26th PICKS & PEEKS of 2013: Import Wayne Blus, HANGAR 18, SHARK!, The Beatles, Edgar Wright, The Dude & Much more!
Hey folks, Harry here with the 26th week of 2013 and the last column of June! Man time flies. There’s a ton of releases this week, though a bunch are those STEELBACK editions, which are pretty much just repackages of previous released Blu Rays… But there’s a lot of new releases and some fun all region imports this week. So before we dig in, I’d like to thank all of you that have been supporting our App at Picks&Peeks! It’s great to see so many using it. As usual all the links take you to Amazon where you can learn more on the release or you can purchase the item which contributes a small fraction of the price to help keep this column’s best efforts going. Man, amazing I’ve done this column for 10 years now. Crazy. Now, have fun digging in!
Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
ROOSTER COGBURN Blu Ray
One of the most purely delightful John Wayne movies ever made. Katherine Hepburn casts her mighty shadow upon the Tall One. Wayne and Hepburn is one of those joys that I just love it. Now, the film is no TRUE GRIT, but what it is… This is completely it’s own story with Rooster Cogburn on a completely different adventure. Basically, it is AFRICAN QUEEN, but as a Western… And how fucking cool is that? Right? Wayne in the Bogart role… Hepburn doing her best impression of a faulty thermometer again! Those that love this movie will swear after watching it that it’s better than TRUE GRIT, until they rewatch TRUE GRIT and remind themselves – THIS IS OUTSTANDING! That said – ROOSTER COGBURN is warm blanket cinema at its best. Never fails to bring a smile that lasts. This is an all region Import and is quite nice.
SHARK Blu Ray
Long before Spielberg made JAWS. Hell, before Peter Benchley wrote the damn thing. A filmmaker by the name of Sam Fuller hired Burt Reynolds in 1969 to make the best non-influenced by JAWS Shark movie ever made. It really isn’t a SHARK movie in the JAWS sense. There is no specific shark, only… there’s a thing you have to dive to get, but the SHARKS are in the way of getting the booty. But before you even get to any of that, the film is all about a down on his luck Gunrunner in the Sudan – with nothing but “a gold watch” – which between you and me, I don’t believe was Gold. I love the Sudanese thieving brat that was in the flick. And I love how Sam Fuller swirls the world around Reynolds to where he has to take this one job, a cursed job… and it just keeps getting better. In many ways this is closer to Benchley’s THE DEEP – and you know Peter knew this film. But it’s great! Sunk munitions boat and all! Giggle. Arthur Kennedy’s drunk is outstanding. Barry Sullivan is great, but so is Silvia Pinal. Getting this Sam Fuller flick on Blu Ray is a gold star day for anyone’s collection. If you don’t know Fuller’s work… SEE THEM ALL! He’s one of the great auteurs. Influenced the hell out of Spielberg. Wish he still was.
HANGAR 18 Blu Ray
This is one of those films that as I looked at the Blu Ray I thought… I Know This… put it on and HOLY SHIT, the nostalgia came racing. Saw this as an 8 year old – and I remember it being something that my friends and I talked about, but mainly Dad. Darren “Kolchak” McGavin plays the man in charge of a Crichton-like team of expert Scientists that are studying a downed Alien vessel for the Government. Shuttle Astronauts are pinned for some shit that they didn’t do, but they saw the UFO do – and they start investigating – and the Government goon squad starts acting like they do in THE X-FILES. This is just great stuff. Even the aliens! In fact – the plot is very much revealing a history of Earth that’s… very PROMETHEUSy. I love it. Oh – and be prepared for a WTF ending and a post-script that could make you horse snort! The print is pretty damn great. I’m just glad to have this film back in front of my eyes! So much fun! In addition to Kochack, you have Robert Vaughn as the douche causing about 90% of the problems that everybody is experiencing. Real Govt. Piece O’ Shit! Love him. And wait till you see what Teen Wolf’s daddy gets into in this!
WAR WAGON Blu ray
Bruce Cabot (KING KONG) has managed to piss off both John Wayne and Kirk Douglas – and they’re gonna have to pull some out of the ordinary shenanigans to get his gold which resides in the black cast iron War Wagon. You simply have to see this thing. It is hilarious. It also kicks ass. This is how you make westerns. Big pop westerns. This is a crazy fun high concept western that was easily one of the most purely fun and exhilarating westerns made. There’s better dramatic, better pure action westerns. But for a Western that’s just a good fucking time… This is one of those! Dearly love this one. This is another import, but an All region one!
THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE Blu Ray
Now this Western, this is kinda one of the greatest movies ever made department. We’re talking iconic awesomery throughout. Jimmy Stewart gives an amazing performance. Wayne is a GOD in this film. And then there’s Liberty Valance, played by Lee Marvin. This is a film about the end of the West and the beginning of the United States as a more complete civilization. Jimmy Stewart is an idealistic young man from… well actually he’s a very old Senator… actually, he’s both – and the story of how he became that Senator has a legend at it’s beginning, and here… we’ll examine that legend, we’ll see it for what it was. And John Ford gives us a lesson to talk about every day of our lives. This film argues that the fiction we learn is sometimes best for us… a notion that many of my freedom of information radical friends would like to destroy. Seriously – there’s a lot going on in this absolutely outstanding western and morality tale that actually deals with the media, mythology and history. That this is an Import is kind of outrageous, there should be a domestic Blu of this film, there should have been one for years now, but this import will have to do till we finally get our domestic disc! This is All Region.
HELP! Blu Ray
Love Ringo? HELP! Must be one of your favorite movies then. Ringo puts on the wrong ring and it just won’t come off… A madman believes that whoever holds the ring will rule the world… he doesn’t understand that no, only Ringo and rule the world with a Ring – especially that ridiculously big ring! Richard Lester directs a very silly 007 like spoof that has some great Beatles songs and my favorite Ringo performance. He’s just awesome in this movie. It is also very surreal. Very. This is a great blu! The print and the sound are fantastic. The 30 minute making of is great. There’s a missing scene, a restoration feature and a fun MEMORIES OF HELP! Overall a very satisfying Beatles Blu!
UPSIDE DOWN 3D Blu Ray
I’ve no idea where this movie came from, but thank fucking god! This is a stunning film. Just stunning. I love Science Fiction Romances and they simply do not make enough of them – and they certainly don’t make em in 3D with Visuals like this. But if you love your Escher, Science Fiction and crazy fucking love… like love conquering gravity kind of love… I mean, “Love lifts us up were we belong,” right? Millennium released this one like a silent fart, one that cost 60 million to make – and that stars Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst and Timothy Spall – and it just was never given any real push. Well do not miss this one. It’s too fucking good to slip through the cracks. Oh – and it has a bit of fantasy to it too. Giggle. SO good!
THE CALL Blu Ray
Did you like THE MACHINIST and SESSION 9? Well those movies, along with a lot of great episodes of FRINGE and BOARDWALK EMPIRE, along with the recent pilot of ALMOST HUMAN… well that’s Brad Anderson. For a good long time, this movie is just fucking great! It’s terrifying. Real nightmare stuff. Young girl reporting an intruder to 911 gets Halle Berry on the phone – and she’s doing her best to reassure – and well… shit goes down – and it’s scary. She leaves her position as 911 operator – but she ends up back in the saddle due to a script convenience – and for a long good time, this movie is just doing what it should. It’s great. BUT THEN – it gets real fucking stupid and silly – but that’s kind of fine. Because that’s just the type of film this is. If you know that you can have a lot of fun with this – and Halle is doing a damn fine job here, as is Abigail Breslin. I mean, it’s a bit unnerving let me tell you. The creeper in this flick is just EWWWW. EWWWWW. He and Elijah Wood’s MANIAC should get a room. Seriously.
HANSEL & GRETEL GET BACKED Blu Ray
Ok – now this is a title that you might pass over because… for fuck’s sake, it’s called HANSEL & GRETEL GET BAKED for crissakes. But as I examined my Blu Ray I came to realize that Lara Flynn Boyle and Cary Elwes are in this film, as well as Molly Quinn… that’s not the usual cast for this sort of title. I have to say, in many ways I preferred this to HANSEL & GRETEL WITCH HUNTERS, because this shit is just totally absurd. You may need to be altered to enjoy, but I don’t think so. I was just sort of amazed to watch Lara Flynn Boyle go through the various make up faces. Hell, the makeup is by Vincent Guastini – and it’s fun stuff. The stoner slanted adaptation is just a very silly thing – and if you have silly friends – y’all may love ripping and laughing with this. It is possible.
