Hey folks, Harry here… this week’s column is a doozy, the biggest of 2014 thus far! The Godzilla Blus alone are like happy happy days on Earth! But Fuller & Wilder? Tremendous! So much! As usual, all the images and links take you to Amazon, where if you feel like it’s a keeper, you can order and your purchase price gives a small percentage to help keep the best efforts of this column going. For over 10 years now! You can really enjoy the entire work of the column with the great PicksAndPeeks.com App for Android and iDevices! It really is a fun app! Now, let’s get into it!
Tuesday, May 6th, 2014
THE BIG RED ONE Blu Ray
When STAR WARS hit, I was instantly a Mark Hamill geek. I loved CORVETTE SUMMER, but later the year that EMPIRE STRIKES BACK hit… My search for Luke Skywalker led me to SAM FULLER and LEE MARVIN! THE BIG RED ONE was a sledgehammer of reality regarding WWII. I had grown up mainly with Black & White WWII movies – and sure, buddies died… but in THE BIG RED ONE… you could fucking lose your balls. When you’re a young boy, protection of your sack is an incredibly important. It’s like an OFF SWITCH accompanied by pain… and usually laughter of the people around you. But THE BIG RED ONE… tough hard reality. I still hold the very best moment of performance by Mark Hamill ever caught on film is that moment where the camera is inside the oven, and Hamill swings that door open. The look in his eyes… his face… it is a horror, that left a scar in me. I kind of raided the school library for all the WWII books and it was when I remember having the first conversations about WAR with my father. I’ve shown this film to so many friends over time. It’s just one of the best WWII movies ever made. If the name Samuel Fuller is unknown to you… change that. Fuller is easily one of the great filmmakers. I’ve seen every film of his in a theater on film. They are all great films. There was never anything ordinary about the way a Sam Fuller flick plays out. He would do things to joggle your consciousness into waking the fuck up. Real quick though… I highly recommend PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET, PARK ROW, CHINA GATE, SHOCK CORRIDOR, THE NAKED KISS and WHITE DOG. Sadly, discs were not sent to reviewers in time for release, so I’m hoping it is perfection. Fuller deserves nothing less.
ACE IN THE HOLE Criterion Blu Ray
I know I’ve loved on Billy Wilder plenty… but ACE IN THE HOLE is so near to my heart, that in my book AINT IT COOL: HOLLYWOOD’S RED-HEADED STEP-CHILD SPEAKS OUT… I named two chapters after it. Under this title and the other title that Paramount stuck on the initial release… THE BIG CARNIVAL. Personally – I love both those titles and they’re both right on the nose of this awesome film. It’s about a journalist on the slide played by Kirk Douglas, a magnificent man of an actor, who is stuck at the deadend paper in Albuquerque, but when news comes a man trapped in a cave-in… well, break out the type-writer… this is his chance… damn the man. Watch this film and see if you don’t flash to how the modern media has gone this route exclusively. Criterion has brought us this film before, but never on Blu. The print is pristine. The extras… very very great. There’s an hour long doc on Billy Wilder that’s great from 1980. You get Billy at the AFI for 24 minutes. Kirk Douglas talks for 15 minutes back in 1984 about the role. Wilder hired a radio writer to help on the script and we get 11 minutes with Walter Newman, who went on to write some other greats! And… we get a 6 min piece from Spike Lee going on about the unique nature of ACE IN THE HOLE! Plus there’s a film scholar commentary. But really – I feel ACE IN THE HOLE should be shown to every school kid so that the world begins to wake up to the exploitive nature of media. This film lays it bare. A truly great work of cinema. Douglas is amazing!
SON OF BATMAN Blu Ray
Right off the bat, the idea of the Son of Batman would usually make me gag… but when hearing the mother was Talia, I decided… yeah, I’ll watch this. Essentially Deathstroke is making a run at taking over the League of Shadows, and I have to say he’s making a pretty solid run at it. I still prefer Slade’s take on the character in ARROW, but they’ve done well here too. Damion Wayne is trained by his grandfather Ra’s Al Ghul, so he has no qualms killing, but Bruce… well, you know he doesn’t like that… so there’s some tough love. Nightwing shows up… and ya know, it’s a pretty fun animated film. Now sure, this isn’t at all the story I was screaming for. I mean… HUSH… KILLING JOKE… THE CULT… all instantly leap to mind… It’s pretty savage though, so don’t just instantly think this one is kid friendly. It is, if your kid isn’t a total wuss. Tons of extras! Solid release from the animation division!
