Hey folks, Harry here with the 21st Picks & Peeks of 2013! I was late with last week’s column which can be found HERE! You don’t want to miss it, there’s some great titles there. But this week had a bunch of really great titles. As usual the images and links take you to AMAZON for the title in question where you can learn more or purchase the item for home delivery! If you do, a small portion of the price goes to help keep the best efforts of this column moving forward. Thanks – and now, let’s get right to it:
Tuesday, May 21st, 2013
MEDIUM COOL Criterion Blu Ray
Haskell Wexler’s MEDIUM COOL is one of those legendary films. Wexler is one of the greatest DPs ever, if he had only ever shot DAYS OF HEAVEN, but he did far more than that. He decided to make a film set in and amongst the turbulent 1968 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION in Chicago and actually anticipated a riot and put his actors and crew in the midst to capture the vital backdrop of chaos he needed. Robert Forster plays a television cameraman who discovers some intrigue as growing unrest seems to indicate something bad is going to happen beginning in the black ghettos of the city, the government might be involved in something – and then he throws his actors at the 68’s Convention. Boggles the brain. Criterion has again done a great job – filling this disc with goodies, here look and see:
• New 4K digital restoration, approved by director Haskell Wexler
• Two audio commentaries
• Look Out Haskell, It's Real!, a 55 minute documentary about the making of
• New interview with Wexler
• Excerpts from Sooner or Later, a documentary by Cronin about Harold Blankenship
• Original theatrical trailer
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic and programmer Thomas Beard
BEAUTIFUL CREATURES Blu Ray
Richard Lagravenese is responsible for this TWILIGHT-like story of High School romance with a supernatural flavor. Set in a Southern town of Gatlin, a small town that still recreates the Civil War victory their fore-fathers fought against the Yankees. The town has a great deal of banned books and a holier than thou society that seems to just make life intolerable. Now – the film is insufferable for my wife, but the honey soaked accents and stylized manner of dialogue makes the film absolutely silly fun to watch. The lead guy, Alden Ehrenreich, is effortlessly charming and more than a little flabbergasted by what he’s in the midst of – but he’s basically the Kristen Stewart character dating the 15 going on 16 Alice Englert who happens to be a Caster, which is the acceptable terminology for the derogatory term, WITCH. Yup, this has to do with witches – and it’s all incredibly silly, but I had fun with it. I understand the book series is far better, but this is just not to be taken seriously. Love Jeremy Irons in just about everything, his scene in the church was grand.
THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN Blu Ray
This is a true story set in 1946 Texarkana, Arkansas – when a serial killed killed 5 people… and this is that story. Ben Johnson plays the Texas Ranger that came in to catch the bastard. The film has a narrator that sets the scenes and the time. His narration has a fatality to it that just makes everything seem extra creepy. But this is a lover’s lane killer and the film is creepy – mainly because we don’t get many period serial killer stories on film. SHOUT! Did a great job putting this out. Oh and did I mention that this is from the director of THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK? Which fucking rules too? Well now I have. Wait till you see the death by trombone. SO FUCKED UP.
THE LAST STAND Blu Ray
Jee-Woon Kim’s THE LAST STAND is the first starring vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger – for a very long time. It seemed to have a disconnect at the box office, but I hope you give it a chance at home. It’s a small town on the edge of the Mexico border in Arizona. Eduardo Noriega is an escaped drug cartel leader and part-time racing enthusiast who has a car that can go 200mph and enough paid for corruption to make good his escape… only… Arnold is between him and freedom south of the border. This isn’t a serious film and that by itself tends to confuse some people into thinking it is a bad action film, when it was very much an action comedy – what’d you think you’d get with Peter Stormare, Johnny Knoxville, Luis Guzman and that doesn’t count the more serious Forest Whitaker. The reason for the humor comes from the small town folks that are just kookier than most city people. They mainly get company in jail that’s a tad intoxicated. There’s a tad of ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, but as a small town here. Check it out – Arnold is back and this is just stage one.
TRUE BLOOD: 5th Season
Give me that old time Vampire religion! This season was perhaps the weirdest yet as we get into the Vampire Bible – and whatever the hell is going on with BILL at the end of this season… is like, WHAT THE FUCK! Seems season six is heading into the territory of humans hunting the vampires to death and there being an underground railroad type of thing. Not sure if I’m a fan of that – cuz this season was taking us to a really potentially powerful arc with Mr Compton. A few of my favorite characters bite it this season, but the show is still silly and sexy and fun to watch. Love watching these to recharge and get fired up for the new season. The set has commentaries, enhanced viewing modes, additional info on the Authority – all manners of stuff. There is not a nudity mode, which would just put all the sex together. And what is Andy Belfour gonna do this season besides change diapers all day long?
