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Harry's 20th Picks & Peeks week of 2013 - CLOUD ATLAS, Raimi, TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D, Criterion Westerns & More!

Hey folks, Harry here… well I got through 19 weeks before a week got away from me, so at long last, here’s week 20 of 2013’s Picks & Peeks. I know it seems insane, but I’ve just been thinking a ton about STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS – what all the changes mean for that splinterverse – rewatching Classic Trek and just basically allowing myself to really enjoy the geek explosion I felt with that film. Sometimes, it’s good to just let the geek win. Sorry the column blinked as a result. As usual, the images and links take you to Amazon where you can pick up the title you want or just find out more about it. If you do pick it up, a small portion of the purchase price comes back to help keep the best efforts of this column going. So thanks a ton – and for being patient.

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013


Contrary to TIME MAGAZINE’s assertion that this was the worst film of 2013 – I find it to be one of the truly great films of 2013. The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer teamed up to make a film that attempts to tell a tale unlike anything we’ve ever really seen before. By casting great actors to play multiple versions of themselves over the course of human existence – to tell a single story that dares to try and understand the big pictures of existence – all while being completely engaging at every level, crossing film genres, tones and provoking you to feel, think and consider the possibilities of existence. Stunningly beautiful, the film is a showdisc for Blu Ray both as visuals and audio go. Fantastic score on this film. Actually every department brought their A-game. That the film didn’t even get nominated for MAKE UP is a crime. That it didn’t win Editing should be a grotesque embarrassment as future generations look back on the myriad of stupid calls from this year’s Oscars. This film is masterful. A film that forces you to fully engage is sometime considered too confusing for a world that pushes distractions at us, but CLOUD ATLAS is a movie you shut the world out for. Draw the blinds, fuck the world – it is just you and this movie. Turn the ringer off, place the screen face down. Turn off the computer and just trust the Wachowskis and Tykwer – these three are in complete control with this film. It is breathtaking and emotional. You’ll be better for the experience. I hunger for a deeper disc – an expansive Blu Ray. The 55 minutes of extras, while absolutely captivating – it’s just a tip of what I want. I want an isolated score track on this Blu. I want the full bells and whistles, but this is going to be a cult success. Maybe not this year, or next… but eventually CLOUD ATLAS will be widely revered and the early fans of this film will beam when we finally get what we’d like with this film.


FINALLY! CRIMEWAVE more beautiful than any of us have really ever had the chance to see this. VHS was it for too long. CRIMEWAVE is the film after EVIL DEAD that Sam Raimi co-wrote with the Coen Brothers – and Sam directed a helluva fun and bizarre film. Be prepared for incredibly fun broad comedy and crazy young Bruce Campbell, the great Brion “I’ll tell ya bout my Mother” James, the great Paul L Smith - remember him as Bluto from Robert Altman’s POPEYE or as Beast Rabban from Lynch’s DUNE… But I choose to think of him as Gideon from the great MASADA mini-series I saw as a kid! They’re all great here! Have fun spotting the Coen’s cameo! Bruce Campbell treats us to an Audio Commentary, as well as shooting straight with us in a 15 minute interview about the film. They also talk to Edward Pressman and Reed Birney – and we get an Alternate Title sequence! If you’re a fan of the people involved – you’re gonna have a great time with this great Blu Ray!


As a TEXAS CHAINSAW fanatic – the opening sequence – which essentially tells the entire story of the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE converted into breathtaking 3D… well that’d be worth it all on its own. Now be sure to know that nothing that follows those titles will look as good or be as smartly iconic as anything in that opening. BUT what does follow is this is a setup for a pretty radical new direction that they might be getting going with this film. The lead girl, Alexandra Daddario is crazy hot. But when she finds out she’s inherited a mansion in a small hickville town in Texas… But by the end of the thing has a pet Leatherface… Suddenly, I can imagine something pretty amazingly fun if they progress that story. It is absolutely not TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, this is a horror thriller adventure – and ya know what? I can watch it. It is absolutely junk. Leatherface in a Carnival… well, this is like a Mighty Joe Young origin story. Because young hot Heather now has an amazingly scary pet monster to call family. I’m kind of morbidly curious to see how bad this can get, but I stupidly hope they make a crazy horror reinvention of the character. But wow, the massive plot holes and just plain character stupidity is awfully hard to get past.