SHAUN OF THE DEAD Steelbook Blu Ray
Universal is putting out a ton of Steelbook rereleases of popular selling titles this day. You can actually pick this up for a dollar cheaper than any other existing version of the Blu, and I really really do love the graphics for this series of releases. BUT it’s the exact same Blu Ray you’ve had all along. Now, if you love the clank of these Blus – upgrade and gift your old one to a friend in need. But again… that’s just for the aesthetic desire to unsheath your SHAUN OF THE DEAD Blu ray, which, if you threw this product at an actual Zombie – I bet it would do more damage than just the regular ol plastic cased Blu Ray. And what Zombie fan doesn’t want maximum carnage potential from their SHAUN OF THE DEAD Blu Ray coffin? Hmmm? Alright then, you see your obvious course of action!
HOT FUZZ Steelbook Blu Ray
Can your HOT FUZZ Blu Ray case actually stop a bullet? Well, I’m pretty sure this one won’t either, but there is a chance that if you also say your prayers like a good Edgar Wright fan, you could be blessed by the hyper-reality that Edgar creates for his films and your cinematic karma along with this STEELBOOK would stop the bullet. But don’t take my word for it, as a fan – this is just the sleeker sexier geekier form of HOT FUZZ ownership. Edgar’s sizzling send-up of the buddy cop film genre kicks some serious ass – But the Blu Ray you already own does that. Instead – be coaxed by Universal’s clever repackaging ya mutton!
THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE Blu Ray
This is a movie, where you spend a great deal of time wondering why you’re not turning the movie off. But the reason is because the nostalgic kid magician origin story for the film was really quite a lot of fun. But folks – this is what you’re holding out for… Alan Arkin. When he returns to the film at the end… there’s more wonder and awe. Had the film centered on Alan Arkin’s old folks home magician teaching a douchebag Vegas primadonna to discover real magic… well, I’d prefer that film. This is just good enough to sustain a single viewing, and as I’m thinking about it right now, I think that’s the right amount. Be patient. One day it will present itself as a free viewing, that’s the most responsible and best way to see this. Wait for Netflix.
NORTH FACE Blu Ray
You see that Roger Ebert quote on the cover, “Bone Chilling, Unbearably Riveting!” – well… take that to the bank. This is a story about latrine cleaning Nazis that take a shot at fortune and glory for the Fatherland by attempting the murderous North Face of a mountain that eats the souls of those that attempt to climb it… and these brothers… well, this is one of those great films that I discovered first on Netflix, but having a 1080p keeper… that’s ideal. This is a very harrowing film that will in no way, shape or form lend itself to influencing you to go climb some dangerous mountain. In fact, fuck that. There are really terrible ways to die. You may see a few of em in this one. Love this flick. So good!
CRASHOUT Blu Ray
If you like Arthur Kennedy in Sam Fuller’s SHARK with Burt Reynolds, then give CRASHOUT a chance. It’s a prison escape/loot getting pic that is filled with great character actors all giving this their best. This is an excellent Film Noir prison break flick that has smashingly good writing and performances. Helps if you’re a big William Bendix fan too! He’s great!
SHOAH Criterion Blu
THE Holocaust documentary! Sometimes film can become something better than just being a film. Sometimes it preserves something and gives it a voice. SHOAH is a stunningly powerful work that uses no archival footage. I’ve found it rather stunning that SHOAH hadn’t been available in an affordable format for years now – and Criterion has done the world a favor in releasing an exquisite Blu Ray of this amazing film. Also included on this release are 3 additional films by Claude Lanzmann, the director. You get A VISITOR FROM THE LIVING, SOBRIBOR OCTOBER 14 1943 4pm and THE KARSKI REPORT. Criterion has done a great thing in releasing this. Essential cinema, essential history.
INTO THE WHITE Blu Ray
Ok – so Daniel Radcliffe has WOMAN IN BLACK and Emma Watson has a few wonderful non-Harry Potter flicks… but Rupert Grint… Well INTO THE WHITE is excellent! You have to Fighter crews shot down over Norway – and the two crews end up having to work with one another to survive… or do they? This is very gripping and suspenseful filmmaking and fantastic performances by all involved. There are 5 men. Will they all survive? Will they keep all their pieces? Another outstanding WWII film.