THE BURNING Blu Ray
I love Summer Camp horror because while I was at Summer Camp as a kid – this genre was kicking ass. I missed this in 1981, but discovered it on this great SHOUT! Blu Ray! It’s just a really great legend about the meanest bastard that ever worked at a summer camp that got really fucked up from a prank – and has gone crazy killing kids at camps ever since. The story to scare the campers, but then it starts happening – and I highly approve of this slasher flick. It does it old school and well. By the end I was very curious to see how it would play out. HIGHLY RECOMMEND for horror fans of practical effects and teenage t&a. OH – and the cast is kinda crazy! Young asshole at camp Jason Alexander is kind of amazing. Holly Hunter is so adorable. Fisher Stevens is a kid here too. Brian Backer reminds me a lot of Jeff Mahler. Give this a view, you’ll see it again I bet.
LEGO BATMAN: THE MOVIE – DC SUPER HEROES UNITE Blu Ray
I had a perfectly good time watching this. It has the LEGO gags, but it also works as a big Arkham breakout – Lex & Joker team up – and the giant robot in Gotham is kinda really cool. Superman is a total dick. Robin might be in the closet. And Lego Martian Manhunter is something I want. It also comes with that nifty Clark Kent exposed Lego Figure (SPOILER). The use of not only John Williams’ SUPERMAN theme, not only Danny Elfman’s BATMAN theme, but the old Lynda Carter WONDER WOMAN theme music… well it’s really and truly geeky as hell. They fill with superhero extras! Very good value – and a toy!
MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO Blu Ray
I have a great deal of affection for anyone that loves Totoro. And to get to ride in the Catbus… how cool would that be. Hayao Miyazaki’s just beautiful masterpiece is on Blu and I couldn’t be happier. It has the excellent English version and the even better Original Japanese with subtitles – then they’ve got extras where they take you to the exact locations that they modeled the countryside of Totoro upon. You hear Miyazaki ruminate upon his inspiration for the story, the characters and how Catbus came about. The entire time you’re watching this Blu Ray – you’ll be smiling. So great! Beautiful transfer.
SIDE EFFECTS Blu Ray
I just didn’t care much for Soderbergh’s SIDE EFFECTS. Not sure what it was exactly, but the film never really engaged me. And I just couldn’t shake the fear factor with drugs as seeming a bit REEFER MADNESS. Sure these are experimental drugs that mess with your brain, but I don’t really seem to like anybody in the film – and I usually like Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Just not in this futuro-thriller involving pharmacological fun.
HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE Blu Ray
Pure magical Miyazaki – HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE is his second most successful film in terms of financial box office, and while sometimes that can single bland or more ordinary… not so with Miyazaki, who adapts this work into something where throughout the film, you’re surprised and delighted by what comes. How Miyazaki uses CG… well, it’s just beautiful and makes an impossible animation nightmare – something that we just fall in love with and don’t even thing about. This is a real marvel and Disney’s done a great job with these two Miyazaki Blus – giving us correct language options – and extras to make us smile. Now – if they’d just get all the others out on blu! Though few feel as awesomely magical as HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE – the imagination on display shames most everyone.
PARKER Blu Ray
Finally Parker is Parker at least in name. And Jason Statham plays Westlake’s Stark’s Parker just as you would imagine he would… which works. Jason can play badass professional thief and do the splits before breakfast. Since it is a Parker story, you know he’s going to get fucked over, left for dead, and then… BEN-HUR assuredly, he will get back what is his and vengeance will fucking hurt! Favorite little role that Jennifer Lopez has done in a while, she’s pretty great. Michael Chiklis is the dumbfuck that crossed Parker – and Nick Nolte is just scary on film these days. That Statham tries to imitate a Texan in this – well it tickled me. I never believe him. Heh.
