Hey folks, Harry here with the 23rd week of PicksAndPeeks in 2013, we’ve almost reached the halfway point of the year! And this week is a doozy. There’s some really outstanding titles hitting and these first two are absolute must discovers for a lot of folks out there. If you like these columns, be sure to click on the above link and discover our iProduct app which collects a decade of these columns in an easily searchable format that you carry with you everywhere. It’s nifty. And as always, the images and links take you to Amazon where you can learn more on the title or even purchase it, which allows you to help keep this column going, as the profits go to keep this column moving forward. So thank you! Now – let’s get to a great week of releases!!!
Tuesday, June 4th, 2013
DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY / RACE WITH THE DEVIL Blu Ray
Ok – so you love THE FAST & FURIOUS series… or maybe you just don’t get it. Don’t worry – for some of us – our love of fast car movies go back to folks like Robert Mitchum with THUNDER ROAD, but for many my age, it begins in the Seventies with a host of just outstanding car culture cinema. But DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY was a huge Box Office success – and it’s easy to see why. Peter Fonda was at the top of his game, Susan George has an incandescent slutty hot streak that men were drawn to in droves. These two have such an amazingly particular chemistry that is all their own, and when stuffed in a car with Adam Roarke… and driving like a devil with his ass on fire… it’s just a fan-fucking-tastic film. And all real stunts with real gravity. It’s great. Also – the great Vic Morrow is the Cop in the sky trying to stop their insanity! Great film. – Then you have RACE WITH THE DEVIL which is a great almost great movie. Warren Oates and Peter Fonda are teamed up on a vacation in an RV with a Dirt Bike strapped to it – when Fucking Satanists Target them… and shit gets real crazy. The film doesn’t really fully commit to the supernatural aspects like it could – but it was trying to make a supernatural STAGECOACH type of thing and I dig the effort – and besides – any Warren Oates film is worth owning. If you love him in this, you owe it to yourself to discover TWO LANE BLACKTOP immediately!!! Again – all real stunts and vehicular insanity. Thanks to this being a SHOUT! Release, we’ve got John Hough commentary on DMCL – along with interviews with Fonda and George. With RWTD, the producer Paul Maslansky and Lara Parker do a commentary – with a Peter Fonda interview ta boot! This is a great buy at $15!
ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE Blu Ray
Ok – now as great as DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY and RACE WITH THE DEVIL are… ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE is just at a whole other level. If you loved the great VANISHING POINT… This film is about as complete different from that film, but I’ve always loved them equally. They’re great films about a man on a road with a mission. In this case, it isn’t a car, but an Electra Glide motorcycle and Robert Blake astride her. He’s a cop others poke fun of, cuz… well, he’s a tiny man with big ambitions. He also seems a bit bugnuts to me, but when this Motorcycle Cop gets a case that promotes him to Detective and he is suddenly faced with all manners of corruption. Well, you’ve just got to let this obscure masterpiece play out. Trust me, it fucking rocks! There’s more soul in this film than most anything we see today. Director James Guercio provides a commentary and an introduction. SHOUT! has another great release!