AMISTAD Blu Ray
Part of the reason I was left a bit underwhelmed by last year’s 12 YEARS A SLAVE is that… well, I fucking love AMISTAD. The film is brutal, savage even. But Spielberg unleashes all his cinematic prowess upon this story – and I’ll never ever forget it. Matthew McConaughey was great here… Actually, there’s no weak link in this movie. Djimon Hounsou is majestic in the film. The way Spielberg captures the man in a strange land scenario so perfectly. The Amistad ‘slaves’ have no knowledge of English or Western civilization, yet they find themselves in a courthouse being argued about in a language they do not understand. They fought for freedom and now others they do not know or trust are fighting for that same freedom repeatedly. The tossing of men and women chained into the ocean… is still one of the most brutal images I’ve seen. The Jesus tale as understood by illustrations alone is all sorts of amazing. Then you have John Williams operating at full power… and a great Anthony Hopkins performance. There’s a 26 minute making of… but it’s recycled from the DVD and is at Standard Def. The film’s transfer and sound are both gorgeous though. Such a great film.
THE BIRDS Blu Ray
THE BIRDS is a gorgeous transfer… but at the very same time, that does show the seams of the effects work that Hitchcock was really really pushing here. But then, those flaws are clearly visible on the film print itself. And it is such a small amount of the film, technically speaking that I can hardly use it as a reason to not get Hitchcock’s great monster movie! Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren star – and they’re great! There are times here in Austin, where birds line the power lines and the edges of buildings and I can’t help but think that the worst is upon us. FX to the side, what really makes this one great is… the sound design… here we have a great two channel DTSHD Master Audio Mono Track which doesn’t sound like it would instantly blow you away… but then you have never heard a film soundtrack quite like it. It is… genius. One of the greatest sound engineering flicks of all time. Great. Then there’s a ton of extras. An 80 minute documentary, a new 14 minute one, some Hitchcock and Truffaut interview excerpts, Deleted scenes and the original ending. Storyboards! Tippi Hedren’s screen test – and still more! This is the same thing as was released in the essentials collection, but is available alone now.
REAR WINDOW Blu Ray
This is a rerelease from the ESSENTIALS COLLECTION – but if you didn’t pay for that large set – and you just wanted this title – well here you go – one of the greatest Hitchcock flicks. I love REAR WINDOW. Always have. Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly are… just amazing. Thelma Ritter is one of the great female character actors of all time! And then Raymond Burr… what a heel. The great voyeur film! Filled with extras – it’s a great release!
VERTIGO Blu Ray
I wish Kim Novak did it for me, but I’m just not a fan. VERTIGO however is one of the great great Hitchcock films. San Francisco has seriously never ever looked better upon film. The composition of shots in this movie are masterful – and some fools would even declare this the best movie ever made, but as I said, they be fools. Like the other two Hitchcock releases this week, this is a stand alone release with all the same extras that were on those ESSENTIAL COLLECTIONS. But they were great extras and a sterling release. You do get an audio commentary from William Friedkin talking about the film – which I highly advise checking out! It’s great!
THE TERMINAL Blu Ray
Spielberg’s horror film! Sometimes, life can seem like you’re stuck in a series of airports – and on some days – it might even seem you’re never going to leave… but if you watch Steven Spielberg’s THE TERMINAL – you should never bitch again. The cast is just about bloody perfect. I mean, it is a film about being stuck in a bloody airport and as you watch… you actually don’t mind that you’re stuck in the airport. The story of Viktor Navorski will just capture you. A man without a country on a private mission stuck at JFK Airport… the story will never leave you… Now the Blu Ray is gorgeous, Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography is perfectly captured here. There’s a good deal of extras on this disc, but it is all the same things that were on the DVD and at that same resolution. The film hasn’t really aged a day.