ULTIMATE GANGSTER Collection: Classics ( LITTLE CAESAR / THE PUBLIC ENEMY / THE PETRIFIED FOREST / WHITE HEAT ) Blu Ray
Picking up this collection is a great thing, you save 10 bucks by getting the films in the package, but in addition you get the hour and forty-five minute documentary, PUBLIC ENEMIES: THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE GANGSTER FILM, but really – this is about those four films. I love Edward G Robinson’s LITTLE CAESAR, but it is the film in the worst shape – the print scanned had damage and a costly digital massage was not applied. We do deserve a perfect LITTLE CAESAR and Warner should do everything in their power to make that happen. To learn the proper use of grapefruit at breakfast, you must know THE PUBLIC ENEMY where you’ll not only get the great James Cagney filled with vinegar… but the lovely dame of dames, Jean Harlow. If only she had lived much longer than she did. Love her. Then with PETRIFIED FOREST you get Bogart just being fucking amazing – with Leslie Howard and Bette Davis – and it’s just great. Then the most modern of the gangster flicks on here is WHITE HEAT – which is just top of the world ma. It’s the best transfer of all of them – and this film is so great. The performance by Cagney, just the absolute essence of LEGENDARY. Cody Jarrett will never be forgotten! You’ve never seen these films look better at home and besides – you also get some cartoons!!! How cool! Now – just release all the other Warner Gangster and Crime films on Blu!
CAPTAIN AMERICA Blu Ray
How far has MARVEL come? 23 years ago they had Albert Pyun making CAPTAIN AMERICA with Matt Salinger as Cap, Ronny Cox as President, who as a kid saw Captain America save everyone whilst strapped to that missile before being frozen. There’s also Ned Beatty and Darren McGavin. The very notion of J.D. Salinger’s boy playing Captain America is just… amazing. That Blu Ray fully makes this film as cheap looking as it was obviously shot. I’ll be honest – I can’t really watch this one anymore. I would just prefer to watch Joe Johnston’s. Or even the old Serial. But this is just – such a painful reminder of how much of my life I wasted hoping that this would be the coolest thing ever… and it is SO. NOT. THAT!
THE ABC’S OF DEATH Blu Ray
As a horror fan – this is a sampler plate of directors and styles that are not adhering to a style guide, they had free reign to define their letter as they would. The result is something a bit hallucinatory. There’s more fun than boredom here. Sick shit like you might not be able to take, and some cartoons too. Fun for the whole twisted sick family. You’re not… NORMAL, are you? Prove it.
THIS GIRL IS BADASS Blu Ray
Ok – look at that cover. Realize this is the girl from CHOCOLATE, which just kicked unholy ass – and the action in this is right there. Just as great – and she’s a bike messenger being used by the mob – and of course everything gets completely and inexplicably fucked up and suddenly – people need to get utterly destroyed by Jeeja Yanin – she’d kick your ass – and it’d be awesome. If you respect a woman that can hand you individually each and every one of your teeth after kicking them out of your face – then this is your dream girl. THIS GIRL IS BADASS.
GAIKING: THE MOVIE COLLECTION
For my entire extended childhood – I have wanted to see live action, brilliant quality giant mecha versus giant monsters done to perfection and I believe firmly we’re about to get that with PACIFIC RIM, but to understand the mania – enjoy these 330 minutes of Gaiking badassery. Now – I would love the whole series, but these 3 movies which were cobbled together from the series gives you a wonderful taste of just what a badass Gaiking was. SHOUT! Is our geek loving friend! Bless.
A COMMON MAN Blu Ray
Ben Kingsley is seen at the beginning of this movie placing a series of bombs around Colombo, Sri Lanka – and you just get a sick feeling in your stomach. As he makes the call to the police alerting them to his plot – you just know things are going to go badly… I mean, this is Gandhi and he’s back and he’s pissed off! Ben Cross is the officer in charge of the situation which has the city held hostage by an unknown terrorist. The film eventually loses momentum in the final act, but I enjoyed the film. You may as well.
OOGA BOOGA DVD
Charles Band gives us Stacy Keach, Karen Black and OOGA BOOGA – how can you not want to see! I actually own one of these dolls that I bought at auction – and the masturbation shower scene just has to be experienced… because it’s crazy. It’s campy as hell, of course – it is very racially charged, but funny too. Fun party flick.
Next week, I’ll be looking at DOCTOR WHO Series Seven Part Two Blu, CLEOPATRA Blu, DARK SKIES, ROLLING THUNDER Blu, FATHER GOOSE Blu, LORE, THE STAR CHAMBER Blu, THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN Blu, DARK COMMAND Blu, NEWTON BOYS Blu, FILE ON THELMA JORDON Blu, THE GRASS IS GREENER Blu, CHASING PAPI Blu, BLOWING WILD Blu, THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH Blu Ray, LADY FROM LOUISIANA, IN OLD CALIFORNIA Blu and THE BIRDS Blu. Till next Tuesday then, enjoy the movies!