22nd Picks & Peeks of 2013: ROLLING THUNDER, Fernando Di Leo, Zombie Japanese WWII Bio Samurais, Mike Leigh, great Whoopi!!
Hey folks, Harry here… Due to Memorial Day – I absolutely forgot about the Column until I was coming home from the outrageously fun D-Boxing of FURIOUS 6 – when it hit me. SO here we are with this final Picks & Peeks of May 2013. Man time flies by. Some really cool titles this week, as usual the images and titles link over to Amazon where you can learn more or if so motivated to expand your private collection, you can purchase the title which actually helps keep this column coming. SO thank you for helping to make this happen! Now here ya go…
Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
ROLLING THUNDER Blu Ray
Easily one of the most badass fucking cool movies in the history of film. By no means is it just some mindless spectacular. Here we have former Vietnam Prisoners of War having trouble adjusting to life back in the states. In fact, life in the States is sort of a non-stop kick in the nuts for William Devane. Then there’s crazy young Tommy Lee Jones as his P.O.W. buddy… you’ll see more of him later in the film. And it will make you very happy. There’s a good deal of Tarantino’s mental DNA infused into this film. One of his favorite and most impressionable movies – and if you watch it – you get it. Written by Paul Schrader, the film feels like authentic revenge. I can not heap enough love upon Linda Haynes. She plays a girl that in High School, adopted Devane’s P.O.W. status as her personal issue to get behind. And as her character comes more and more into play. I just. I love this woman. About the time they’re shooting at the river – I’m just gaga for her. Helps that I love her in THE NICKEL RIDE and COFFY as well. She’s just one of the great badass chicks. But nobody is a cookie cut character here. Everything has depth and resonance – and even when the film unloads into legend status… Everything is earned. It’s just the best thing John Flynn ever directed – and many directors would love to claim it. It’s just that fucking good! Having a perfect print – this is a film, that once you’ve seen, you’ll get the urge to watch often. This is one to OWN!
DOCTOR WHO: SERIES SEVEN – PART TWO Blu-Ray
Part two of the Seventh season ended with something that just blew my Whovian brain. If you’ve seen it, you know. If you haven’t, but as a Who fan are awaiting the pristine happy of Blu Ray… The Snowmen Christmas episode isn’t on here, which is a bit of a gyp. But I’m just so happy to have these as hard copies, I just don’t entirely trust my Cloud. Ya know? Besides the end ep, I have to say I really loved COLD WAR, which takes place in an 80’s Soviet Nuclear U-Boat – and Sark is so cool in that ep! I also have major love for HIDE – as a fan of THE HAUNTING OF HELL HOUSE and other Haunted House movies – to see the genre spun as only the good Doctor could… well, twas a work of beauty. LOVE THIS SHOW!
NEWTON BOYS Blu Ray
What happens when Richard Linklater hooks up with the story about the most successful bank robbers in U.S. History? You get a story about very precise robbing. They raked in the dollars, not bodies – and some folks craved more action, for me – this was exactly the film I was hoping for which didn’t inflate and exaggerate the reality of what was going on. Loved the “boys” – Matthew McConaughey, Skeet Ulrich, Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio. And I really like Dwight Yoakam’s turn. A better film than it is generally remembered as being. Give it a shot!
DARK SKIES Blu Ray
Ok – so imagine you’ve had a whole shit town of Paranormal and weird fucking shit going on in your suburban house – you’re worrying about trying to keep the lights on. Your job hunt has been fucked – and you come home… happy as hell cuz you finally got a bite, you think things might be alright. You tell your wife, you’re happy – and she basically tells you, “Honey, I think it is Aliens!” - Now in my house, I’d absolutely accept this, because why the fuck not. Not sure why Aliens would stack shit in the kitchen. Lure my kids out of the house at night – and steal all our family photos, but why would ghosts want to do any of that shit. My immediate reaction to mysterious problematic shit going down is to blame the Matmos from BARBARELLA, which I believe in personally. But ALIENS is a perfectly reasonable excuse. And when you go to an ALIENS expect he’ll probably just tell you you’re fucked. They’ve put tags in ya. And this movie is pretty much a NIGHTMARE. I love it, cuz I just catalogue all the phenomenon and wait for it to actually occur in my life so I can happily declare that we have an Alien infestation. Cuz, although it seems pretty terrible, invasive and problematic… it’s better than government agents or satanists. I’m really nervous about the satanists. The film is diverting and fun, but if this is what Aliens do. I love that they’re so OCD about what they’re doing. I mean. What are they doing? We don’t get that answer, but I love trying to figure it out. So curious.
