Last PICKS & PEEKS of March 2014: Scorsese's Wolf, Lloyd's FRESHMAN, Bergman's PERSONA, Ferrara's MS 45!!!
Hey folks, Harry here with the latest Picks & Peeks!!! There’s some pretty epic titles this week beginning with Scorsese’s latest and going to the final psychedelic acid trip of a flick! OK – so for the record we’re beginning with Quaaludes and ending with LSD! You never know how these releases are gonna go – but in-between you’ll find a SILENT and some brilliance to ponder. Not a ton of titles this week, but what’s there is mostly great. Other than that one title I pretty briefly dismiss, but that title pained me and still pains me cuz I dream of the good version of that film – cuz I find JCVD to have truly hilarious potential! Just not in that flick. Whew. Alright, so like always the images and links take you to Amazon where you can learn more about the titles in question, and if you happen to be smitten with a release and click order, then bless you – cuz every title ordered through a link here helps to support the best efforts of this column! Thank you! If you love the column and have yet to check out the App for Android and iOS devices – click that above link and check it out. It’s the best way to fully explore the over 10 year history of this column! Now – get to the titles…
Tuesday, March 25th, 2014
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET Blu Ray
Leonardo DiCaprio & Jonah Hill are such an absurd good time to watch in this decadent exploration of the very scum of humanity. The real vampires preying upon the throats of not just our country’s people, but the world’s. What did these people do with their ill-gotten gains? They had a real fucking crazy good time, an infectiously ridiculously good time. The film is a comedic masterpiece from Martin Scorsese… because if you have no sense of humor at all… it plays like watching someone pull back a scab and play with the bared pus. Morbid curiosity and disgust. Yet informative about the way these people can live with themselves. The Quaalude Sequence may very well be one of the great physical comedy performances that I’ve ever seen. Sustained irresistible horror & hilarity all at once. This film is one of the greatest TRAINWRECKS I’ve ever enjoyed. Crafted by a master of cinema. Scorsese makes a film so pumped with vitality that it spanks all his contemporaries. Wake up 70’s Giants! Think of the works you could be creating. FIND A WAY! OK – so how’s the Blu? Well… here’s the thing, this is a pretty barebones affair. However, there’s a rumored much longer cut of this film that is spoke about with awe and hope. The film did quite well world wide and has a manic following of cinephiles that love it, so I hope we will get a deluxe expanded edition of this at some point. But I still want the theatrical cut. Must have all versions of the master’s work. It’s too funny to not have!
PERSONA Blu Ray
PERSONA is cinema’s best pondering. A film for you to test your mind with. A film to wrestle with, to fight with and to perhaps love. This is Ingmar Bergman’s PERSONA – and it is so much more. For those that like to look beyond the obvious, that reflect upon art, PERSONA is one of the true masterpieces of cinema. The performances of Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson… they’re mesmerizingly complex. Bergman creates a dream for the world to interpret. Perhaps the very Rosetta Stone to his mind or ours. This is a film to hone your mind with. There’s so much more to cinema than 3 act structures and hero journeys. Bergman knew that and bless him for it. Film is life, abstraction, dreams, lessons and more. CRITERION again does the Film God’s work. The transfer is perfection. The extras feature a 21 minute visual essay that was created especially for this release. We get a 20 minute interview from Swedish TV in the Sixties that features Bibi, Liv & Ingmar. Great. There’s 9 minute interview with Bergman from 70’s era Canadian TV. A new 17 minute interview with Liv Ullmann that is wonderful. There’s nearly 20 minutes of BTS Footage from the set of PERSONA – which is wonderfully silent, but if you’d like, there is an audio commentary. Then there’s the 85 minute documentary, LIV & INGMAR – which is wonderful! This is a classic work of cinema given the treatment it deserves.
