Hey folks, Harry here with the first Picks & Peeks of 2014. I had to get this done tonight, cuz this morning I’m headed to the studio to conjure up a conversation with Burt Reynolds for the show, but had to take care of all of you first! I’m excited about this new year of releases. As usual all the images and links take you to Amazon where you can learn more on the title or purchase the item, which would help keep this column going, now in its eleventh year! All of which can be found over at PicksAndPeeks.Com via the Android and iDevice apps! Shake your phone for a random order and an excellent sound effect! Now – let’s get to it!
Tuesday, January 7th, 2014
WICKER MAN: THE FINAL CUT Blu Ray
Sadly, I never received a review copy of this, but there’s no other disc I would like more right now. THE WICKER MAN is one of the great works of horror. More than that though, it’s one of the greatest CULT movies of all time – A police sgt goes to an island community to search for a missing girl. He’s the sort of police officer that does not give up. His case is a person’s life and he’s doggedly pursuing it in this… very different community. I know we’re talking about a 41 year old film now, but trust me when I say the less you know, the better. But if you love YOU’RE NEXT, check out the animal masks in this one. Now as best as I’ve been able to find out, we will be getting not only this FINAL cut, but the UK Theatrical Cut and “The Director’s Cut” – and since I haven’t seen THE FINAL CUT – I can’t really comment. It is also my understanding that we’ll be getting a MASS of extras. Though I’ve yet to see a review on this disc – the rumor mill has said it looks and sounds amazing. SO… this is a sure fire blind buy for me. And for Christopher Lee completists – it is an absolute must.
STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE Season 3 Blu Ray
Probably one of my most pleasant surprises of 2013, was discovering that STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE was not only, not a heart breaking trauma, but by the time you get to this third season… I was so invested, not only in all the characters for the show – but as you count down to the end… holy fuck. I want more. This season, while ending perfectly – I would kill for a series called ARCHER – that was about what ever Captain Archer does next. Let’s get fully into the UFP founding! The whole season is dedicated to not only saving Earth and the entire future of the Federation, but as the pieces start coming together – it’s a joy of discovery. This season is one of my favorite Trek seasons period, but you need to get through those first two seasons. Great thing about Blu, you can skip that dreadful opening title song the second you hear the first notes. You also get the great Peter Weller being amazing! However, for me… Jeffrey Combs’ Commander Shran is so great, that I could handle a whole show dedicated to his character. There’s a lot of gold on this show!
CLOSED CIRCUIT Blu Ray
2013 was the year where the paranoids got to point at the headlines and say, “SEE! SEE I TOLD YA SO!” Of course good film geeks have known they’ve been listening to us ever since we saw THE CONVERSATION. Now – you know about the half million Closed Circuit TV Cameras all over London? Of course you do, well, would you like to get more paranoid? That’s what this film is all about and it does a great job of freaking you out. From the director of BOY A and the writer of EASTERN PROMISES… well they know how to serve up tension and paranoia. And crazy timely! Fuel your twitches with this!
KILLING FIELDS Blu Ray
Strange that this and THE ACT OF KILLING happen to be coming out the same day as they’re both films shining light under reported genocide. Here, we’re in Cambodia under the rule of Pol Pot, who oversaw the deaths of two million. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won Cinematography, Film Editing and Haing S Ngor won Best Supporting Actor. Ultimately at the Oscars that year, Saul Zaentz (R.I.P.) ruled with AMADEUS. But THE KILLING FIELDS was fierce competition. Rewatching the film reveals that the movie has only gained power, but then… there’s just seeing youthful Sam Waterson, John Malkovich, Julian Sands, Spalding Gray and Craig T Nelson in a film that never pulls a punch. And they’re all great! The video quality is outstanding, really capturing Chris Menges’ cinematography perfectly. This is one of those Book releases, which I happen to really dig. But that doesn’t mean this is bare bones, you’re gonna get a Roland Joffe commentary. Given how Haing Ngor died, watching THE KILLING FIELDS and his amazing performance – It was such a heroic performance – and some believe he was killed for it. Whatever really happened, this is effortlessly brilliant. A truly powerful and important film.
WE ARE WHAT WE ARE Blu Ray
This is a remake of a great 2010 flick from Mexico of the same name, but it is pretty damn well reconceived. That’s the wrong word really, cuz the kernal of a premise is the same, but this is truly an entirely different movie. So refreshing. Oh – and we get to enjoy a good ol cannibal flick out of it all! And for those of us that love cannibal films, there’s never enough of those. So serve it up!
THRONE OF BLOOD Criterion Blu Ray
This is actually my personal favorite Akira Kurosawa film. This is one of those films that my father talked up to me for years, but I just never found a way to see it, then while browsing the newspaper back in the 90s, I discovered it was scheduled to play on the big screen. Watching THRONE OF BLOOD, for the very first time, in the glory of 35mm in a classic movie theater (The Paramount) – well it was an overwhelming experience. In short, it is Samurai Macbeth – and that all on its own is just rapturous. When the forest begins to move… goosebumps. It’s highly stylized and brilliant. The whole way it is shot is just masterful. I mean, Toshiro Mifune playing Macbeth – that alone should light a fire under your ass to pick this up. Now Criterion has given the film their Blu treatment – and if you know nothing else about Criterion, you probably know they love Akira Kurosawa. They’re the reason we have everything the man made on DVD – and I’ve often said prayers wishing that Criterion would one day give us the complete Kurosawa on Blu – as they did on DVD, but I’m patient – only… I’m not, there’s no way I could resist not picking up the latest Kurosawa Blu, especially in this case since this is my fave of his. The transfer, immaculate. They have a 23 minute doc about the making of THRONE OF BLOOD, there’s a commentary , but really – you must know THRONE OF BLOOD – it is a masterpiece of adaptation – as well as just being a masterful visual delight. So glad to have this!
