Hey folks, Harry here with the 18th consecutive Picks & Peeks of 2013 – and there’s some fun stuff coming out this week! Also click that above link to check out the Column’s App available for iDevices! The pics and links below can take you to Amazon, where you can learn more about the title in question, sometimes there’s even cheaper previously viewed copies on there. But if you pick something up, just know that your purchase helps to keep the best efforts of this column moving forward, so thank you.
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
The scariest horror film I’ve seen in a long time. This is a documentary that introduces you to the Texas State Board of Eduction, here in Austin, Tx. And they’re rewriting what the children of America learn as History, Science, Politics… you name it, and they’re doing it. The documentary focuses a lot on how this governing board is changing what the children of America learn. And the board members cooperate with the documentarians and you see how they’re working their Creationism agenda and it becomes what the US learns. Frightening doesn’t even cover it. If this scares you – just wait till you see the documentary. If it outrages you, buy a copy for a friend in Texas. Send this to people in Texas. Hell, pick up a phone book and randomly mail it to 10 people. This is beyond frightening.
THE VAMPIRE LOVERS Blu Ray
When Hammer decided it wanted to overtly get sexy with their horror – they did so magnificently with THE VAMPIRE LOVERS. Ingrid Pitt plays a lesbian vampire preying upon beautiful young women. This fleshy tale is best told on Blu Ray where you can fully appreciate the costume design and lack thereof. It’s quite a bit of fun to watch Pitt seducing these young ladies. SO HOT! Really is. This isn’t some cheeseball erotica – this is well written, performed, shot and conceived from beginning to end. The transfer is fantastic. SHOUT! does a great job with the extras including a reading of “Carmilla” by Ingrid Pitt. The Commentary has director Roy Ward Baker, Ingrid Pitt and the screenwriter Tudor Gates. Excellent Blu!!!
STRICTLY BALLROOM Blu Ray
I was 20 when Baz Luhrman entered my life with STRICTLY BALLROOM. I’ve still never met the man, but his film slapped me silly with its passion. By the time ROMEO & JULIET came about, I was already expecting miracles – and I received them, but there’s something about an auteur’s first work that is special. STRICTLY BALLROOM has no giant stars… instead it is just breathtaking beauty and passion for dance. This film feels genuinely of Australia. It makes you want to live in Australia and join a dance studio. And to dance your steps the way they ought to be danced at the Australian Pan Pacific Championship. It surprises me how many fans of Luhrman’s films are actually not familiar with this amazing film. I’d double feature it with THE PRICE OF MILK or DEAD ALIVE depending on the company. Giggle. The film looks stunning on blu – and Paul Mercurio is so much fun to watch in this film, he’s kinda got the Swayze role.
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – Season Three Blu Ray
Alrighty – here it is, Season 3 of Next Generation on Blu ray – if you don’t know why that’s so damn special let me tell ya. Season 2 was a bit of a mix bag, the writers strike and casting shakeups were… leaving things a bit to be desired, but in Season 3 – Dr. Crusher was back, we got Corbin Bernsen came on as Q2. Worf’s best storyline over the whole series was here, Picard had a magnificent Captain’s Holiday – and best of all… we finally got the badass sock on the chin ending with Part one of THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS – and then we fans knew the pain and anguish of that long wait for the Season 4 second half which just blew fans away. This season is where Next Generation fully came into their own. The introduction of the Borg was the great addition to the Trek Mythology that Next Generation needed to give a new generation something to beat classic Trek lovers over the head with. The Borg just – they rule. OH – and then there’s YESTERDAY’S ENTERPRISE which brought Yar back for some What If fun! And it is truly a magnificent episode. Actually – this season has an awful lot of gold! Every aspect of the show was improved this season, from sets to costumes. This is the best of Next Generation – it really feels like an incredibly confident show this season! Like they really started to flex their storytelling muscles.
THE ENFORCER Blu Ray
Bogart’s the Heroic DA out to take out a mob boss. The film is suspenseful and a great turn for Bogie. This is also a very early film appearance by Zero Mostel! Neat piece of trivia: the opening narration was by Kefauver, the man chairing the Senate’s investigation of organized crime, which was also going on at the time of this film’s release. This isn’t a Bogie film in the classic sense, but Bogart is a crusading DA here – but you’ll love his tough Captain that gets the job done. It’s a solid Police Procedural. By the way, the more Bogart films you have, the better a human being you are.
THE MEN Blu Ray
Marlon Brando’s film debut comes to Blu Ray, he plays a WWII Disabled Vet… a spinal patient that is living at a paraplegic ward. And as you imagine, he isn’t too thrilled about it. Yeah, I know that feeling. Brando is Brando right out of the gate. Spectacular performance, but then he was also being directed by the great Fred Zinnemann, produced by Stanley Kramer and had yet another of Dimitri Tiomkin’s great scores! That said, you’ll leave the film talking about Brando – he has always had a habit of doing that. Right from the start. I also love that Teresa Wright, the girl from Hitchcock’s SHADOW OF A DOUBT – is playing his love interest. She’s tremendous. If you’ve never had the great joy of seeing Marlon’s debut film role, do not hesitate!
