Hey folks, Harry here with the latest PICKS AND PEEKS column of the year… The 35th Column of 2013! There’s some great titles this week. The pictures and links take you to Amazon as usual where if you purchase something through the link, you’ll be helping to keep this column producing. SO thank you. If you’re not in a purchasy mood, you can learn more about the titles via Amazon too! Now – let’s hop to it!
Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
AND THEN THERE WERE NONE Blu Ray
Strangers gathered to a mysterious mansion only to be killed one by one due to some past transgression. Agatha Christie’s TEN LITTLE INDIANS has been supremely influential. Hell, even in this past weekend’s YOU’RE NEXT… it certainly owes a nod or two. But Rene Clair’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE may not have the gore or the kink of modern filmmaking… what it does have is style, panache and tremendous classic actors like Walter Huston, Louis Hayward and Barry Fitzgerald. Roland Young. The film is worth owning simply to listen to Walter and Barry go at it. I would kill for a Barry Fitzgerald action figure. His face… AMAZING, his performances in film… a joy. Clair’s sense of humor makes this one fun film to follow with ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW… Trust me, it works. The print looks nice on Blu. A real classic!
KON-TIKI Blu Ray
Ok – so I know… KON-TIKI was nominated for BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM for the Oscars this year and the only language you’re getting here is English and you really want to see the original language track. Ahem… Believe it or not, every single dialogue scene was shot in Norwegian and English. That is… INSANE… but I can not argue with the results. KON-TIKI is one of the very best films I’ve seen this year. There’s something about the spirit of adventure that Thor Heyerdaul’s story that is absolutely captured in this magnificent film. The desire to prove a theory… well, it is amazing these guys survive. Just amazing. The film looks and sounds beautiful on Blu Ray. Now don’t worry – because you do actually get the film that got the Foreign Film nomination and it is great too! There’s a great feature on the True Story and a featurette on the Visual Fx for the film – which are truly amazing for how small this film actually was. Pay Attention!
THE GREAT GATSBY Blu Ray 3D
Some hated it, I loved it and I wasn't alone. Baz Luhrmann's GREAT GATSBY can be followed and enjoyed with the sound off and just following the movie visually. Play the film with the sound up and in 3D and you're watching something incredibly entertaining to me. Baz is enjoying the foreground and depth use of 3D and the 3 strip Technicolor look of the film is just stunning. Pause some of the establishing shots and just marvel at how beautiful the work is. On repeat views - Joel Edgerton's performance really starts to shine and come out. He's a misguided self-serving asshole... but somewhere beneath that machismo he's chest-pushing around... he loves Daisy (Carey Mulligan). DiCaprio's GATSBY is the first Gatsby that I believe 100%. In 3D, here... this is just a joy to watch, finally a better 3D Musical than STEP UP 3D. LOL, not a big rise, but for the home Blu Ray market - this doesn't have a lot of competition. Outrageiously beautiful filmwork!
PAIN & GAIN Blu Ray
Alrighty… Michael Bay makes his best film in years, based on a true crime exploit of a particularly Bay-ian ridiculousness… Body Builders kidnap and torture and maim and grill and… man… shit gets insane. The movie is based upon the charisma and performances of its stars, Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris and the most riveting performance by Dwayne Johnson yet. The Rock makes me laugh like crazy in this film. Coke-head Rock with severe confidence issues… it’s just so damn cute. I know… Al Pacino characters on coke are crazy scary, same substances on Dwayne Johnson… hilarity. His solo robbery is like watching the Hulk do a Snatch & Grab, lumbering his way to freedom. Bay plays the story for laughs and giggles… and I can’t fault him for it, I do have fun with it. But it does make the film a little light. But are you not entertained? There’s pretty much no extras on this disc… makes me wonder if Bay will get Criterion to do a deluxe version at some point as he’s been known to do.
