Hey folks, Harry here with our April Fool’s Day edition of the Picks & Peeks column! No fooling! Even on time! As usual the images and links take you to AMAZON where you can learn more on a title or purchase it, which would give a small percentage of the purchase price to help support the continuing efforts of this column to continue to cover the fun and noteworthy releases of the week… as I’ve done for the past decade, which is all organized sharply in the above linked Android and iOS app! Give it a shot! Now – let’s get on with the column…
Tuesday, April 1st, 2014
ANCHORMAN 2 Blu Ray
With this Mighty Blu Ray, forged for Gods like you and me… We truly have more than you could possibly sit through in a day, without some kind of inebriant. You have the original theatrical cut, the unrated version and the super-sized R-rated version. All with various joke substitutions and raunch. I still haven’t worked up to the Super-Sized R-Rated Version – I’ve seen the Theatrical and the Unrated Version… and I really laughed a lot at the Unrated version… though the Blind thing was perhaps a bit long. You’ll see. But funny. This was just a crazy fun movie to watch with friends! But that’s not all… There’s an additional 90+ minutes of deleted and alternate scenes… Then there’s outtakes, Cast Audition tapes, gag reels, script read throughs, Behind the Scenes featurettes, A Commentary with everyone and still more! For everyone that screamed for a mighty sequel – they certainly gave us a lot to enjoy. It might not quite have the magic of the original… but that’s what happens to cool things that go National. Right?
THE PIRATE FAIRY Blu Ray
Now I’m already well aware that you know I’m crazy. How can one like a badass like Lee Marvin or Toshiro Mifune and turn around and enjoy the Tinkerbelle series of animated films… but… here’s the thing. It works. Pixie Hollow being the seed for the whole Peter Pan myth to take root is fascinating to watch – and in this feature – we’re going to introduce a young Captain Hook voiced by a very non-Loki sounding Tom Hiddleston! But he hasn’t yet lost a hand to a Croc, nor has he found Smee or that damn flying boy as an enemy. But for the first time in the CG adventures of Tinkerbelle – I can see this building towards something… some day. And the special cameo at the end of this… well it tells you a lot of about the eventual visual direction this series will likely and hopefully take! The main thrust of this adventure comes from a headstrong fiery redheaded fairy voiced by Christina Hendricks named Zarina – who is interested in Pixie Dust Alchemy… giggle… But who becomes the titular PIRATE FAIRY! This is just really fun. I do wish Disney was putting these out in 3D though as the whole series feels like it was made for the format. If you’ve been a fan of this pretty solid series, this makes you want even more! Well done!
47 RONIN 3D Blu ray
This really should have been spaced way the fuck away from THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG… and it needed to have a whole mess of advance screenings – cuz I really do feel 47 RONIN is better than its reputation or box office signal. Sure, they spent a ton on the movie… but… ya know what? If you dial out your snark, it can be a lot of fun. Sure… I’ve kinda never been a fan of the random American actor in my Asian epics, but I’ve kinda become numb to it. It’s fine. What they’re basically are saying is that in a more modern age of Japan – there was still fantasy at play – and I kind of dig it. They take the legendary story of the 47 RONIN and have the balls to play it through, but the fantasy stuff… I really enjoyed it. Especially that wild first antlered creature… Really made me kinda want to kill for a live action PRINCESS MONONOKE. Even though Hayao’s is perfect as is! Now – this is a very fun 3D Blu… The making of and behind the scenes features are surprisingly fun on how they shot the movie. In particular the Myths, Magic & Monsters: The FX of 47 RONIN was quite a lot of fun, and showed some of the fun that went into bringing some of that crazy stuff to life! If you like Asian cinema, this isn’t the greatest thing ever… this isn’t quite all the way there even, but it is a glimpse of live action fantasy anime come to life. We should have more of these that are better done. This didn’t quite work, because it was a little bullshit in the fantasy stuff being put into a particularly grounded historical legend. But, it is a good fun romp.
FARGO Remastered Blu Ray
I haven’t yet received a disc of this – and until I hear more I wouldn’t pick this up. It is rumored this is a 4K release – but the original FARGO Blu Ray was a beautiful transfer with a great soundtrack. That version even had some fun extras and a commentary by Roger Deakins, but as of yet… Nobody has yet seen diddily about this new release. If you pick it up and it’s great let me know. I love FARGO, but I’m a big fan of my existing Blu!