CLEOPATRA 50th Anniversary Blu Ray
TITANIC 1. In most of our lifetimes, we saw the absolute media panic about TITANIC. All the doomsaying, but all of that was nothing compared to the absolute panic that was CLEOPATRA. The story of the making of the film is even more epic than the film itself – which looking at today is just mind boggling. The practical set builds and the 1963 crazy money is clearly seen on screen in a way that absolutely will not fall short of knocking the eyeballs out of your head. This Crown Jewel of the Blu Ray release calendar does not disappoint. What’s nice – is the behind the scenes story is a 2 hour documentary that’s pretty explicit about the insanity. But we can get too caught up in that. I love the film that is here. Elizabeth Taylor’s CLEOPATRA just feels wonderfully old Hollywood – and Rex Harrison is actually my favorite performer in the film. Although man I love Roddy McDowell and Hume Cronyn and Landau too. The magic that is Taylor and Burton though overshadows everything. Blu Ray really captures the absolute opulence on display. They will never make a film quite this way ever again. It’s a shame really. Sometimes indulging the right insane brilliant personalities can lead to something this great. We live in the wake of CLEOPATRA, check out its waves!
FATHER GOOSE Blu Ray
A totally wonderful Cary Grant movie. For some, it is actually THE Cary Grant movie. For me, that’s NORTH BY NORTHWEST, but I get that that’s a different Cary Grant style film. That said, FATHER GOOSE is an even more CARY GRANT movie than many of his most famous roles. It became one of Grant’s fave films. A Slobby Cary Grant is a very awesome thing. But Grant with Leslie Caron and those Schoolgirls is just about the cutest thing Grant ever did. I always found that this film was a favorite movie of many Father/Daughter movie geeks. I completely get it. Grant’s interactions in this movie are wonderful. I’ve always been amused by the folks that felt Grant’s age difference with Leslie Caron to be an impossible block… these are people that have yet to learn that love is the strangest of bedfellows.
STAR CHAMBER Blu Ray
Didn’t get to check out this disc yet, but I’ve ordered it. This was one of the most deceptively marketed films in my childhood. I was absolutely convinced from the marketing that this was a film about what we know today as Trans-Warp Teleportation. This was a complete product of my 70’s and 80’s obsession with science fiction… When it was actually a political thriller – I was only moderately disappointed, because it was actually pretty damn good. You should also know that my parents and I saw OUTLAND maybe 10 times at the Drive-In in 1981 and knowing STAR CHAMBER was directed by Peter Hyams had me convinced this was going to be something sci-fi. Also – you have to love all films with Don Calfa – that’s kind of a rule. The lead was Michael Douglas, who at this time was just a fave actor of my parents, and the always great Hal Holbrook is absolutely chilling in this. As a film, it actually feels like a sequel to MAGNUM FORCE – and at the very least – that’s a great film to watch after STAR CHAMBER! Check it out!
JUMPIN JACK FLASH Blu Ray
I really do love JUMPIN JACK FLASH, for me – it’s one of those computer-centric plot movies, where I was kind of introduced to the notion of people contacting each other via computers with code names… Directed by Penny Marshall in 1986 and starring Whoopi Goldberg, long before she became talk show material, when she was a very edgy performaer and she’s terrific. LOVE HER SO MUCH IN THIS MOVIE!!! She’s in a spy, thriller, comedy with Carol Kane, James Belushi and JONATHAN PRYCE!!! A surprising bunch of folks I know seemingly missed this movie – but at least my early computer leading to adventre seeking brain loved this movie. I could absolutely imagine working with spies through a computer. Wonder how long till it gets remade.
LIFE IS SWEET Criterion Blu Ray
Saw this my Sophmore year of College and was my first Mike Leigh film. It was also the first Lead Role experience with Jim Broadbent, who I’d seen as a character actor in flicks like TIME BANDITS and BRAZIL, but here… here he showed me a performance that marked him as someone to try to never miss. The chemistry between him and Alison Steadman is just electric in this film. One of the most accessible of Mike Leigh’s films. If you love SECRETS & LIES, you’ll love this as well. Love how Stephen Rea sets things going so perfectly. I’m going to save a whole bunch of discovery for you with this movie. Criterion has picked another jewel for you to check out with this title. Here you get a feature commentary by Mike Leigh and a 1991 Audio interview!
THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN Blu Ray
I was raised to love THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN. I mean… it stars Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr and is the appropriately fucking amazingly bizarre film that they absolutely have the joy of conveying so perfectly. It’s this amazingly new thing, there really wasn’t much like it before – but after you could see pieces of Monty Python weirdness – in a bizarre Terry Southern flavored proto-state. But once you’ve seen THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN, I believe it officially qualifies you for a special cult of people that know quotes, and when you find someone to speak MAGIC CHRISTIAN with. It’s a special person. They’re cool. The cast is mind meltingly cool – and they’re all fucking weird. It’s really quite lovely. The basic plot. SO IRRESISTABLE. Peter Sellers is the richest man in the world and he adopts a homeless Ringo Starr as his son – and they go on adventures. WHY THERE WERE NOT 150 OF THESE MOVIES MADE IS BEYOND ME! But the marketing world didn’t exist that could’ve made this film super ultra bananas popular. It was just… too weird. As a result, to this Austin boy, weird is fine by me. Btw, Terry Southern wrote DR. STRANGELOVE… so really, pay attention. This is one to watch. And perhaps memorize personal parts for future use, when they will most certainly come in handy. This is like having a Vonnegut novel mixed with LITTLE ANNIE FANNIE strips in the syrup that bastes your brain. Nobody is cool enough for this movie, we just watch in awe and say, “That’s cool!”
DEAD MINE Blu Ray
On the copy they sent me of DEAD MINE last week, there was a sticker declaring this movie as starring the star of THE RAID: REDEMPTION and FURIOUS 6… and so yeah, I had to see what Joe Taslim was up to. Now – there’s a large group of you reading this column, that if you watch this, you’re gonna bad mouth me. And I’m totally fine with that, because you’ve probably got your head up your ass. You see, this isn’t a great film. Cinema need not apply. This is about a film, where some mercenaries are hired to help some westerners check out an old “dutch mine” that allegedly was found on an ancient map as having gold. But that shit is a total carrot, a lie of a carrot. There ain’t no gold and nobody thought there was. This is about ancient mad Japanese bio-engineering to create an invincible fighting samurai spirit army out of starving Japanese soldiers, and to enslave as eternal sub-human monster men the prisoners of war… And this shit is going on in a fucking secret mountain base connected by old mine shafts and ventilation tubes – and it is all kinds of awesomely funky. Could use some editing and a much better soundtrack. But this is my kind of sloppy funky awesome cool. Joe is nowhere near as awesome as when he whupped Tyrese & Han’s ass in the underground of London. But he is plenty cool. Wait till you see the funky awesome make up! It’s old school. And it strikes me happy.
SHOOT FIRST DIE LATER Blu Ray
Directed by Fernando Di Leo means – OWN. At least in my house. After a series of QT Fests, where Quentin Tarantino repeatedly whupped our asses with 35mm prints of Di Leo’s films, I have found myself completely happy to discover each new attraction. I’ve seen a ton now. The original title translates to A DIRTY COP – and this story of a young Officer on the take, whose father – lower down in the ranks – discovers is on the take… Well Di Leo has a helluva hook and he’s not going to let you down. Only copy I’d seen of this title prior to Blu Ray was something so many generations from anything approaching modern bad YouTube quality. It was an impressionistic experience watching this film the first time I saw it. But now. Wow. Raro Video’s Blu Ray is just beautiful – from the slipcase art to the actual cover of the Blu. Then the movie, it’s just a great crime drama. I love Di Leo’s hatred for the Mob. Discover this title and be very happy, hope Quentin has a 35 print to show in Austin someday!
Well folks – that’s it for this month in DVD & Blu. We kick off June with A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD, WARM BODIES, IDENTITY THIEF, MAD MAX Trilogy Blu, MIDWAY Blu, THE SHADOW Blu, EARTHQUAKE Blu, Alfred Hitchcock Essentials Collection Blu, DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY & RACE WITH THE DEVIL Blu, ODD COUPLE Blu, CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON Blu, ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE Blu, THE LONE RANGER: COLLECTOR’S EDITION, SHAUN OF THE DEAD/HOTT FUZZ Double feature Blu, SADAKO Blu 3D, DANIEL CRAIG 007 COLLECTION Blu, THE HORDE, SCUM Blu, DER GRAF MIT DER EISERNEN FAUST Blu, DIE EISERNE MASKE Blu and CARNIVAL STORY dvd. OH – and did you know you could pre order this:
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS 3D Blu Ray
Yeah – it’s available for pre-order – and I can’t wait to habitually watch this in 3D in my living room. Ridiculously excited about this disc!
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