MAD MAX TRILOGY ( MAD MAX / THE ROAD WARRIOR / MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME ) Blu Ray
Now if you want the best films to ever leave rubber on asphalt, you need look no further than these movies. The original MAD MAX trilogy – and I love that each film in this series was quite a bit of reinvention. MAD MAX is the story of a cop and his family living on the precipice of the apocalypse, which isn’t happening in this film. Roads have become terrifying stretches of death & rape & cruelty. Mel Gibson is just amazing in this first flick. THE ROAD WARRIOR is a film that many of the directors I know consider to be the greatest action film ever made. It’s just many levels past everything else. The mere fact that computers exist means that nothing we see in our lives past this will pale, because here… it’s real. That I first saw this film at the Drive In – then about a zillion times on VHS with every friend I’ve ever known. The original Blu of this was one of my show discs. When I showed it to Eli Roth on Blu he decided Projection was THE home theater choice. It is amazing. This is a different release disc than that one. For one, the title on the film is MAD MAX 2. That said it has the same commentary from previous releases and seems to be the same print, though I don’t remember that title on the existing Blu. Just checked it out – and it did have MAD MAX 2 on that print. Strange how memory gets hazy on all these releases. Then there’s MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME – which is the only title here that has never been released before. Now for a confession. MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME was always a disappointment for me at the time of release. For some reason at the time, it played sillier than it does to me today. Now it is very in keeping with Apocalyptic Fairy Tale that Miller was building. Watching MMBT on Blu was an absolute blast. At the time, Tina Turner felt like stunt casting, now – out of the era, her casting is a pure joy. She’s great. I also love the pathos to MASTER BLASTER – and the Thunderdome fight itself is a real blast – love the reveal on Blaster and Max’s soul when he sees him. The print on THUDERDOME is better than I’ve ever seen it, which is natural to watching things on Blu. It all comes packaged in a Tin Can, with a regular Blu Ray case inside with all 3 Discs. While we haven’t heard any news about another release next year in support of George Miller’s FURY ROAD – I wouldn’t be surprised. There’s a mountain of extras that could be assembled for a deluxe ROAD WARRIOR release – so – if you have the first two, I’d recommend locating the stand alone MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME – if you just gotta have it – and you do. Warners would be fools not to assemble super editions in conjunctions with the new film.
THE SHADOW Blu Ray
I’m actually a fan of Russell Mulcahy’s THE SHADOW with Alec Baldwin’s SHADOW versus John Lone’s Shiwan Khan. With Tim Curry, Ian McKellen and Peter Boyle in the supporting cast… Well, they’re delightful. I also happen to have been infatuated with the lovely Penelope Ann Miller (blame DePalma) and she looks stunning in THE SHADOW. Now, make no bones about it, THE SHADOW is a fun pulpy film, but it could be so much better. I’ve always wanted to see Sam Raimi’s SHADOW. (Yes, I’ve seen DARK MAN smartasses) But really – if you want to truly love this character, then you owe it to yourself to listen to Orson Welles’ old SHADOW Radio show. There was always a bit too much of a wink to Alec’s Lamont for me… but I kinda love this film the same way I love George Pal’s DOC SAVAGE. It’s only going to take one great filmmaker to crack the PULP curse – to show Hollywood the way, and my money is now upon Shane Black’s DOC SAVAGE project to be the one to do it!
SCUM: Remastered Edition Blu Ray
Alan Clarke’s SCUM is a film for folks that love IF… or CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Made in 1979 with a very young Ray Winstone as the titular SCUM, thrown into reform school. You will watch as his Carlin becomes harder and harder by everything this “school” sends at him. However, you’ll come away from the film absolutely loving a kid named Archer played brilliantly by the young Mick Ford. For me, he’s the star. He has a mind and a sense of self. This place is meant to break him. This is a very brutal film – and just tremendously affecting. It is a real treat to get this great classic of British Film over here. Beautiful print!
A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD Blu-Ray
This is a hair better than the previous film, but they really need to dial down the crazy CG a bit. I just don’t buy into the story as a DIE HARD story. Giving McClane a sidekick to talk to the entire film, gets rid of his brilliant commentary to himself. That this becomes a SHOOT OUT AT CHERNOBYL film… I also love the bad guys just spraying radiation begone gas – so everything is ok now. The film is all kinds of stupid, but… and this is the thing. Your success with this film will be based on your love for Bruce Willis, your hate will depend on your respect for the series. Me – once Renny Harlin came aboard, I understood that quality will vary greatly upon this series, but that… at my heart, I really do love Willis doing these… I just really wish they were much better. I wish that Fox treated this like a jewel, not like a cash cow. I mean, we’ve seen what a great filmmaker making a James Bond film can do for that franchise. Do they really have such lame expectations that they continue to get talent that cranks it out, but never elevates it. The Extended Cut is a bit harder, but I wouldn’t say it greatly elevates anything. But if you gotta have em all, this won’t be the worst of the lot.