KING KONG VS GODZILLA Blu Ray
I’ve already ordered this sight unseen, cuz I fucking love MAN IN SUIT GODZILLA!!! And this was Godzilla’s very first COLOR movie – it is also where Godzilla ceased to be taken seriously and became… well, kinda comedic and aimed at kids. The character was redesigned and it all fucking worked wonderfully! It’s also the first Man In Suit KING KONG movie, which Rick Baker would later partake in. Now – I’m pretty sure this is the U.S. Theatrical cut – because the runtime is 91 minutes, which is the edited down U.S. Dub time – and not the longer Japanese cut. Oh – and this is a barebones release with no extras. But this is how this film was released in the U.S. This is my childhood version of KING KONG VS GODZILLA when it played on TV! Ishiro Honda dared to change the direction for Godzilla and showed just how pliable the character was! So great! This should have a better release with multiple versions and actual extras produced. This is friggin KING KONG VS GODZILLA… SHOUT! Help!
THE WAR WAGON Blu Ray
Before Arnold & Sly teamed up, before Redford & Newman… we had The Duke & fucking Spartacus in THE WAR WAGON – and it’s an awesome fucking movie! It’s kind of a super Western. I mean… if you were to have a zombie Western, you’d want… the fucking War Wagon. An armored stagecoach… But the real star of the film is the COLOR – This movie pops. Gorgeous western with a tremendous score by Dimitri Tiomkin that propels the rollicking nature of this classic! Also… the film features gorgeous classic matte paintings by the great Albert Whitlock as well as stunts by the legendary, Hal Needham! But the real real fun is the ego tug of war between John Wayne and Kirk Douglas who seem to be more fun than should be legal in this classic mega-Western! The supporting cast is just… awesome. Bruce Dern! Bruce Cabot! Robert Walker Jr. Keenan Wynn! So great! Oh – and it is in 2.35:1 – which I just… drool… love! If you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing this absurdly fun western – watch it. It’s the great stuff!
JOE KIDD Blu Ray
Written by the great Elmore Leonard and directed by the legendary John Sturges – how could it go wrong? Eastwood as a bounty hunter… uneasy alliance… It loses some Eastwood fans, that want high octane badassery from Clint, this isn’t a mythic western, but Sturges and Elmore do not drop the ball. I could watch it for the supporting cast of John Saxon, Robert Duvall and Don Stroud! Good strong flick!
TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA Blu Ray
Here Director Don Siegel was channeling his John Huston and kind of adapting AFRICAN QUEEN as a western starring Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine. And it totally works! The next year the director would turn Eastwood into DIRTY HARRY – but here they’re up to something entirely different! As I said, the dynamic is basically like Huston’s classic, but instead of Shirley MacLaine’s Nun being a proper lady, she’s shockingly anything but and Clint is amused and a bit bewildered by her. Such a fun film with a very fun Morricone score. Beautifully shot!
KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM Blu Ray
Watching this… all I longed for was a live action version of the Animated DUNGEONS & DRAGONS series – done really really well. Director Joe Lynch is having fun with an “epic” story of LARPing friends that conjure more than they bargained for. Peter Dinklage is epic here! But I also love Ryan Kwanten & Steve Zahn. That trio play a group of friends, that are dealing with their friend, played by Kwanten… who has suffered a break up, and they all used to be the best of buds, but they know this friend needs to LARP with them. As awesome as this film is, you know this is a film that you’ll love more with each additional viewing. Watch with friends. Plus that monster! Awesome fun!
KING KONG ESCAPES Blu Ray
Ok – so this is like seriously one of my favorite things ever. Toho and Ishiro Honda did a live action adaptation of the Rankin Bass animated KING KONG series – and it was called KING KONG ESCAPES! RoboMonkeyMan-In-Suit is just one of my favorite things – and this film is not actually related to the KING KONG VS GODZILLA film… totally its own thing, but Man-in-Suit KING KONG awesomery! If you have a small child – if you can connect to the small child inside of you… or you’re having trouble giggling… Watch KING KONG ESCAPES… it is cinematic heroin. It defies all manners of logic – and god bless it for being fucking insane. There’s no extras. But I can’t imagine not owning this. It is pure bliss. Even has DR. WHO!