REVENGE OF THE NERDS Blu Ray
In 1984 – this movie foretold the future and we geeks knew it. I loved hosting a screening of this in New York City about a decade ago – and I will proudly trumpet this film at every corner. Robert Carradine’s amazing laugh… Fucking everything about Curtis Armstrong’s Booger… Love that guy! Lamar Latrell doing a lil robot! Brian Tochi’s immortal “Hair Pie”! And how fucking awesome was Timothy Busfield’s Poindexter? Has anyone ever been as cool as he was in that end number? And nobody can forget Anthony Edwards’ Gilbert or OGRE’s roar of NERDSSSSSSS!!!! This film is an immortal work of profound beauty no matter what its style, color or persuasion. This is the film where the truth got out, Nerds are better at Sex and just about everything else! Thankfully, the secret got out! And one of the things I learned at that screening in NYC, Ted McGinley who played the unholy cock, Stan Gable… he’s a completely awesome guy! Who fucking knew? We all know why we must own this film on Blu Ray. It’s because that insane fucking cover of Robert Carradine Hulking out must be in your home. Epic!
WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S Blu Ray
This is yet another reason why the 80s just fucking rule. I mean… this should have fucking sucked. It just never really should’ve been made… except… it is in fact awesome. Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman are perfect here – and I just can’t help but laugh. Somehow… as a lifeless corpse, Austinite, Terry Kiser steals every sceen as Bernie Lomax. His face is perfect. My favorite member of the cast though is Don Calfa, who’s one of them character actors that I’ve always loved. Rewatching this was a trip, I really need to trackdown Terry Kiser and do an ALAMO screening where he plays dead during the whole Q&A. A very fun flick!
VERONICA MARS Blu Ray
Maybe I should watch the show and try again. I’ve a whole lot of friends that love VERONICA MARS, but watching the film cold, left me cold. I’ve never seen a single episode of the show and watching the film, I couldn’t help feeling absolutely clueless throughout. I knew better than to try it cold. I’m actually working to forget everything possible about the film, so I can enjoy it down the road. This Blu comes with a nearly hour long Making of , 20 minutes of “on-set fun” and some deleted scenes and a gag reel. If you’re a fan – this is exactly what you’re looking forward, I just need to do my homework and get back to this one.
MEMPHIS BELLE Blu Ray
Michael Caton-Jones’ MEMPHIS BELLE, while historically off the reservation – it is… a wonderful film. It was a beautiful film about the crew of the MEMPHIS BELLE and their final bomb run. What makes the film work so well is the great cast. Matthew Modine is the by the book Captain. Eric Stoltz is on radio. D.B. Sweeney is the navigator that knows his number is up. Billy Zane is the Doc named “Valentine”. Sean Astin plays Rascal, the belly gunner that’s always horny. There’s Harry Connick Jr who even gets a chance to croone. David Strathairn plays the Colonel who doesn’t want John Lithgow publicist Lt. Col. To jinx or make any hey over the Memphis Belle… as he wants his men on base focused. Whereas Lithgow’s Lt. Col. Sees the publicity material inherent to a crew that completes all their missions with the whole crew untouched. The vfx are solid. The score is great! And the Blu Ray is a great transfer – and while the disc doesn’t have a single extra about the making of this movie – it does have William Wyler’s original documentary made in 1944 entitled THE MEMPHIS BELLE: A STORY OF A FLYING FORTRESS! That’s a 40 minute look at the real thing! So this is a great Blu Ray in my book!
GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER Blu Ray
If Legendary’s GODZILLA movie is responsible for nothing else… today’s offerings of GODZILLA movies on Blu Ray… is reason to celebrate all on their own. Now – GODZILLA VS HEDORAH is one of the weirdest trippiest oddest GODZILLA movies ever made. Godzilla is fighting sentient living pollution. The psychedelic sequences are just… wow. And I have to admit, I haven’t gotten to see nearly enough GODZILLA movies on the big screen, but I’ve seen them all on TV. I remember when friends would tape widescreen copies of all these films off the Laserdiscs and I was amazed at how much I had missed with the full screens. These films have a beauty that must be seen in widescreen! Now, there’s not a single extra here… but the movie is everything it needs to be.
GOZILLA ON MONSTER ISLAND Blu Ray
This was the first Godzilla movie I was taken to at a theater. I have no memory of that – which is a damn fucking shame, cuz I’d kill for a memory of seeing GODZILLA VS GIGAN in a theater on 35mm… I mean you get Godzilla and Angira and Gigan and Ghidorah! What the hell isn’t there to like? Again – we get the 1080p full 2.35:1 awesome. I love the Godzilla movies with Alien influence! I know with the new film, we’re to take GODZILLA deadly seriously… but I also love the silly awesome fun of it all. Really… as I watch this I know what it absolutely is. I know… that somewhere in a magical place called Japan… They made giant monster costumes and the most beautiful intricate sets… and they try to build a story around it. Mostly, its silly. But as I watch… the kid in me is still disappointed that I did not grow up to be a MAN IN SUIT monster.
GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH / GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA Blu Ray
These two movies were the reason I probably became friends with Merrick back in like 1994. He had them. No video store did, but then Merrick took Japanese classes so he wouldn’t need subtitles. Merrick was hard core. Still is. These were the first modern GODZILLA movies that I saw – and the effects work is truly stunning. A lot less tony looking, but I loved all of the cel animation work. Having these on Blu Ray at home – I can remember geeking big time with Merrick. MAN IN SUIT – and what suits! The fabrication of Godzilla had improved! With GODZILLA VS KING GHIDORAH – we’ve got them pesky aliens buzzing Japan again. But my favorite plot point is… there’s a Time Travel plot to pull a fucking Sarah Conner Terminator mission on baby Godzilla egg in prehistoric times! This Godzilla movie rocks! Then GODZILLA VS MOTHRA? You kidding me? Here we get Godzilla and Mothra going at it with “Black Mothra” aka Battra. I f’n love Battra! But those tiny twins calling themselves COSMOS… I dearly love. This is a big save the planet Earth film – and it’s outstanding on Blu! This is such joy!
GODZILLA VS. DESTOROYAH / GODZILLA VS. MEGAGUIRUS Blu Ray
Ok – so GODZILLA VS. DESTOROYAH is a horse of a different color. It feels apocalyptic… it is actually intense, scary and dire. If you think all GODZILLA is, is silly goofy shit, then sit your ass down with this movie and let Godzilla show you what he can do. This film was a great bitch slap of a GODZILLA movie. That isn’t to say, that all Godzilla movies should be as intense as this film is, but man… it rocks hard! As for GODZILLA VS MEGAGUIRUS… I’m not really a fan of it personally. I get why they paired the two, you HAVE to have GODZILLA VS. DESTOROYAH. Of course, I have to have them all!
GODZILLA: FINAL WARS / GODZILLA: TOKYO S.O.S. Blu Ray
GODZILLA: FINAL WARS was the 50th Anniversary and it is some really crazy stuff. This is a full on scifi fantasy – Bastard aliens unleash monsters all over the planet – essentially – for Godzilla’s birthday they constructed a plot where the Big G would get to fight monsters in awesome cities all over the world. It’s a crazy Godzilla movie. Crazy. But fun. Then there’s GODZILLA: TOKYO S.O.S. – I love this one! It’s awesome mumbojumbo! Mothra and the girls… a double Mothra larvae incident, Kiryu lands a drill to Godzilla’s chest which gushes blood! Fucking wow! And one of my fave post-credit scenes! This is a solid double Big G!
GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA II / GODZILLA VS. SPACEGODZILLA Blu Ray
GODZILLA VS MECHAGODZILLA II is terrific! Japan has fucking had it with this GODZILLA laying waste to their proud country. So they construct MECHAGODZILLA and they’re anxious to let this badass monster slayer to take down Big G once and for all. Only Rodan and Baby G show up – and well, best plans ya know? Heh. LOVE IT! The MechaGodzilla breath weapon is just so cool. I really dig it. GODZILLA VS. SPACEGODZILLA - here’s the sequel to GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA II. MechaGodzilla has been modified and made even more badass. Godzilla’s gone for a long swim. But in Japan, they’ve got this magic telepathic bullet they’re gonna shoot up in Godzilla’s ARMPIT! I LOVE THIS SHIT! SPACEGODZILLA shows up and steals Godzilla’s baby – and then shit must go down! This is a great double feature and they look pretty damn good!
BLAZING SADDLES Blu Ray
I’m pretty sure this is the same exact Blu Ray that has come out before except there’s one new featurette with Mel Brooks. It’s fun, but isn’t a reason to upgrade. However, the 10 cards are fun – but here’s the good news – the Blu Ray you already have… cuz you already have BLAZING SADDLES… right? I mean… you’re not fucking insane, you own BLAZING SADDLES. If not – go ahead, commit to this – because it’s bloody brilliantly funny. The print is gorgeous. The extras are very fun. But as I said, no need to upgrade, just pick this up if you happen to be amongst the poor souls without BLAZING SADDLES, you deserve to smile!