TEQUILA SUNRISE Blu Ray
Here we have Robert Towne’s TEQUILA SUNRISE which was shot by Conrad Hall, which automatically means if you love cinema… you’ve bought it. Cuz we worship by the light of Conrad Hall’s lens… BTW this was nominated for Best Cinematography And Robert Towne’s typewriter is fond of typing out magic like CHINATOWN… here he’s crafted tale that has Mel Gibson playing a drug dealer that’s wanting to move on with his life, his good buddy Nick, played perfectly by Kurt Russell is a Detective for the police that’s investigating his pal. Michelle Pfeiffer plays the lady in the middle – and… well with that much charisma and Raul Julia ta boot, this movie effortlessly charms. The film actually deserves a better transfer than this, but it’ll do. This was a pretty lazy effort by Warners, it’s the same extras from the DVD, nothing in HD. Still, I very much enjoyed it.
COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER Blu Ray
God my mom adored this film. Me, I have to say, she played it way way Waaaaay too much – and I have a mental block against being able to really watch this movie again. It is a tremendous film that I have an unfortunate prejudice against, but when you’ve seen your mom get blind drunk singing along to it night after night… it tends to color one’s experience with the film. I honestly wish I could somehow dump that luggage, but I can’t. Directed by Michael Apted and starring Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn and Tommy Lee Jones as her husband… and I just can’t watch it. Sorry. Even thinking about the film fills my head with memories that I just do not want bouncing around up there. Let’s move on to something pleasant.
THE ACT OF KILLING Blu Ray
Tim League showed me this movie in advance of BNAT14 as a possible programming choice. Watching this film with zero preparation – and when thinking of a festival like mine. Man. THE ACT OF KILLING was in my mind a film of such sobering power, that it must be seen and experienced on its own. The day you choose to watch it, is the day this film is meant to crawl into your mind. It’s a documentary unlike any you’ve ever seen. It’s profoundly disturbing film. Yet every moment as mass murderers are gleefully reenacting their crimes… I mean, imagine if somebody had gotten Joseph Mengele to reenact, using makeup effects, what he did. Half a million executions. I had a visceral reaction, that these people are around and able to do reenactments… I found horrifying. That the filmmaker, Joshua Oppenheimer was able to make this film with the full support of everyone involved in the murders of half a million people… is just flabbergasting!!! It is THE documentary of the year, pushing the form and revealing something septic about our world. How Drafthouse Films has handled this movie – allowing everyone in Indonesia to see it free, was a triumph as well. This is powerful filmmaking the likes of which we rarely see.
GORILLAS IN THE MIST: THE STORY OF DIAN FOSSEY Blu Ray
I love Gorillas, Apes, Monkeys… you know all the future rulers of Earth, but really – Michael Apted’s GORILLAS IN THE MIST was the film that got my noodle thinking about their roles in the world today – and our role in understanding these marvelous animals. But for me, really… this is about the evolution of Rick Baker’s powers of creating better and better furry costumes. He did great work here, but he got increasingly better over his career. The story of Dian Fossey is amazing and what she did for the Mountain Gorillas of Africa can never be forgotten. Apted was on a helluva role back then. This is one I’m looking forward to picking up. Really hope they did a good job on this disc!
I’M SO EXCITED Blu Ray
You flying anywhere soon? Watch this before the flight. It’s by Pedro Almodovar, a man who seizes life by the balls and empties them every time out! He knows how to enjoy life and to make a film that lampoons it, while celebrating it. This plane is having problems. Almodovar imagines a very different plane problem, of course the first film I ever saw with problems aboard a plane was FLESH GORDON which had the plane hit by Emperor Wang’s Sex Ray. Still awaiting that problem on a plane, but Almodovar flirts with it and I love him for it. It’s a pricey Blu, but then there’s not nearly enough film lovers that collect this geniuses films. But get out there and watch WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN or TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN! Or LIVE FLESH or TALK TO HER or VOLVER or… hell, watch everything this man makes. Almodovar is one of our great international filmmakers, give him your support, he’s earned it in spades!
Alright, that’s it for this first week of 2014. I know the column was late 13 times last year and I know you folks have decided to really take me to task for it, but you have to realize a column like this is dependent upon many things. One is access to material. Some weeks, I get the blus with plenty of time to view them and have thoughts arranged about them, but MANY TIMES – the PR companies that send titles out for review don’t get product til right on top of a release date and I’ll suddenly get 10-20 titles the day before they are to be reviewed – and when this happens, I delay. Sometimes I’m traveling for the site and that means I’m not at home being able to cycle through 6 films a day and I really do want to try to have seen as many of the titles as possible. I am going to do my best as I do every year. I did cover every single week of release in 2013. They are all represented and I am very proud of that. Now – here’s what we have for next week: RIDDICK Blu, ENOUGH SAID Blu, CARRIE (Chloe Moretz one) Blu, Lee Daniels’ THE BUTLER Blu, YOU’RE NEXT Blu, THIEF Criterion Blu, FRUITVALE STATION Blu, SPECTACULAR NOW Blu, SHORT TERM 12 Blu, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT Blu, RIFIFI Criterion Blu, CHORUS LINE Blu, BLIND DATE Blu, REWIND THIS (Dvd&VHS), THE UNIVERSE 3D, RUN 3D Blu, A SINGLE SHOT Blu, ICANNIBALI Blu, HOW TO MAKE MONEY SELLING DRUGS dvd and that’s about it. See ya then!