SERENITY Steelbook Blu Ray
Ok – so while I liked SERENITY upon first release, I did not love it. That’s because I was blind. I could not yet see my friends, because I hadn’t seen FIREFLY yet. I have now lifted my veil of ignorance and fully embraced the greater glory of the Signal. Wow – watching the series as an extended flashback is an emotional fucking ride. I totally understand Fan outrage, but watching the series knowing the future… it’s kind of awesome. Makes you appreciate the time we had with them, wished for more. But perhaps that wasn’t necessarily their destinies or Joss’. This STEELBOOK does not come with an extra season of FIREFLY. However, if you believe in Tinkerbell and that fan dollars could one day get this firefly to fly again… or maybe you just like comic illustrated metal. Whatever motivates you to acquiring this… that’s your journey. I’m just directing you in its direction.
PITCH BLACK Steelbook Blu Ray
WWRD? Riddick would probably prefer a Steelbox edition of his first movie – and would probably like the second film that way too – and they did release one, I’m just too lazy to include it on this list – because… Well – I appreciate what that film was attempting, but I fucking love PITCH BLACK! I hope the new film kicks both films’ asses. But again, this is all about you and your aesthetic. This is the exact same edition of the Blu that we might already own, but repackaged to be tougher, more rugged. More likely of getting you laid. I mean, nothing says sex like your steelboxed PITCH BLACK, right? Heh. This world premiered at the first Butt-Numb-A-Thon back in 1999. Yeah, film has a 2000 release date. But that original theater of BNATTERS, they saw this first. They knew Vin Diesel kicked ass before all the rest of you. And we all have Steelback versions, cuz we’re more hardcore than you Diesel come latelys.
NO Blu Ray
One of 2013’s BEST FOREIGN FILM Nominees – this starring the amazing Gael Garcia Bernal as an Ad Man that changed Chile forever with his NO campaign, which removed a dictatorship and free their country. The film is thrilling – I recently read the script for John Stewart’s upcoming ROSEWATER – and while totally different stories, I kind of love both these stories, simply in how they frame events that I feel we should all learn from. NO is a great film.
SCARFACE Steelbook Blu Ray
First you get a mountain of cocaine, then you get the big guns and then you get the Steelbook Blu Ray edition! To tell the truth, I saw these Steelbook editions at Target about a week ago – and I picked up the SCARFACE one – I got home – and actually – I already had a different STEELBACK edition, but you can’t just have one. You must have them all! No, that’s actually entirely too silly. SCARFACE is just incredible work. Easily one of the most quotable movies made. Just not quotable for all company. Remember, “Another Quaalude, and she’ll be mine again!” I use that one all the time. MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA… No, I kid, I kid. I do really like this cover quite a lot.
SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD Steelbook Blu Ray
There aren’t a lot of films that I instantly loved with the absolute supernova of love that I exploded with when I saw SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD. But I do. BUT – I really wish they’d gone with a different pose on this STEELBOOK. If you’re gonna cheap out on one of the Edgar Wright films, it’d be this one, cuz that’s totally what Scott would do too. But we’re all geekier than him, so we collect as many of these things as we can, so that they can stop the driveby bullets from killing us in our homes. Right?
WILD BILL: HOLLYWOOD MAVERICK – The Life And Times of William A. Wellman
He directed the first Best Picture winner at the Academy Awards. Then he had Cagney push a grapefruit into Mae Clarke’s face. And that’s just a couple of the really amazing highlights from his film career which produced a whole lot of amazing film work, but Wellman was one helluva character – like many of those early directors. This doc does a great job of shining a light on Wellman, who earned his WILD BILL as an aviator in WWI – discover the legend of William Wellman. He’s amazing!
THE BIG LEBOWSKI Steelbook Blu Ray
It really ties your collection together man. BIG LEBOWSKI Steelbook edition just kinda makes me giggle a lot. I mean – it should just feature Walter with his piece. But even if this is the more hardcore edition of THE BIG LEBOWSKI – one simply can not replace The Dude. Again, there’s nothing new on this release, other than the packaging. But this is the last one I’m going to include on the column. There’s a ton more, just search AMAZON Blus for STEELBOOK. The $13.99 price isn’t a gouge, on many of the titles it’s the cheapest price point yet. But it is all about how you like to collect your faves – and I take it this one is one of your faves, because everyone that reads AICN loves THE BIG LEBOWSKI, right?
That’s it for the month of June! Next week we’ll have the first column of July which will include a look at: THE PRODUCERS Blu, TAI CHI HERO Blu, THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE Blu, THE UP series, 6 SOULS, THE TOUBLE WITH HARRY Blu, TOWER BLOCK Blu and that’s about it – it’s a very light week of releases – I believe. I’ll dig in more thoroughly between now and then! Until then, have a great adventure in film!
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