DEATH OCCURRED LAST NIGHT Blu Ray
HEY!!!! This here’s a pretty damn great little Giallo flick. There’s a tad more drama than suspense, but that makes it feel… adult. Real. The inspector is investigating a missing mentally handicapped girl. The film takes some pretty great turns and even sort of shifts genres ever so slightly! You’ll meet pimps and their ladies… It’s a really good film! I really liked this film.
THE ART OF THE STEAL Blu Ray
Now this is a fun scheme of a movie! Kurt Russell plays a carnival death defying motorcycle stunt rider / getaway art thief with flair. But not necessarily the luckiest. Terrence Stamp plays a brilliant character – he’s a working class investigator who just loves the moment when he can hold in his hands these great works before they’re returned to their rightful owners. He’s GREAT! Then you have Matt Dillon, who’s Kurt Russell’s piece of shit little brother cock sucker du jour! Jason Jones is a lot of fun as the pretty clueless and classless Interpol agent that Stamp is teamed up with. But heh… Jay Baruchel is Kurt Russell’s Apprentice… and he’s consistently funny as hell throughout. I love the vagina art in this film. I just can’t stop laughing about it as a sight gag. For a lot of screen time. It’s hilarious. The action is solid, the schemes are fun and the stakes are high. This was a very fun flick!
JOHN WAYNE FILM COLLECTION ( THE BIG TRAIL / RED RIVER / LEGEND OF THE LOST / THE BARBARIAN AND THE GEISHA / THE HORSE SOLDIERS / THE ALAMO / NORTH TO ALASKA / THE COMANCHEROS / THE LONGEST DAY / THE UNDEFEATED ) Blu Ray
This is a great set – you get 10 of John Waynes great flicks for $54. They’re all the same discs that we’ve bought individually, but if you haven’t picked them up, then you’re getting them at a little over $5 each, which is a DEAL! So just thought I’d let y’all know that!
THE DEEP END Blu Ray
Remember this one from back in 2001? It’s an extraordinary suspense film with one of the great Tilda Swinton performances! The characters are great and through it all… TILDA… man, she’s just amazing in this one. Hadn’t thought about the film in years, but when I opened it up in today’s mail I had to throw it on. Again, it just made the rest of the world disappear – cuz I was again enraptured. This is a great one! Looks wonderful on Blu! We get a commentary with Scott McGehee and David Siegel. Plus a couple of featurettes, it’s a real good Blu!
LOVE HAPPY Blu Ray
My parents favorite comedy team was the Marx Brothers – so I grew up knowing all their films. No matter how many teams I see Harpo harp of Chico play his piano… I’m hypnotized with a shit eating grin! There’s something stunningly perversely deco about Harpo and his harp… perfect for black & white with edge lighting upon every string. Or the incredibly inventive and playful manner that Chico pounded those ivories, his duet in this film is a killer! I love this film. I love how when Marilyn Monroe has her walk on role – it’s as if the most beautiful space alien from the future was placed into the Golden Age of Hollywood. Monroe just broke all the molds. She’s otherworldly here. Groucho is so insane, but my favorite part of the whole film is the roof chase with Harpo and the Neon signs. LOVE THOSE GAGS SO MUCH! The image looks great on the Blu, but I really do find it astonishing that there are no extras on a title like this. I mean really? This is a CLASSIC!
MR JONES Blu Ray
JUST WATCH THIS ONE! IT WILL FUCK YOUR SHIT UP! I dig it a lot. A couple decide to move in the middle of nowhere to get away from it all and gain inspiration from the isolation. When they discover they have a neighbor… the quickly realize that it’s the reclusive and mysterious Mr Jones, a famous artist that nobody has ever met. They decide to make him their project – and, well there’s a lot they don’t know – and it gets scary as fuck! I want one of the creepy sculptures from this film. They’re so creepy. And … just see it.
That’s it for this incredible week… Next we’ll take a look at HER Blu, THE GODFATHER Part III Blu, ROLLERBALL (1975) Blu, I FRANKENSTEIN 3D Blu, CROCODILE DUNDEE double feature Blu, EVILSPEAK Blu, OCEAN’S COLLECTION, FINAL EXAM Blu, SPIRIT Blu, McLINTOCK! Blu, STALINGRAD 3D Blu, THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO Blu, SPECIAL ID Blu, FLYING TIGERS Blu, TWO RODE TOGETHER Blu, FATE IS THE HUNTER Blu, HOME OF THE BRAVE Blu and that’s about it…