THE WALKING DEAD Season 3 Limited Edition Blu Ray
Ok – this Limited Edition set is just the balls. I loved 3rd season of WALKING DEAD. The Zombie Aquarium edition comes with two tanks with lids that you can open and fill with water and zombie heads. You press the 3 in for the light come off and on. I got to go through the entire season with my nephew last weekend and it got me fired up for Season 4… with forever to wait. ARGH! There’s a nice group of extras, commentaries. Of course I want time lapse photography for every zombie made up for the show… but that’s out of line apparently. Sniffle. Looking back on Season 3, I really do marvel at how much it covers. Establishment of two huge base-camps, so much death. Characters like the Governor, Michonne… the return of Merle! So much intrigue and Rick and crew face their first real obliteration from a threat that has learned how to use zombies. It’s just great stuff. David Morrissey and Danai Gurira just think they own this season, because I really do this season is owned by Chandler Riggs’ Carl. That kid just blew me away this season! GREAT STUFF! Zombies truly rule the world! #1 Drama on Television! Giggle. So awesome! And to honor such a thing, they hit us with the coolest special super Geek set yet. With the lights off and it sitting lit in a corner… it produces one helluva smile upon a single glance! Retails at $150, but Amazon has it at just under $95. Father Geek & Yoko were telling me to anticipate the coming of the Prison and The Governor and they were so right. Cleaning out the Prison has been some of the scariest most creepy moments of zombie horror that I’ve yet seen. I also love Rick’s use of Spartan fighting techniques for how to mow through waves of zombies in a TURTLE formation. LOVE this season.
THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH Blu Ray
I saw the hell out of this when it opened in 1977. For me, this film was WINNIE THE POOH – my introduction to a mad insane huney obsessed bear. The water color backgrounds and animation and voices are simply seared into my brain. Disney doesn’t mess up with these Blu Rays. However, even though we’re getting the film at its best resolution, they still have all those extras from the 25th Anniversary DVD… Which basically means it’s fully loaded, cuz they nailed it back then! This is the essence of childhood, to watch it as an adult and let the responsibilities of life slip free. This Blu has that power. So worth it!
THE PAINTING Blu Ray
Remember those old cartoons from the 30’s and 40’s that had paintings or magazines or books come to life? Well this French animated feature tells a more complicated story than those 8 minute theatricals ever did. It’s about the denizens of an unfinished painting, that has created a social order based upon how complete you are. There’s the Alldunns, the Halfies and the Sketchies…. The film is about the struggle for equality and a sense of being complete. It’s 78 minutes of great animation, more adult than anything we get domestically, unless it’s by Plympton. This animated work of art should be experienced upon Blu! It’s great!
DARK ANGEL Blu Ray
No, this isn’t that James Cameron TV show with Jessica Alba – For those of us with a reliable memory from 1990, this is that alien drug dealer vs Dolph Lundgren and Brian BenBen that was called I COME IN PEACE. It was gloriously insane filmmaking. I was doing Houston Comic Shoes at the time this movie was out – and the Booth Babe in the booth next to me talked a lot about just how cool Dolph Lundgren was in person as she had a tiny role in it – and I’m happy to report when I got to hang out with him on EXPENDABLES – yes… Dolph is exceedingly cool. I really have to say – I’m pleased as shit to own this on Blu Ray! Seriously – it’s just a sign that we live in enlightened times that this is on Blu. I just genuinely enjoy the hell out of the film. The Blu has a Look back at the film with the Director and Dolph, that’s a lot of fun. Matthias Hues is so creepy weird in this! And I always loved the deadly CDS!
TO BE OR NOT TO BE Criterion Blu
Ernst Lubitsch is one of the all time great directors and if you don’t understand that, maybe this is where you start. TO BE OR NOT TO BE is hilarious. Jack Benny and Carole Lombard rule in this. Lombard died in a tragic plane crash shortly after finishing her work in this Lubitsch masterpiece of satire and inky black humor. Lubitsch wasted no time going after the Nazis. The film was deemed “too soon” upon it’s release, but now – those of us that know TO BE OR NOT TO BE, know just what a great film it is – and how great Lombard, Benny and Robert Stack are in this film! I know the Mel Brooks version is flat, the original is magnificent. Criterion knows their films and this is a great release! Here’s the extras:
New, restored 2K digital film transfer, with uncompressed monaural
New audio commentary featuring film historian David Kalat
Lubitsch le patron, a 2010 French documentary
Two episodes of The Screen Guild Theater, a radio anthology series
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoffrey O'Brien More!
Q: THE WINGED SERPENT Blu Ray
I like to watch this film in a double feature with THE GIANT CLAW on Thanksgiving. But that’s cuz I’m weird as hell. Seriously though, this is a Larry Cohen film with Randy Cook stop-motion work in a film that stars Richard Roundtree, David Carradine and Michael Moriarty! Oh – And Candy Clark! You know, Debbie from AMERICAN GRAFFITI! I thought I remembered hating this movie, but I had to be mis-remembering cause this is all kinds of fun.