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS (Blu Ray)
Alright – this is the last episode of Season 3 and the first episode of Season 4 put together in a seamless manner thus creating what would be probably the best Next Generation movie. If you have to ask why you’d buy this as a stand alone, then you may not be much of a Next Gen geek, but this is amazing Next Gen. The stuff of legend – and it looks way the hell better than it ever did on your TV back in the analog days of yore. Is it worth the $15 that Amazon is hitting you up for? Yeah, totally – but then I am an enormous fan of this particular two-parter – and since it would be divided up over two different season sets – and the work to make this a seamless feature… well it should be rewarded. It was a great idea.
BROKEN CITY Blu
Generally if a film has Griffin Dunne in it, it is a keeper. The same is said for Jeffrey Wright, who is just a criminally underrated actor. But this is a film about city corruption. You got Russell Crowe as the Mayor (bad idea) and Catherine Zeta-Jones is the… questionably dedicated wife that Wahlberg is investigating when all hell breaks loose. Crowe should command your attention enough to really make this film worth it for ya, if you like crooked city movies. And I do.
FUNNY GIRL Blu
Babs does Fanny Brice and the world falls to worship – as they should. After all this isn’t FUNNY LADY, which the less said about – is just being too nice, that film really does scrape the bottom of a barrel filled with decaying rancid varmit flesh. However, this one kicks ass. Omar Sharif is great as always. And the songs are Barbra giving it her all. Streisand transcends the era and the time to really make this her most iconic role. The blu is gorgeous – the extras are just what fans want – and they’ve done a great job of bringing this film to the High Def market.
GUILT TRIP Blu
You know – as much as I love Streisand in FUNNY GIRL – and a few other films from that era – modern Babs is something of a waking nightmare for me. And hearing about a film called GUILT TRIP with Barbra as Seth Rogen’s annoying mom… for an entire movie. Well that sounded like fingernails on a blackboard – but the reality, I’m happy to report is not nearly as painful as suspected. Mainly because Rogen plays the all natural inventive son as being completely annoyed by his mother, while also dearly loving her. He sold the relationship and around the time that she starts to see that – well it was sweet. Also seeing Streisand put that brisket down her gullet in an hour is kind of a magic of cinema moment. I refuse to believe she could do it. I tried and was completely defeated.
Heartfelt ridiculous awesome… that’s MANBORG, yet another wonderful title discovered through the wondrous cinematic love-in that is FANTASTIC FEST! It is not only ok to laugh at MANBORG, it is impossible not to laugh with MANBORG. This is a film where everything seems to have been made campy on purpose and with a high degree of understanding of how not to make that fucking annoying as hell. It’s all kinds of funky – but watching a film like this makes you and your friends want to get out there and attempt something, cuz you know these folks had the best time making MANBORG. As you can see from the box art – there’s really no reason to describe what happens in MANBORG – instead – let it just assault you in its own loving fashion.
NOT FADE AWAY Blu Ray
I love David Chase’s film about a time and period in America, in the wake of JFK’s assassination and the British Invasion of our Radios… and NOT FADE AWAY is about a group of friends with a cover band, trying to make a go at fame and fortune with original songs. They’re not bad, but they haven’t the chemical miracle that makes a band able to become a known band. I love this film because in many ways it reminds me of my own father’s story. Not musically, but culturally he had a bit of a falling out with his father over his more colorful psychedelic lifestyle. He had been expected to go the military route like his father – and when he and my mother found each other and he was doing Light Shows for Bands, then a Pop Culture Nostalgia shop. It was far outside of his known comfort factor. James Gandolfini plays the hardnosed father. The music was overseen by Steven Van Zandt, who probably knows a thing or two. Heh. Apparently a bit autobiographical – I was quite taken with Chase’s feature. Seen it a few times already.
CLOAK AND DAGGER Blu Ray
Now I like the Dabney Coleman CLOAK & DAGGER as much as the next geek, but this here is the real McCoy! Directed by the great Fritz Lang, whom you better know as a film geek – and if you don’t, quickly see METROPOLIS & M and then goto IMDB and see the rest. Anyway, here Lang gets to direct Sgt York himself, Gary Cooper! He plays a physics professor sent into Nazi Germany to discover the Nazi’s Atomic secrets. And yeah, it’s a film noir Nazi War film shot by the director of M & METROPOLIS who fled Nazi Germany due to a acute case of sanity. This is so totally up my alley! Nazis, Noir, Atomic Plot, Gary Cooper, Fritz Lang and the lovely lovely Lilli Palmer! And a tremendous Max Steiner score!
Next week we’ll be looking at JACK REACHER, 5th Season of FRINGE, SUPERMAN UNBOUND, THE GREAT ESCAPE on Blu, MAMA, UPSTREAM COLOR Blu, THE VERDICT Blu, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR Blu, GAMER 3D Blu, SHANGHAI NOON & KNIGHTS Blu, BAND OF OUTSIDERS Criterion Blu, A whole bunch of Blu Steelbooks, IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER Blu, SHADOW OF A DOUBT Blu, RUNAWAY BRIDE Blu, THE ORANGES Blu, BABE: PIG IN THE CITY Blu, SABOTEUR Blu, PILLOW TALK Blu, WWII FROM SPACE, STARLET, THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE Blu, THE DUNGEON OF HARROW & DEATH BY INVITATION and FEMALE TEACHER HUNTING. See you next Tuesday!