ROOSTER COGBURN Blu Ray
The sequel to TRUE GRIT – has Rooster Cogburn, again played by John Wayne going mano-a-womano with Katharine Hepburn… and it is very nearly one of the most perfect things in cinema history. Wayne won an Oscar for TRUE GRIT, so the next time he gets the Oscar queen to play opposite him in the sequel and it is genius! Oh – and this is totally AFRICAN QUEEN as a western – in the most perfect hybrid ever concocted! Completely a money grab… but so bleedingly perfect it almost feels conjured by magic! Wayne and Hepburn. Can you imagine the set? Those conversations? They walked and rode the Earth together in this film and it is a perfect film. One of those ideas where the second the casting was done, you knew… this is gonna be perfect. Who wouldn’t love it? FANTASTIC!!!
ONCE Blu Ray
A perfect Indie musical! Kinda crazy to think it has already been 7 years since this film first blew me away, but this Dublin set musical is non-traditional but thoroughly magical in that perfect musical manner. There had only been an all region release before this, that you had to import from Canada, so it is good to finally have a domestic release – even if it is an Amazon exclusive! Meaning you can just get it through the link above. Absolutely worth it! Great flick, that I like to see with BRICK oddly enough.
MEET HIM AND DIE Blu Ray
This isn’t a great Italian Giallo. It is an Italian Crime Flick. But ya know… it does work – and with Elke Sommer and Martin Balsam… I have to admit – to a degree, I just get off on the idea that I even get to see this film this way. This is the exact sort of film that I had to track down on badly dubbed VHS copies at shows back in the day – and you could barely make out faces! It’s an old story, crook does a jewelry heist, but has shit luck or maybe has a deliberate angle and gets pinched and gets sent up into the slammer, which he naturally must escape… and it has a scene that has me convinced that Spielberg or Lucas saw this film before making RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK – it’s actually a… “NO WAY” scene when you see it. Heh. Lots of fun stunt work here! And Elke Sommer has nudity. The transfer isn’t the greatest, but man is it better than that blurry VHS days! I’m just glad it is out period!
THE LITTLE RASCALS SAVE THE DAY Blu Ray
Ok, I grew up with the Little Rascals shorts being screened in 16mm… Actually got to hang out with Spanky MacFarland at shows back in the 70s – where he kept telling my parents I should be Spanky in a new Little Rascals – and so when Spanky tells you that you should be Spanky, you study the originals. I outgrew the role… But I’ve never out-grown The Little Rascals. I love them. There’s just a PEANUTS style sense of wonder of the way it ought to be. Poor kids should have way more fun that rich kids. Finding scrap shit and making miraculous inventions that would probably maim and kill the kids involved, but because you’re in the magical whimsical world of film… it is possible. Where Petey’s eyes bulge cartoonishly large and his paws move in ways that paws do not ever move – but it is precious. So then an iPod is broke out and a kid is singing something modern and your crack the magic of this being something taking place in the Great Depression… but rather… today – and I truly wonder – could there be Little Rascals today – and then I think… I’d hate for there to ever be a time where the Little Rascals wouldn’t roam! The kids aren’t quite right, but how could any kid be one of those original kids? But still, these kids got to live the dream… and I’ll be damned if watching the Little Rascals doing an ol Sonny & Cher song in the Talent Show… it just kind of worked, even though if I was fighting it, wanting to not like it, because it was new and different and oddly modern… but it was fun.
That’s all for this week, next we’ll be back with HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUGH 3D, NURSE 3D, WILD AT HEART Blu, SABRINA Blu, USED CARS Blu, FUNNY FACE Blu, GRUDGE MATCH Blu, BROADWAY DANNY ROSE Blu, THE 400 BLOWS Criterion Blu, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES Blu, CRY DANGER Blu, A FIELD IN ENGLAND Blu, MR. HOBBS TAKES A VACATION Blu, THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER Criterion Blu, THE BAMBOO SAUCER Blu, BLACK JACK Blu, BEST NIGHT EVER Blu and more!!!