WARM BODIES Blu Ray
Nicholas Hoult’s best performance to date is as a Zombie. This is Romeo & Juliet as a Zombie Apocalypse movie. Only, this film is going to show you what brings the walkers back. This is the story that turns the tide, that let’s humanity win through. Not only that, it will introduce to you why Zombies love brains so much… and, if that’s what eating brains does… It explains why Lecter is such a genius! That this really bizarre concept works is no surprise, Jonathan Levine’s THE WACKNESS was tremendous. In many ways this is even better. I like Teresa Palmer, but I wish she was better in this, I just didn’t quite attach with her, but that’s probably cuz I could hear “R’s” thoughts, but not Julie’s. The film is kind of relentlessly adorable, give it a shot with the zombie lover of your choice. It’s so fun to be eaten.
IDENTITY THIEF Blu Ray
This film grated me like cheese. I felt the pains of a thousand cuts that I couldn’t source. The trailers kept me out of the theater – and when I got sent the Blu, I put it off to the last moment – and even then I wish I had responded with my gut. I don’t want to be mean about this film, it simply wasn’t for me. That’s no slight, there’s great films and shit films that I react oddly about, but I could tell I wasn’t going to enjoy this early on. Even if I have liked Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman separately in very funny things. That said I’ve several friends that relished laughing at this. It hit my groan button more often. And it’s impossible to talk that groan into a giggle. Oil to my water. It was actually worse than I expected.
ADVENTURE TIME: The Complete First Season Blu Ray
When Mondo did their ADVENTURE TIME show – I was very much that guy staring and wondering… WHY? Since then though, I’d made a point to catch an odd episode here and there… and after going through this and the next season’s Blu rays, I’ve realized something. First, the show is beautiful. In 1080p on a screen the size of mine, this two fists and feet of awesome does not stop. The breathless imagination of the show is just wonderful. ADVENTURE TIME is Dali on Acid, it’s Miyazaki on Shrooms – and… then there’s the Calvin & Hobbes gone absolutely looney tuney that has me so so so soooooo happy! All 286 minutes fit beautifully upon a single disc – and the show has seriously never looked better – even on CARTOON NETWORK HD, it is truly Algebraic!
ADVENTURE TIME: The Complete Second Season Blu Ray
Fans have been tortured and teased with episodes here and there on release, but these two season on Blu are just a whole new way to evaluate. Watch five episodes and then watch a Miyazaki Blu. It is amazing who well the comparison works. I want the third season now. Finn & Jake are such a joy – and it doesn’t hurt that I have a friend that looks exactly like Jake, if Jake was a Human, of course I have no evidence of my friend’s humanity – he’s often sniffing about where he should. THE SILENT KING is one of my favorite episodes now, if we can just get the next 3 seasons as quickly as possible, we will then just demand many more seasons approved so we can sleep at night. Every episode has commentary and Pendleton Ward introduces us to the mathematical wizards behind this wondrous show. In many ways, it’s just the purest happy sauce there is.
MIDWAY Blu Ray
MIDWAY was that first taste of revenge after Pearl Harbor – and it was a resounding ass whupping. Allies were outnumbered by a factor of four to one. This was the defeat that the Japanese never fully recovered from. Now I enjoy this film greatly, but it feels a bit docu-drama-esque to me. But with a cast like Charlton Heston, Robert Mitchum, Toshiro Mifune, Glenn Ford, Hal Holbrook, Robert Wagner, Cliff Robertson and friggin’ Henry Fonda… well, I am fine with it being a bit historic. Can’t wait to check out this Blu Ray as soon as possible!
EARTHQUAKE Blu Ray
This movie is the major reason I won’t ever move to Los Angeles. I saw this at an impressionable age, and I simply associated Earthquakes with Los Angeles. John Williams score is fantastic and Albert Whitlock’s matte paintings and trickery make this film fantastic. However, nothing your home theater sound system can ever do with recreate the awe-inspiring Sensuround screening that closed the Alamo Drafthouse’s original location down. What a magnificently tragic but awesome night that was. There was a dangerous amount of sound on hand for the key rumble sequences. TURN IT UP as loud as it can go.
ODD COUPLE Blu Ray
Just about as perfect a film bit of casting as will ever be done. Jack Lemmon opposite Walter Matthau – ANY DAY OF THE WEEK! Neil Simon’s play took on a whole new level of awesome when these two were cast in the film. I know some of us grew up with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman as these characters, but in the same way that Altman’s MASH is a genius above and beyond the TV Show – the TV SHOW is the Icon. In both cases that’s sad, if you love the show – you owe it to yourself to discover where that came from. So great! Lovely transfer of this great film!