THE KING OF COMEDY Blu Ray
I tried to watch THE KING OF COMEDY when I was young, but I kept coming away thinking… That wasn’t very funny. The problem wasn’t the film, it was me. I didn’t quite get it. I revisited this a few years back, during one of my frequent Scorsese kicks. Why revisit a film you don’t actually like? Because, you may have been wrong. When you learn to respect an artist and let go of your own cynical know-it-all-ness – and you just open your eyes to what a great filmmaker is attempting… and if you’ve become properly twisted… You’ll love KING OF COMEDY. It’s inky black dry humor with a saltine on the side. Rupert Pupkin is one of the great De Niro roles – right up there with Travis Bickle and Jake La Motta and Captain Shakespeare! In some ways it reminds me of a future episode of my show, when I kidnapped Leonard Maltin and brought him to my basement! OH NO, I’ve become Rupert Pupkin!!! Only less funny! AAAAACK!!!! Giggle. We get almost 40 minutes of Deleted and Expanded Scenes! A 30 minute conversation between Scorsese, De Niro and Jerry Lewis from Tribeca! And an old featurette that is almost 19 minutes long and pretty good. Only the Tribeca is in high def though. The film print is nice – and for Scorsese lovers this is very much a treat!
MS. 45 Blu Ray
If I had a “BUY OF THE WEEK” it would be MS. 45. Why? First, I’d wager most of you haven’t seen this. If you’re an Abel Ferrara geek, then yeah, you’ve seen it. But most people are too decent to be Abel Ferrara geeks. It’s warmer in the world not knowing his particular decent into madness, but Abel Ferrara is a snowball in Hell, too cool to melt. He bathes his cinema in sin. Wallows in it. Goes to those dark fucking weird places that makes one hop in the shower. And who doesn’t like the shower! What a wonderful place! MS. 45 is a Rape/Revenge Thriller. I hear many of you now scrolling quickly. The Alamo Drafthouse recently made prints and released MS. 45 in a theatrical rerelease. They’re doing the dark lord’s work. Which is why they ROCK! Zoe Lund’s performance as the titular character must be seen to be believed. Cinematic rape is never something easy to watch, but at least in this particular subgenre – you know that some revenge is coming. Ferrara tears the roof off with the third act. The Blu Ray comes with Interviews with Abel Ferrara, Joe Delia – the composer, and a creative consultant Jack McIntyre, who is also the homeless man that finds something… curious in the trash. Giggle. And there’s more! Wonderful disc of a very warped film. Only the brave will be rewarded!
THE FRESHMAN Criterion Blu Ray
Harold Lloyd was so much more than just the guy that hung from that clock… And you certainly deserve to be delighted by that mad comedic genius! I always saw Adam Sandler’s THE WATERBOY as a halfassed less inventive version of Lloyd’s THE FRESHMAN – The football sequences of the film were shot in the Rose Bowl the year after it was built and Lloyd shot the football scenes during the annual East vs West’s halftime – and the USC team plays the opposing team. Lloyd knocked this film out of the park frankly. I love it. Criterion did a great job releasing this. And the extras are quite extensive. The commentary features Leonard Maltin, Richard Correll and Richard Bann – and is delightful – as not only do these men have a great deal of knowledge about Harold Lloyd, but an endless affinity for the film itself! Criterion, THANK YOU! This is a great treat!
THE SWIMMER Blu Ray
A Great Weird Fucking Movie! That’s Burt Lancaster’s costume for the film. This is also Burt Lancaster’s journey to… THE TWILIGHT ZONE. I would have killed for a Rod Serling intro to this movie and outro. It would be one of the greatest things of all time! He would begin by introducing us to a real ladies man, a man to be envied. Obsessed with himself and his own personal ego that he abandons all for a quest. A mad quest that will lead him to the very door… of the TWILIGHT ZONE. Seriously. Lancaster begins this movie with all the charm and bravura of Elmer Gantry… And he’s gonna slowly, pool after pool, lap after lap, he’s going to wash that ego clean away, he’s going to hear the truth and face the unimaginable. And it is friggin brilliant! There’s a 2 and a half hour “THE STORY OF THE SWIMMER” on here that I’ve yet to dive into, in HD… but I kind of can’t wait. In particular, it features Joan Rivers – and I can not wait to hear what that woman has to say! There’s a lot of great extras here – but really – discover this film that dares to paint Burt Lancaster in fragile damaged hues. It is fascinating! Spectacular film!