CAPTAIN HARLOCK Complete TV Series
There’s a seemingly badass CG Animated CAPTAIN HARLOCK poised to be unleashed upon the world and if you don’t know Rintaro’s CAPTAIN HARLOCK series… for a $40 buy in, you’ll be on the ground floor for one of the coolest animated series – and I have to say, I’ve always harbored a hope that a great Live Action series would be made out of this Anime! Leiji Matsumoto did this, STAR BLAZERS and SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO – which was the great anime trilogy of my childhood. This is great stuff!!! 1000 Minutes of awesome!
THE BARBARIANS / THE NORSEMAN: Double Feature DVD
SHOUT! Please tell me you’re going to release these on Blu Ray soon. Please? THE BARBARIANS is a great time. By the director of Cannibal Holocaust comes the Barbarian Brothers! Every oiled inch of them should be rendered at 1080p… for someone, I’m sure. But for me – THE NORSEMAN was the shit! My dad always stressed our Viking heritage and how it was the Vikings that discovered America first – so when The Six Million Dollar Man plays a Viking sailing to Minnesota to rescue his dad… Well, it’s bleeding a terrible film, but I can’t help but smile for every second that Jack Elam is playing the evil Wizard! I mean… Jack Elam is a Wizard. Of course Jack Elam is a Wizard. It’s just such a specific memory at the Drive In as a kid. I have to admit though, at the time I saw this it was the second best Viking film I’d ever seen… to PRINCE VALIANT. But THE VIKINGS took it’s place as the best ever. THE NORSEMAN is a hoot of a flick.
KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE Blu Ray
After the explosive success of WHITE HEAT, Cagney decided to finance his own Gangster flick directed by Gordon Douglas, where he played another gloriously over the top gangster, but without the studio releasing machine, it just never took off as the film should. KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE is a great fucking movie. I’ve tried to program it at about 6 BNATs, but we’ve never been able to find a 35mm print. Cagney plays Ralph Cotter and his brother William Cagney produced the picture as well as starred as Cagney’s Brother in the film! Cotter is a meaner more deadly criminal than Cody Jarrett in WHITE HEAT – and was a bit too tough for its times. Which is, again, why I’ve wanted to show it so bad at BNAT. Sure, the film doesn’t have the flair that Walsh brought to the cinema of WHITE HEAT – but this was a more personal film for Cagney… working with his brother to try and break out of the studio system. Do not let this film pass you by!
ONLY THE VALIANT Blu Ray
The year after Gordon Douglas helmed KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE, he directed Gregory Peck in this utterly fantastic suicide Calvary Mission to try to stop the indians from coming through a narrow pass and wiping out the nearby fort. Peck plays the leader who was originally assigned to escort Michael Ansara’s Apache Chief to another fort for safe keeping, but who was seen changing that order – which labeled him a coward amongst his men. He picks the 6 most useless men from his post to accompany him in this desperate foolhardy doom patrol. Ward Bond is great… But Lon Chaney Jr? He’s just amazing in the film. Franz Waxman’s score will sweep you into this story which laughs at the 300 Spartans with it’s 7 Calvary men. I love the technological twist that occurs… and I’m betting so will you. ONLY THE VALIANT is outstanding!
FLAT TOP Blu Ray
I bet George Lucas loves FLAT TOP. I discovered Sterling Hayden as Gawain in PRINCE VALIANT, then loved his crazed General Jack Ripper in DR. STRANGELOVE – and I have to admit that there was a portion of my brain when I watched FLAT TOP that had me fantasizing that this was Jack Ripper in his Navy Days before he found himself where Kubrick found him. Of course, Kubrick had Hayden in his great THE KILLING long before STRANGELOVE. FLAT TOP is an Aircraft carrier in WWII story. In some ways I thought the film was heading in CAINE MUTINY directions due to Richard Carlson’s buddying up to the naval fliers – whereas Hayden believes in tough love and reality. The film was nominated for Best Editing – and you’ll love the air battles in FLAT TOP! And yes, Richard Carlson after serving on Jack Ripper’s Aircraft Carrier, decided to go on an Amazonian expedition to a certain Black Lagoon later in his career. FLAT TOP was a surprisingly strong film!
Well that’s it for this Tuesday, next week we’ll be looking at NOW YOU SEE ME, FROM UP ON POPPY HILL, SHARKNADO, THE LORDS OF SALEM Blu, THE ICEMAN Blu, MST3K:The Movie Blu, ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE Blu, IDLE HANDS Blu, THE FUGITIVE Blu, ACE VENTURA: WHEN NATURE CALLS Blu, CREEPSHOW 2 Blu, MARNIE Blu, FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON Blu, COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES Blu, HELLRAISER Double Feature Blu, SERIAL MOM Blu, HARD TARGET Blu, HELLS ANGELS ON WHEELS Blu,