Harry's 24th Picks & Peeks of 2013: Ninjas, Snitches, Manson, Ingmar Bergman, Disney Aliens & Atlanteans
Hey folks, Harry here... There's some fun stuff this week again! This first title is so awesome, I insist that y'all give it a shot - especially if you have a love for the ridiculous! As usual all the links & pics take you to Amazon where you can learn more on the title, or you can purchase it, which helps to support the updates of this column in its best interests! So thank you. Also, if you haven't checked out the App for iDevices - check it out at PicksAndPeeks.com!!! Now, let's talk ninjas!
Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
NINJA III: THE DOMINATION Blu Ray
Might be becoming a fave “what the fuck” flicks to show folks on Blu Ray. I’d seen this in the 80’s upon release, but it was a drive-in and my memory was hazy at best when I got this Blu – but once we have a Ninja on a golf course – and then the helicopter and the… that shootout?!?!?! The film truly establishes Ninjas as being the baddest mutherfuckers on the planet earth – and they all apparently have Wolverine healing abilities… might just be that, “Ain’t got time to bleed” sort of power – but damn. You can’t kill a ninja – even a hot aerobic instructor possessed with a Ninja’s spirit is IMPOSSIBLE to defeat. This has the great Sho Kosugi doing what he does absolutely best… which is be an awesome Ninja! If you know the film – you’ve most likely not seen it ever look this good. And that’s important when hysterically laughing and pointing at things on the screen… which happens a lot… Lucinda Dickey’s hair is amazing.
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL Blu Ray
OK – I’m on record for loving what Raimi has done with OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL and I’m staying with that. When I watched my OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL BluRay 3D – which is a separate buy from the Blu Ray… my feelings for the film intensified. As a fan of Baum’s original Oz series – I recognized the kernals of the Baum imaginings that were culled from some of the later books in the series – and upon repeat viewing all characters are more endearing. This helps all the characters greatly because after you’ve absorbed the visual wow of what Raimi has made, it’s easier to notice that the acting is actually quite solid and the characters have more going on that first meets the eye. Now – you might notice that the above BluRay that I link to is not the Blu Ray 3D version – there’s a reason, for some insane reason Disney has decided to issue a plan jane 3D Blu for OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL and you don’t get a singular extra. However, if you get the linked version here – you won’t get 3D, but you’ll get a truly brilliant set of extras that reveal just how wonderful Raimi is. First, Franco’s shot and directed behind the scenes look maybe one of my favorite extras released this year. Raimi is great there. But then as you watch how they made this film – I believe you’re going to just be dazzled. Raimi created the wonder on set and on screen – and when you see what I mean, you’re going to love him more than you have in a while – even though I always love Raimi, here… it’s just so much fun to see how he thought to make this. It is invigorating. He’s an actor pretending to be a director and hopes nobody notices. I hope everyone notices, it’s how to do it.
HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS Blu Ray 3D
I’ve had a lot of friends that took a dump all over this – and I want to be perfectly clear – this is by no means a really good movie. It is completely ridiculous, but… It kinda feels like Marvel Comics Presents: Hansel & Gretel. From a visual style guide, it evokes that sense of production design and action, but it also has a heavy wannabe steampunk vibe going with it – Then there’s Gemma Arterton, who I just find awfully damn cute. BUT MAN OH MAN – it has fists of lame all up in it. I do like the Troll, but the script just isn’t there – and Director Tommy Wirkola is working his ass off on this film, but there’s something intrinsically lame about the premise to my way of thinking. It just feels a bit too much like a movie that has a trailer narrator explain, “IN A WORLD…” and then it’s Hansel & Gretel with crazy steampunk weaponry – and you just start laughing. This film was surprisingly successful – but really – it is fun enough to be distracting. But there’s better fantasy out there. BY A LOT.
WILD STRAWBERRIES Criterion Blu
Do you remember a film I once recommended on here called THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE? It was a wonderfully moody film, well that director is the star of this Ingmar Bergman classic. WILD STRAWBERRIES was one of my mother’s favorite Ingmar Bergman films along with SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT, I believe Dad preferred SEVENTH SEAL – but I have to say – they bored the living shit out of me as a kid. I was still a bit snobbish when they were force fed at Film Appreciation Classes in the late 80s, but sometime around the fifth year of doing this site, I revisited the Ingmar Bergman films. SEVENTH SEAL was always the most accessible, but then… suddenly everything clicked. There’s more truth and reality and artistic expression used to comment on all the big and small things in life. You watch these films and you gain insight into an old man’s perspective, something that would take a lifetime to gather – you can have a peak at – and that wisdom can be used to inform your life. Just as this man reflects on his life, you can see your life reflected. It makes you think – and that is so much more than most of what we come away with from most movies. I came away from Hansel & Gretel thinking Gemma Arterton was cute. Here… watching WILD STRAWBERRIES, it makes you flash on moments in your life and face realities. Criterion gives us a film scholar commentary, an intro by Bergman, a 90 minute doc on Bergman and some BTS footage shot by Ingmar. This is a must for any serious film connoisseur!
LILO & STICH Blu Ray
LILO & STITCH was one of the great 2D animated classics of Disney Animation. I don’t feel they ever reached this level of awesome again, the film is spectacular entertainment – however this release is essentially giving you a sequel you don’t want as the one and only Extra. Frankly, other than the transfer being perfect – all this release does is kind of piss me off. I mean, why are there no extras? Hmmmm? Why?