ODD THOMAS Blu Ray
This is a personal project of Stephen Sommers. An Indie financed smaller movie based upon the work of horror’s DEAN KOONTZ! Shame this didn’t get a robust release. Mainly because – I’m rooting for Anton Yelchin to emerge as the star I feel he is. Oh sure, he’s got some big roles – and I feel he’s almost always a leading contributor to my liking of a film, or even in a film I loathe, he can be that bright light that gets me through it. Here – he plays a guy who sees not only dead people but these things called bodachs. They’re particularly creepy and nasty. Now, I have read a bit of Dean Koontz’s work, but I haven’t read ODD THOMAS… but this feels like Koontz. Sommers pretty much nails it. Willem Dafoe is the Police Chief in this weird fucking town and Odd Thomas is a weirdo that he’s come to trust a bit. Did I mention that Odd Thomas was a fry cook at a 5 & Dime? Or that he has an awesome girlfriend – and that the whimsy of this is as prevalent as the creepy tone? It is. I think this is a film that’s going to surprise a lot of you. Feels like the beginning of a series that I’d be interested in seeing more from! Love this world and characters!
PATRICK Blu Ray
I really like the new remake of PATRICK, but nothing quite creeps like the creepy fucking actor that plays PATRICK in Richard Franklin’s mind fuckingly awesome original film about a sexually deviant homicidal comatose body obsessed with the nurse that cares for him. Last week I talked about OZPLOITATION trailers – and this is one of the great OZPLOITATION titles! Oh, did I mention that PATRICK – in addition to all those psychological problems – he’s massively psychokinetic! Robert Thompson plays the unmoving nightmare of a coma patient. I saw this when I was young and it makes me terrified of coma patients. I mean, when Moonpie fell into a coma in ROLLERBALL – it creeped me out because of PATRICK! This is a creep classic! We have a commentary from Richard Franklin, who passed away in 2007. There’s also an hour’s worth of interviews from Mark Hatley’s brilliant NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD that he made available for this disc – and a 20 minute TV interview with Richard Franklin that is wonderful! Overall, very happy with this release!
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE Blu Ray
CHINESE ZODIAC Blu Ray
This film completes a trilogy that began in 1986 with Jackie Chan’s ARMOUR OF GOD, which was followed in 1991 with OPERATION CONDOR – and continues with CHINESE ZODIAC. So – we’re in Jackie Chan – Indiana Jones/James Bond mode – and I love him there. The high-tech gadgets and the amazing way that Jackie Chan moves… it just stuns me. It really does. Just the simple graceful way he just scales things. I know he’s been doing it his whole life, but he’s also broken more bones than we have. He’s a human miracle to my eyes – and I love him for it – always will. CHINESE ZODIAC is exactly the kind of film that made me fall in love with Jackie. Well done! There’s a Making of on the disc!
WONDERWALL Blu Ray
I watched this completely straight the other night and found it to be a mind puzzle my mind could not see into. It was an impenetrable mess. But a film – that I am absolutely aware… that with Spice from Arakis… it might become something of cosmic significance. A tripperiffic flick with music provided by George Harrison who was very definitely smoking Ravi Shankar’s stash at the time. I’ve known people that do Acid with this film and proclaim its brilliance. These same people talk about LSD unlocking the truth of SUSPIRIA. To me – that sounds like the worst combination in history. WONDERWALL feels like an ideal Acid trip of a film. However straight – it is a face palming experience. The Blu Ray contains the theatrical cut – along with the Director’s cut which is around 17 minutes briefer. There’s a whole lot of excessively obscure and awesomely weird extras… Like a John Lennon Poem and Eric Clapton skiing. It is kinda a perfect Blu Ray. Perfectly weird!
That’s it for this week, next Tuesday we will be having our April Fool’s Day edition of Picks & Peeks which will start with ANCHORMAN 2, 47 RONIN 3D Blu, FARGO Blu, KING KONG VS GODZILLA Blu, THE WAR WAGON Blu, JOE KIDD Blu, TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA Blu, NORMA RAE Blu, KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM, KING KONG ESCAPES Blu, ROOSTER COGBURN Blu, ONCE Blu, MEET HIM AND DIE Blu, L’IMMORTELLE Blu, A new LITTLE RASCALS movie and more! Till then, never stop watching!!!
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