THE LONE RANGER: COLLECTOR’S EDITION DVD
If you didn’t grow up with THE LONE RANGER on TV – there’s a part of me that feels you must have been abused. I seriously can not imagine not growing up with THE LONE RANGER in syndication… and all the old people I knew in life, swore by it. I watched the first dozen or so episodes with Father Geek today, who was glued to the TV in 1949 when the show began – and he claims to have never missed an episode… and I wouldn’t doubt him. He was also watching Hopalong Cassidy every day. As a kid, I only ever got to see the Color episodes, as the Black & Whites were not as popular I suppose, but man. Watching these early early episodes was just tremendous. These were made with the original creator of The Lone Ranger editing and supervising story – and it shows. I’d never seen Tonto & the Lone Ranger as children, when he saved Tonto’s life and gave him a horse to find his father and they were forever declared Kemosabe – but holy shit that was cool. Watching The Lone Ranger save Silver from the mighty buffalo and nurse Silver back to health. Frankenstein as Butch Cavendish, DeForest Kelly getting slapped around… SO GOOD. For $149.99 you get nearly a 100 hours of thrilling tales of yesteryear. Excellent Father’s Day material! And greatyou’re your kids! The code of honor that the Lone Ranger follows is GOOD STUFF! GREAT PROGRAMMING! Most Americans could do with a listen. I got to meet Clayton Moore at a couple of conventions as a kid, in the days when he wasn’t allowed to wear the blue shirt or the mask, so he wore the original Red Shirt and a pare of Sunglasses that emulated the mask. Such a great guy! Amazing how many classic era actors I was recognizing through these episodes. This is the canon. Everything else is imitation.
SADAKO 3D Blu Ray
Ok – this isn’t great – but it’s great fun, by the time the crazy shit starts crawling out the well, you’ll be real glad you will never sleep again. They’re freaky and stop motion and they don’t move like real and THAT IS EXCELLENT! The entire first half of the movie is crazy stupid goofy Scooby Doo shit – and through that we learn that we have a Super Psychic Girl who the girl in the Well wants to possess and unleash whupass upon the world – and this has suddenly become a superhero horror film – like RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3 – and while there’s perhaps 7 fistfuls of dumb, it’s a kind of dumb I like – and the 3D is actually CREEPY – especially if you’re watching by yourself! But, nowhere near the film that THE RING was – but that was so long ago with this film, that getting silly and fun is actually right for this. The YouTube suicide video that kills you if you see it is CRAZY. But if you go in with the right fun mindset, you could have a blast.
AT LONG LAST LOVE Blu Ray
Ok – aggravating? Yeah. This was supposed to come out today – and at the last minute it suddenly is listed as Currently Unavailable. TORTURE! This is Peter Bogdanovich’s tribute to the 1930’s musical which starred Burt Reynolds, Cybill Shepherd and Madeline Kahn. This is one of those films I’ve always wanted to see, but haven’t had a chance to see yet. I’ve seen clips on YouTube – and yeah, I hear it wasn’t entirely successful in the 70’s, but if there’s one thing I know for a fact – that’s that a whole lot of critics had their head up there asses in the seventies, because the unherald treasures from that era that we’ve discovered as a film culture since about 1994 – well it’s told us those that were writing couldn’t see the forest for the trees. It’s the same at any time, films grow in estimation over time. Hell, somebody loves every movie ever made out there for their own particularly unique reasons. That’s the joy of it. The wow of it. And this is one I have to have. If this becomes available – I’m getting it instantly. WHERE CAN I GET ONE!!!????
Next week we’ll be looking at OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL 3D Blu Ray, HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS Blu 3D, LILO & STITCH Blu, SNITCH Blu, ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE Blu, ENTER THE DRAGON 40th Anniversary Blu, NINJA III: THE DOMINATION Blu, WILD STRAWBERRIES Criterion Blu, DRIVEN Blu, CLIP, WRONG Blu, TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA Blu, JOE KIDD Blu, SNEAKERS Blu, HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE Blu, A LABOR OF LOVE and that’s about it! Till then, keep watching movies – there’s amazing things to discover!