THE MANSON FAMILY Blu Ray
THE MANSON FAMILY is definitely a non-traditional film… but that’s the only way to do it. If you’ve read anything about THE MANSON FAMILY – and what serious weirdo hasn’t? Then you know were the hippie commune from hell, only – with a psychopath as the leader. He was oddly charismatic. Well, this film is trippy and psychedelic, it’s filled with nudity and sex and yes, it’s all kinds of disturbing. There’s a tacked on modern ending that I just fucking hate, but the majority of it is actually quite a compelling and real feeling look at one of the weirder corners of crime history in America. This is the right way to do this story.
SNITCH Blu Ray
The Rock’s son, living with his ex-wife, gets a call from his best friend overseas telling him that he’s gonna send a huge package of E to his house and then the next day he’ll be there and they’ll make money and get HIGH! Now, The Rock’s son did tell him not to, but when the package comes… he signs – and is fucked for life. The Rock though isn’t going to sit idly by while his son gets in touch with his submissive streak behind bars… The Rock is going to do the extreme thing which is to risk his life, his new family’s lives, his business, the life of an employee all on a deal with Susan Sarandon, who I have to say I don’t trust in this movie. As scary as the drug cartels are – they’re at least a bit more obvious about their intent to kill you or fuck you. Now – if you love Shane from THE WALKING DEAD, actor Jon Bernthal is playing a 2 strike con that’s working for The Rock’s construction company – and he’s being taken along on this ride. If I’m rooting for any character in this it’s oddly him. He doesn’t want to go to jail forever, he just wanted to do hard work and raise his family – and then his boss gets him to get involved in a Le Brea Tar Pit of hell – and he just feels doomed. This film is much better than I was expecting, keep your eye on Director Ric Roman Waugh… His history with stuntwork is a bit legendary – this is a very good exhibition of his talents as a director!
ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE Blu Ray
I really like ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE. I do. It’s the Disney Animated Mike Mignola designed adventure film with mystical Atlantean magic stuff… and it’s just cool as all hell. The sequel on here is trash by comparison, but I really love Michael J Fox and James Garner putting their voices behind this. It adds a lot just hearing them in here. And the sequel disc, I suggest tossing it, you don’t want to accidently be exposed to it. You’ll break out in rashes – it’s really really awful.
ENTER THE DRAGON (40th Anniversary Edition) Blu Ray
If you’re a Bruce Lee fan – it’s a must buy. I can watch ENTER THE DRAGON more often than pretty much any film ever made. Now I do have a pet peeve, I hate that they don’t have the option to watch the original THEATRICAL RELEASE of the movie – and instead we seem to be permanently plagued by the terribly awkward inserts that were placed in the 90’s. It’s a minor gripe – as the print is just stunning – it’s just… the film was perfect. Absolutely not a single unwanted frame, until that special edition. The Extras are busting all over the place here. You also get a patch and some inserts including a really geeky giveaway that was at the premiere. Lalo Schfrin’s score is the coolest score ever in my opinion. It just feels amazing to hear his music and watch Bruce Lee do his phenomenal thing… like just breathe or stretch.
DRIVEN Blu Ray
Really terrible Stallone film, it’s only partially Renny Harlin’s fault – I just don’t think the story works. Love Sly and it’s a watchable disaster, but really – I just wish this was much better. For hardcore fans only.
14 yr old Jasna ends up doing druggy debauched things and recording them on her smartphone. Oh yeah, this is a Serbian flick and it is exceedingly disturbing, especially if you care about kids. If you have kids, I hope you’ve taught them better than this – as… well, it feels extremely realistic. I actually think this is an extremely good film. There’s just an honesty that you never really see much of in our domestic cinema.
HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE Blu Ray
A lot of you grew up after some breaththroughs occurred in the treatment of HIV, but I had two Uncles that came down early with AIDS and well, it was brutal and desperate. The wanton disregard for life that the Republicans in office at the time exhibited based on some crazed moral high ground cost lives – this documentary shows how a social group of the country fought back against their targed eradication by this disease and they actually had survivors – and there was a point in time when that was absolutely unthinkable. There’s still a lot more to be down with this disease – and the health care system in general, but this is a great documentary – one of the BEST DOCUMENTARIES from this year’s Academy Awards 2013. It didn’t win, but it sure could have… outstanding film.
JOE KIDD Blu Ray
John Sturges (THE GREAT ESCAPE, ICE STATION ZEBRA, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL) directed this Elmore Leonard written western starring Clint Eastwood with Robert Duvall, John Saxon and Don Stroud! And it is absolutely worthy of that pedigree! This has Clint Eastwood as a Bounty Hunter – and John Saxon plays a revolutionary Mexican that is fighting for what he believes in, but Duvall is a wealthy American that gets Eastwood involved. I really like this. This isn’t a domestic but an import that works on all regions – so yippee an additional Eastwood title on Blu!
Next week we’ll be looking at JACK THE GIANT SLAYER 3D Blu, LIFEFORCE Blu, THE HOWLING Blu, SAFETY LAST! Criterion Blu, THINGS TO COME Criterion Blu, AMERICAN MARY Blu, MARKETA LAZAROVA Criterion Blu, LAST EXORCISM Part 2, STOKER, WONDER WOMEN, RETREAT HELL, DINO KING, FLAME OF THE BARBARY COAST Blu, OF HUMAN BONDAGE Blu, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF THE LIVING CORPSE Blu and COME OUT AND PLAY. Until then, keep it cool…
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