3:10 TO YUMA Criterion Blu

I’ve seen quite a bit of chatter about what the best Elmore Leonard novel adaptation is – and while I do dearly love JACKIE BROWN, let me ask you… Have you seen the original 3:10 TO YUMA with Glenn Ford & Van Heflin? If you saw James Mangold’s remake – you saw a really solid version of the story – and to some they may prefer that version, but in Delmer Daves’ very skilled directing hands, this film just gets electrified by Ford’s performance, which is spectacular. For a man that too many geeks know only as Christopher Reeve’s Pa Kent… My god there was so much more. If you love Glenn in this, by all means check out THE BIG HEAT or GILDA or hell… THE GREEN GLOVE by Rudolph Mate’ is great. And Van Heflin is one of my fave heels throughout cinema, he is great here. However, the real treat for you will be discovering the work of Delmer Daves. I’m quite fond of DESTINATION TOKYO, DARK PASSAGE, BROKEN ARROW, THE RED HOUSE, JUBAL, THE BADLANDERS, A SUMMER PLACE. He’s great, but what’s fun is discovering his screenwriting career which has Busby Berkeley films, PETRIFIED FOREST to something like the great AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER. Daves is a wonderful writer/director – that just doesn’t quite get the credit he deserves. Criterion is doing film geeks a real solid by putting this and JUBAL out this week. The transfer is just perfect. And if you check out Van Heflin’s extended work, you’ve got some outstanding films to enjoy. This is a great jumping off point for you to check out – if you let it, you can discover some really great flicks! There isn’t a ton of extras available, but Criterion did sit down with Elmore Leonard for an interview, as well as Ford’s son and biographer. SO it is more than just a brilliant transfer of a great frickin’ flick!


Delmer Daves first teamed up with Glenn Ford on this western riff on OTHELLO, not directly, but thematically and character wise. It’s a complete western though – Ford is a drifter that Rancher Ernest Borgnine saves and employs – only to suddenly have his hot wife develop the hots for Ford. Now, I love Borgnine, his face just makes me happy. And when the other ranch hand is played by Rod Steiger, … well, the film is real good, let’s leave it at that. There’s joys to be discovered in this film. And BEAUTIFUL in cinemascope Technicolor! Also keep your eye open for Charles BRONSON!!! I would have liked it if Criterion had invested on putting together a little piece on Delmer Daves as an extra on this, but alas this is just a beautiful transfer of this emotionally complex western that plays very well with Shakespeare and tumbleweeds.


First of all – get it. Now – it’s a bit of a lie, yes GHOSTBUSTERS has been beautifully remastered at 4K resolution, but the BluRay is a 1080p scale-down of that. I know some of you have gone the 4K HD TV route – no, you won’t get a native 4K to see, but the quality of the print on this blu-ray is far better than the earlier release, which I wasn’t the happiest about. Now, I wouldn’t throw out that earlier version, because this is coming with no extras. So if you want all the frills, you’ll need to get them from that earlier release. But as a GHOSTBUSTER fan… the film is king and it’s never looked better than this at home before. Sony is releasing a bunch of these 4K discs, but this is the only one that I could really see a vast visual improvement upon. At least with my system. So if you see this, pick it up, but it is the only one I’d double dip on.


Charlie Hunnam plays a writer living in Death Valley because his brother has ruined his life by just being the most obnoxious fucking social media pariah that any brother has ever had. His brother? Chris O’Dowd, the mother’s favorite is an inconsiderate thieving addict/filmmaker that’s continual exploitation of his brother’s life leads them on this particular journey that you’ll discover watching FRANKIE GO BOOM. You will have a trangendered Ron Perlman to be in awe of. And Lizzy Caplan is the girl that gets to try and have sex with Charlie Hunnam. So there’s that awesome too. This is a very funny film where you won’t want to be any of these characters for very long. It is very funny, but man… the shame. I couldn’t have a living brother long that treated me like O’Dowd does Hunnam. He’d have to die. Have to. Just, really, watch and see if you disagree.


Ok – so you look at that cover and you think, John Wayne western, wrong. This film was made in 1940 – and was a contemporary set film in a Dust Bowl community – if you have a working knowledge of 20th Century America – you will be fascinated at that singular aspect of the film. Wayne plays the leader of the community – that welcomes a Dr, played by Charles Coburn, and his daughter who are refugees from Nazi Germany’s occupation of Austria. It is kind of an epic story, while also being a good ol melodrama. The Dust storms are fun and the score by Victor Young is something to single out. Love seeing Wayne in this type of film. Definitely check it out. Interesting pre-WWII American film that is commenting on how the war was affecting people of the time, even as America was dealing with her own problems. Good stuff. Olive did good releasing this title.


Not everyone will dig A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN III – it is probably a bit more Fellini-esque than most could absorb, but Roman Coppola’s latest certainly held my attention, even if it is all absolutely insane and manic and utterly delightful. If you love Swartzman and Bill Murray – you’ll be happy, but really… Charlie Sheen is this character and you’ll definitely have some really bizarre imagery kicking you in the left or right eye from time to time. Isn’t completely successful for me, but sometimes you just need a weird fucking movie that makes you smile and from time to time you put it on to see what else you can take from it. This is that kind of film. The first viewing and second viewing will be different things. They were for me. Can’t wait for anything that Roman makes!

BACK TO 1942 Blu

In some ways, this goes well with THREE FACES WEST, because around the same time Wayne had to deal with the Dust Bowl problem, over in China, a really tremendous natural disaster took place in the Henan province of China – that was compounded by the fact that the Chinese Government was fighting with Japan and within their own government. This is an flat out amazingly epic disaster film – that has Adrian Brody and Tim Robbins playing a part in this great Chinese feature. Can not recommend highly enough and I wish I’d seen this theatrically with an audience, it would have kicked so much ass. Learn how 3 million died.

That’s it for this week – rather than preview next week, I’m getting to writing it, hopefully I’ll get it up by morning. Be back with more soonish.

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