966 episode of Great Acting
• Gallery of behind-the-scenes and production stills and posters
• Twelve-minute television trailer featuring footage of Olivier and other cast
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Amy Taubin
THALE Blu Ray
Want to see a great independent fantasy that flirts with horror? Plucked from Scandinavian legend comes the HULDRA, a humanoid creature that calls men into the forest with their singing. You know these women are Huldras because they have Cow Tails. This is simply a great film. If you like something like PAN’S LABYRINTH – that takes you into exotic fantasy that can be scary, then you’ll like this quite a bit. It isn’t unleashed awesome at Pan’s level, but it is wonderful genre outing. Also if you loved RARE EXPORTS you should give this a peek. Wonderful Norwegian film!
CHEECH & CHONG’S ANIMATED MOVIE Blu Ray
I just wish this had better animation. I kind of love the idea of Cheech & Chong being animated, their humor and bits do work in the medium, but it deserves to be better animated than this. But funny is funny and I’d be lying if I didn’t laugh at old and new jokes alike. But then, I’ve loved them forever, just check out the corner animation! I liked this, but didn’t LOVE it – so it’s sorta like STILL SMOKIN.
THE FIGHTING SEABEES Blu Ray
I love John Wayne’s World War II movies. When I played with my pre-Larry Hama influenced 12inch G.I. JOE toys – I imagined that some were John Wayne and some were William Bendix or Robert Taylor or Anthony Quinn. That was the fun of pre-Hama Joes… They were generic WWII soldiers to fight my big ass ALIEN toy. Now THE FIGHTING SEABEES is one of the many excellent Wayne War films. This one tells the tale of founding of the Fighting Construction Workers in the Army. Guys that could engineer and build, while under fire and returning it. This also happens to be one of Susan Hayward's early triumphs – and lends the romantic heart of the film. So saddle up for a different kind of Wayne adventure. Great print!
CHAMPION Blu Ray
Written by Carl Foreman and produced by Stanley Kramer and starring the great Kirk Douglas… this is one of the great boxing movies of all time. I know most people love on ROCKY or RAGING BULL – and so do I. But I love John Garfield in BODY AND SOUL, I love Wallace Beery’s THE CHAMP or Anthony Quinn in REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT – but the performance that Kirk Douglas gives – and the way it ends. Just wonderful. You’ll love to hate Midge Kelly, but because he’s played by Kirk… you’ll always silently and not so silently… you’re gonna root for him. A GREAT FILM and looking its best on Blu!
CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS Blu Ray
I have yet to see this one, it is sitting in the stack of waiting to be seen. The pile of this week’s releases were too high, but I know the film. It is a spectacular Film Noir shot by PSYCHO’s DP and it is a gritty film taken from a very popular Crime Novel of the same name. I’m just saving this film for the right company that wants a great noir to watch. Or hell, I’ll probably put it on after I finish tonight. Has a helluva ending if I remember right. Love the photography on this one a lot, I sampled a tad of the blu to check on that and it looks sharp as hell. Another solid release from Olive, which has a lot this week!
MISTRESS OF THE APES
Never heard of this film. Comes from the wonderful Seventies and it has a terrible reputation, but I can’t control myself, I must order the movie. Hell, just to have the Boris Vallejo cover alone. But ya know – there’s a state of mind and the right sort of goofy friends that can make MISTRESS OF THE APES the best night ever. Near-man and woman? Hilarity guaranteed.
THE RED PONY Blu Ray
From the director of ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT comes this completely different film. Stunning color. Really is. You should know that. There’s a painterly beauty to the film. A great naturalism to it’s story telling. You’ll get this right at the beginning, but did I mention this a John Steinbeck story? Yeah, totally is. The Aaron Copeland score is not to be missed. But for me, I just love to see Robert Mitchum as a nice guy character. It’s refreshing. Also, getting to watch Myrna Loy in Technicolor? Hell yeah! This is a film for the whole family and everyone should enjoy and get caught up. Especially if you’ve ever spent time around horses. The film captures that beautifully.
GRAPES OF DEATH Blu Ray
Fucking love this Jean Rollin movie! It’s for real creepy and scary. It is a kind of Zombie story from 1978, but Zombies have become so standardized, that there’s something about a film from this era playing with the concept that just gives it the atmosphere for the scares. I love the effects in this thing – they’re scary unto themselves. You’ll see. And because of Rollin, you know there will be a tad of the ol sleazy fun. But really, this is creepy primarily. Looks gore-geous!
NIGHT OF THE HUNTED Blu Ray
A pitch black night and a girl in a nightgown running in the night, a man pulls over, she’s hysterical. Suddenly another girl comes out of athe darkness, she’s naked and a redhead. Left alone in the dark. They belong to a skyrise asylum called THE BLACK TOWER – and it’s not a very nice place. It seems people have been losing their memories and identities – and it gets violent and crazy. Again, Rollin is an acquired taste, but this and GRAPES OF DEATH are two very strong films of his. And I always think the guy in the car is gonna turn into a werewolf. It’s hard to explain unless you happen to see the same resemblance that I do. I find these films a tonic for the films of the now. Little tastes of another way of making films.
WAR OF THE WILDCATS Blu Ray
Never seen it. Always wanted to. My mother’s side of my family were in oil and ranching – so movies with this subject matter – especially in the early days of the oil industry – where you have a cowboy stopping the oil baron from leasing Indian territory – it’s fighting progress for a noble goal. Have it, but just couldn’t quite squeeze it in before the column this week. All the Olive titles that I’ve seen in this batch look great though.
MAGIC TOWN Blu Ray
I put this in with high expectations. I love Jimmy Stewart movies and Jane Wyman was a very lovely talent, along with being Mrs. Reagan before Nancy. And the director is William Wellman, one of the gods. And the screenwriter wrote Capra classics. But I have to be honest, this one bored me to tears. Just didn’t have an ounce of magic for me. Sure, it was on after the Awesome of COPACABANA, but still – it really gave me nothing. Didn’t find it amusing at all. Oh well, they can’t always be great!
WASTED ON THE YOUNG
I first heard of this film at SXSW – and I heard it was a good film, so when the DVD arrived in the mail today, I decided to use it to break up the heavy slate of vintage classics that I was looking at today. Ben C. Lucas is a director to keep an eye on. This is incredibly well shot, well acted and conceived. In some ways it is a modern school environment – and a girl gets wasted at a party and is left in a room with a couple of pieces of shit and some chickenshits – and yeah. I had no idea where the film was going from there – and it was not a graphic scene, but it weighs on you – After the “party” the character dynamics shift, guys ripped with guilt, others in aggressive slurring of the girl’s reputation – and so on. It becomes a bit of a mystery suspense film that’s about discovering and exposing the truth of that night. It’s a really well done film and took me places I wasn’t seeing coming.
Next week I’ll give SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK another shot, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION Season 3 on Blu, BROKEN CITY, FUNNY GIRL Blu, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS Blu, GUILT TRIP, MANBORG, THE VAMPIRE LOVERS Blu, STRICTLY BALLROOM Blu, NOT FADE AWAY, NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW Blu, CLOAK AND DAGGER Blu, THE ENFORCER Blu, THE REVISIONARIES, THE MEN Blu and HOODLUM EMPIRE Blu! Some great titles there. Til next week!
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